My wife and I recently spent 5 days travelling around the Guilin/Yangshuo area of Guangxi Province with Mia, and we had the most incredible experience. I’d give our trip a higher rating than 5 if that was possible, it would be thoroughly deserved!!
I am a professional photographer, and my wife just loves to take snap shots for her own memories – no matter your experience as a photographer Mia and Andy are consummate professionals at what they do and cater for everyone’s needs and abilities.
I have travelled the world and can honestly say I have never had a guide anywhere on the planet as good as Mia, from the wee hours before dawn, until retiring for the night, Mia works as hard as anyone I’ve seen to give her clients the most amazing experience ever. Mia speaks the local language fluently and has a rapport with so many local people, you cannot help but take incredible images travelling with these guys.
As a professional photographer I have long wanted to visit this region of China known for its incredible landscapes, so I decided that in order to get the best out of my time there, I would go with a company who specialised in photography tours. I stumbled upon Guilin Photography Tours (GPT) firstly by seeing some of Andy’s stunning photos on a photography website I belong to, and then being a follower of photographer Trey Ratcliff’s blog ‘Stuck in Customs’, read that he had also travelled with Andy and Mia and had a sensational time. That was reason enough for me to contact GPT with a plan for what I hoped to do while we were there. Right from the start all my dealings with Mia were very professional, the planning form on the web allows you to specify in great detail what you want out of the tour, and after sending in my details received a proposed itinerary from Mia in a couple of days which was exactly what I wanted.
As well as the wonderful landscapes in this region, options to photograph local villages, street life and the amazing people of this region all become subjects for the camera as you are guided to all the best vantage points by Mia. Being guided by fellow a photographer is incredibly beneficial to get the most out of your time. Mia understands where you need to be and at what time to get the best from the available lighting, or where other photo opportunities are likely to arise, and was always willing to give advice on locations and viewpoints to achieve incredible shots.
We had our fair share of inclement weather during our trip, which made itinerary changes necessary. Mia was able to quickly offer us up alternatives for our route, and in one instance this required changes be made to our planned accommodation, and this was handled very promptly, and without hassle. This enabled us to still get the most out of our time in the region, despite not seeing everything originally planned, however weather can be fickle and client safety is obviously the number one priority for GPT. The itinerary change meant we decided to stay 2 nights where originally it had only been 1 night and it ended up being a wonderful chance to really soak up the natural beauty surrounding the Longji rice terraces.
All accommodations on our tour were fabulous, Mia and Andy screen all hotels used in their itineraries before using them for clients, and have a particular requirement that the hotel must have a Western style toilet in the rooms. So when you travel with GPT you can rest assured you will be staying in clean, comfortable, well maintained, authentic Chinese accommodation. All the hotels we stayed at served delicious, freshly prepared local food, and along with the snacks provided during the travel days by Mia, you certainly eat very well on your travels. We loved all our hotels, as each was very unique in its own special way, however our personal favourite would have to have been the Star-wish Resort which was fantastic!
Being a photographer, the life long search for the perfect shot is a never ending quest for the impossible, however if you spend any amount of time with GPT I can assure you that you will come away with some very memorable images, and some no doubt worthy of a place on your wall. Not only is the spectacular scenery changing around every bend in the road, the opportunities that Mia and Andy present through their contacts and connections with the local people make for very special and unique photographic opportunities. This includes being able to spend time in local people’s homes, photographing local farmers working with their animals, the amazing cormorant fisherman, or having villagers model for you in traditional costume makes for an experience like no other – up and close and personal with the real China.
I might add that as these tours are private you get to visit and photograph these fabulous subjects in areas few people ever get to see, and this also means without thousands of other tourists ruining your pristine landscape photos!
I can’t speak highly enough of Guilin Photography Tours and the amazing experience these two dedicated people have created in a stunningly beautiful part of China. If you ever have a chance to visit Guilin, I thoroughly recommend that you spend at least some of your time with Mia and Andy and let them show you and help you photograph the ‘real’ China.
Thank you both, and especially Mia for giving us the experience of a lifetime, we wish you both much happiness and continued success in the future.
Cam & Aileen / Cam Hadlow Photography.
Reviewed 14 June 2015