UNESCO World Heritage
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia
David Lazar is one of the world’s foremost travel photographers.— Practical Photography
Welcome to our three country Southeast Asia Unleashed! photo tour spectacular. The heart of Southeast Asia’s photogenic best is definitely a ‘bucket lister’ for any travel photography enthusiast interested in Asia, or at least it should be!
The UNESCO World Heritage sites you’ll get inside access to are the ancient temple ruins and Buddhas of Ayutthaya, Thailand; the idlyllic French colonial Mekong River town of Luang Prabang in Laos; and the magnificent Khmer Empire temples and monasteries of Angkor Wat & Environs, Cambodia. To any of you thinking, “been there, done that”, please check out this Photography Life article and images, and consider a reboot!
“The Southeast Asia trip was great! It’s always such a pleasure to travel with David Lazar. I was doubtful that I would get good photographic opportunities in the tourist spots, but I have to change my mind: we went against the flow and off the beaten track as much as possible. In so doing I got some shots that I can define as “unique”, in places photographed millions of times. I think this is quite an achievement!!” – Paul D’, Switzerland
You might think that visiting three countries in two weeks means a lot of rushing around and waiting in airports, but this is not the case. While the schedule is full and packed with photo ops, these countries are all adjacent to each other. The flights are short, and visas and immigration are normally quite easy. In Thailand it’s free and available on arrival, for most nationalities. Laos & Cambodia are also visa on arrival. The trip starts and finishes in Bangkok, where round trip tickets from just about anywhere can be had at good prices.
Luminous Journeys’ “prime directive” is to always put our guests’ image making first and foremost, thereby ensuring that you get the utmost out of your multi-country photo tour experience. Any travel photographer, novice to semi-pro, stands to gain a tremendous amount from working with an outstanding professional, insightful teacher, and all around great guy like David Lazar. David is a Nat Geo contributor and widely published travel photographer with a number of major awards to his credit.
But impressive credentials alone are not enough! What matters most in this context, is that David is the hardest working photo tour leader in the business, and sincerely cares that your goals and expectations for the trip are met or surpassed.
Dates – Jan 21 to Feb 2, 2020
Lead Photographer – David Lazar (See David’s Gallery)
Tour Price – $5995 USD
Single Supplement – $955 USD
Minimum Deposit – $1500 USD
Locations Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai, Mae Salong, Thailand – Luang Prabang & Environs, Laos – Siem Reap / Angkor Wat & Environs, Cambodia
Hotels – 3 & 4 star, nice clean 2 star in Ayutthaya
Tour Type – Small group photo tour workshop, 5 – 10 participants
Skill Level – Suitable for ALL skill levels, novice to advanced
Physical Difficulty – Light to Moderate
Transportation – AIR: 1 internal flight, Bangkok – Chiang Rai; 3 international flights, Chaing Mai – Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang – Siem Reap, Siem Reap – Bangkok. LAND: Late model air conditioned vans w/ plenty of space, or 24 seat late model bus. Extra gear can be safely left with the vehicles
Lux Welcome Dinner Party in Bangkok near Wat Arun, Chao Phraya River
Private Photo Session w/ Mekong Elephants
World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat + Extraordinary Hidden Temples
Remote Akha Tribal Village & Tea Plantation
The Warm & Welcoming People of Southeast Asia
Amazing Southeast Asian Cuisine!
Southeast Asia Photo Tour Workshop
While some of you will arrive a day early to get acclimated, those arriving today should try to do so by 1 pm, if possible. David Lazar will conduct an orientation & slideshow at 3 pm at the hotel. Afterwards you’ll continue with a more informal orientation at a local watering hole. As the sun drops, photograph the magnificent Wat Arun on the Chao Phraya River from a premium vantage point. A sumptuous Thai Welcome Dinner follows.
After a rooftop breakfast with river views, photograph the gorgeous multi-temple grounds of Wat Po & its massive reclining Buddha. Return to hotel for photography discussion and a little free time before heading to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya. David has arranged shoots at a minimum two prime ruin locations, the first with monks in orange robes and the second during sunset at a magnificent ancient temple location.
Day 3 – Ayutthaya – Chiang Rai –Blissful Buddha & Temples Wild
This morning visit an old monastery with a giant interior seated Buddha, plus many Buddha rooms for environmental portraiture with Buddhist monks. Then it’s about an hour and a half drive to the airport for the flight to the far north and beautiful Chiang Rai. Photograph the oddly ornate white temple of Wat Rong Khun which has to be seen to be believed. It’s brilliant blue counterpart at twilight is perhaps more so! Great dinner spot on the river follows.
Day 4 – Chiang Rai – Mae Salong – Tribal Portraits and a Tea Plantation
As travel photographers it’s sometimes necessary to capture high quality images in touristy locations. But that does not mean it cannot be fun. This morning’s envoronmental portrait sessions with Padaung (brass neckrings) and Lahu (stretched earlobes) tribes present a great opportunity to see how David Lazar works the scene. And as always you are free to go off on your own. Last year we had to pry participants out of the village!
