Luminous Myanmar Photo Tour – Journey to the Lost City
I have been on quite a number of photo tours all over the world, and Luminous Journeys has been the best – by far. Kyaw Kyaw Winn and the people of Myanmar will always be in my heart. — Benny Hanigal
Luminous Myanmar photo workshop w/ Kyaw Kyaw Winn offers a number of things no other Myanmar photo tours & workshops do. First and foremost is the opportunity to photograph with K.K. in his homeland. The Fuji X brand ambassador offers tremendous inside access, not only to Myanmar’s iconic locations, but also taking you way off-the-beaten-path to explore the legendary Lost City of Mrauk U.
The Big 4 iconic locations feature Yangon’s 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda and Circle Train; the floating world of magical Inle Lake and its uniquely photogenic Intha fishermen, the surreal 2,220 temples-of surreal Bagan; and the myriad great photo ops of The Mandalay Array.
Your photo tour leader is a passionate and patient teacher who has been guiding international photographers on photo tour workshops for years, and knows Myanmar and her often ethereal light like no one else. His zest for photography and joyous nature make him a oure joy to travel and photograph with.
“KK was a complete star – what a wonderful man… I learned more about photography with KK than I have ever before in my life! This is the one of the best trips I have done and I am certainly more than “quite” happy – I am extremely happy! The photography was fantastic and intense and I loved it. And of course Burma is such a special and wonderful country. The trip was magical – and I cannot rate KK and Boothee more highly. I can’t wait to do another LJ trip!”– Katie Garrod, UK
This Burma photo tour workshop is open to photo enthusiasts of all skill levels interested in broadening their photographic horizons and learning how to make pro quality images. You will be taken to numerous insider locations that would be impossible to find on your own, and also have the chance to work in a number of arranged shoot situations with locals, including dramatic low and chiaroscuro light interiors.
Pricing and Details
Dates – Nov. 2024 / January 2025 TBA - see this page link
Lead Photographer – Kyaw Kyaw Winn w/ photojournalist Boothee Thaik Htun*
Tour Price – $6495 USD (only $464 per day!)
Single Supplement – $1150 USD
Minimum Deposit – $1500 USD
Optional 5-Day Extension, Golden Rock & Hpa An – $2395
Locations Yangon, Lake Inle, Bagan, Mandalay, Sittwe, Mrauk U, Hpa An (Extension)
Skill Level – We genuine welcome ALL skill levels, novice to advanced
Hotels – 4/5 star, best available in remote locations
Tour Type – Small group photo tour workshop, 5 participant minimum, 10 participant maximum. Extension requires a 3 participant minimum to operate
Transportation – All internal flights, late model air conditioned mini-buses w/plenty of space, private boats at Mandalay & Mrauk U
Physical Difficulty – Light to Moderate, with moderate short trekking
* Boothee joins w/ 8 – 10 participants
Highlights - Luminous Myanmar
The Magnificent 2,500 Year Old Shwedagon Pagoda
Portraiture in Dramatic Chiaroscuro Light
The Golden Rock @ Kyaiktiyo
Private Photo Session w/ Mekong Elephants
Floating Villages & Intha Fishermen of Inle Lake
Lost City of Mrauk U + the Chin “Tattoo Tribes” of the Lay Myo River
Last Days of Yangon’s Rustic Circle Train
The Buddha Caves of Hpa An
Hot Air Balloon over the Surreal Temple- Scape of Ancient Bagan
The Rice Paddies & Limestone Rock Formations of Hpa An
The Friendliest People on Earth!
Photographing w/ K.K. Winn!
Luminous Myanmar – Journey to the Lost City
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 K.K. Winn.
Day 2 – Yangon – Bagan – 2,220 Temples & Novice Monks
Steeped in ancient mystique, the 2,220 temples of Bagan are one of the great archaeological sites of the world. You’ll be in A.P.’s favorite temple top position for sunset, but before that you’ll have a chance to photograph at a novice monastery, inside stunning Ananda Pagoda, and at Shwezigon Pagoda’s hall of pillars.
Start this robust day full of photography and culture before dawn ay the best sunrise location for temple panoramas. After breakfast you’ll have special access to KK.’s favorite temple interiors for dramatic low light and chiaroscuro portraiture with young monks. In the afternoon visit a nunnery w/ ladies in angelic pink robes, and wrap with a new angle sunset temple-scape.
Day 4 – Bagan – Mandalay – Hot Air Aerials & Sunset Bridge
Today is the day for one of those mind blowing experiences you’ll never forget –an aerial shoot from a hot air balloon over the temples of Bagan. Anyone not flying has another sunrise temple opportunity, photographing new friends as they fly at altitudes high above & low amidst the temples. Short flight to Mandalay & afternoon drive to Amarapura & the U Bein Bridge, the largest teak structure on earth.
