A. P. Soe, what a star he is… Travelling & photographing the beauty & heritage of his fabulous country with him was an experience I will never forget. I learned so much…
–Richard Cawthra, United Kingdom
Iconic Myanmar & The Golden Triangle is a Luminous Journeys original. The itinerary not only offers the great photogenic icons of the country, but takes you off the beaten path for rare image making opportunities in the Golden Triangle. Here you will trek to the village of a vanishing tribe and spend most of the day experiencing and photographing them, visit other tribal villages where they still dress in the traditional way, and be able to photograph the stunning rice terraces at their photogenic best before the harvest.
The Big 4 Myanmar iconic locations are Yangon’s magnificent 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda, (plus fascinating street life); the floating world of magical Inle Lake and its uniquely photogenic Intha fishermen; the 2,220 strong almost surreal temple-scape of ancient Bagan; and many of the numerous impact image making opportunities of the The Mandalay Array. (Mandalay & environs is Steve McCurry’s favorite place in Myanmar to photograph).
A.P. Soe is the winner of numerous international photography awards, including garnering the most popular vote at the 2010 Hasselblad Masters. He’s perhaps the most popular photographer in Myanmar, as well as one of the country’s most experienced photo tour leaders. He knows the land, light and people intimately, put’s your image making above his own, and is also great fun to work with! To learn more about A.P. please see his Biography/Gallery and Testimonials.
“Since attending a Luminous Journeys photo tour in Myanmar with A.P. Soe, I’ve become so passionate about photography that I started traveling more, trying to apply the valuable techniques I learnt during the tour. People who see my photos sometimes ask me if I’m a professional photographer. This is how much AP helped me improve! I am very grateful to AP for that but also for being such a nice person and friend, it really made the photo tour an absolutely memorable experience that I keep building on day after day.”— Eddie Hui-Bon-Hoa, France
NOTE: Yes, the country is very safe for travelers. Safer that the US, EU, or neighboring Thailand. This is a fact. Myanmar’s very remote troubles have zero affect on tourism, except for the drop in visitors! This is all the more reason for photographers to come and enjoy the Golden Land and its wonderful people, not stay away. If you have doubts, please have a look at this article. And this one.
Dates – OCT 12 – 25, 2019 (spots open). 2020 Dates: OCT 25 – NOV 7
Lead Photographer – A.P. Soe
Tour Price – $5995 USD (only $428 per day!)
Single Supplement – $1150 USD
Minimum Deposit – $1500 USD ($2000 w/ Extension)
Optional Lost City Extension – October 25 – 29, 2019 (5 days)
Extension Price – $2395 USD
Hotels – 4/5 star, best available in remote locations
Locations – Yangon, Bagan, Lake Inle, Mandalay, Kyaing Tong &
The Golden Triangle. Extension – Sittwe, Mrauk U
Skill Level – Suitable for ALL skill levels, novice to advanced
Tour Type – Small group photo tour workshop, 5 participant minimum, 10 participant maximum. Extension requires a 3 participant minimum
Physical Difficulty – Moderate, with moderate hill trekking in the Golden Triangle
Transportation – 4 internal flights, late model air conditioned mini-buses w/ plenty of space, private boat at Mandalay
The Mandalay Array – Mingun & The U Bein Bridge
Fascinating Monasteries & Nunneries
Lost City of Mrauk U + the “Tattoo Tribes” of the Lay Myo River
Vanishing Tribes of the Golden Triangle
Stunning Rice Terraces of the Golden Triangle
The Friendliest People on the Planet!
Iconic Myanmar & The Golden Triangle
A Luminous Journeys representative will greet you at the airport whatever day or time you may arrive, no worries! Program begins at 3 pm with a meet & greet, followed by your first photo shoot at Shwedagon Pagoda and a nearby Buddhist monastery. A special Welcome Dinner & slideshow presentation by Aung Pyae Soe finishes the day.
