There is nothing more thrilling than traveling over a road that demands our utmost attention and skill. Though most roads generally are safe, there are those carved into the faces of steep mountains with several thousands of feet of sheer drops just a foot away from your wheel, dizzying hairpin turns, and other dangerous features.
These roads require more than your usual bravado. So, buckle your seatbelts, because we’re going to take you through 10 of the most thrilling roads you’ve ever seen in the world.
1. Nanga Parbat Road
Located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, Nanga Parbat is the 9th highest mountain in the world reaching 26,660 feet, and has one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
Beginning at the Karakoram Highway, this narrow gravel road no wider than a Jeep spans a distance of 10 miles along the steep mountainsides before reaching the village of Tato.
2. North Yungas Road
Constructed in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners, the Yungas Road is a 37-mile stretch of a route in Bolivia that starts at 12,000 feet altitude where the world’s highest city, La Paz, is located and ends in the Yungas region.
The Yungas Road is just 11 feet wide and reaches its highest altitude of 15,250 feet at La Cumbre Pass before making an 11,500-foot steep descent to the town of Coroico.
3. Atlantic Ocean Road
The Atlantic Ocean Road is a 5-mile road that cost $14 million to build. Also known as the “Atlantic Road,” it runs through an archipelago in Norway and was constructed between 1983 and 1989.
The road is famous for its arching, curvy bridges that almost feel like a roller coaster. In addition to the tricky bridges, the road is also subjected to brutal, unpredictable weather conditions that result in decreased visibility, windstorms, and sudden temperature drops.
4. Tianmen Mountain Road
Located in the Tianmen Mountain National Park in the Hunan Province of China, the Tianmen Mountain has a road with 99 hair-raising bends built into its side. The 7-mile-long road begins 656 feet above sea level and ascends a further 4,200 feet up the mountain.
Despite the dizzying nature of the road, the mountain is a popular tourist location with many visitors climbing a 999-step stairway, known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” that leads to the Tianmen Cave or the “Heaven’s Door”. (1,2)
5. Passage Du Gois
There is a road on the Atlantic coast of France known as the “Passage de Gois” that disappears twice every day. The natural causeway stretching between Beauvoir-sur-Mer and the island of Noirmoutier spans over four kilometers and is submerged under five to 13 feet of seawater twice during high tide.
This means it is only accessible one and a half hours before and one and a half hours after the lowest tide. Driving during high tide is not advisable. and parking on the pavement is also strictly forbidden. (1,2)
6. Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
Hailed as the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is a 34-mile crossing that connects the three cities of Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai in China.
The bridge has three cable-stayed bridges and link roads, and a 4-mile section that dips into an undersea tunnel between two artificial islands.
It took nine years and $20 billion to construct and is considered a significant milestone in the integration of the Greater Bay Area as part of China’s plan to create a world-class city cluster. (1,2)
7. Estonia’s Ice Roads
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It’s not an exaggeration to say Estonia’s ice roads are one of the most dangerous and fascinating roads in the world. Usually opened when the ice reaches at least nine inches thick all through the route, only speeds between 25 to 43 mph are allowed because any other speeds would cause resonance resulting in a large wave under the ice, which would crack it.
While traveling on this road, vehicles must maintain at least 820 feet of distance between each other, and seat belts must not be fastened as you may need to quickly get out of the car in case the ice breaks. (1,2)
8. Khardung La Pass
With an elevation of 17,582 feet above sea level, Khardung La is one of the highest motorable passages in the world and is located in Ladakh, India.
The constant view of sheer drops and hairpin bends make for a dizzying ride and is not recommended for people who suffer from motion sickness or altitude sickness.
Though the road is properly paved now, some areas are prone to washouts or falling rock, making the drive dangerous. Though there is regular traffic of heavy trucks and motorcycles to the Nubra Valley, special permits are required for travelers to go on the road. (1,2)
9. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Located in the Japanese glacial mountain range of the Hida Mountains, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a 23-mile-long sightseeing road between Tateyama and Ōmachi.
The route has an elevation difference of 6,500 feet between the lowest and highest points. Its most well-known attraction is the Murodo Snow Corridor, located 8,000 feet above sea level, whose snow walls reach as high as 66 feet during the spring. (1,2)
10. Guoliang Tunnel
This 3/4-mile long tunnel was hand-carved by just 13 workers to connect their village of Guoliang, nestled among the tall Taihang Mountains of China, with the outside world.
The Guoliang Tunnel is 16 feet tall and only just 13 feet wide. With its tendency to twist and turn at unpredictable places, requiring constant attention while driving, the road is considered one of the most dangerous in the world despite its small length. (1,2)
What do you think? What was the most thrilling road you’ve ever traveled on?
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