At sunrise catch fisherman casting nets @ the U Bein Bridge. Back in town photograph at an ornately carved wooded monastery, have lunch and relax before your afternoon Irrawaddy cruise to the Mingun. The complex is home of the massive, earthquake cracked Mingun temple, the stunning all white temple of Hsinbyume & much more. Our favorite schoolgirl models and young monks will join us – always great fun!
Day 6 – Mandalay – Inle Lake – Buddha Street and a Magic Lake
Catch the evocative sunrise from our hidden monastery location on Mandalay Hill before breakfast, then enjoy a street shoot near the monastery of the fallen Buddha. Late morning catch a short flight to magical Inle Lake. A delicious Shan lunch in charming Nyaungshwe is followed by a novice monastery shoot. Then hit the lake for an afternoon/sunset with those zany, single leg rowing, Intha fishermen!
Photograph Intha fisherman as the sun breaks across the water to reveal a misty scene that is both peaceful & thrilling. We won’t get into the velvety light Inle blesses us with on these mornings, because we haven’t the superlatives! Next is Indein market & the ruins of Nyaung Oak. Lastly visit the Kayaung for a “studio” portrait session. These ladies represent Burma’s most distinctive vanishing culture, evidenced by the many brass rings worn around their necks.
Day 8 – Inle Lake – Sittwe – Gateway to the Lost City
Although Sittwe is a long way from a lost city, it is a world of its own and an interesting place, especially for a mad keen photographer, as Sam Abell would say. 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. Hopefully there is time for a bit of street shooting before heading to K.K.’s favorite nearby village to photograph amongst the largely Bengali population.
This morning photograph Sittwe’s fascinating fish market on the Bay of Bengal. Then board a private boat to Mrauk U, with its more than 700 unique temples & fortresses, many of them still shrouded in forest growth. The kingdom once extended all the way to the Ganges River in India, and lasted 354 years until sacked by the Bamar army and left abandoned to the jungle for more than two centuries. Afternoon shoot around and within the main temple group, then position for a sunset temple-scape-on nearby hill.
Day 10 – Mrauk U – Fortress Temples & Portraits
Photograph the misty Mrauk U valley and temple dotted hills at sunrise, which is like awakening into antiquity. Later explore and photograph the impressive temple fortresses of Shitthaung and Kothaung, each dating to the mid 1500’s and taking more than a decade each to construct. Late afternoon shoot around the monastery at the foot of Htukkanthein where monks bathe in the well. For sunset position above the mushroom shaped fortress dome that looks like something out of Indiana Jones.
New hilltop sunrise angle overlooking the mist and smoke of the waking valley and its myriad temples. After breakfast take to the Lay Myo River for a boat trip to photograph the last of the vanishing Chin “tattoo tribes” in Rakhine. The ancient practice of facial branding/adornment has been long banned and is now disappearing, with these women being the last of their respective lines. Photograph life along the rural river coming and going.
Day 12 – Mrauk U – Sittwe – Yangon – Sunrise Temples, Sunset River
Before dawn this morning A.P4 will take the still willing to yet another surreal sunrise location. Often one or two people choose to sleep in today, and that’s fine! After breakfast it’s time for the return river trip to Sittwe & flight to Yangon, arriving late afternoon. If time allows, enjoy sunset along the Wa Dan wharf, then hop to 19 th St. for a lively outdoor Chinatown BBQ scene for dinner.
After the best buffet breakfast in Yangon, grab your gear & board the awesomely rustic Circle Train, which has a marvelous array of Burmese faces coming & going as the train rings the city’s rural outskirts. Disembark at a busy rail market, then drive to a wonderful novice nunnery before their last meal of the day at 11:30 am. Free shoot at the nunnery & lunch downtown. The rest of your day is free time before your special Farewell Dinner with spectacular views over the city.
Day 14 – Yangon – Departure or Golden Rock Extension
Hopefully you’ll have an afternoon departure and can sleep a little late and enjoy another fantastic Sule Shangri La breakfast. Time for some final shopping at the 2000 shops of Scott Market, just across the street? You’ll be driven to the airport according to your individual departure time, and bid a fond farewell. You’ll miss this place, but fortunately you’ll have a slew of great new images to show off, along with unforgettable memories that will continue to resonate for a very long time…
*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.