Yangon’s intriguing old Circle Trains, which circumnavigate the city’s rural outskirts, are gradually being replaced. This will be one of the last chances to photograph with these rustic train cars. Stop at a lively rail market, then a novice nunnery w/ girls in ethereal pink robes. After lunch fly to the Golden Triangle in time to shoot gorgeous Thanlwin river scenes.
Photo-trek the main rice terrace area, as well as a tribal village or two. Among the dozen or so tribes living in the area are the Akha & Lahu, each with their distinctive clothing, weaving & religious practices. Return by nightfall to relax & enjoy a traditional eastern Shan style dinner at our favorite restaurant, which you will visit often!
Photo drive & trek into the hills to the mysteriously wonderful En people, found nowhere else on earth, and considered a “vanishing tribe”. The En are animists who wear all black and color their teeth black, both by a natural die and betel nut. Free access to shoot around the chief’s village, including low light and chiaroscuro interiors and portraits.
This morning photograph the fascinating Kyaing Tong market where you will see several rare & colorful tribal groups buying & selling. Return to hotel for free time and/or image review and/or Lightroom tips & tricks.
The only flight out is mid-afternoon, but we should arrive in Bagan in time for sunset temple-scapes in this truly unique, almost surreal setting.
Steeped in ancient mystique, the 2,220 temples of Bagan are one of the great archaeological sites of the world, & on virtually every travel photographer’s bucket list. You’ll be position before dawn to get that awesome temple-scape, great light willing. You’ll have a new sunset angle, & in between visit magnificent Ananda Pagoda and an orphan monastery.
Jam packed day of photography and culture, starting w/ an optional aerial shoot from a hot air balloon. Those not flying over the ancient temple-scape and Irrawaddy River, will have another angle on the temples from the ground. After breakfast visit Shwezigon Pagoda and it’s hall of pillars where monks enter and exit the pagoda, then shoot scenes inside the pagoda grounds. In the afternoon visit a nearby nunnery, followed by new sunset templescape angles.
Early flight to Mandalay, which is so rich in photo locations that we cannot possibly shoot them all! Street shoot in the cottage industry area where you’ll have special access to a marble Buddha sculptor’s private workshop. Visit the monastery of the fallen Buddha & other locations. Late afternoon drive to Amarapura & the U Bein Bridge, the largest teak structure on earth.
Catch the evocative city sunrise from our hidden monastery location on Mandalay Hill. Photographer’s choice of locations until afternoon Irrawaddy River cruise to the Mingun Complex. In addition to the massive, earthquake cracked Mingun temple, is the stunning all white temple of Hsinbyume, the 90-ton Mingun Bell & more. Our favorite schoolgirl models and young monks will join us – always great fun!
The little town of Nyaungshwe (gateway to Inle) is chock full of little monasteries and nunneries, as well as excellent restaurants. Lunch here at an LJ favorite establishment that features delicious home-made rice pasta dishes and a marvelous Inle style avocado salad. After lunch photograph the novice teakwood monastery w/ oval windows, then hit the lake. Sunset shoot w/ Intha fishermen.
Indein village is the home of Inle’s largest market, which draws various tribes from the surrounding hills. Free shoot the market & then w/ local monks at the nearby temple ruins of Nyaung Oak. On return visit the Kayaung for a “studio” portrait and environmental portrait session. The Kayaung are Myanmar’s most distinctive vanishing tribe, by virtue of the many brass rings worn around the necks of females.
Position before sunrise to photograph Intha fisherman as the sun breaks over the mountain & across the water to reveal a misty scene that is both peaceful & thrilling. We won’t even get into the velvety light Inle blesses us with on many of these mornings, because we haven’t the superlatives! Return to Yangon for sunset along the Wa Dan wharf, then to hopping 19th St. for fantastic Chinatown BBQ.
After the best buffet breakfast in Yangon, grab your gear & set out for a final street shoot in the lively & exotic Chinatown morning market. Your day is then free for image review w/ AP, shopping at the 2000 shops of Scott Market near the hotel, or lounge by the pool. You will have earned it! Special Farewell Dinner tonight, w/ spectacular views over the city.
According to your individual departure time, you’ll be driven to the airport and bid a fond farewell. You’ll miss this place, but fortunately you’ll have unforgettable memories that will continue to resonate for a very long time. Not to mention a slew of great new images to show off! For those who cannot bare to leave yet, the flight to Mrauk U departs about noon.
*Please note the above itinerary is only a brief. A 30+ page detailed schedule and information kit concerning traveling for photography in Myanmar will be sent to all participants approximately 100 days prior to tour start date.
Journey to the Lost City
Should you choose to go on the extension to Mrauk U… The Lost City is the stuff of legend. It was virtually unknown outside Asia in its prime; and remains so even now. It was as wealthy as Amsterdam or London by 1635, with a population of 160,000 including thousands of foreign traders, merchants & mercenaries. The Arakan Kings even reached into Japan to hire Samurai warriors, who became their most trusted bodyguards!
The kingdom controlled vast coastal regions from western Myanmar well into eastern India to the mouth of the Ganges River. When Mrauk U finally fell to the Bamar in 1784, it was abandoned and largely forgotten. Grand palaces, 19-miles of fortifications, and some 700 uniquely designed Buddhist temples were slowly swallowed by the jungle. Today the jungle is thick only with irony; these grand symbols of a once bustling dynastic capitol serving as little more than an exotic backdrop for what is now a sleepy rural village. The world still doesn’t know it’s here. You do, and you’ll have the rare opportunity to photograph it with A.P. Soe.
A main highlight of this extension will be a fascinating river journey to photograph a “vanishing tribe” of Chin people, whose women have adorned their faces with intricate tattoos for centuries, a practice that has been outlawed and survives only on the faces of these women.
Although Sittwe is a long way from being a lost city, it is a world of its own and an interesting place, especially for a photographer. Our wonderful guide Miss Linn Linn will greet us at the airport and show us a bit of the crumbling former British port town on the way to lunch. Afternoon street shoot amongst the largely ethnic Bengali population.
This morning photograph Sittwe’s fascinating fish market on the Bay of Bengal. Then board a private boat for the river journey to Mrauk U, with its more than 700 unique temples & temple fortresses. The kingdom once extended to the Ganges River in India, and lasted 354 years before being sacked & abandoned to the jungle for more than two centuries.
Photograph the misty Mrauk U temple valley at sunrise, and later explore the temple fortresses of Shitthaung and Kothaung, each dating to the mid 1500’s and taking more than a decade to construct. Late afternoon shoot around the monastery at the foot of Htukkanthein, and for sunset climb the hill for position above its mushroom shaped fortress dome that looks like something out of Indiana Jones.
Early rise for another hilltop angle overlooking the low warm light, mist and smoke of the temple valley below. After breakfast take to the Lay Myo River for a boat trip to photograph the vanishing Chin “tattoo tribes”. The ancient practice is banned & dying out. These women are the last of their respective lines. Their tattoos originated as branding, & became adornment.
Day 5 – Mrauk U – Sittwe – Yangon – Sunrise & Return
Time permitting, A.P. will take you to yet another sunrise landscape location. The return river trip to Sittwe and flight to Yangon follow. Arrive about 4:30 pm. If you plan to depart Yangon tonight, best to allow for delays and schedule a late flight. Alternatively, you may wish to spend another night in Yangon. This is not included in the extension price, but we are of course happy to book it for you at less than internet prices.
Photographer fees and top English speaking guide
In-country flights, airport & ground transport
All meals from Day 1 dinner through Day 14 breakfast
Plenty of bottled water & refresh towels throughout
All entrance, zone and camera fees
Local model, monastery donations
Drinks @ lunches & dinners
Any personal purchases
Trip cancellation or medical insurance
Gratuities for hotel porters, local guides & drivers
Myanmar visa fee
End of trip gratuities for photographer tour leaders
More Knowledge – Better Pictures