Why You'll Love This Trip
- We are photographers ourselves and have learnt the best locations for photos by heart.
- The most essential photo spots are included, majestic pagodas, vibrant local life and historical sites, all at a great pace suitable for you physically.
- Burmese can be shy in front of a camera but our friends aren't, they will be at ease while modeling for you.
Myanmar Enchantment: 15-Day Myanmar Photography Tour
This tour is designed based on our travels and only the sites and experiences that excite us are written down. However, review it as a suggestion and it can be customized to your own taste.
The easiest way to get to Mandalay is flying from Bangkok or Chiang Mai, daily departure and afternoon arrival. You will see our private tour guide and driver waiting for you upon arrival.
Transfer at ease to your hotel. Free at leisure for the rest of today.
- Both AirAsia and Bangkok Airways have flights arriving at noon, which will get you to the best photoragphy time for the World's Largest Book in central Mandalay. Thousands white pagodas look extremely beautiful at sunset.
- Gatsby's hotel recommendation: Hotel Hilton Mandalay, recently renovated and has views of both Mandalay Hill and the Royal Palace.
Early in the morning, we will step into Mahamuni Pagoda where a face-washing ritual is ongoing. The head monk will cleanse the face of the Buddha image with towels, which will be later distributed to local villagers as fortunate items to bring home. This is a great chance to capture Burmese’ religious life.
Return to your hotel for breakfast and a short break.
We will set off later in the morning towards Mahagandayon Pagoda, 40 minutes of driving outside of Mandalay. Monks and nuns at all rankings and ages will gather around for lunch offered by the locals. Considering such a big crowd of over 1,000, it is quite astonishing that nobody is making a sound. We will need to stay outside the yard and observe quietly. Photo taking is allowed.
You will head back to Mandalay in the afternoon. After a couple of hours resting at your hotel, you will have another photo opportunity at the top of Mandalay Hill overlooking the entire city.
- Female travelers are not allowed to enter the main chamber of Mahamuni Pagoda. Instead, they can watch the live video in the front foyer.
- An ND filter is needed for afternoon shooting at the White Pagoda under strong sunlight.
As a former ancient capital, sadly Mandalay only has a handful beautiful remains due to wars and earthquakes. More highlights lie around its outskirt and today we will venture to the ancient capital of Mingun,
Known for the large bronze bell, however, today we are headed to the beautiful white pagoda, Hsinbyume Pagoda. For photographers or any traveler if interested, we will have some local novices modeling for you on the terraces of the pagoda.
Venture to Inwa. Here we will have a chitchat with a young monk at Bargaya Monastery. Unlike some monasteries in Mandalay city that are basically tourist attractions, Bargaya Monastery has been the country’s major Buddhism institute for over 200 years. Exchanging opinions about faith and life with the young monk would be quite a story to bring home.
After lunch, we will get to Amarapura, another ancient capital at the Konbaung Dynasty. The teak wood bridge, U Bein Bridge is the town’s icon. Take a private boat to get a close shoot at sunset.
Return to Mandalay before dark.
- Younger monks might be more eager to talk, as a way to practice their English. They are quite friendly, anything but politics would be nice subjects.
- There is a small rocky island at the heart of the lake under U Bein Bridge, where you can set up your tripod. A long angle lens is neccessary.
An early morning flight takes you to Bagan. Transfer to your hotel and free at leisure.
In the evening, you will be taken to the pier and board a private boat on the Irrawaddy River. As night falls, locals are heading back home from work, fishermen are collecting their nets and the boat ride eventually takes you to some less-visited temples in Bagan. Few tourists venture here at night and now you own the entire place to yourself. Set up your tripod for some nicely illuminated photos of the pagodas.
Be back to your hotel before 0900pm.
- Only a few pagodas that are under official restoration and protection are lit up at night, most of which are closed to the travelers to climb up. If you'd like a pano of the illuminated pagodas, your tour guide will take you somewhere off the map by car. Be extra cautious while climbing.
- Gatsby's hotel recommendation: Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort, awesome view of the pagodas over its infinity pool.
Take an early morning flight to Heho, the airport town of Inle Lake within 2 hours of driving. Check in your lakeside resort and free at leisure.
Inle Lake is much cooler than other areas in Myanmar. An afternoon boat trip takes you to the nearby floating villages, floating gardens and fishermen controlling their boats with one leg can be seen as you navigate on the lake.
A sunset photography opportunity awaits as a couple of fishermen posing for your lens.
- Due to higher altitude, it can be misty even rainy shortly after sunset. Fishermen photography will be best during 0400pm to 0530pm. Boat is to swaying to keep the camera steady, so we will ask the fishermen to row close to the shore where you are standing.
- Gatsby's hotel recommendation: Pristine Lotus Resort Inle, boat house by the water, wide-open vistas of the lake.
An early morning flight will take you to Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. Check in your hotel upon arrival. Free at leisure till lunchtime.
After lunch, you will saunter along the colonial area lined up with a bunch of historical buildings while your tour guide introduces the changes over the years. Later, join a relaxing high tea at the time-honored historic hotel The Strand.
As the sun is setting, we will get to the landmark Shwedagon Pagoda, which is especially beautiful at nighttime.
- There is a rooftop restaurant close to Shwedagon Pagoda. After shooting, you can have a nice dinner with a good view.
- During your time in Yangon, you can come back and take more photos anytime. Your private tour guide and driver will always be at your disposal.
- Gatsby's hotel recommendation: Pan Pacific Yangon, north-facing rooms have nice view of Shwedagon Pagoda.
This morning, hop on Yangon Circular Train and roam around the city. Such an out-of-date slow train is the locals’ primary choice of transportation and a ride grants you the chance to observe different social classes all in the same cargo. We will stop at a local market and walk around.
Return to your hotel after lunch and free at leisure.
Photography is pretty much at the mercy of the weather. For this specific trip, we would recommend the time during September to December. Despite the chance of typhoons or heavy rain, it is more likely to get awesome lightings. We will wait for more of your ideas.
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