Travel photography

Our Best Travel Photos of 2019

Looking back at a year’s worth of inspiring travel photos commissioned for Discovery and Silkroad

These days, we’re awash in travel images; everyone’s a photographer, and every shot can be filtered and curated for social media appeal.

We explored the ways that photography affects our journeys in the August 2019 issue of Silkroad, the in-flight magazine of Cathay Dragon. We investigated how Instagram has changed places and asked photographers with different specialities to share the secrets of their craft. Indeed, putting together the dedicated issue was a reminder of the enduring power of a professional photo.

From the dozens of shoots we commission annually for print and digital features, we’ve selected our favourite original travel photos of 2019, including a drone shot of Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, above. The following images celebrate so many sides of travel, from cutting-edge architecture to vast, mysterious landscapes to serendipitous moments.

Click on the related link to learn more about the story behind each photo; we hope they will inspire some photo-worthy adventures of your own.

Credit: Cedric Arnold

Trekking with Lombok’s Pioneering Female Guides

The founder of Rinjani Women Adventures is blazing a trail for women in tourism in her Indonesian village. Come along on a three-day trek up to the summit of Mount Rinjani, an active volcano. Read more

Credit: Derry Ainsworth

Reshaping the Skyline of Tsim Sha Tsui

Local photographer Derry Ainsworth captures the gleaming Rosewood Hong Kong hotel tower and the revamped Avenue of the Stars – two of the many notable 2019 developments that have brought glamour to this harbourfront district in Kowloon. Read more

Credit: Daniel Valentin

Celebrating Sri Lanka’s Cuisine

Gisela Alesbrook, the head chef of Hong Kong’s Hotal Colombo, returns to her roots to showcase the best of Sri Lanka’s under-represented cuisine, including its freshly caught seafood. Read more

Credit: Cedric Arnold

Keeping Up with Ho Chi Minh City

For all great cities, there was that moment of relentless growth and fast change – and the future looked blindingly bright. That’s where Ho Chi Minh City is now, as it develops its startup scene and modernises amid a rich cultural heritage. Read more

Credit: Lauren Segal

Embracing the Outdoors in Seattle

Seattle is the US’s fastest-growing big city. But amid this energy, a slower pace of life prevails in its rugged green spaces, rocky beaches, art-studded waterfront and outlying islands – just a ferry ride away. Read more

Credit: Christopher Alexander

Seeking Out Jakarta’s Tranquil Side

Jakarta is as chaotic and clustered as you’ve heard. But it’s also a place of peaceful moments, if you know where to look, says local writer and photographer Christopher Alexander. Read more

Credit: Taylor Weidman

Cruising the Mekong River in Style

While sailing from Thailand’s Golden Triangle region to Laos’ Luang Prabang, an intimate two-cabin boat offers a rare opportunity to observe everyday traditions and wildlife – including ethical encounters with elephants. Read more

Credit: Alberto Bernasconi

Tracing Da Vinci’s Creative Legacy in Milan

It’s the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death and in Milan – where he made his name – art, commerce and invention have undergone their own renaissance. Still, some things remain timeless, like a coffee break at Camparino Bar in Piazza del Duomo. Read more

Credit: Tatsuto Shibata

Exploring the Japanese Land of Sake and Rice

As Cathay Dragon rolls out a new seasonal route to Niigata, we highlight six reasons why you should visit the region known to locals as yukiguni (snow country). Number 2: the local rice wine, a product of pure water, sake rice varieties and centuries of accumulated brewing knowhow. Read more

Credit: Floto and Warner

Sizing Up New York’s Next Big Thing

Built from the ground up, Hudson Yards is fast becoming New York City’s epicentre of dining, shopping and culture. Public art has been a major talking point, and its official emblem and centrepiece is the Vessel, which resembles a bee hive. The idea is to climb the 154 connected flights and pause on the landings to take in the view, the activity below and the intricate workings of the sculpture itself. Read more

Credit: Mike Pickles

Planning a Perfect Day on Lamma Island

Take a break from the big city with a day trip to laidback Lamma Island, where beaches, a mildly countercultural vibe and a few traditional fishing communities offer an alternative perspective to Hong Kong living. Read more

Credit: Jonathan Browning

Going Beyond the Glitz in Shanghai

Shopping in the financial centre has long been about glitz and glam, but now things are getting craftier. Photographer Jonathan Browning captured this rainy day shot while exploring the city’s flourishing pop-up community markets. Read more

Credit: Dylan Goldby

Searching for Seoul’s Most Authentic North Korean Cooking

Some Seoul restaurateurs are preserving the culinary heritage of North Korea by serving delicacies such as pyeonsu (dumplings) and naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles). We sought them out across city neighbourhoods, including Itaewon-dong. Read more

Credit: Cedric Arnold

Sampling Hoi An’s Legendary Dishes

The historic centre of Hoi An is as famous for photogenic streets as it is for dishes like cao lau and banh mi, whose mix of cultures and influences is emblematic of this ancient Vietnamese port city that once traded in ingredients from around the globe. Read more

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Discovery online brings together all the inspirational travel writing from our two inflight magazines, Discovery and Silkroad. Be sure to look out for the print editions when you next fly with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
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