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Weird cities and more - when you want something different


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Do you lack inspiration when it comes to picking your holiday? Perhaps you are now itching for a change from the stereotypical beach resort where all is centred around sun loungers, buffet meals and the pool. If you're someone who also enjoys city breaks, maybe you have already done Paris, Rome and Madrid and want to experience something out of the ordinary?

CzarnobylIf you want something different, it seems you are not alone. A couple of years ago, travel guide provider Lonely Planet produced a list of the 10 most eccentric cities.

Some are extremely well-known - such as that most iconic of cities, Las Vegas. We've become used to seeing its landmark buildings including the replica Eiffel Tower or Venetian canals on TV, so while it is truly amazing, many can feel a sense of déjà vu when they actually arrive.

Tokyo again is well-documented - although is less of a tourist trap. But, it certainly has more than its share of eccentricities in the form of microsized pod hotels, sumo wrestling and an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant.

But, for the totally bizarre, what about Songjiang? This district of Shanghai, China, also goes by the name of Thames Town. This strange place is a copy of an idealised England, with fake Regency houses, a village green and traditional British pub serving pints.

If you love the United States, but perhaps have only visited mainstream places like New York or Disney World in Florida, check out the website This bills itself as the guide to uniquely odd tourist attractions.

You can check out what is available in each state - these include the Bottle Cap Museum in Michigan, albino squirrels in Connecticut and a weird field of 109 six-foot-tall ears of concrete corn, in Ohio.

Meanwhile, Chernobyl in the Ukraine is perhaps best known for its devastating nuclear disaster in 1986, but is now attracting tourists from all over the world. The Ukrainian government is backing organised tours and these are set to increase ahead of the 2012 European football championship being held in the country.

If you are planning to go somewhere unusual or off the beaten track, you should take sensible precautions. These include visiting the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website where information on potential trouble spots is regularly updated.

Be aware that if you travel somewhere deemed to be dangerous, such as being close to a war zone or where there is civil unrest, you may not be able to buy travel insurance, which should be viewed as essential if you are going abroad. If you buy travel insurance online you should find that all regions suitable for cover will be listed.

Remember too that you should let you insurer know if you plan to participate in any activities that may not be covered under a standard policy – for example bungee jumping,  rock climbing or white water rafting.

Equally important is the need to arrange your travel money before you go. Not only are you more likely to find a more competitive deal if you check rates in advance, but it is likely to be far more convenient to have your foreign currency to hand as you explore all that is weird and wonderful.

Published on behalf of Sainsbury's Finance

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