World’s Coolest Underground Wonders

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© David Davis Photoproductions / Alamy

Man-made or natural, incredible underground attractions exist right beneath your feet.

Reed Flute Cave, China

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This almost 800-foot-long limestone karst cave housed an impressive collection of stalactites and stalagmites even before they turned the lights on—more than 70 graffiti-like inscriptions date as far back as the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 792). But now, vividly awash in rainbow lights, it’s a Technicolor wonderland. Photograph away at formations anointed with poetic names such as Pines in the Snow, Dragon Pagoda, and Sky-Scraping Twin. The cave is an easy three miles northwest of Guilin and gets its name from the type of reeds that grew outside. guilintourist.com

World’s Coolest Underground Wonders

Reed Flute Cave, China

This almost 800-foot-long limestone karst cave housed an impressive collection of stalactites and stalagmites even before they turned the lights on—more than 70 graffiti-like inscriptions date as far back as the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 792). But now, vividly awash in rainbow lights, it’s a Technicolor wonderland. Photograph away at formations anointed with poetic names such as Pines in the Snow, Dragon Pagoda, and Sky-Scraping Twin. The cave is an easy three miles northwest of Guilin and gets its name from the type of reeds that grew outside. guilintourist.com

© David Davis Photoproductions / Alamy

World’s Coolest Underground Wonders

Jules Verne understood it best: you can fly around the world in 80 days and dive 20,000 leagues under the sea, but you can also find awesome otherworldly adventures right beneath your feet.

Just ask the Mexican miners who discovered a sweltering cavern filled with crystals as tall as apartment buildings, or the Brazilians who first gazed into Poço Encantado, a cave with a lake so clear you lose all sense of perspective looking into its depths. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing when it comes to creating cool underground attractions.

Mankind isn’t so bad at it either. Turkey’s ancient city of Derinkuyu is thought to have housed 20,000 people 18 stories inside a mountain. And in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings, the Tomb of Seti I’s sheer size and extensive Book of the Dead bas-reliefs would make any aspiring Egyptologist cry mummy.

Closer to home, a Cold War bunker in rural West Virginia offers a peek into a different sort of afterlife. Luckily, American congressmen never had to use the top-secret hideaway (even if it was hidden beneath a luxury hotel)—unlike London’s Cabinet War Rooms, another man-made sights turned must-visit museum for cultural spelunkers.

Ready to discover some of the earth’s coolest underground sights? Here’s where to start digging.

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