Should it be a surprise that Asia is home to many of the world’s most Instagrammable cities? While it may be true that the U.S. continues to lead with 116 million active users, Asian countries represent a significant portion of the 1 billion members overall worldwide. In fact three of the World’s Top 10 countries with the most Instagram users are in Asia, with India, Indonesia and Japan leading the way.
The capital and largest city of Thailand is clearly one of Asia’s most Instagrammable cities, filled with insta-worthy photo opportunities. But with so many attractions to choose from, where should Instagrammers head first? For starters, there’s the enormous Grand Palace, with several exceptional points of interest including the famous Temple of the Golden Buddha. However, visitors are advised to take off their shoes and be respectful of one’s surroundings.
Wat Pho Buddha
Adjacent to the Grand Palace complex is the must-see Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), extending 150 feet. Other can’t miss photo opportunities Wat Arun, floating markets and the tuk tuks. If time permits, visitors are also urged to explore away from one of Thailand’s and Asia’s most Instagrammable cities to see the ancient capital of Ayutthaya and the Insta-famous Maeklong Railway Market, where vendors sell goods right along the railroad tracks.
It come as a surprise to visitors that of all major cities in Asia, Dubai receives the most hashtags. In fact, the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates more than doubles the hashtags than its closer competitor. Located in the southeastern section of the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai is an extraordinary city perhaps best known as the home of Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower), the world’s tallest skyscraper, which nudges passing clouds at a height of 828 meters or 2,717 feet tall.
Burj Khalifa Tickets
Tickets to the observation decks start at 149 AED (about $40) but can be as high as 618 AED (about $168) to access the world’s highest lounge. Of course, there are some other exceptional spots for unforgettable photo opportunities. This includes the upscale Dubai Mall and Palm Jumeirah, with Instagrammable five star hotels like Atlantis and Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Among other hot spots for photo opportunities are the Dubai skyline, Dubai Fountain and the Mall of the Emirates.
With more skyscrapers than another other city on Earth, Hong Kong is often referred to as the World’s Most Vertical City. But there’s so much more than just a panoramic photo from the city’s highest point at Victoria Peak. Awash in neon lights, Hong Kong is home to many Instagrammers and insta-friendly attractions. Among the best are Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island, Victoria Harbour and Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. A 8 p.m. nightly, Tsim Sha Tsui is the place to be to watch the dazzling Symphony of Lights.
More Instagram-Friendly Hong Kong Attractions
Many more fascinating places for Instagram posts and selfies can be found all over the city, including Temple Street Night Market and Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street, the bustling Causeway Bay, Montane Mansion and the Central Mid-Levels Escalators, longest outdoor escalator system in the world.
Related: 7 Top Attractions In Hong Kong
Situated in both Europe and Asia, Istanbul is the only city in the world that holds this distinction. It’s also one of the largest, most visited and most hashtagged cities in the world, making it a hotspot for Instagrammers. What’s more, this historic Turkish megalopolis is among Asia’s most affordable cities to visit. The most prominent attractions in Istanbul are also its most hashtagged. This includes Galata Tower, Hagia Sophia Museum, Basilica Cistern and Sultan Ahmed Mosque. But the most photographed attraction is Grand Bazaar, among the world’s oldest covered markets.
The Grand Bazaar
Dating back to the mid-15th century, the Grand Bazaar is known by its residents as Kapali Carsi and has an estimated 4,000 shops across 60 covered streets, while attracting 250,000 visitors daily. Of course, it’s also home to the world’s oldest food halls, with all sorts of Insta-foods to photograph and sample. While the choice is up to the individual traveler, top Turkish dishes to try include kofte (meatballs), kumpir (baked potato), pide (thin crusted pastry with meat and cheese) and baklava (pastry with nuts and syrup).
Although not nearly visited as other major destination, Jakarta ranks near the top among Asia’s most Instagrammable cities. The capital and most populous city of Indonesia, Jakarta is home to over 10 million residents who represent multiple cultures, languages and religions. It’s also home to a significant percentage of people who regularly use social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and of course, Instagram.
Local influencers have several favorite spots for Instagram Stories like Museum MACAN (Modern and Contemporary Art in Nantara), the seaport Sunda Kelapa, the rooftop SKYE Bar & Restaurant and Kanpai Pik restaurant. But visitors will discover all sorts of hidden and not-so-hidden treasures, whether it’s the neon lights of the city, a street scene or friendly residents dressed in traditional garb, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah and a sunset pic of Ancol Beach. Visitors should also take photos of some of Indonesia’s most famous dishes, like bakpao (meat buns) and nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice).
