Destination Instagram: In Pursuit of the Perfect Shot
It’s time to get those cams ready as you jet off to the best architectural feats on the globe.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia has long held an allure of ancient charm, and the Angkor Wat temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s a must-see for architecture nerds. But once you’ve got your fill of the majestic main complex, expore a little further and you’ll stumble on one of the lesser known temples—Baksei Chamkrong (above), which means “the bird who shelters under its wings”—it’s named after the legend of a huge bird that swooped down from the skies and protected an Angkorian king from the enemy.
The structure, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is a perfect example of 10th-century Khmer architecture. If you look closely at the main lintel, you’ll see carvings of the Hindu weather god Indra riding a three-headed elephant.
While you’re there... Visit the enormous, serenely smiling stone faces of Bayon temple.
Venture to Morocco’s Rif Mountains to find Chefchaouen, “The Blue Pearl.” Forget about filters here—the whole medina city center is splashed with an electric blue. Moroccan architecture is famous for its vivid colors, as each hue carries a certain connotation in their culture. Blue, for instance, is believed to have the ability to protect people from the evil eye. With a cup of mint tea in hand, take a stroll through the beautiful streets and by the end of the day you’ll find your Instagram feed drowning in a sea of sapphire buildings sprinkled with bits of bright pink and orange. If that doesn’t get you a few thousand extra followers, nothing will.
While you’re there... Kick back in one of the cafes that line the heart of the medina.
Head to Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine at the feet of the Inari Mountains for a taste of traditional Japanese artchitecture. Thousands of torii gates, coated in shades of red, line a reverent path leading you up to the inner shrine. Each torii represents a symbolic doorway onto sacred land, etched with the name of its donor. And of course—it’s the perfect subject to get all those Instalikes rolling in.
While you’re there... Shop and eat to your heart’s content in Nishiki Market—think fried fish cakes and fresh red king crabs.
Travel to Burma for an up-close art history lesson in the form of its golden stupa pagodas, which dot the entire country. Located on Singuttara Hill silhouetted against the Yangon skyline, the enormous Shwedagon Pagoda is steeped in 14 centuries of history. Put on some shades and get that camera ready for the sight of the setting sun sparkling on the gilded sides of the enormous stupa, which is plated with tons upon tons of solid gold.
While you’re there... Grab a bowl of mohinga, the delicious spicy fish soup that’s a national dish.
Marina Gardens, Singapore
The City of Lions is the perfect spot to continue your journey into modern architecture. Winner of 2012’s World Building of the Year, Gardens by the Bay is much more than just a nature park. Wander in the “Cloud Forest” conservatory, where you can experience the cool moist climate of tropical mountain regions: Head to the top and get a bird’s-eye shot of the whole area—including the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Don’t miss the Supertree Grove (left), a vertical garden that consists of 12 “Supertrees” stretching up to 50m tall, which collect rainwater for irrigation and take in air for the conservatory’s cooling systems. At 7:45pm nightly, the Garden Rhapsody light show delivers plenty of Insta-friendly entertainment.
While you’re there... Chow down a kaya toast or hit up a hawker market for chili crab.