Golden Rock + Hpa An Buddha Caves
Day 1 – Yangon – Kyaiktiyo – Scenic Journey to a Golden Rock Sunset
Depart Yangon after a leisurely breakfast for the scenic drive to east into Mon State. The golden glory of Kyaiktiyo (sounds like chake-tee-oh), also known as the Golden Rock, is the third most sacred Buddhist shrine in Myanmar. Monks and pilgrims alike worship at the rock – said to be held in place on its precarious perch by a single hair of the Buddha – by placing gold leaf upon it. The scene is most photogenic at sunrise and sunset, and even after dark when the lights come on.
Day 2 – Golden Rock – Hpa An – Golden Dawn, Journey to Hpa An
The Golden Rock sits at an altitude of 3,600 feet, and so misty early mornings are not uncommon. Images shot in the vanishing mist with monks at prayer lend an extra sense of mystique. Mid-morning we make our way down the mountain & hit the road for the very photogenic region in and around Hpa An. Here there will be time to enjoy a later afternoon shoot along the river. Boats, people & buffalo make for great subjects w/ karst limestone backgrounds.
Day 3 – Hpa An – Sadan Buddha Cave & Environs
Nearby sunrise rice paddy shoot, breakfast, and drive out to Sadan cave. Arranged & free shoots in the cave interior with myriad Buddha figures and monks under a variety of dramatic lighting conditions. Exit the far end of the cave and take a canoe across a tiny idyllic lake to photograph fishermen from the canoe inside another cave. Continue through the cave and paddle through gorgeous rice paddies and karst limestone.
Day 4 – Hpa An – Hpa An – Kyaukkalat Pagoda – Kagun Buddha Cave
Kyaukkalat Pagoda (sounds like chocolate ) is a karst limestone spire jutting from an island monastery. The scene here at sunrise is nothing less than mystically stunning. Next up is Kagun “ Buddha” cave. This cave has tens of thousands of Buddha figures carved into the rock, and just the right amount of light pouring in from the opening. There is a small monastery adjacent, and plenty of monks about.
Day 5 – Hpa An – Yangon – Sunrise & Return
Sunrise rice field shoot with Karst limestone backgrounds, then breakfast. On the return drive to Yangon stop to photograph another Buddha cave & monastery. Later visit Mya Tharloung, the site of the largest reclining Buddha in the world. The interior of the Buddha surprising depicts a completely different side of Burmese Buddhism! Arrive back in Yangon in the early evening for dinner and a fond farewell. Assuming you will have a flight out tomorrow, our driver will pick you up at the appointed hour to take you to Yangon International. Alternatively, there are a number of late departing international flights that just might work for you.
What’s Included in the Price of Your Southeast Asia Photo Tour?
Photographer fees and top English speaking guide
In-country flights, airport & ground transport
All meals from Day 1 dinner through Day 14 breakfast
Pleanty of bottled water & refresh towels throughout
All entrance, zone and camera fees
Local model, village, monsastery donations
Drinks @ lunches & dinners
Any personal purchases
Trip cancellation or medical insurance
Gratuities for hotel porters, local guide & drivers
Myanmar visa fee
End of trip gratuities for photographer tour leader
More Knowledge – Better Pictures
Uniquely Burma – Thanaka
Thanaka paste, made from the fragrant Thanaka tree, has been used in Myanmar for more than 2,000 years . The little girl shown on the left has gone a bit over the top with her Thanaka, which is worn daily by a majority of Myanmar women and children, but less so by men. The most popular varieties are grown in the Sagaing (Shwebo) and Magway (Shinmadaung) regions.
The paste is considered a fashion statement by many, and also serves as a natural sunscreen, skin cooler, and is also believed to help in the mitigation of acne. It comes in many personalized designs, the most common being circular patches on each cheek and a line down the bridge of the nose.
Other styles range from well-drawn Bodhi leaves on both cheeks to Mickey Mouse to heavy duty smear jobs. It is sometimes applied to all exposed skin, head to toe. In Burmese this is called thanaka chi zoun gaung zoun
Buddhism – The Heart of Myanmar
More than any other mostly Buddhist country in the world, Myanmar wears its religion on its sleeve, so to speak. 89% of the country is Buddhist. Red or maroon robed monks are seen everywhere you go, from morning alms rounds on the streets to visiting a mobile phone shop. Pink robed nuns are not quite as conspicuous, but you see them around as well. They operate in a more limited but similar fashion as monks, and their numbers are considerably fewer. Photographically, the unique pink in the right light makes for some lovely, ethereal images.
The monastery is central to Burmese life, and dates back to the 11th century. The system is supported by the local community. In return, the monastery is always there in various ways to help support the community. They provide Buddhist education, council, ceremonial services, physical labor for community projects, shelter, and even permanent residence for the elderly or orphaned.