• My top 10 travel photos on Instagram in 2015

If you are anything like me (and you are, or you wouldn’t be here), you probably have a hard time keeping up to date with all the inspiring travel photography content shared across different platforms on a daily basis.

Instagram is one of those platforms, and there are some really amazing people to follow that I will review in a future post. Today, I thought I’d share with you my most popular travel photos on Instagram, as a way to review the year that’s about to end.

The Visual Traveler profile - Instagram

The main reason I’m doing this is because I often share on Instagram photos that haven’t seen the light here on the blog yet, as well as some that probably never will. So, if you have an Instagram account, you might be interested in following me there in order to find some inspiration for your travels next year.

To give you a little context, my Instagram account predates the launch of The Visual Traveler three months ago. At the time, I had barely over 60 followers, and used hashtags very sparingly (if at all), so my photos did not get much traction.

Three months later, I am reaching 500 followers. This figure is far from impressive, but it’s taken some hard work and is still much better than where I began. As a result, many of my photos are now getting six to eight times more likes than previously, on average.

But you probably don’t care much about any of that, so let’s get down to it! Here are, in decreasing order of popularity, my top 10 travel photos on Instagram in 2015:

*Note: probably due to heavy compression, the image quality (sharpness, in particular) has been affected by the embed process, so if you have an account, head over to Instagram to see the photos with better quality.

1. Monk at Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery (Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar)

This photo would have made the top 10 anyway, but it wouldn’t be at the top of this list if it also hadn’t been kindly featured by the folks at The Culture Trip. This Instagram account features some gorgeous content and has a large following (over 24,000). Thanks to that, this photo earned an additional 608 likes, making it undeniably my most popular photo on Instagram so far.

This monastery is just outside Nyaung Shwe, on the shores of beautiful Inle Lake in Myanmar. If you want to know more and see more photos about Inle Lake, head over to my posts here and here.


2. Sunset over River Daugaba (Riga, Latvia)

Back in 2009, phone cameras were still quite rudimentary, and many people denied them legitimacy as photographic tools. Photographer Chase Jarvis set out to prove them wrong, thereby making popular the quote “the best camera is the one that is with you”.

This photo I took in Riga (Latvia) with my old iPhone 4 illustrates the concept quite nicely. If I hadn’t had my phone camera on me that evening, I would have kicked myself forever for leaving my camera bag at the hotel. Is it the best quality image? No way. And, as I mentioned above, embedding it here has made it far worse. But the original image looks much better, and I’m still glad I could take the shot.


3. Sunset over River Seine (Paris, France)

This is one of my favorite spots to watch sunset in Paris, although I have quite a few in the city I called home for over four years.


4. Sunset over River Mekong (Don Dhet, Laos)

Yes, another sunset. They are extremely popular on Instagram, and for good reason. If there’s one easy step you can take to improve your photography, that is to shoot more often in the so called “golden hour”, when the quality of light and the richness of colors can make for some stunning images.

This photo was taken in the 4,000 Islands (Laos) one of my favorite places to relax in Southeast Asia. You can see more photos and read about my time there in this post.


5. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Tiger Leaping Gorge, China)

A technically easy, but somewhat strenuous, two-day hike along the Tiger Leaping Gorge allowed me to get some striking views of the beautiful Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, located near the UNESCO-listed old city of Lijiang (China).


6. Shwezigon Pagoda (Bagan, Myanmar)

Although the appearance of Bagan’s impressive collection of temples and pagodas is dominated by the reddish color of brick, gold can also be found in many places, and nowhere to greater effect than in Shwezigon Pagoda.


7. Sunset at Ao Nang beach (Ao Nang, Thailand)

This is the fourth sunset on this list. I remember that evening very well as it was one of my last in Thailand before leaving for Malaysia.

I spent more than an hour on the beach watching the sun go down and the sky light up with rich orange, purple and mauve tones. I knew all along that I wanted to get some silhouette photos to make the most of those wonderful skies, and this runner provided me with an excellent opportunity.


8. Sunrise over Mt. Merapi (Setumbu Hill, Indonesia)

Another golden hour photo, this time at sunrise. I climbed Setumbu Hill mainly with the hope of getting some nice views of Borobudur temple, but it wasn’t to be, as I wrote recently.

Instead, I got to enjoy the majestic sight of sunrise over Mt. Merapi, one of the most fearsome volcanoes in Indonesia.


9. Basilica di Santa Croce (Florence, Italy)

A photo I took a few years ago but had remained buried in the depths of my archives. Be it in daylight or at night time, the Basilica di Santa Croce is one of the most mesmerizing sights I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. If you’re wondering how on earth I missed that the photo looks slanted to the right before I posted it on Instagram, so am I; believe me.


10. Life along River Ganges (Varanasi, India)

Like many places in India, Varanasi couldn’t possibly leave anyone indifferent. This photo offers just a glimpse of the daunting, often shocking, complexities of daily life on the Ganges river front. You can see many more photos (larger, with better quality) and read about my visit to Varanasi here.


Bonus: Parque del Retiro (Madrid, Spain)

This photo is part of a group of about ten other photos that got just over 100 likes, and thus would have made a top 20 list.

I could have picked others that I like better as a bonus, but I almost felt obliged to go for this one, since I still haven’t posted anything about my city, Madrid, on The Visual Traveler.

I think it portrays quite well how beautiful a crisp, sunny, autumn morning can be in Madrid, don’t you think?

That’s a wrap! If you have an Instagram account and liked the photos, I’d love to connect with you there. As always, don’t hesitate to leave any comments or ask any questions below.


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