Chances are you used Instagram to get inspiration or to share your experiences with friends and family. Or if you’re like me, Instagram is a perfect social media platform to connect with travelers and tour suppliers. According to Brandwatch, in 2017, Instagram’s estimated revenue was $4 billion, and by 2019, the revenue could be over $10 billion. And Impact reported that 72% of Instagram users made their purchase decisions based on what they saw on Instagram.
When I was looking for a Sri Lankan tour operator, I didn’t google or call a tour operator. Instead, I contacted Tourmaster Sri Lanka, a Dutch travel company based in Sri Lanka via Instagram, who had followed my Instagram account a year earlier. So, if you love sharing photos on Instagram and you’re looking for inspiration to visit Sri Lanka, here are my 10 best Instagram spots:
Sigiriya is Sri Lanka’s most visited site. This ancient rock fortress is surrounded by an extensive network of water gardens and reservoirs. Known as Lion Rock, this 350 meter (1149 feet) massive rock is made of moats and gardens at the base, the mirror wall, Sigiriya wall paintings, and the Lion Gate (with lion paws) at the mid-level terrace and the flat top is where the remains of the upper palace and temple are located.
To get to the mid-level and the top, you’ll have to climb over 1,200 stairs, some are very steep, especially towards the top. The mid-level terrace is where you can capture the lion’s paws.
Going on a jeep safari to see elephants at play was one of the most exhilarating experiences I had in Sri Lanka. We spotted not just one, but at least 20 elephants at five different locations, some were too close for my comfort.
3. Galle Fort
Built by the Portuguese in 1588 and fortified by the Dutch in the 1600s, Galle Fort is the perfect location to catch the Sri Lankan sunset. Get there at around 5 to 6:30 pm, stroll along the fort walls and watch the sun go down.
4. Ella train station
Travel back in time to the old Ella train station. Ella, a village in the hills of Sri Lanka is close to cloud forests and tea plantations. Tourists embark (or disembark, depending on which direction you’re traveling) on a scenic train ride from Ella to Nano Oya station, a station just outside Nuwara Eliya or Kandy and vice versa.
Capture the station master at work or the people standing at the edge of the train tracks waiting for the train to arrive.
5. On the train
You cannot hang out of the doors of a train in the US, but you can do so in Sri Lanka. On the vintage train, tourists rush to the open doors to have an opportunity to ‘hang out’ and snap a shot when the train twists and turns around the bend.
Or capture shots of tea plantations, lush green forests or locals walking on the train track behind the passing train.
6. Tea plantations
There aren’t many places in the world where you’re able to stop by the roadside and snap photos of tea plantations and ladies at work at the estate. On the hills of Nuwara Eliya, a town at over 6,000 (1868 meters) elevation, you can visit tea plantations and may have the opportunity to pluck tea leaves too.
7. Fresh markets
The Central Market in Nuwara Eliya is a conglomerate of colors and a feast to the senses. You get a sense of what the locals crave for on their dinner table and learn about the different spices and grains available in Sri Lanka.
Grab your camera, and go to one of the fresh markets in the country and share it on Instagram.
8. Sri Lankan food
Step into any restaurants in Sri Lanka, and you’ll find the different versions of curry. And rice and curry are on the menu from breakfast to dinner. Having breakfast included in all my hotels allowed me to see a substantial variation of curry, chili, rice, and desert in Sri Lanka. To me, local food is one of the best things to share on Instagram. Here’s a snapshot of coconut sambol – a side dish made of freshly grated coconut, blended with onion, chili powder, lime, salt and tomato paste.
9. Kandy Lake
To get the best views of the ancient Kandy city and the man-made Kandy Lake, either go to the Kandy View Point or the top floor of Ozo Kandy Hotel. I took this photo from Ozo Kandy Hotel’s rooftop bar at about 7 am.
Most visitors come to Kandy to visit Temple of the Tooth and to watch the traditional Kandyan dance.
10. Hotel with views
I like views with a combination of water and lush greenery. At the Aliya Resort in Habarana, there is more. At the lobby, admire the eternity pool surrounded by tropical trees and the stunning Sigiriya (Lion Rock) and Pidurangala Rock Temple. Look at this photo on a cloudy day.
Wild elephants in the national parks, a conglomerate of colors in the fresh markets, the sunset by the sea, the tea trails of the central mountains and more, but what draws me to Sri Lanka is its winding streets. The lack of highways makes it necessary to travel back in time through small towns using many winding and narrow streets –letting me into the authentic side of Sri Lanka.
Photos and article by Claudia Looi