Myanmar Photography Tour: Journeying Into Untouched Beauty

A 13 day trip to Myanmar (Burma) 
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Myanmar blends a revered collection of photogenic ingredients. Otherworldly landscapes are untouched by development, remote hill tribes are unknown to the world and ancient religious worlds crumble across the jungle.  Welcoming locals are happy to share tea and friendship, and best of all, the country has been photographed by very few foreigners. The images captured on this 13-day photographers' tour will be redolent and raw, enveloped in mystique and bathed in the surrealist hues of an enigmatic destination.

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General Information

Myanmar Tour - Young monks running at temple in Bagan
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda, Bagan, Shwezigon Pagoda, Ananda Temple, Manuha Temple, Nanbaya Temple, Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple, Shwesandaw Stupa, Irrawaddy River, Mandalay, Mandalay Hill, Inle Lake, Nyaung Oak, Sittwe, Sittwe Fish Market, Mrauk U, Shittaung Temple, Htukkanthein Temple, Kothaung Temple, Chin State Villages

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Yangon – Golden Landscapes of Shwedagon

Gold shimmers at sunset as the light bounds off the facade of Shwedagon Pagoda, the preeminent religious image in a religious country. Pilgrims wander around the complex to stop to pray at various Buddha images. There's a serenity here in the small rooms that fill with the rolling chants of monks. There is also action as hundreds of locals kneel on the floor around the gold. As you land in Yangon, take the time to relax and freshen up before a sunset visit to Shwedagon Pagoda. The light changes by the minute as the temple flickers through the tones and the scenes before the drop into a luminous blackness. It's an excellent location to test out your skills in different lighting conditions, and enjoy a huge range of potential subjects and angles.

What's Included: accommodation, airport transfer, tour

Day 2: Yangon – Colonial Relics of Rangoon

Today you will wander through old-world Rangoon, the British colonial city that stands in an evocative state of ruin. Very little has been refurbished or rebuilt, but very little has been torn down. The central city still looks like a dream from the early 20th-century, filled with tight lanes of townhouses, traders, tea stalls, and the odd ox cart. Locals pull wooden carts laden with fresh fruit, street food stalls spill their fumes and colors across the lanes, and it's sometimes hard to know where the market ends and where the street begins. Today is your opportunity to document real city life, untouched and unchanged for almost a century; particularly when you're exploring the narrow lanes of moss-covered colonial apartment buildings. Expect lots of color, lots of smiles, and many authentic portraits of local life.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Bagan – Capturing the Iconic Temples

Bagan's landscape provides the iconic Myanmar photo, hundreds of sandstone temples rise on rural plains of red and green. Crumbled pagodas stand like lost sentinels while stepped temples reveal an architectural style from the early part of the second millennium AD. After the direct flight from Yangon, meet a local guide for a full-day tour of the temple landscape. Capture the gold-enshrouded facades of Bagan's most important temples, find sand artists working beneath 800-year-old murals, photograph goats as they graze beside ancient stupas, and discover the intricate details amongst a huge temple complex. Bagan is all about the little details, from a horse-drawn cart beneath the whitened facade of Ananda to red-robed monks in a monastery with only half a roof.

Sunset is the time to capture scale as the sky dances behind a mirage of dust that jumps from the plains. Be escorted to a lesser-known temple, where the sunset images are all yours, rather than shared with the Bagan tour groups. In the fading light, as the sandstone shimmers, the landscape of Bagan seems to reflect the essence of Myanmar.  Surreal, mysterious, and flooded with complex colors, your accommodation for these two nights is in Old Bagan, and you only need to gaze out of the window to see historical temples.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Bagan – Hot Air Balloon Aerials and Low Light Portraits

Bagan also dances in the early morning as the temples emerge from the gloom as dawn pierces the horizon. Soar above the plains at sunrise as your hot air balloon offers an incredible vantage point and a classic Myanmar experience. Float across the sky to enjoy 360-degree vistas with the Irrawaddy River snaking to one side and some 2,200 temples and stupas that rise on the other. Your aerial journey is followed by a second breakfast and some relaxed time at your sumptuous palace hotel. In the late afternoon, a wide-ranging group of locals will offer some model-style shooting amongst the temples. In the fading, yet redolent light, these portrait opportunities enable you to capture the faces of a nation and produce a unique set of Bagan prints.

What's Included: accommodation, hot air balloon tour, Bagan model shoot, breakfast

Day 5: Mandalay – Life Along the River

Today will be about relaxing as you cruise along the Irrawaddy River to document life along the riverbanks. Women wash colorful robes in the shallows, children splash and throw footballs around, while men lead ox carts along the banks. The Irrawaddy defines Myanmar, an ancient waterway that snakes past historical cities and remote villages. It's not an easy landscape to photograph but one that rewards patience. Disembark in Mandalay, to be whisked onto Mandalay Hill for sunset. Many novice monks come here at this time, and they're eager to converse with foreigners and provide an endearing focal point as the sun dips behind the distant hills. Unlike many destinations, Myanmar hasn't been oversaturated by camera-pointing tourists. Tourism remains a novelty, and most locals are keen to engage in conversation and engage with the lens. Having a local guide helps to smooth out the communication and provide greater insight into the cultures you find.