According to the latest statistics from Statista.com, the country with the second most Instagram users is India. Mumbai ranks in the Top 25, with Asian cities ahead, like Dubai, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. But Mumbai is ranks higher in Instagram engagement in India. What’s more Mumbai is home to many high profile influencers, including singer Neha Kakkar, actor Kartik Aaryan and actress Jannat Zubair Rahmani.
Among the top photo spots in Mumbai are the historic Gateway of India, Global Vipassana Pagoda, Kanheri Caves, Nariman Point, any photo of Lord Ganesha and Shree Siddhivinayak. Additional spots includes luxury hotels like the InterContinental Marine Drive-Mumbai, St. Regis Mumbai and the Taj Mahal Palace. Visitors to other parts of India may wish to visit the capital city of New Delhi, as it’s much closer to India’s most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal in Agra.
As possibly the world’s most connected city, Seoul is a veritable hotbed of Instagram activity. As the capital and largest city, Seoul has scores of famous landmarks and attractions. For history buffs, there are places like Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Heunginjimun Gate and the War Memorial of Korea.
Instagram Friendly Seoul
Hipsters may prefer contemporary attractions like N Seoul Tower, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Myeongdong shopping area and Gangnam District, home to K-Pop stars. Even more hotspots are Starfield COEX Mall, Asia’s largest underground shopping mall, the setting for Psy’s famous Gangnam Style video. Still with a population larger than Hong Kong and New York, Seoul has multiple locales to take selfies. Further recommendations are Lotte Tower, Bukchon Hanok Village, Jogyesa Buddhist temple and Olympic Park.
Featuring one of the world’s most photographed hotels, Singapore is clearly amongst Asia’s most Instagrammable. Now instantly recognizable, Marina Bay Sands is a dazzling luxury hotel with three distinctive towers and rooftop infinity pool. But with a unique blend of historical sites and 21st century technology, there are endless selfie and social media opportunities.
Instagram-Friendly Singapore Attractions
Singapore’s second-most hashtagged attraction, Gardens by the Bay, is just a short walk from Marina Bay Sands. Practically universally recognized, Gardens of the Bay is home to Flower Dome, the world’s largest glass greenhouse. But it’s the enormous supertrees that attract large number of social media influencers and photo hobbyists. Additional photo opportunities are at Helix near Marina Bay Waterfront, Chijmes historic building complex, Jurong Bird Park, Sentosa Skyline Luge and Universal Studios Singapore.
Recently named the world’s best city for expats to live and work abroad, Taipei is a mix of Chinese culture and urban chic. The capital and a special municipality of Taiwan offers one of the best top 10 attraction lists in all of Asia. Perhaps leading the list is Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building between 2004-2010 and once the world’s green building. Designed in a post-modernist architectural style, Taipei 101 features indoor and outdoor observation decks and general admission tickets start at NT$ 600 or about $20.
Much smaller in population compared to other neighboring metropolises, Taipei still is one of Asia’s most Instagrammable cities and makes for an unforgettable visit, bustling with Instagram-friendly moments at every corner. While Taipei 101 is easily the most visible, additional hotspots include Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, National Palace Museum, Longshan Temple, 228 Peace Park and for the best views of the city, Elephant Mountain.
World renowned for its natural beauty and ancient temples, Japan has several notable landmarks all over the island nation. Take for instance the mystical pathway of 5,000 tori gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, the lone Tori in Hakone and naturally, the majestic Mount Fuji. But for the sheer number of Instagrammable opportunities, it’s Tokyo, the capital, most populous and most hashtagged city.
Among the world’s largest cities and the largest urban area with more than 40 million people, Tokyo has so many attractions to cover, it might require a lifetime of visits to see everything. Several sources offer multiple Instagrammable spots in Tokyo, such as Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, the fascinating Golden Gai, the neon in the Shinjuku District, the Ginza District and Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing.
Even More Tokyo Hotspots
If that’s not enough, there’s also the lively Akihabara district, the hip Harajuku neighborhood, particularly on Takeshita Street and Omotesando, Team Lab Borderless and the tori gates of Hie Shrine. Foodies have several Michelin star restaurants to explore although some like Sukiyabashi Jiro and Sushi Saito are nearly impossible to book. If time permits, Instagrammers must not miss the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) in Kamakura, an 80-minute train ride from central Tokyo.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He earned a media fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.