When you're crafting the setting of your fantasy opus, it's tempting to layer on impossibilities like islands floating in the sky and huge arboreal elf cities. It turns out the world we live in is full of fantastical settings and bizarre natural formations aplenty. Want to ground your fantasy world in reality? Check out these ten real-world fantastic places.

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand.
Most of these islands are little more than rocky spires jutting out of the ocean (photo, above), but with the vivid blue-green waters and dense tropical vegetation, they're a perfect example of an exotic tropical locale. It's easy to imagine them riddled with hidden caves filled with strange creatures, or hiding temple complexes populated by bizarre cults devoted to the glories of their alien sea gods.

Photo credits: Bali Tourism Board, St. Peter's Basilica, rexton, K.Muncie, Perrimoon, epicxero, ana_ge, john0philip, Jo@net.


This post originally appeared on Robot Viking.