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10 of the Top Travel Destinations to Get High

Here are some travel spots where the drug culture is as fascinating as Italy's cuisine.
Drugs have always been a part of the human experience, and while governments illegalize substances and punish their users, people all across the world continue to seek out different states of mind. In many regions, drugs, like food, are culturally embedded in local tradition. And like tourists seek out travel destinations known for their great cuisine or music, many travelers are in search of local drug culture. From South America’s shaman-guided psychedelic trips and cocaine bars, to the Golden Triangle’s opioids and growing ecstasy market, countries far and wide have long lured tourists seeking the secrets of locals’ mind-enhancement. For an atypical summer escape, here are 10 travel spots where the drug culture is as fascinating as Italy's cuisine. 

1) Amsterdam. If you want to browse through menus of weed before lighting up in a smokey cafe, now is the time to hit up Amsterdam; tourists may soon be banned from some of Holland’s legal weed shops, though a coalition of activists seem to be successfully fighting against the effort. The Dutch government stopped the sale of dry and fresh psychedelic mushrooms a few years back, but you can still trip out on some psilocybin truffles before hitting the Van Gogh museum or cruising the canals.

Weed and truffles aren’t the only “soft drugs” available in Amsterdam. Amsterdan’s “smart shops”—though  dwindling to less than a dozen left -- sell a variety of substances to induce all kinds of legal highs. In addition to a variety of hallucinogenic products like herbal teas and peyote cactus, smart shops stock stimulants to provide focus or an excited buzz, relaxants to chill out, “herbal XTC” similar to MDMA, and extracts of Karton—a southeast Asian tree with effects similar to opium. They’ve also got “before-and-after products” to test your supply and then recover from it, be it alcohol, ecstasy or cocaine. For a full list of products to alter your mood or consciousness, browse the famous Magic Mushroom smart shop’s  online menu. 

2) Peru. In the Peruvian Amazon’s breathtaking rainforest are the Urarania, indigenous peoples whose religious sacrament includes a shaman-guided ayahuasca experience. Taking ayahuasca is not like taking LSD or mushrooms: It means handing your consciousness over to the “spirit vine,” and the fear-ridden path it lays out for you. Experiencing, or coming to terms with death, is often reported.

Ayahuasca is a psychedelic South American brew, often loosely defined as any combination of the psychedelic DMT with a MAOI, an enzyme inhibitor that allows DMT to be active when swallowed. Adding P. viridis, or other DMT-containing plants, to the MAOI-rich B. caapi vine can induce a profound hallucinogenic journey often accompanied by vomiting, aka “the purge.” Ayahuasca users report two to six hours of peak effects with one to eight hours of lingering effects, depending on dosage and the person.

One ayahuasca user explained how her shaman-guided trip spiraled into a terrifying nothingness; she felt herself die. Then, she  said:

“Suddenly I think I hear vague traces of music somewhere far away, but I’m not sure. Like a dim light in the darkness a sound of an instrument becomes more and more clear. ...The world explodes into beautiful music, colors and patterns as I finally realize that I’m alive. I am sucked back up from the dark void and my flame starts burning again. I cry and sob in gratitude as I return to the living world. Life isn’t over, I have been given a second chance. This time I promise I will do better. “Thank you, Thank you, I will do better!” I repeat it like a mantra, I don’t know for how long. I can feel the life energy returning to my body and it is fantastic.”
The region is also famous for its mescaline-rich San Pedro cactus, which, once ingested, can completely alter the user’s reality. A mostly visual experience, the San Pedro is  reported to change your perception of your environment, causing tunnel vision, chessboard or honeycomb sensations, and spirals. Four to eight hours after ingestion, the world’s patterns and lines return to their natural state.

One user  explained: