Photography Tours in Asia

Do you dream of visiting exotic destinations like Bhutan, Myanmar & Cambodia?

Frustrated by your holiday snaps?

Wish you could travel alongside a pro photographer to inspire your creativity and help you with camera settings?

Our Photography Tours are created specifically for photographers, with itineraries designed to take in each country’s top attractions and give you the very best photo opportunities.  Plus we’ve included some very special side-trips off the tourist trail so you can enjoy an authentic cultural experience with our friendly local guides on hand to ensure you have an amazing time.

Kingdom of Bhutan Photography Tour
22 – 28 March 2018 (7D6N)

 

Welcome to Bhutan, the last Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom, a country shrouded in mystery and steeped in traditional Buddhist culture.

In March 2018 we’ve got an extra-special treat for travel lovers who want to explore Bhutan, gain confidence with their cameras and learn how to shoot more creatively in this culturally-rich, historic location.

We’ve timed this 6 Day expedition to coincide with the 3-Day Talo Tsechu Festival, held in a picturesque village in the hills above Punakha (altitude 2800m).  This is a typical Bhutanese festival, rich in culture and tradition, attended by the residents of Talo and their relatives from around the region.  You’ll experience and photograph the rituals, the impressive masked dances, the hilarious shenanigans of the jesters, and the thrills and delight of the spectators, who’ll be dressed in their finest Bhutanese costumes.

Plus we’re got a host of fabulous excursions planned to some of Bhutan’s most beautiful sights and some authentic cultural experiences to give you a real flavour of this mystical country and its deeply spiritual people.

Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity…you don’t need to be an expert photographer to join!

Tour Highlights

Tour Highlights

  • Hike to the iconic, cliff-top Tiger’s nest monastery
  • Sunrise photo shoot at the gigantic 51m high Shakyamuni Seated Buddha
  • Sunrise photo shoot at the atmospheric Dochula Pass (altitude 3100m) capturing the 108 memorial chortens and incredible mountain-top views
  • 2 Days at the vibrant Talo Festival.  This will be a niche travel experience where you’ll be immersed in the local culture.
  • Half day visit and sunset photo shoot at the immense Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan
  • Visit to a traditional art & craft school where students learn wood carving, silver craft, embroidery, tailoring and clay modelling
  • A fascinating walk through the Fertility Temple village
Itinerary

Day 1: Paro/Thimpu

Welcome to Bhutan!  After being greeted by our friendly local guide, we’ll leave Paro late morning and drive to Bhutan’s capital city Thimpu (about 1.5hrs), stopping off at Tamchog Lhakhang along the way.  This temple was built by Thang Thong Gyalpo of Tibet at the foot of the Phurdo mountains.  The colourful, prayer-flagged iron bridge which spans the Paro River is great to photograph and quite something to walk across with its swaying action and swirling waters visible through the mesh ‘floor’ beneath you.

After lunch and hotel check-in, we’ll visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, commonly called ‘the painting school, where young Bhutanese learn the art and crafts of their ancestors: Textiles, Painting, Sculpture, Paper making, Bamboo Craft, Jewelry, Bone and Furniture.  This fascinating visit gives us a glimpse into ancient traditions and you’ll have lots of opportunities to photograph the artisans at work as they create their beautiful pieces. 

There’s a shop where you can buy some of the students’ work and if time permits we may visit the Sangey Arts Gallery (opposite the Institute) or Buddha Arts Gallery if you’re interested to see (and bring home) beautiful Bhutanese paintings & handicrafts.

Before sunset we’ll be heading uphill to a great vantage point where we can capture beautiful views of Thimpu and Tashicho Dzong which houses the secretariat building, throne room, office of the king, and central monk body.

Hotel:  Zhingkham Resort

Day 2:  Thimpu/Dochula Pass/Punakha

Today we have an early start with a sunrise photo shoot at the impressive Buddha Dordenma Statue, a 51.5m high seated Buddha gilded in gold.  The throne that the Buddha sits on is a large meditation hall and within the statue are 125,000 smaller Buddha statues, also gilded in gold. It’s located on top of a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley so if the weather is clear we’ll have an excellent view of the valley and the mountains around.

Mid-morning we’ll leave Thimpu and make our to the Punakha district, crossing over one of the Himalayan mountain ranges via the famous, winding Dochula Pass.  At it’s summit of 3100 metres we’ll visit the impressive Druk Wangyal Chortens – 108 stupas built by the eldest queen, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.  We may also be able to see Bhutan’s highest mountain Mt. Masanggang in the distance – its peak reaches 7158 metres. 

We’ll enjoy lunch with views over the rice terraces at Sopsokha in the Punakha Valley, a pleasant village often referred to as the Fertility Temple Village – the reasons will become clear when we explore the village and Chimi Lhakhang in the afternoon.

Late afternoon we’ll check in to our hotel and you’ll have time to download and sort through your photos to select those you want to show later.

After an early dinner in the hotel we’ll have a Photo Review Session where your instructor will give you individual feedback on your favourite 20 photos.  This is a great opportunity to get inspiration and feedback from both your instructor and fellow photographers and to get tips on how you can improve your photography and what skills you can work on.

Hotel:  Lobesa Lodgeit

Day 3:  Talo Festival

Get ready for an action-packed day of photography at the Tsechu Festival in Talo, a picturesque village scattered along a ridge above the Punakha valley at an altitude of 2800 metres. 

A Tshechu is a grand religious event, celebrated once a year and spanning several days, where the entire community come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize.  It’s believed that everyone must witness the mask dances at least once to receive blessings and wash away their sins.  Every mask dance has a special meaning or story behind it and many are based on ancient stories from as far back as the 8th century.

The dances are fascinating to watch and photograph and so are the spectators!  There’s so much colour, movement and action and you’ll have enough time to be able to move around and approach the scenes from different angles, try different lenses and get creative with your shutter speed and aperture settings. 

There will also be lots of activity around the festival, including a market, and this is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the joyous festivities with the locals.

Hotel:  Lobesa Lodgeit

Day 4:  Punakha

Good news!  Today you can enjoy a lie-in!  Mid-morning we’ll go to Punakha (about 40mins drive) to visit Punakha Dzong, justifiably described as the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan

The name means “the palace of great happiness or bliss” and that describes our previous visit there very well.  This dzong made a deep impression on us during our last photography tour and we all wished we’d spent more time there as there’s so much to explore and photograph and the monks we met were very obliging and friendly.  Watching one of the ceremonies when the monks chant is a very moving experience and I was very happy that we weren’t allowed to photograph that particular ritual as we often forget to put the camera down and just soak up the ambience and allow ourselves to enjoy the moment.

We’ll break for lunch in Punakha and then return to the dzong in the afternoon and we’ll finish the day’s shooting with a sunset photo shoot overlooking the dzong from across the river.  Bring your tripod as we can do some interesting slow shutter speed techniques to blur the movement of the water.

Hotel:  Lobesa Lodgeit

Day 5:  Talo Festival/ Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten

Today we depart extra early to arrive at Talo at 5am for the most of important day of the festival. 

Witness the sunrise procession of villagers and monks and the unfurling of a massive thongdrel – a traditional, silk appliqué thangka which is raised before dawn and then rolled down again by morning. Viewing of the thongdrel is said to cleanse one’s sins.

After the procession, we’re treated to more mask and folk dances, culminating in the deeply religious and historic performance of the Zhungdra by the Talo dance troupe.

After lunch we’ll visit the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, built by the third Queen Mother.  It’s a beautiful example of traditional Bhutanese architecture and art, and the only one of its kind in the world.  Getting there involves an easy hike through the rice paddies and then a hike up a steep hill (good training for Tiger’s Nest!).

Late afternoon we return to our hotel to relax, download photos and prepare for our second Review Session.

After dinner we’ll have another Photo Review Session so you can show your photos, get feedback, and learn and be inspired by your instructor and follow travelers.

Hotel:  Lobesa Lodgeit

Day 6:  Dochula Pass/Tiger’s Nest/Paro

We’ve saved the best for last!  We’re up early on our last touring day to catch the sunrise at Dochula Pass before driving to Paro which we should reach by late morning.

After hotel check-in and lunch, we leave for the most rewarding and iconic trek of the trip – up to the stunning Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), one of Bhutan’s most sacred sites.  It’s the country’s most recognizable cultural icon and is perched 800m up a seemingly-sheer cliff.  Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on a tigress’ back to subdue a local demon.  Thereafter, he mediated here for 3 months. 

Tiger’s Nest is a very interesting monastery which you can photograph from lots of different angles as you climb higher and higher up the mountain.  When we visited last time, it was wonderfully peaceful and we spotted beautiful birds and cute squirrels along the way.  At the monastery we met a few of the monks who were based there and it was fascinating hearing the stories of where they came from and how they ended up there.

We end the tour with a well-earned, celebratory dinner in Paro.

Hotel:  Paro Tashi Namgay Resort

Day 7:  Travel home

We bid a sad farewell to the fascinating Kingdom of Bhutan and make our way back to our home countries. 

Note:  The itinerary may change due to weather conditions, festivities, or other unexpected events.

Flights

Flights

Airline: Druk Air

Departure:  KB501 Leaves Singapore 22 March (Thu) 06:30am arrives Paro 10:50am.  40 mins Layover in KOLKATA

Return:  KB500 Leaves Paro 28 (Wed) 08:05am, arrives SG 16:25pm.  40 mins Layover in KOLKATA.

If you are joining us from another destination and taking a different flight, we can quote your a tour fee excluding flights.

Tour Fee

Tour Fee:  SGD $4580

TOUR FEE INCLUDES:

  • Return Flights ex-Singapore to Bhutan
  • Accommodation at hotels in Thimpu, Punakha and Paro based on twin share room  (single supplement available at $340)
  • All meals (excluding alcoholic drinks)
  • Experienced English Speaking Tour Guide licensed by Tourism Council of Bhutan.
  • Private transport within Bhutan
  • Museum & Monuments entrance fees
  • Bottled water throughout the tour
  • Government Royalty
  • Tourism Development Fund
  • Visa Fee
  • Pre-Tour Briefing: Shooting Tips, Gear Selection, Preparation Tips
  • 6 Days Photography Instruction in Bhutan with Pro Photographer
  • Mid -Tour Photo Review & 1-to-1 Feedback Session
  • Post-Tour Photo Review & Feedback session

* Price is for Cheque or Bank Transfer payments.  Additional 5% Bank Fees applies for Credit Card payments.

TOUR FEE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Gratuities to guide and driver
  • Personal and other expenses such as bar bills and laundry

PAYMENT

A deposit of $1500 is due upon booking to secure your place.

The balance is due by 15 January 2018.

Tour Operator

Tour Operator:  Raven Tours & Treks

Our Tour Guide Deepak Tamang is not only an accomplished guide… he’s also a keen photographer and has guided numerous photography tours before, so he’s got fabulous local knowledge on where to get the best vantage points for your photography.  Plus he’s a super nice guy and a pleasure to travel with.

A Travel Experience for Photographers

The best part of this tour is that it’s all about photography – so when you see something you want to photograph or need help finding the best way to photograph it, simply let your instructor know.  Our itinerary is fluid so we’ll adapt it to events happening on the ground and the preferences of the group.

Our local English-speaking tour guide is at hand to translate when you want to communicate with the locals or find out more about the history and culture.

And, he’ll be happy to share his local knowledge of where to get the best shots and how to approach certain scenes and still be culturally-sensitive.

Bookings & Information

E-mail karen@karenlucasphoto.com

Call 9182 5478

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