Trying to determine which are the world’s largest travel-related things without a Guinness record book handy is not as easy as you might think. For nearly every record there are multiple ways to look at it, and invariably multiple places or things claiming the title as its own. Next time we’ll probably be smart enough to spring for a book, but in the meantime this experiment has revealed some interesting trivia nuggets that one would never learn if they just accepted one source as the authority.
World’s largest hotel – First World Hotel, Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia
Up until very recently, all the world’s largest hotels were located in Las Vegas, and even today about 20 of the world’s 25 largest (by number of rooms) are located in Sin City. But as of late 2006, the First World Hotel in Malaysia has been recognized with that honor. Located in the mountain gambling resort of Genting Highlands about 20 miles north of Kuala Lumpur, this 3-star hotel has 6,118 rooms in its dual 23-story towers. Rooms start at around US$32, in case you are interested.
By the way, if you count the 1,290 rooms in the MGM Grand Las Vegas’ Signature Tower, they have a total of 6,338 rooms, but the MGM Grand doesn’t count those in themselves because it’s a hotel/condo hybrid. And in January 2008 the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas opened their Palazzo Resort next door, and they claim the combined total of 7,128 rooms makes it the world largest, but we’re not buying it because they have different names and different everything else other than the same ownership. Nice try, Venetian.
>>book a flight to Malaysia
World’s largest hostel – Danhostel Copenhagen City
Determining which is the world’s largest hostel (based on number of beds) was made difficult by the fact that the only hostel that appears to have ever claimed that crown in the past is only the 4th largest one we could find. With 624 beds, the HI Hostel in New York City appears to be the largest in North America, but at least 3 European hostels have it beat. The Generator Hostel in London has 814 beds, and the Generator Berlin location has 902, but until we find out otherwise, we are giving the honor of world’s largest hostel to the Danhostel Copenhagen City with 1020 beds in 192 rooms. This former office building has 16 floors with an excellent central location, and the amazing capacity of this place that calls itself a ‘5-star hostel’ helps explain why Copenhagen has so few hostels in general.
>>look for flights to Copenhagen
World’s largest swimming pool – San Alfonso Del Mar in Chile
This brand new resort complex on the coast about 60 miles west of Santiago has gotten quite a bit of publicity from what has already been recognized as the world’s largest crystalline pool by the Guinness folks. It’s actually a saltwater lagoon that runs for over a full kilometer between the ocean and the many apartment buildings they are still completing, but their filtration system keeps the water crystal clear, and at a steady 76 F, compared to the chillier water just over the barrier. The San Alfonso Del Mar lagoon covers 20 acres, is 115 feet deep at one end, and holds 66 million gallons of water, which is about 100 times as much as a typical Olympic size pool. It took 5 years to build at a price tag said to be almost US$2 billion.
World’s largest museum attraction – Titanic in Branson
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC is said to be the world’s largest “museum complex” in the world, but that’s counting 19 different museums. The Louvre in Paris is often referred to as the largest museum in the world, although by certain measures others claim to be larger. So instead we’ll feature the world’s largest museum attraction because it’s so certain that it’s even part of its name and logo.
Branson, Missouri wins again, now as host of “Titanic – World’s Largest Museum Attraction.” This half-scale ship has only been open since 2006, and already more than 1 million guests have had the chance to walk an elegant replica of the Titanic's Grand Staircase, and stand on the mighty ship's bridge and hear the Captain's commands. Your visit begins when they hand you the boarding pass of an actual Titanic passenger, and you get the thrill of checking out the Memorial Wall to see if they lived or died. Guests also get to “experience third class” and “feel 28 degrees water.” So it looks like it’s now time to stop making fun of Branson?
