From bustling cityscapes to foreign faces to amazing nature scenes, this is your ticket to wanderlust.

Travel photography gives us a taste of faraway lands we’ve always longed to visit. To make your travel goals a more concrete reality, United Airlines has daily direct flights to more than 350 destinations across five continents, from the United States to Hong Kong to New Zealand. As a sponsor of the first-ever AFAR Travel Photography Awards, United awarded first-prize winners of the competition a pair of United Polaris business class international tickets to fuel their creativity as they embark on new creative projects. 

And while only two lucky winners received the grand prize, more than 20,000 photos poured in from all corners of the world—sparking some serious wanderlust at AFAR. Below are a few submissions from the 2018 competition that might inspire you to book your next trip with United now.

1. China
China attracts visitors from every corner of the globe seeking glimpses of its storied landscapes. The nation embodies a mindboggling dichotomy of modern marvels and old-world wonders: Teeming, futuristic cities contrasted with idyllic, rural countryside dotted with ancient architecture. The below image captures an intimate, artful side of China — a woman sits serenely sewing while cocooned in a swirl of nets, seemingly suspended in time itself.

 

Image credit: “A woman sewing nets in the Xiapu area, Kukian, China” by Juan Zas Espinosa

United serves multiple regions of China, making it easier than ever to access this sensory smorgasbord of a vacation destination. The airline offers flights — including a variety of direct routes — to hubs like Beijing (PEK), Chengdu (CTU), and Shanghai (PVG).

2. Hong Kong
Next door to China but a veritable world away sits neighboring Hong Kong. This intriguing part of the world is a feast for the eyes in more ways than one. Meander wide-eyed through Hong Kong’s mesmerizing streets — and don’t miss the incredible nighttime display when the cityscape truly comes to life in lights, as evidenced by the nightscape below.

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Image credit: “The Light Whisperer, Hong Kong” by Michael Ting
3. Australia
Australia is a bucket-list destination for those drawn to its remote and rugged landscapes, warm and inviting culture, and incredibly diverse wildlife. The below image, shot at Cape Range National Park in Western Australia, displays the raw power of nature and incredible beauty that this continent is renowned for the world over.
Image credit: “Storm Porn” by Katrina Hawley
4. New Zealand
New Zealand is another tucked-away corner of the planet where natural splendor reigns supreme. Whether you stick to urban centers and quaint towns or venture to Middle Earth-esque landscapes in the heart of the country, New Zealand is a destination with something for every type of traveler. This stellar shot showcases the crystal-clear night sky in Lake Tekapo, a small town on South Island.
Image credit: “Tekapo Sky Fall” by Jessie Williams

United serves New Zealand with nonstop flights to Auckland (AKL) from its San Francisco (SFO) hub.

5. The Netherlands
The Netherlands offers so much more than its capital of Amsterdam — although biking through the city is a great place to start exploring this captivating country. Consider venturing out to less frequently visited but equally awe-inspiring urban areas like The Hague, a city on the North Sea coast known for its lovely historical edifices. The below image shows off a soft, otherworldly view of the coastal town, with the moon softly illuminating the dunes.

Image credit: “The Sun and the Moon” by Cecile Gijsbers

Fly United to visit The Netherlands for work or for leisure; United’s Polaris business class offers unprecedented comfort for travelers. United offers direct flights to Amsterdam (AMS) from global cities like New York (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO).