Colors of Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma)

November 29 - December 16, 2018
Cost: $7,500
Leader: Scott Davis
Group Size: 6
Days: 18

Safari Overview

Ancient Buddhist temples, ageless cultures, and complex history will fascinate during our photo tour with photographer Scott Davis. With many thousands of temples and golden pagodas, traditional villages, sweeping landscapes, and friendly, welcoming people, Myanmar (Burma) is a true photographic and cultural jewel of Southeast Asia. Only recently has Myanmar opened its borders to the western world and warmly welcomed visitors to explore its vibrant heritage. Our tour is focused on the best photography of iconic temples, statuary, and pagodas such as Shwedagon, Shwezigon, and the reclining Buddha of Shin Bin Thar Hlaung. We’ll photograph vibrant local village life around Yangon, Bagan, Loikaw, Inle Lake, and Ngwe Saung focusing on markets and other gathering places. We’ll learn about and take part in the daily life of the locals during our time amongst families and tradesmen in rural regions. Travel through Myanmar by plane, jeep, and boat to intimately explore a rich diversity of cultural settings.

HIGHLIGHTS
• Experience and document the daily routines of locals in big, bustling cities, small farming settlements, and floating fishing villages while learning photography techniques.
• Interact and stay with local Mindat tribe members to learn the history of tattooed faces, hunting practices, and other cultural treasures.
• Photograph the Padaung tribe members, famous for their “long-neck women” adorned with coils.
• Tiptoe through ancient, candlelit temples while young Buddhist monks practice their prayers.
• At the end of your busy photographic journey, reward yourself with afternoons on a tropical beach.

Itinerary updated: May 2017



FAQ Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Nov 29 Travel to Myanmar (Burma).
Nov 30 Arrive in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake, Yangon
Dec 1 Morning free to explore; afternoon street photography in vibrant markets and night photography of the famed Golden Pagoda. Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake, Yangon B, L, D
Dec 2 - 3 Fly to Bagan then drive to the Southern Chin State in western Myanmar. Explore Chin villages to photograph three distinct tribes: Munn, Makham, and Daing. Hotel Mindat, Mindat B, L, D
Dec 4 Continue cultural immersion with local Chin State villagers. Local House, Kyar Htoe Village B, L, D
Dec 5 - 7 Return to Bagan by jeep. Photograph around Bagan - Shwesandaw and Shwezigon Pagodas, Nyaung Oo Market, Sularmuni Temple, reclining Buddha of Shin Bin Thar Hlaung, plus colorful village life. Aureum Palace Hotel, Bagan B, L, D
Dec 8 - 9 Fly to Heho, then drive to Loikaw and the Inle Lake region. We’ll visit the local Kayan tribe, famous for their “long-neck women.” Kayah Resort, Loikaw B, L, D
Dec 10 - 11 Explore the Inle Lake region by longboat for intimate photography of unique village life. Inle Myanmar Treasure Resort, Inle Lake B, L, D
Dec 12 - 14 Fly back to Yangon, then drive to the rustic, coastal town of Ngwe Saung. Visit fishing villages in the mornings for photography, then relax and take a swim in the warm ocean waters all afternoon. Ngwe Saung Myanmar Treasure Resort, Ngwe Saung B, L, D
Dec 15 Drive back to Yangon. Depart Yangon on flights homeward. B
Dec 16 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Scott Davis

Scott Davis is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, travel, and editorial imagery. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, Scott's research and photo assignments have taken him to far corners of the globe and all seven continents. His photographic work has appeared in numerous national and international magazines and newspapers, commercial websites, prestigious stock agencies, and corporate reports. His patience for teaching and love of capturing the essence of his subjects make him one of our most popular tour leaders.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Travel to Myanmar (Burma)

Nov 29

Most participants depart home today to arrive in Yangon by the evening of November 30. Lose one day crossing the International Dateline.

Arrive in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar

Nov 30

Arrive in Yangon by this evening. On arrival at the Yangon airport, you will be welcomed and transferred to our hotel.

Explore Yangon

Dec 1

Nuns in Myanmar by Scott Davis

Take the morning to explore a bit of Yangon on your own. In the afternoon, we'll meet with Scott and head right out to Little India for an introduction to street photography and a taste of typical urban Yangon. This vibrant area of Yangon is where Indian shopkeepers compete and collaborate with their Burmese counterparts to sell the most amazing mix of items – old, obsolete, broken, second-hand, and sometimes even new. If you have a few missing letters on your twenty-year-old laptop's keyboard, or need an ancient old Bakelite lamp-switch, you'll find replacements here. We may walk over to the busy waterfront to take photographic advantage of the hustle and bustle as local Burmese go about their day-to-day activities. As the sun goes down, we’ll turn our attention to one of the wonders of the religious world: Shwedagon, the famed Golden Pagoda. Here, we will work into the night on creating captivating images that attempt to convey the significance of this revered site.

Travel to remote mountain villages and visit with local tribes

Dec 2 - 3

Chin woman by Scott Davis

Fly to Bagan, then drive 100 miles by 4x4 jeep to Southern Chin State (taking six to seven hours). Accessible by dirt road and rarely visited, this area is located in the western part of Myanmar and well worth braving the bumpy roads. A visit to the Chin region is an opportunity to observe ancient and traditional customs and a way of life often forgotten by the modern world. A unique feature of this region is the local Chin women. Once a common custom, many of the women possess intricate and beautiful facial tattoos. However, this tradition is fading fast and perhaps will disappear forever as the modern world encroaches in the coming decades. One of our photo goals for this region is to create beautiful portraits of this unique cultural trait.

Hunting is still an integral part of the culture and provides a significant source of food for the communities. Hunters proudly display skulls of their conquests on the walls of their homes. The bow and arrow is still the most widely used weapon of choice. As always, we will seek out photo opportunities that help to record this significant part of their culture.

With the help of a local experienced Chin guide, we will explore various Chin villages and their way of life. We will visit three distinct tribes – Munn, Makham, and Daing. Each tribe has its own distinguishing tattoo patterns and provides a wealth of photographic opportunities.

Cultural immersion with local tribe

Dec 4

Chin woman in Myanmar by Scott Davis

On our last day in this region, we’ll visit the village of Kyar Htoe. This village has granted our group the opportunity to stay overnight with them, which is the best way to truly experience the culture and people. Instead of staying in a hotel/hostel, we will camp for the evening; this “roughing it” overnight means using dug-out toilets and no proper showers, but bedding will be provided so you don’t have to pack anything extra. Experiencing and photographing Burmese culture is at the heart of this tour's mission, so be ready to go with the flow!

Return to Bagan, photograph Bagan temples and bustling markets

Dec 5 - 7

Bagan by Scott Davis

Return to Bagan by 4x4 jeep, stopping for lunch and photo ops along the way. Once in Bagan, we'll take advantage of the late afternoon and early evening light as the sun illuminates temple-dotted landscapes. The Bagan region’s landscape and architecture is stunning. Over the next two days, we’ll examine several temples such as the Shwesandaw Pagoda, Sularmuni Temple, and Shwezigon Pagoda. We’ll also photograph Nyaung Oo Market in search of wonderful moments of daily life and interactions between the local people. A visit to West Pwar Saw village will yield meaningful portraits, daily village scenes, and an introduction to the making of traditional lacquer ware. Later, we will make a photographic pilgrimage to the huge reclining Buddha of Shin Bin Thar Hlaung. It is here that we hope to capture young Buddhist novices as they go about their daily ritual of praying to Buddha by candlelight. While in Bagan, you can add an optional ride in a hot air balloon for sunrise photography over the temples.

Travel to Loikaw and photograph the famous “long-neck” women

Dec 8 - 9

Fly to Heho, then drive about 6 hours to Loikaw, a town surrounded by picturesque mountains, hills, lakes, and waterfalls. We’ll stop for photo ops along the drive. The next day, we’ll drive to a Padaung native village. The Padaung people are famous for their “long-neck” women: starting as children, the girls’ necks are decorated with brass coils/rings that over time give them the look of an elongated neck. Like the facial tattoos, this is another custom that is less popular as the villages in the region interact more with other villages and outsiders. We’ll also focus our cameras on the beautiful traditional clothing these people wear.

Boat to Inle Lake region

Dec 10 - 11

Inle Lake fishermen by Scott Davis

We’ll leave Loikaw and board a boat to cruise about 2 hours to the famous Inle Lake region. Our first stop is Sagar, a village of temples and pagodas that was flooded in the last century and is now overtaken by vegetation. Next, we’ll enter the main part of Inle Lake and cruise the village-lined shores for photos ops.

While on Inle Lake, we'll join the local, traditional fishermen during the sunset and sunrise hours for photo shoots as they go about their routines in the very different and incredible lighting conditions. We’ll also visit a local market and observe other day-in-the-life scenes. If the state-run schools are open, we'll take photographic advantage of the school boats and school children rowing their boats. We may have another opportunity to photograph Padaung women in a nearby village.

Travel to Ngwe Saung for photography and relaxation

Dec 12 - 14

Woman on river in Myanmar by Scott Davis

We’ll fly back to Yangon, and then drive out to the coast until we reach the rustic fishing village of Ngwe Saung. Here we’ll make the most of morning photography with the local fisherman, but you can choose to spend your afternoons however you’d like: relaxing on the beach, taking a swim in the ocean, or exploring more of the town and locals with your camera in hand.

Drive back to Yangon then departures homeward

Dec 15

Today we will drive back to Yangon where you will catch your flights homeward.

Arrive home

Dec 16

Arrive home today depending on your flight schedules. Gain back one day crossing the International Dateline.

Myanmar

Ancient Buddhist temples, ageless cultures, and complex history will fascinate during our photo tour with photographer Scott Davis.

16.896407, 96.131551

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $7,500
Single Supplement $1,000

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability.


Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Second January 15, 2018 $1,000
Final June 1, 2018 Remaining Balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Cancellations

Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.

Included

  • All leaders and support staff, ground transport, and park and monument entry fees for all activities unless described as optional.
  • We make the reservations for and include the internal flights in Myanmar.
  • Full photography instruction including post processing tips and techniques, critiques, and review sessions.
  • Accommodations for the nights of November 30 through December 14.
  • Meals from breakfast on December 1 through breakfast on December 15.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Two liters of bottled water per day.
  • Government service tax and value added tax.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,200-$1,800 from the USA to Yangon, Myanmar, depending on origin.
  • Gratuities – Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting a total of $400 per participant. Scott will collect this tip at the beginning of the trip so he can distribute it to the main local guide and also throughout the tour to the drivers, assistant local guides, luggage handlers, hotel staff, restaurant staff, and other assistants. Scott does not receive a gratuity.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
  • Optional hot air balloon rides while in Bagan, approximately $300 per person.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.

Climate

In general, we can expect high humidity and daytime temperatures to range from the low 70s °F to mid-80s °F (20–30 °C), and nighttime temperatures in the 60s °F (15 °C). December temperatures on Inle Lake and up in the mountains can be a bit brisk in the early morning and evening (lows in the 40s °F, 6 °C), but warm up to the low 70s °F, (20 °C) so dressing in layers is recommended. Rain is possible wherever we visit.

Fitness Level

Walks to find photographic opportunities are generally less than a mile at a leisurely pace over relatively flat terrain or along established paths and roads. There will be optional opportunities to climb steep stairs (about 100 ft) at some temples; those that do not want to climb can remain at the bottom. You will need good energy levels because we will often be in the field before sunrise, have a break in the middle of the day, then go back in the field until after sunset to get the best light – this results in long days.

Flights

Airfare, except for flights listed as included, is not included in trip costs. Detailed flight information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in the Yangon-Mingaladon Airport in Myanmar (RGN) anytime on November 30. Depart from Yangon-Mingaladon Airport in Myanmar (RGN) after 4:00 PM on December 15.

Flights we book for you: The following internal domestic flights will be arranged by Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris and are included in the trip costs: Yangon to Bagan, Bagan to Mandalay, Mandalay to Heho, and Heho to Yangon.

FAQ

What is the focus of this photographic tour?

This in-depth photographic safari is designed with the travel photographer and cultural adventurer in mind. It is focused on photographing culture and the local way of life; we do not focus on watching or photographing wildlife. As a result, this is not your typical "cookie-cutter" styled, often rushed, tourist trip to Myanmar (Burma). We have extensively scouted the locations and eliminated the tourist traps or potentially unproductive locations to maximize our time in the field. We provide you with unique insider access and detailed photo instruction in order to produce publication-quality images of this remote and beautiful land. To accomplish this, we have limited this trip to six guests to create a very small and unobtrusive footprint at the places we visit. This quiet approach is often a key ingredient to getting great images, something that's nearly impossible to do in large groups. We will stop, relax, and take the time necessary to produce thoughtful and strong imagery. In addition to a multitude of classic "must-see" photographic sights, we will spend significant time exploring parts of Myanmar that are off the beaten path: we will visit remote, seldom-visited mountain cultures; we will work extensively with the local population in an effort to create stunning portraits that help to capture the true essence of the people and the places we visit; when in more urban areas, we will also dive into the exciting, fun, and unpredictable art of street photography where anything can happen; and when photographing landscapes, you will be taken to the best locations at the best times, often before sunrise and then later into the evening to take advantage of the best lighting conditions. Whether you're new to photography or an experienced shooter, this trip is designed to push your photographic boundaries in a fun, supportive, stimulating, and highly educational environment.

Accommodations

Our accommodations range from luxurious to rustic. While in the cities and small towns, our hotels/guesthouses have private western-style bathrooms, Internet access, and laundry service. While in Mindat for two nights, we will stay in a very basic guesthouse with limited electricity and no Internet access, though private bathrooms will still be available. We will also have the opportunity to stay one night in a very small village with the locals, so expect camping-like conditions with dug-out toilets and no electricity; bedding and other overnight gear will be provided. Please contact our office if you have a concern about our stay within the village.

Seasickness

Transportation

We will be traveling in a small bus, 4×4 enclosed SUVs, small planes, and small boats. The small bus is equipped with air conditioning, but it can still be hot. We have a couple of long travel days in the SUVs along muddy, bumpy dirt roads.

Conditions

  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days, but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.