>>book a flight to Kansas City, Missouri
World’s largest casino – Venetian Macao
Move over, Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut, you’ve had a good run as the largest casino in the world, but that title now belongs to the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel. The Las Vegas Sands Corporation wanted to build a gigantic resort based on Renaissance-era Venice in Macau, China, which has recently eclipsed Vegas itself as the gambling capital of the world. So instead of going to Italy they just copied their nearly identical resort of the same name in Las Vegas (see world’s largest hotels above), except they gave this one a much larger casino. The total casino space at this resort that opened in August 2007 is about 550,000 square feet, making it about 60% larger than Foxwoods. They have 870 gaming tables and more than 3,400 slot machines to go along with their 3,000 suites and 1 million square feet of retail space. It cost US$2.4 billion to build, and by some measures it’s the third largest building in the world, trailing only the Aalsmeer Flower Auction building outside of Amsterdam, and the new Terminal 3 of the Beijing Capital International Airport.
>>book a flight to China
World’s longest beach – Praia do Cassino, Brazil
Several places are sometimes referred to as the world’s longest natural sand beach, so this is another one that is more than a little controversial. There is Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand, which is actually 55 miles long, and Ninety Mile Beach in Victoria, Australia, which is actually 94 miles long. The Bangladesh beach with the colorful name Cox’s Bazar, is sometimes called the world’s longest beach, even though it’s only 77 miles long. But the apparent winner is Praia do Cassino (Cassino Beach) on the southern coast of Brazil, which stretches 152 miles from the channel that connects the Lagoa do Patos lake to the Atlantic Ocean near Rio Grande in the north to the border with Uruguay in the south. Evidently you can drive and park cars on it, so it also seems to double as a highway in places.
World’s largest airport – King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, Saudi Arabia
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia is still the world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger totals, and Heathrow in London has the most international passengers, but for shear physical size you’ve got to head to Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The actual airport on the site is only about 14 square miles (3,645 hectares), but it sits on a property that is around 300 square miles (77,600 hectares), making it more than 6 times as large as the entire city of San Francisco, and more than twice as large as second-place Mirabel International in Montreal. Only open since 1999, they evidently decided upon such a large location for the King Fahd International Airport to facilitate any imaginable future expansion that might be needed. It’s about 30 miles from the city center, but at least they probably won’t need another new airport in the region for quite a while.
>>book Saudi Arabia Airfare
World’s largest shopping mall – South China Mall
For years the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, has been known as the world’s largest shopping mall, even though the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania actually has a bit more retail space. But as of 2005, the South China Mall in Dongguan has crushed them both. This new behemoth about 70 miles north of Hong Kong is larger than both of those others combined, with around 6.5 million square feet of retail space. There are 7 different wings with themes of Amsterdam, California, the Caribbean, Egypt, Paris, Rome, and Venice, and of course you’ve got to have an amusement park.
The only things missing at the South China Mall are businesses and customers. Of the around 1,500 retail spaces in the mall, only 4 were occupied by businesses as of June, 2008, and some sources say the entire mall will be closing before summer is over. The planners’ assumption that stores would open and crowds would come simply because it was the “world’s largest mall” turned out to be incorrect. With an inconvenient suburban location, the stores that moved in to begin with never had much business, so nearly all of them have left, and parts of the mall remain incomplete.
>>book China Airfare
World’s tallest statue of a turtle riding a snowmobile – Tommy Turtle
Trying to figure out what is currently the “world’s tallest statue” was one of the more challenging feats in this project. There’s the 328-foot Ushiku Daibutsu Buddha statue in Ushiku, Japan, the 380-foot Laykyun Setkyar Buddha statue in Monywa, Myanmar, which appears to still be under construction in summer 2008, and the 420-foot Spring Temple Buddha in Lushan, China, which also appears to still be under construction. Then you have the Maitreya Project's 500-foot bronze Buddha statue planned for Kushinagar in Northern India, which has evidently been in the works since 1992 and yet it’s not clear whether they’ve broken ground yet or not.
So instead we chose a less controversial statue category. Tommy the Turtle stands 30 feet and he’s riding a 34-foot-long snowmobile in Bottineau, North Dakota, just about 10 miles south of the Canadian border. If anyone locates a taller statue of a turtle riding a snowmobile, please let us know.
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