Burma/Myanmar

Dates: January 11–23, 2021

Begins & Ends: Yangon, Burma/Myanmar

Nearest Airport: Yangon (RGN)

Leaders: Jeffrey Chapman & Winslow Lockhart

Maximum Participants: 8

Tuition: $6,400
(including 4 domestic flights)

Accommodation: Included
(optional single supplement: $1,100)

Meals: Included

Payment Policy: 3 Installments
     • $500 deposit to confirm participation
     • 50% due by May 1, 2020
     • Balance due by August 1, 2020

This photographic adventure begins and ends in Yangon, Burma/Myanmar. Tuition includes hotels (based on double occupancy; single occupancy is available with payment of a single-occupancy supplement), meals, four domestic flights (cost of flights are based on current rates and are subject to change if the airline increases prices), driver and guide tips, and local group transportation for the duration of the adventure. It does not include souvenirs, bar beverages, laundry, insurance (travel, medical, cancellation), nor any personal expenses.

This adventure is suitable for all levels of photographic experience. Participants must be in good health and able to spend each day walking and carrying their own equipment.

Reserve your spot below.

Burma Within The Frame Photographic Tour

Burma Within The Frame Itinerary

Kipling once described Burma as “…quite unlike any place you know about.” Now emerging from almost 40 years of military rule, the country, also known as Myanmar, is waiting to be experienced by a new generation of adventurers and photographers. It is a land of beautiful stupas, charming people, incredible scenery, and cultural traditions that remain firmly rooted in centuries past. It is in many aspects a photographer’s paradise.

This adventure will visit four primary areas of Burma: Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake, and areas surrounding these stunning places. Yangon is a charming city; it’s impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes it one of the most fascinating and authentic capitals of Southeast Asia. The kingdoms of Bagan date back to the early 2nd century. At its height there were more than 13,000 temples. It is one of the most remarkable archeological sites in Asia. Mandalay is a center of skilled artisans who keep traditional cottage industries alive and sell their fabulous works around the world. Inle Lake is one of Burma’s most spectacular sights. Villages are built on stilts over the lake. Leg-rowing fishermen balance like dancers while fishing with conical nets. Floating gardens are made from strips of water hyacinth.

This is not going to be a rushed adventure, running from stupa to stupa, monk to monk, and fisherman to fisherman to grab a quick photograph as proof that we were there. We’re going to absorb, linger, take the time to wait for the excitement of the new and exotic to blend with an understanding of our surroundings, to find our visions. We’ll photograph in the early mornings and evenings, spend mid-days talking, discussing, learning, and working to develop our craft.

This photographic adventure is about the passionate discovery and photography of people, place, and culture, with emphasis given to going deep not wide, and pursuing that most elusive of photographic necessities — our vision. It is appropriate for photographers of all levels, and you will be free to photograph independently or always with the assistance of one of the leaders.

Yangon (Day One)

We will all arrive in Yangon, the former capital city (once known as Rangoon), in time for a meet-and-greet dinner to finally get to know each other in person and an orientation to discuss our itinerary and events for our shared photographic adventure.

While in Yangon, we will stay at the luxurious Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake. Its lakeside setting makes it an urban sanctuary and a wonderful place to relax after a long flight or day out photographing.

Bagan (Day Two)

After breakfast, we will take a flight to Bagan. From the 11th to 13th century, Bagan was considered the capital of Burma when it was a political, economic, and cultural center. Over those two and a half centuries the ruling class and their wealthy subjects built more than 10,000 religious monuments. Many of those stupas and temples are still standing today along the banks of the Irrawaddy River.

For a more authentic introduction to the spectacular temples, we will initially travel by horse cart to visit Thagyar Pone Temple. With its breathtaking views over the surrounding plains, it is the perfect introduction to the grandeur and incredible scope of Bagan’s ancient architecture. Next we will visit Ananda Temple, which is one of the most revered temples in Bagan. Both of these are excellent examples of spiritual reverence reflected in architecture.

