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
Photographers Gone Wild w/ Kyaw Kyaw Winn has always been our most popular Myanmar photo tour adventure, for obvious reasons. Not only do participants get insider access and creative angles on Myanmar’s Big 4 iconic locations, but rare access to various tribal groups in the mountains of storied Chin State as well.
The Big 4 features Yangon’s 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda and amazing street life, the floating world of magical Inle Lake and its uniquely photogenic Intha fishermen, the surreal 2,220 strong temple-scape of the ancient Bagan dynasty, and many of the myriad marvels of The Mandalay Array.
The “wild” aspect takes you well off the beaten path, where you will get the exciting opportunity to photograph the last of the Chin “tattoo tribes” in the small mountain villages where they live. This is an especially fascinating part of your overall photo adventure. (See more information in the Getting Cultural section near the bottom of the page).
This photo tour is open to photo enthusiasts of all skill levels interested in broadening their photographic horizons and learning how to shoot 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 w/ monks and others, including low and chiaroscuro light temple and village interiors.
“K.K” is a patient and enthusiastic teacher who has been leading international photographers on Myanmar photo tour workshops for years, and he knows the country and her often ethereal light like no one else on the planet. He’s technically brilliant as well, and regularly teaches workshops for Nikon , Fujifilm , and the Myanmar Photographic Society. He is also executive editor of the U.K’s Digital Photography magazine, Burmese edition.
“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
Should we have 8 – 10 participants, K.K. will be joined on tour by award winning photojournalist Boothee Thaik Htun. For more about K.K. and Boothee please see Photographer Bios . For an inspirational story about K.K. and how he became a pro photographer, visit the popular photo magazine, Photography Life. See K.K’s Gallery here.
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 visitor numbers! Which makes it all the more desirable for photographers… If you have doubts, please have a look at this article.
Dates – January 6 – 19, 2020 (Space available)
Tour Price – $6495 USD (only $464 per day!)
Single Supplement – $1150 USD
Golden Rock + Hpa An & Environs Extension – Jan 19 – 23 (5 days)
Extension Price – $2340 USD
Minimum Deposit – $1500 USD ($2000 w/ Extension)
Lead Photographers – Kyaw Kyaw “”KK” Winn
w/ photojournalist Boothee Thaik Htun*
Locations Yangon, Bagan, Lake Inle, Mandalay, U Bein Bridge,
Mingun, Chin State, Mindat. Extension – Golden Rock + Hpa An & Environs
Skill Level – Suitable for ALL skill levels, novice to advanced
Hotels – 4/5 star, best available in remote locations
Tour Type – Small group photo tour workshop, 4 participant minimum, 10 participant maximum. Extension requires a 3 participant minimum
Transportation – All internal flights, late model air conditioned mini-buses w/plenty of space, SUV’s for Chin State, private boats at Mandalay & Mrauk U
Physical Difficulty – Light to Moderate, with moderate trekking
The Mandalay Array – Mingun & The U Bein Bridge
The Thousand Monks of the Ananda Pagoda Festival
Golden Rock of Kyaiktiyo + Hpa An Buddha Caves
Vanishing Tribes of Chin State
Rice Fields, Karst Limestone Formations
The Friendliest People on Earth!
Photographers Gone Wild – Chin State Expedition
Day 1 – Yangon – Spectacular Shwedagon
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 – Circle Train and a Pagoda Festival
Yangon’s fascinating old Circle Train, which circumnavigates the city’s rural outskirts, is gradually being modernized. This will be one of the last chances to photograph with these rustic train cars. Stop at a lively market that hugs the tracks, then head to the airport for the flight to Bagan. Free shoot festival pilgrims, then sunset temple-scapes.
Day 3 – Bagan – Hot Air Aerials & Chiaroscuro Monks
The myriad temples of Bagan define one of the great archaeological sites of the world. Flying above the vast temple-scape is a thrill few choose to miss! But if you do, K.K. will have you in a prime position to get that perfect surreal temple-scape, great sunrise light willing. Interiors w/ novice monks & chiaroscuro light follow. Free shoot the festival in the afternoon, ending w/ sunset temple panoramas.
