Winding its way roughly from China in the east, all the way to Italy in the west, the Silk Road has captured the imagination of travelers for centuries.
Though to call it a single road is a little misleading — it’s actually a series of ancient trade routes stretching like veins across the globe.
Encompassing an astonishing breadth of cultures, cuisines, and landscapes — from the exquisite craftsmanship of X’ian’s terracotta army, to the gasp-enducing horsemanship of rural Kyrgyzstan, and the futuristic architecture of Astana — it’s little wonder travelers are still packing their bags for this colorful trail.
We take a look at some of the best Instagram accounts from the region. Get ready for some serious travel envy.
yeatoah: The adventurous teacher
Who: Yeatoeh Lhamo Penjore, 24-year-old teacher and part-time fitness model from Bhutan.
My journey: Ever since the 4th grade I have been studying outside of Bhutan (India, New York, Singapore) so I suppose my love for travel and other cultures is because of that.
Also, since I was out of my own country for so long I realized Bhutan has so much beauty. I enjoy taking pictures of Bhutan.
Top Instagram tip: If you are passionate about what you do, your photos generally do the speaking.
thientravelography: The banker turned traveler
Who: Thien Bui, 29-year-old Australian, previously working in the financial sector and currently taking a belated gap year to travel the world.
My journey: I’ve been traveling for over a year now, starting my Silk Road adventure in Bishek, Kyrgyszstan. From there, I traveled over land through central Asia, Iran and Europe.
I’m currently taking a break from traveling so I may work on a fresh itinerary exploring foreign lands. My plan is to hit the road again come July.
Top Instagram tip: Forgo the selfie stick and point the camera the other way! On a more serious note, I approach my Instagram photos the same way I would with any photo — thinking of composition, light, shadows and trying to capture the unique moments in my travels.
f_arbolino: The full-time traveler
Who: Francesco Dominick Arbolino, 32-year-old American, currently full-time traveler.
My journey: I’ve spent six months on this trip so far, but I have spent over four years traveling, having visited 88 countries. On this particular trip, I’ve visited Indonesia, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
I’m motivated mostly by curiosity about countries that most people don’t travel to. I also have a strong desire to interact with locals. I find this easier in less-touristy places.
Top Instagram tip: If you like photographing architecture or landscapes, head out at sunrise for beautiful golden light and not many people to interfere with the composition.
If photographing people is your passion, start shooting about an hour before sunset when many people are still on the streets and that golden light reappears.
sanjitdas: The professional photographer
Who: Sanjit Das, 39-year-old Indian photographer based between Malaysia and India.
My journey: I am currently working on a photographic project documenting one river that crosses three countries – China, India and Bangladesh. It’s an attempt to see how a river can influences cultures.
Top Instagram tip:
1. Don’t bombard your followers.
2. Give relevant information with what you’re posting. People like to know what you sharing with them.
stefenchow: The road-less-traveled snapper
Who: Stefen Chow, 35-year-old professional photographer born in Malaysia, raised in Singapore, and now based in Beijing.
My journey: I travel constantly — around 100 flights per year — though not too long that I miss my family terribly. I travel mainly for work and for my project: www.thepovertyline.net.
Top Instagram tip: Be honest and who you are. I take pictures only when it inspires me personally.
jethromullen: The journalist
Who: Jethro Mullen, 36, CNN.com journalist based in Hong Kong and focusing on news in the Asia-Pacific region.
My journey: I moved from Europe to Hong Kong about five years ago and have loved exploring different parts of Asia, including Cambodia, Vietnam and Japan.
Top Instagram tip: Get lost. Often the most interesting pictures are the ones you stumble across by chance.
dimsumdiaries: The foodie
Who: Alejandra Wilkinson , 27-year-old English-Venezuelan working in marketing in Hong Kong.
My journey: Traveling and learning about new cultures has been part of my upbringing, as my father was always being moved around for work, so I love exploring new places — and particularly different cuisines! Wherever I go traveling, I like to pick places where I know the food is going to be excellent.
Top Instagram tip: Use a filter that’s going to make it look cool, but that doesn’t distort it too much from reality – if it looked good enough to take a picture of it in the first place, it’ll look good even without a filter.
theodorekaye: The ‘Stans man
Who: Theodore Kaye, 34-year-old Taiwanese-American photographer.
My journey: I travel on assignments mostly in east and central Asia, and have a long running interest in the post-Soviet “stans.”
Top Instagram tip: Mobile photography can help capture telling moments in daily life that we might not shoot – or share – otherwise.
willkernick: The mountaineer
Who: Will Kernick, 21-year-old British student and mountaineer.
My Journey: I have spent the last three years traveling as frequently as possible to both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. I am hoping to complete the formidable Snow Leopard Award (climbing the five 7,000 meter mountains in the former Soviet Union).
Only a handful of westerners have climbed all five, and it is my ambition to become both the youngest ever and the first British person to do so.
Top Instagram Tip: I am very new to this game, but you can’t go wrong if you only attach your very best pictures that are particularly visually spectacular.