Some locations dominate our Instagram feeds. They’re beautiful, but often overlooked since we see them all the time and may naïvely believe we already know everything about them. Photographer Jordan Hammond (@jordhammond) shares his experiences with these 14 Instagram hot-spots around Asia.
ZHANGJIAJIE NATIONAL FOREST PARK
Location: Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China
Also known as: China’s first national forest park
Notable feature: The pillar-like formations formed by chemical erosion.
“Famed for its “Avatar-”esque landscapes, Zhangjiajie felt like another planet. This trip in particular sticks out in my mind, as it’s the first destination I shot using a full-frame camera — which was essential for this image!”
ULUN DANU ENTRANCE GATE
Location: Bedugul, Bali, Indonesia
Nearby Sites: Pura Alun Danau Beratan Hindu temple, Kebun Raya Bedugul (The Botanical Gardens), Banyumala Waterfall
“The famous Balinese gates are at their most magnificent on the road into the Handara golf course in Bedegul. Make sure you’re there for sunrise, as that’s when you’ll have 20 or 30 minutes before your view is obstructed by cars, motorbikes, and tourists.”
ELLA, SRI LANKA
Location: The Badulla district of Uva province
Elevation: 3,415 ft (1,041 meters) above sea level
Nearby attractions: Dhowa temple, Bambaragala Peak, Ella Rock, Ravana Ella Falls, Nine Arches Bridge
“Morning runs to the station platform are always worthwhile. As the train creeps steadily through the tea plantations of central Sri Lanka, you’re given unrivaled views of the countryside and the estates that dot the hills. We met some tea-pickers who were happy to chat with us and let us try our hand — a moment I’ll never forget.”
GOA JOMBLANG CAVE
Location: The Yogyakarta region of Java, Indonesia
Ticket cost: 450,000 Indonesian rupiah (about 34 USD)
Best time to visit: Between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM to see the light streaming in through the cave roof
“After spending a year living in and exploring China, this was the first place we visited after leaving. After abseiling 60 meters into the depths of the earth and taking a short, muddy walk through a cave system, we were greeted by this magnificent show of light.”
What: A large, artificial island across the bay from central Tokyo
Nearby attractions: Rainbow Bridge, Palette town, Oedo-Onsen Monogatari, Museum of Maritime Science, Statue of Liberty replica
“I couldn’t ever imagine finding myself in a more unique and beautiful office space. If I were ever to work a 9-5 again, I think I know exactly where I’d hope to find myself.”
ARASHIYAMA BAMBOO FOREST
Located in: The western part of Kyoto, Japan
Best time to visit: Early April or November through December
Nearby sites: Tenryuji Zen Temple, Okochi-Sanso Villa
Symbolism: The Japanese consider bamboo a symbol of strength.
Fact: The sound created by the wind as it blows through the bamboo has been voted one of the “100 must-be-preserved sounds of Japan” by the Japanese government.
“Arashiyama is another destination best viewed at sunrise to avoid the crowds. This place filled me with sheer wonder.”
CHOI HUNG ESTATE, HONG KONG
Location: In the Wong Tai Sin district of Kowloon, Hong Kong
Also known as: Rainbow Estate
Houses: Nearly 43,000
Includes: 11 blocks of residential buildings, five schools, one parking lot, and many shops and restaurants
“We spent the morning watching schoolchildren run laps around the court while grandparents from the block went about their daily routines. If only it were law to design housing in such fashion everywhere around the world!”
FUSHIMI-INARI SHRINE & TORII GATES
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Also known as: One of the most well-known and impressive shrines in all of Kyoto.
Time to the top: Approximately 2 hours
“Though it can take two hours to reach the summit of this trail, we found the most interesting view (especially with a camera in hand) at the very entrance! Arrive during Golden Hour to watch the light pour in between the pillars, illuminating the winding path before you.”
Location: Agra, India
History: Mughal emperor Shan Jahan built the Taj Mahal as the tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Annual number of visitors: 7-8 million
“The Taj Mahal is one of those places which, in my opinion, can never be done justice in any photo. The intricate doors situated in the western mosque provide perfect framing for such an incredible structure.”
Location: Jaipur, India
Etymology: Nahargarh means “abode of tigers.”
Entrance fee: 200 Indian rupee (just over 3 USD)
“Situated high above the Pink City of Jaipur, this fort is the ideal place to catch the sunset, as the sun recedes towards the horizon.”
Located in: Angkor, Cambodia
Construction: Late 12th century
Architectural style: Khmer
Fact: Several characters in the Tomb Raider movies visit Angkor Thom.
“This spot was a particular highlight of our stay in Cambodia, and is another great example of why more tourists should visit destinations like this one during Golden Hour.”
Located: Angkor, Cambodia
Also known as: The largest religious monument in the world
Etymology: Angkor Wat means “Temple City” or “City of Temples” in Khmer.
Annual number of visitors: 2 million
“I’d already made the sunrise trek to Angkor Wat four times before, but had only seen a blanket of clouds cover the sky, dulling the landscape. On our final morning in Siem Reap, everything worked in our favor as the first light of day worked its magic above this incredible, ancient structure.”
GREAT WALL OF CHINA
Located: From Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west
Etymology: In Chinese, the name for the Great Wall is literally the “10,000-mile long wall”
Length: 13,171 miles (21,196 km)
Constructed: The majority of the wall was constructed from 1368 to 1644 during the Ming Dynasty.
“Having seen plenty of tourist-filled photos beforehand, we never expected to find ourselves perched atop the Great Wall at sunset without another person in sight.”
Located: Near Leshan, in the southern province of Sichuan, China
Constructed: Between 713 and 803
Height: 233 feet tall (71 meters)
“As we weaved our way down the cliffside staircase, I found it difficult to comprehend the grand scale of Leshan’s Giant Buddha. For the best shot, I’d highly recommend taking a boat out along the river for the most beautiful panoramic views.”
See more of Jordan’s photos on Instagram.