The Most Instagrammable Places In Asia

23 Sep 2021

A trip to Asia is a life-changing experience. No matter where you travel across this incredible continent, not only will you return with some amazing stories, you'll also be able to snap some of the most enviable travelgrams on social media. These awe-inspiring spots will help you capture the majesty and mystery of the East on camera and are guaranteed to insta-spire your followers (or at least leave them with a severe case of FOMO) 

Chiang Mai, Thailand 

From the bustle of Bangkok to paradisal Phuket, Thailand is an exhilarating destination to discover. But, as you plan your travel itinerary, be sure not to overlook Chiang Mai in Thailand's cooler and calmer north. Chiang Mai temples such as Wat Phra Singh and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep are sacred and sensational, the old city and night markets a joy to wander in, and a trip in November during Yi Peng (the sky lantern festival) spectacular. Mae Jo University hosts a timed release each year, when hundreds of lanterns simultaneously launch into the night sky.

Temples of Angkor, Cambodia

This may seem like an obvious choice, but the significance of Angkor can't be overstated. Sitting in the northern province of Siam Reap, Angkor is considered one of one of the most important archaeological sites in South East Asia, and is so synonymous with Cambodia that its main temple is emblazoned on the country's flag. The entire site is impressive, so be sure to explore beyond the towers of Angkor Wat to find the gigantic tree roots that creep through Ta Prohm or say cheese alongside the giant smiling stone faces of Bayon Temple. 

Ginzan Hot Spring, Japan

Cherry blossom season means springtime in Japan is undeniably pretty. So too are the incredible colours displayed in autumn. But don’t be so quick to write off a trip in the winter; the sights are less crowded, and snowfall brings a whole new (camera) angle to the country's most cherished sights. Ginzan Onsen is a secluded hot spring town tucked away in the mountains of the Yamagata Prefecture. Ryokan (traditional inns) sit either side of the river and, as night falls, light up to create an almost Studio Ghibli-like scene. Set aglow and surrounded by snow, these inns make for a picture-perfect winter snap and an ideal place to stop overnight, with hot spring baths to warm up in and delicious kaiseki ryori (multi-course) feasts to tuck into!

Shah-i-Zinda, Uzbekistan  

You could almost lose yourself amongst the tiles of turquoise in Shah-i-Zinda. This complex of eye-catching mausoleums is an important part of the historic makeup of Samarkand, a city that has sat at the crossroads of culture for millennia and was once one of the most important trading points on the ancient Silk Road. To this day it remains a revered pilgrimage site and a must-visit (along with the nearby and equally impressive Registan square) on any trip to Uzbekistan.

Varanasi, India 

India is packed with colour and diversity: from the buzzing streets of New Delhi to the hush of Ranthambore National Park, from the shimmer of the Golden Temple in Amritsar to the rainbow rush of the Holi Festival. The holy city of Varanasi (also known as Banaras) in Uttar Pradesh is widely regarded as India's spiritual capital, with more than 2000 temples that seem to almost spill into the Ganges. Hindu pilgrims come to wash themselves in the sacred waters, cremations are held by the banks, and every evening pandits (Hindu priests) gather at Dasaswamedh Ghat (10 minutes' walk from Kashi Vishwanath temple) to perform a spiritually uplifting ritual of fire called Ganga Aarti. 

Hang Son Doong, Vietnam

Surprisingly, the world's largest cave was only discovered in 1990 by chance when a local took shelter from a storm. Hidden in the jungles of central Vietnam's Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Hang Son Doong (Mountain River Cave) is 200 metres tall, and is so large that it even has its own localised weather system. Collapsed ceilings allow sunlight to stream into the chamber and make for some astounding spotlight shots. However, you can only get these on a dedicated Hang Son Doong tour. Visitor numbers are strictly controlled for preservation purposes and multi-day expeditions are only run between February and August, by a single adventure company. But as you trek, climb, crawl, and swim to your final destination, you'll know the photos will be worth it!

Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore 

There's little chance of being bored on a stopover in Singapore. In 2019, the airport opened its new Jewel Changi terminal, and it has since become an instantly recognisable icon. The dome shaped structure houses the world's largest indoor waterfall: the 40-metre-high Rain Vortex, encircled by the Shiseido Forest Valley. Verdant walking trails are interspersed with playgrounds, fashionable retail outlets, and even a hedge maze, and at a night, a light show amps up the wow-factor. The Jewel Changi is linked to Terminal 1's Arrival Hall, and can be reached via pedestrian walkways from Terminals 2 and 3.

Zhangjiajie National Park, China 

Zhangjiajie National Park is perhaps best known as the inspiration behind the Floating Hallelujah Mountains in the hit film "Avatar", but rest assured, the real-world equivalent is just as dramatic. Zhangjiajie is part of the UNESCO-accredited Wulingyuan Scenic Area in the province of Hunan. It is dominated by more than 3000 towering sandstone pillars, and these are often enveloped by low hanging clouds or mist that rises from the forest-filled canyons and streams below. Hike, or ride on a Zhangjiajie cable car, to various vantage points around the park for a truly cinematic post. 

Balicasag Island, Philippines

Dive into the Philippines! No matter which of the country's 7640 islands you travel to, an abundance of snorkelling and diving opportunities will be at your fingertips. However, for some wow-worthy underwater snaps, consider a trip to Balicasag Island. The Balicasag Island Dive Resort is ringed by a reef on an underwater plateau, ideal for spotting schools of colourful fish and turtles amongst the gardens of soft coral, before dramatically plunging into the depths. Declared a marine sanctuary, this tiny isle is southwest of Panglao Island, Bohol and can be reached by boat from Alona Beach.

Bagan, Myanmar

Ancient ruins ascend majestically from the plains of Bagan. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, the area at one time had than 10,000 temples, at the height of the Pagan Empire. Now, around 2,500 remain: remnants of the first Burmese kingdom and the densest concentration of Buddhist temples and pagodas in the world. Travel to the Mandalay Region of Myanmar and on to Bagan to find the UNESCO-accredited Old City. It sits within the larger Bagan Archaeological Zone and is best explored either by bike — for some dramatic shapes and silhouettes to fill your camera's frame — or by hot air balloon for some extra special aerial shots.

Thimphu Tshechu Festival, Bhutan

The Thimphu Tshechu Festival sees Bhutan at its celebratory finest. Held annually at the Tashichho Dzong on the northern edge of Bhutan's capital, this religious ceremony takes place on the 10th day of the 8th lunar month (early October) and is witnessed by thousands of locals who come to give thanks and be blessed. Masked monks in colourful costumes move to the beat of drums and clash of cymbals in a sacred and choreographed dance. The Thimphu festival is a mesmerising spectacle: one that delivers an authentic slice of Bhutan's culture and makes for one heck of an Instagram story.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Time ticks slowly in Hoi An. As a trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries, this small town in central Vietnam was exposed to an influx of diverse cultures and an interesting fusion of architectural styles, from brightly coloured French colonial townhouses to its famous Japanese Covered Bridge. Ironically, the port's decline in the late 19th century meant that much of Hoi An Ancient Town was preserved, putting it on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites and very much in vogue again for travellers. Take time to admire the lanterns that drape across the streets of Hoi An old town, rustle up some tasty fare at a local cooking class, or relax on An Bàng Beach. With no major transport hubs, Hoi An can only be reached by road from neighbouring Danang, but once you arrive you'll be able to settle back into a much more leisurely pace of life.

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