The next stop (by vehicle) is the Myinkaba Village and Gubyaukgyi Temple where participants will learn more about local craftspeople who produce renowned lacquer ware and woodcrafts using centuries old techniques passed down from generation to generation. Nearby are the Manuha and Nan Paya Temples, smaller places of worship with examples of stonework and Buddha statues.

In the late afternoon, we will visit some of the most spectacular temples, including Thatbyinnyu (the highest temple in Bagan), Dhammayangyi Temple (noted for its remarkable brickwork), and Sulamani Temple (the crowning jewel). We will photograph sunset over the plains from one of these locations.

For four nights we will stay at Bagan Lodge. It is a luxurious oasis right in the midst of many of our photographic opportunities.

Bagan (Day Three)

We will wake before dawn to photograph sunrise at a nearby temple before coming back to the hotel for breakfast and then spend the morning exploring the photographic opportunities of Nyaung U and the neighboring villages. Experience first-hand daily life in Burma from visiting the local market to learning the crafts that are part of the traditional livelihood. In the afternoon we will take a riverboat cruise to Sae Lan Village, passing fishermen and local ferry boats while enjoying river views of Bagan’s temples. The village is home to local fisherman and farmers who aren’t accustomed to visiting tourists. In no time at all, we’ll be the talk of the village and surrounded by villagers. We will return back to Bagan via the river as the sun sets behind distant temples.

Bagan (Day Four)

For a view of Bagan from the air, those who desire will take to hot air balloons this morning to rise with the sun over the temples. Those who opt to stay grounded will photograph the sunrise from a temple veranda, for a new perspective, as the balloons cross the sky.

The mid part of the day will be the perfect time to review some of the photographs we’ve created so far on this photographic adventure. In the late afternoon we’ll photograph shepherds as they drive their flocks home for the evening. The dust they stir up into the setting sun is like pure gold for photographers.

Bagan (Day Five)

This day is completely open so that you may revisit the places, temples, markets, and people that have captivated you the most during our time in Bagan.

Mandalay & Mingun (Day Six)

After breakfast, we will take a flight to Mandalay.

On the drive into Mandalay’s city centre, we will stop at Mahamuni Pagoda, which is a major pilgrimage site housing one of the country’s most revered Buddha images. According to ancient tradition, the bronze Buddha covered in gold leaf is only one of five likenesses made during Buddha’s lifetime.

Mandalay is a city of skilled artisans, and we will visit their workshops to see some of the cottage industries that remain prolific in Mandalay, including pounding gold into gold leaf, marble carving, and kalaga tapestries. The techniques these artisans use have largely remained unchanged from those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court.

In the afternoon we will take a private boat from the Mandalay Jetty for the one-hour cruise on the Irrawaddy River to Mingun. The huge brick Mingun Pahtodawgyi was left incomplete after an astrologer predicted the king would die should the temple be finished. In the 1800s, an earthquake left several large cracks in the structure. The distinctive waves of the nearby Hsinbyume Pagoda are meant to resemble the mythical Mount Meru.

For two nights in Mandalay we will stay at the beautiful Hilton Mandalay with breathtaking views from Mandalay Hill.

Mandalay, Sagaing, Ava, & Amarpaura (Day Seven)

This morning we will photograph some of the river gypsies. They are an impoverished but hard working people who at this time of year we will find living in temporary shelters along the river. They are extremely friendly and will welcome us as photographers interested in their lives. It is an opportunity to make some beautiful photographs far from tourists.

With 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries along the Irrawaddy River, Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Burma. It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centers. We will visit Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin, U Min Thone Sae, and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing pagodas. And we will visit Zay Yar Thein Gi Nunnery in order to meet with the nuns and learn a bit about their daily life as Buddhist nuns. We will also visit the non-touristy local Sagaing market, where local pottery, silver, and other handicrafts are sold.