Day 5 – Mae Salong –Equestrian Monks & Remote Akha Village
Optional visit to a rainforest monastery where the monks do their alms rounds on horseback. We have to leave quite early, so if you are not up for it you can sleep in and enjoy breakfast on your private balcony with awesome views. Return from the monastery for an early lunch, then it’s off to a remote Akha village that has only ever been visited by foreigners once before – by us! Photograph ladies in colorful traditional Akha clothing working the remote mountain tea plantation.
Day 6 – Mae Salong – Luang Prabang, Laos – Sunrise & High Skies
Sunrise landscapes in this simply gorgeous mountain location, flight time permitting. Return to the airport for the flight to Laos and the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, which could not be more charming or picturesque. Golden hour free shoot in around a cluster of beautiful temples and monasteries before a glorious dinner and adult beverages overlooking the Mekong River.
Day 7 – Luang Prabang – Sunrise Alms & Turquoise Waterfalls
Every morning all over Laos Buddhist monks leave the monastery with their alms bowls in single file lines to receive alms of rice, other foods, or money. In Luang Prabang, with so many monasteries in close proximity, the number of monks is in the hundreds! Then head for the stunning Kuang Si Waterfalls and its numerous turquoise pools set in the rainforest. Built for silky slow shutter speed waterscapes. Have lunch at the falls and on the return, photograph at our favorite little Hmong village. Free time and/or afternoon shoot in Luang Prabang.
Day 8 – Luang Prabang – Elephants, Editing & Free Time
We meet with six mahouts & their marvelous Asian elephants this morning for their bath in the Mekong River. This is a private photo shoot near the retreat, and not open to the public. Once the exciting photography at the river is over, it will be time to feed & commune with the gentle giants. This includes Lao’s only White Elephant, who has quite the funny personality. These are rescue elephants (except for the baby) and very well taken care of. The rest of the day is free to do as you please in this idyllic town. David will hold image review and offer Photoshop help for those interested.
Day 9 – Luang Prabang – Siem Reap, Cambodia – Sunrise River to Angkor
This morning photograph Buddhist monks in orange robes walking along the river and then crossing the Mekong back to their monastery. A river life free shoot follows as time allows. Return to the hotel for check-out and then it’s back to the airport for the flight to Siem Reap and the mind blowing temples of the ancient Khmer Empire.
Day 10 – Angkor Wat & Environs – The Ancient Road Less Traveled
There were some amazing temples built by the Khmer before Angkor, which today are seldom visited. Some are clad in great tree roots similar to Ta Prohm, only there are no obstacles to good photography. We’ll photograph with locals and/or monks at two such temples today, as well as explore a rural delta village & take a relaxing sunset photo cruise to wrap the shooting day.
Day 11 – Angkor Wat Central – Of Temples & Goddesses
Today is about learning the strategies & techniques of shooting effectively in and around the maddening crowd. We go against the flow as much as possible, and otherwise dodge & weave various locations to offer you the very best image opportunities available. For those who want to capture the classic Angkor Wat sunrise, we depart the hotel at 4:30 am to secure the prime shooting positions. We also have a little known angle for sunrise shortly after the classic.
Day 12 – Angkor Wat & Environs – Return to the Road Less Traveled
Return to the road less traveled and some stunning, rarely visited forest temples, with local monks. In between are some rural villages to explore Khmer life in the authentic. Arrive back in time for an afternoon at the Bayon to get those “must have” shots. Nearby where tourists take no notice, water blessings of locals (and even their motorbikes!) are performed by monks, which are fun captures to get.
Day 13 – Siem Reap – Bangkok – Time to Say Farewell 🙁
The flight from Siem reap is scheduled to arrive late morning into Bangkok. Your return flight home therefore should allow time for any possible delay. If you cannot find a flight time that works for you, you can spend the night at an airport hotel and leave the next morning. There is a short stay hotel inside the airport called Boxtel. The closest real hotel is Novotel, 400 meters away.
*Please note the above itinerary is only a brief and subject to change, if necessary. Tour dates will not change. A 30+ page detailed schedule and information kit concerning traveling for photography in Southeast Asia will be sent to all participants approximately 100 days prior to tour start date.
Photographer fees and top English speaking guides
4 flights, airport & ground transport
All meals (Day 1 dinner to Day 13 breakfast)
Ample bottled water & refresh towels throughout
All entrance, zone and camera fees
Local model and/or village donations
International airfare to/from your home country
Drinks @ lunches & dinners
Trip cancellation or medical insurance
Gratuities for hotel porters, local guide/driver
End of trip gratuities for photographer tour leader
More Knowledge – Better Pictures