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November 26, 2012

“Secret” spots the hot new travel trend?

Top secret stamp.

Top secret stamp. Photo: Mike Licht / Flickr

You’ve got a favorite restaurant that few people know about. Or it’s a cool location with a view that’s only meant for the locals. It’s fun to have secrets. CNN had this article: The rise of ‘secret tourism.’

The story talks about event organizers who build anticipation and unique experiences by keeping visitors in the dark until the last possible moment. In a way, it harkens back to the pre-Internet ways of travel: where you were never sure what you’d see when you arrived on the other side. Today’s world of the Internet, social networks and information overload can diminish the mystique of going abroad.

If you’re on the inside, exclusivity is fun: it makes you feel cool and in-the-know. For those who think the experiences in the CNN story are too manufactured, here’s a similar piece about underground bars and clubs in Japan: Hidden Tokyo. Now that’s a city I could live in for years and still not find all the awesome venues.

One of my favorite secret spots was a bar/restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan called People Restaurant (a.k.a. Shintori Restaurant). The branch I went to was down a set of stairs between two banks. Only people who knew it was there would find the place. Not a place where pedestrains would stumble across it. There is a big wooden door and no sign. The secret: stick your hand into a stone lantern, then the door will slide open. Inside, is a sleek, fashionable hangout. The drinks come in kooky, weirdly-shaped glasses. The popular item with groups were the “test tube” shots. A bowl of alcohol shots in little glasses that looked like test tubes. People Restaurant was my top spot to take visitors.

Do you have favorite secret spots? Please describe them in the comments.

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Category: Food and Drink, Notes from the collective travel mind

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