Returning towards Mandalay, we will stop at Amarapura, which is a former capital whose name means “City of Immortality.” Our primary focus here will be 200 year-old U Bein Bridge. The bridge was constructed of 984 teak posts that were once a part of the deserted Inwa Palace. It’s 1.2km length makes it the world’s longest teak bridge. The bridge connects monasteries and villages on both sides. It is a microcosm of Amarapura life as people pass from one side to the other with their market purchases, bicycles, to visit a monastery, etc.

Inle Lake (Day Eight)

In the morning, we say goodbye to Mandalay and make our way to Heho. Before arriving in Nyaung Shwe on the shore of Inle Lake, we will visit with makers of traditional bamboo and paper umbrellas that are part of the Shan paper cottage industry.

Once we arrive in Nyaung Shwe we will take a boat to our luxurious hotel on Inle Lake. We will spend the afternoon on Inle Lake with a lunch of traditional Inthar and Shan dishes at Thar Lay Restaurant and visits to some of the incredible cottage industries on the lake, including the Inpawkhone weaving village, where they also weave with lotus fibers, and a cheroot factory, where these typical Burmese cigars are made by hand.

Myanmar Treasure Resort will be our luxurious home while at Inle Lake. The views are amazing. As are our villas’ private outdoor showers with views of the lake. There are, of course, indoor showers (and tubs), too.

Inle Lake (Day Nine)

We will set off early in the morning by private, motorized longboats to visit the morning markets on fog-covered Inle Lake. The market rotates its location around the lake’s villages in a 5-day rotation and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares.

Continuing along the lake we will pass villages built on stilts over the lake. These villages are inhabited by the local Intha people. And we will observe and photograph the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built of strips of water hyacinth and mud anchored to the lake bottom with bamboo poles. They grow tomatoes and other vegetables on floating gardens in the lake.

In the afternoon we will visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses dozens of Shan Buddha images. We will continue to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary. We will also visit more of the local artisans of Inle Lake.

Inle Lake & Sagar (Day Ten)

Early this morning we will head to the far southern region of Inle Lake to visit Sagar. Very few visitors to Inle Lake make the trip to this area, but it is one of the most beautiful parts of the Shan State, with the mountains forming a backdrop for the small villages and fishermen on the water. This area has been open to foreigners for less than ten years.

Inle Lake (Day Eleven)

Every time we venture out on Inle Lake the light will be different and so will the fishermen we encounter. The fishermen of Inle Lake are famous for their ability to row with one leg while balanced on their small wooden boats with the other leg. It’s an incredible sight, and we will enjoy photographing these photogenic fishermen. The day will be open for revisiting some of the unique places and people of Inle Lake.

Yangon (Day Twelve)

Following breakfast, we will make our way from Inle Lake to the airport in Heho and then on to Yangon. In the afternoon, we will visit the famous 70-meter long reclining Buddha at the Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda. Locals pay homage at the foot of the statue carved with traditional symbols and surrounded by wall murals reflecting the life of Buddha. We will also visit Shwedagon Pagoda or Golden Pagoda, considered the most scared Buddhist temple in Burma where the relics of four past Buddhas have been enshrined. Built over 2,500 years ago, it fell into disrepair and was damaged by earthquakes, but the pagoda was renovated each time. Today the eight-sided central stupa stands tall and with its gilded gold leaf, can be clearly seen as part of the city skyline.

Yangon (Day Thirteen)

After enjoying breakfast on our last morning in Burma we will take the Yangon Circle train. The 45-minute ride along the outskirts of the city is one last opportunity to enjoy the country and its people. We will disembark at the Insein market and return to Yangon before transferring to the airport for our flights home.

Although this represents the photographic adventure’s planned itinerary, it is subject to change at the discretion of the adventure leaders.

Reserve Your Spot

A $500 deposit is required to confirm your participation. Click on the Pay Deposit button to reserve your spot. You will be able to pay the deposit via PayPal or credit card. To pay by other methods (or if you encounter difficulties), please fill out the Registration Form and request an invoice in the comments. Please read the Cancellation Policy and the Release of Liability.

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