What's Included: accommodation, cruise, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 6: Inle Lake – Novice Monastery and Fishermen Sunset

Barefooted monks wander across the broken stone of a 700-year-old monastery, and their robes provide generous shocks of color as spirals of burning incense flutter past towering images of Buddha. Most of these monks are younger than 12 years old, and every portrait contains a contradiction as serene Buddhism meets the exuberance of youth. Today, fly from Mandalay to Heho to meet a new guide and travel to a novice monastery in the hills. Enjoy free reign at a location that has rarely been seen by foreigners and then continue to Inle Lake as the fishermen provide an inspiring sunset scene. The men row with their legs and cast spherical nets with photogenic elegance to grace the lake like rhythmic gymnasts dancing to the dipping sun. Travel onto the lake by boat for this late-afternoon free shoot.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Inle Lake – Ruins of Nyaung Oak and Shan Villages

The stupas of Nyaung Oak are carved with images from another realm; Buddhas, elephants, devas and peacocks with fairytale wings abound. They rise with tranquility among an overgrown landscape and stand picturesquely for an intrepid camera. From here, a walkway leads you past hundreds of 18th-century stupas and then into a bamboo forest as javelins of light flicker through the poles. Now travel into the surrounding hills, where tiny Shan villages present a life unchanged for centuries. Locals gather around a pot of bitter tea, and weather-beaten faces provide indelible portraits as children ride on the back of buffalo. On this relaxed day, you will have so many different subjects and scenes as the guide takes you from the religious relics of Inle Lake to the vibrant villages of the hills.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Inle Lake to Sittwe – Sunrise Market Scenes

The Inle market rotates on a five-day schedule to travel to the different villages that line the remote banks of the water. Sunrise is when these markets are most atmospheric as traders arrive in narrow boats laden with goods, tribal headdresses shine in the quiet light, fires crackle beneath cauldrons of tea, and there's rarely a tourist in sight. This early time is when the locals shop and the traders are shouting as they do their business before the languid heat of the day takes its toll. Photographing the market is complemented by a boat journey through the channels of stilt villages that grace the lake. Children wave from open windows, avenues of wooden houses reflect in the water, and locals clamber down the steps in their wide-rimmed floral hats. Later in the day, travel to Heho and fly to the far west of Myanmar and Sittwe, a town dominated by inland waterways draining into the Bay of Bengal.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Sittwe to Mrauk U – Sittwe Fish Market Shoot and Onwards to Mrauk U

Sittwe offers an absorbing setting. Endless water roams beneath distant hills, the battered traces of colonial architecture still peak above the trees, and locals smear their faces with the unusual hue of thanaka. This setting delights in the morning light, especially at the fish market, where the chaos of trade captivates. It's fast and furious here as everyone shouts among a flamboyant scene of colors and crumpled faces. It makes for a vibrant two hours of photography where there's little chance to stop and consider; at the Sittwe fish market, you must roll with the speed of the traders. In the late morning, wind further into remote Myanmar to take the ferry to Mrauk U, a journey that's filled with local faces and the charms of rural life.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, ferry, breakfast

Day 10: Mrauk U – Chin State Tattoo Tribe Villages

Most of Chin State is out of bounds for foreigners; a land of minority tribes and thick jungle, the area has rarely been seen by the world. This tour offers an exclusive opportunity to visit three tattoo tribe villages in Chin State, places that require complex governmental permissions to be arranged at least two months in advance. Evocative and inspiring, the locals offer some of the most unique portrait photography you will ever know. Their faces are etched in tattooed lines, tribal geometric marks beside soulful eyes and mysterious expressions. With a specialist local guide, you will have incredible access, and there will be a mix of free shooting and model-style shooting with prearranged tribal locals. It's hard to know how much of their culture will remain over the coming generations, making this a place for photos of high impact that portray a part of the world that has been unseen.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Mrauk U – Unique Temple Jungle Landscapes

Some 700 temples hide in the jungle green of Mrauk U, many blurs the distinction between nature and ancient heritage. Branches wind across stupas in decay while roots push themselves through the cracks of the area's religious history. Atmospheric corridors lead you through Sanskrit murals while elaborate shines are laced in the coils of gold leaf. Mythical carvings include three-headed elephants and medieval monsters. Mosaic Buddhas are guarded by quaint ogres, and the temples scatter out among wisps of the jungle. Mrauk U provides what is probably Asia's weirdest collection of Buddhist monuments and it feels as if you've entered an imaginary world, and one that can certainly only be understood with a local guide alongside you. You will enjoy the strangest and most unusual of the temples, astonishing subjects for any camera.

What's Included: accommodation, guided tour, breakfast

Day 12: Mrauk U to Sittwe to Yangon – A Novice Nunnery on Route Back to Yangon

Before leaving Mrauk U, you will be guided to a novice nunnery, where young women provide soulful expressions in the morning light. This final dedicated photo stop feels like quintessential Myanmar. It's tranquil and welcoming and endearing as the residents encourage you to share tea and chat before they pose for the camera. From here, it's back to Sittwe on the ferry and then onwards to Yangon by plane. Touch down in the old capital and the evening markets provide another atmospheric scene for the last lingering images of Myanmar and its complexities.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, ferry, tour, breakfast

Day 13: Yangon – Departure

Myanmar's recent developments in travel allow for a range of new flight options in and out of Yangon. There's no longer any need to connect through Bangkok, which makes the journey home much quicker than it would have been a few years ago. After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight.

What's Included: airport transfer, breakfast


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.