Day 4 – Bagan – Dawn of 1,000 Monks & Pilgrim Exodus
This final day of the Ananda Pagoda Festival offers two extraordinary photo opportunities. The first @ dawn w/ 1,000 or so monks lined up to receive alms donated by the pilgrims in attendance. (We often see Steve McCurry on this morning, but no promises!) After the alms scene, pilgrims begin their exodus, many by ox drawn wagon train! Exclusive sunset temple location this evening.
Day 5 – Bagan – Mindat – 2,220 Temples & the Road to Mindat
Last chance temple-scapes for that perfect sunrise before taking the scenic and interesting journey into the storied mountains of Chin State. There will be stops along the way for impromptu photography and a deliciously authentic Chin lunch at the summit. Arrive Mindat mid-afternoon, check into the new Mindat hotel and engage in some of the most unusual street shooting you will ever do.
Day 6 – Mindat – Chin Villages – People & Landscapes
A full day of exciting photography at the nearby villages of Nat Htai and Pang O lay ahead. You will meet & photograph various Chin tribes, some of them Christian, with different facial tattoos and adornments. Interior environmental portraiture w/ chiaroscuro lighting offer rare image making opportunities. Time permitting, KK will take you to the prefect outlook for late afternoon mountain-scapes.
Day 7 – Mindat – Trek & Shoot Tiger Hunter Village
The trek to Tiger Hunter village takes an hour, and is moderate in difficulty. Various hut clusters are home to dozens bearing the tattoo branding particular to their tribal group. KK is known and beloved here, and the day will be a mix of free and arranged shoots in a variety of light, included interiors and chiaroscuro. It’s bound to be one of the most intriguing photographic days you’ll ever have.
Day 8 – Mindat – Mandalay – Chin Music & the U Bein Bridge
Photographing morning alms rounds of young Buddhist monks is always a wonderful experience. Before the return drive to Bagan there will be time to visit and photograph a very special Chin musician with very unusual tattoo markings that are thought to be the last of her line. Arrive back in Bagan for a quick hop flight to Mandalay. There should be time to visit the legendary U bein Bridge for sunset.
Day 9 – Mandalay – Fishermen’s Dawn & Mingun Afternoon
At sunrise catch fisherman casting nets @ the U Bein Bridge. A street shoot near the monastery of the fallen Buddha follows, w/ special access to marble Buddha sculptors. Afternoon Irrawaddy cruise to the Mingun, home of the massive, earthquake cracked Mingun temple, the stunning all white temple of Hsinbyume & more. Our favorite schoolgirl models and young monks will join us – always great fun!
Day 10 – Mandalay – Inle – Sunrise Hill and a Magic Lake
Catch the evocative sunrise from our hidden monastery location on Mandalay Hill, then head to magical Inle Lake. The little town of Nyaungshwe is full of monasteries & nunneries to photograph, as well as excellent restaurants. Lunch here at an LJ favorite featuring delicious home-made rice pasta dishes & marvelous Inle avocado salads. After lunch hit the lake. Sunset shoot w/ Intha fishermen.
Day 11 – Inle Lake – Mysterious Ruins and a Vanishing Tribe
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.
Day 12 – Inle Lake – Yangon – Fishermen Sunrise; Sunset on the River
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 19 th St. for Chinatown BBQ.
Day 13 – Yangon – Nunnery Morning & Free Time
After the best buffet breakfast in Yangon, grab your gear and set out for a wonderful little nunnery. Enjoy the young ladies in pink robes as they study and go about their duties before their last meal of the day at 11:30 am. Your day is then free to do as you please. Possibly a final image review w/ KK? Shopping at the 2000 shops of Scott Market very near the hotel? Lounge with an umbrella cocktail by the pool? Special Farewell Dinner tonight, w/ spectacular views over the city.
Day 14 – Myanmar Departure or Mrauk U Extension
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 not written in stone. A 30+ page final detailed schedule and information kit with all you need to know about 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.
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.
Photographer fees and top English speaking guides
In-country flights, airport & ground transport
All meals from Day 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
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