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Best travel photos of 2018
Presenting our favourites from a year’s worth of photo shoots in some of the world’s most captivating places
South Africa
Credit: DNA Photographers

Our contributing photographers logged thousands of miles in 2018 as they crisscrossed the globe on nearly 40 assignments. They went to great lengths to get the right shot, whether hunting for wasabi among Japanese cedars or paragliding over South Korea’s Jeju Island, and they returned with footage that tended to surprise and delight.

Scroll through our editors’ favourite images below, and you may find inspiration for a new travel adventure in an intriguing architectural detail, a candid moment or a sweeping panorama like the Cape Town coastline pictured above. Click on the related story to learn more about the place behind the photo.

Wasabi Hunting

Credit: Irwin Wong

Wasabi hunting in Japan

Towering cedars blanket the mountains west of Tokyo, where wasabi thrives – if you know where to find it. Photographer Irwin Wong, who lives in Japan, joined a hunt with wasabi whisperer David Hulme.

Hitting the Road in Cape Town

Credit: DNA photographers

Hitting the road in Cape Town

There’s one Cape Town truth that’s undeniable: its amazing natural landscapes. Adventure awaits around every turn, especially if you’re navigating the coast along Chapman’s Peak Drive. Worthy stops include Hout Bay, where you can catch your own lunch. 

Getting Spiritual in Medan

Credit: Matthew Oldfield

Getting spiritual in Medan

Much of the culture in Medan, Indonesia, shines in its diverse places of worship. Marvel at the interior of Shri Mariamman Temple, Medan’s oldest Hindu temple, featuring Tamil-style architecture and flower ornaments on the temple ceiling.

Tai Kwun

Credit: Mike Pickles

Admiring Hong Kong’s new heritage project

After years of renovation, Tai Kwun, converted from Hong Kong’s former Central Police Station complex, finally opened as an arts hub. This sculptural stairwell aims to encapsulate Tai Kwun’s modern outlook amid its historic settings.

Jeju Island

Credit: Mike Pickles

Thrill seeking on Jeju Island

The dormant volcanoes of South Korea’s Jeju Island left it with a fertile landscape that’s just been discovered by adventurers and adrenaline junkies – including our own writer Cathy Adams and photographer Mike Pickles, who went along for a paraglide.


Credit: Julian Abram Wainwright

Island hopping around Davao

The city of Davao in the southern Philippines is a jumping-off point for exploring Samal Island and its smaller isles, surrounded by dazzling turquoise seas.


Credit: Christophe Vander Eecken

Keeping things not-quite-normal in Belgium

Welcome to Belgium: foodie, arty and odd. When in Brussels, order a local beer at La Fleur en Papier Doré, a surrealists’ favourite, packed with paintings, photographs and memorabilia dating back to the 1920s.

Sri Lanka

Credit: Mike Pickles

Finding wellness in Sri Lanka

A candid moment of delight in the fort city of Galle on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, right before a downpour struck. The country brings together magnificent landscapes, rich culture and millennia-old philosophies on how to find a better you. 

Sydney’s Chinatown

Credit: Irwin Wong

Celebrating Sydney’s Chinatown

A Sydney local describes how the neighbourhood has gone from the fringes to the mainstream, with public art that reflects a growing consciousness. Jason Wing’s In Between Two Worlds consists of 30 suspended blue spirit figures inspired by his Aboriginal and Chinese heritage.

Washington, D.C.

Credit: Greg Kahn

Reflecting on Washington, D.C.

The 1.5-kilometre-long landscaped National Mall park is flanked by Smithsonian museums, monuments to founding fathers and the country’s decision makers. You could walk (it’s all pedestrianised) or you could tour it by bike or Segway.


Credit: Mike Pickles

Getting grounded in Dubai

Dubai has developed at a dizzying pace to become the world’s tallest city. But exploring at ground level reveals quieter charms. Cathay staff photographer Mike Pickles took a wooden abra boat ride six times in one evening as the sun was setting – and came dangerously close to dropping his camera in the creek – to get this shot.

Cape Town

Credit: DNA Photographers

Soaking up the beauty of Cape Town

Cape Town is regularly voted among the most beautiful cities on the planet. It’s a city of magnificent beaches and dramatic mountain scenery; there is an abundance of cafes and restaurants; and storied neighbourhoods like Bo Kaap, a colourful hub of Cape Malay heritage.


Credit: Cedric Arnold

Riding a river renaissance in Bangkok

Boats ply the water of the Chao Phraya River, which is luring both tourists and residents with its thriving creative scene

Hainan Island

Credit: Mike Pickles

Embracing slow luxury in China’s Hawaii

Hainan Island is experiencing a luxury hotel boom, with recent openings including the Sanya Edition. It’s been described as wang hong, which means ‘hot on the web’, thanks to the photogenic entrance framed by rows of bamboo (albeit artificial) over a decorative pool and futuristic, understated white interiors. 


Credit: Nero Chan

Bridging the old and new in Macao

From the street, Ferreira do Amaral Plaza looks busy, even gritty, but an aerial view reveals its inspired kaleidoscopic design. Cars pass through this roundabout on their way to the nearby Grand Lisboa hotel, a longtime Macao fixture, or as they head south to newcomer MGM Cotai. 

Margaret River

Credit: Samuel Hesketh

Sizing up Western Australia’s Margaret River

We go to the source to investigate how a rural backwater has become one of the planet’s most exciting destinations for both outdoor adventures and fantastic food and wine.

Washington DC

Credit: Greg Kahn

Getting a hands-on history Lesson in Washington DC

Visiting the newest Smithsonian extension – dedicated to African American history and culture – is a powerful experience. The museum is organised like a vertical timeline, starting with the Atlantic slave trade in the 1400s and moving up to the Obama presidency.


Credit: Matthew Oldfield

Finding lakeside serenity in Indonesia

With its glassy surface and surrounding mountains, Lake Toba is a worthy side trip, about four hours by car from Medan. It’s Indonesia’s largest lake and largest freshwater reservoir, with a depth reaching 505 metres.

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