Photography tour in Ancient Kingdoms 15days
The Kingdoms of Siam, Laos and the Khmer date back thousands of years, and we explore that history through the perspective of the lens. Bangkok is the bustling heart of Thailand and the starting point for our journey. We travel north to the ancient capital of Chiang Mai, the golden temples of Laos and then conclude our tour in Cambodia’s majestic Angkor Wat region. One of the most comfortable photographic journeys you’ll ever enjoy, with the added pleasure of fantastic cuisine and the kindness of Buddhists.
We rendezvous in Bangkok for the start of the tour with a group meeting at our hotel and then some fine dining with Thai cuisine in the city. We introduce the tour style and objectives, open the discussion on photographic ideas and techniques, and lay out the details for the journey ahead.
We start our photographic exploration with a stroll through the flower market. The idea is to spend some time getting familiar with a few photographic ideas and learn something of Bangkok as well. Before the day is out we’ll explore some of the water ways in a khlong boat, sample some streat food and head into the Buddha Market. There’s a little time left spare in the afternoon to cool off and download photos.
In the afternoon we catch a flight to the north of Thailand but we have time to visit Wat Arun and chase some Tuk Tuks before that. Later in the evening we arrive in Chiang Mai where will explore the Lanna Kingdom and their unique cultural treasures.
We start early to get familiar with some of my favourite temples in the city of Chiang Mai. There are lots of them because this is a deeply spiritual city from ancient times, and inside the city walls are dozens of golden chedi, elegant statues and saffron robed monks. Chiang mai is great for “Monk Chat” sessions too. After lunch we visit my favourite temple in Thailand, Doi Su Thep, situated on a hill overlooking the city.
Elephants are what makes this part of Asia unique and we go and meet some of them in the jungles to witness their skill and cooperation with man. Asian elephants are domesticated but also spend part of their lives wild. A good mahout earns respect from his elephant, and we photograph these animals in a semi-natural environment typcial of how they once spent their day while working in the logging industry.
Leaving the Lanna Kingdom behind we fly over the Mekong to discover the Kindgom of Lao. The modern country of Laos still retain many historical ties to their ancient past, and Luang Prabang is the heart of that connection with an impressive collection of beautiful temples. It’s also rich in colonical heritage dating back to the French colonial past.
Every morning in Luang Prabang is an opportunity to photograph the monks as they walk around town collecting alms. This special tradition takes place daily in the residential parts of town but starts very early. Later in the day we join local photographer Paul Wager to head into the countryside and explore ethnic villages. The H’Mong and Khamu people are distinct from the Lao and we go in search of their communities as they begin harvesting the rice.
Today we visit the main market in town and then head out into the country side for a cooking class. A local chef operates one of the loveliest cooking schools in Asia, which provides delicious food and ample inspiration to photograph. Everybody cooks on this outing, but not everybody remembers to take photos. The choice is yours and the setting provides excellent conditions for practicing your food photography.
Our final day in town is planned around a morning trip to visit the Pak Ou caves where thousands of Buddha statues watch the Mekong flow past. It’s a chance to relax on the river as we head up and back, plus we can visit a town on the way for some local rice wine called Lao Lao. This will be our last day to shoot the Mekong sunsets or wait for monks at sunrise as they collect alms.
Leaving the gold and saffron of the Lao kingdom we head to Cambodia and immerse ourselves in the stone and jungles of the various Khmer kingdoms of Angkor. There are hundreds of temples scattered through the forests here, some carefully restored and other left collapsed and in chaos so we can appreciate the true age of these structures.
We start the day very very very early and hope for a beautiful sunrise. Our location will be the reflection pools at Angkor Wat, where the only thing outnumbering the photographers is the mosquitos. We arrive early to ensure we get a get spot and wait for the day to begin. If desired you will be able to repeat the sunrise on every day during our visit. Today we spend time at a handful of my favourite temples, with a break in the middle to cool down by the pool.
With hundreds of temples available to visit we chase a few more today, heading further away from the busy patches of Angkor in search of quiet places to photograph the archtitecture without tourists. It is indeed possible. I have special places where I like to shoot sunrise and sunset, other than the obvious ones you will have heard about.
The ancient kingdoms of the Khmer were truly innovative, not just in the massive stone structures of the temples but their ability to cope with the rise and fall of the Tonle Sap. This massive lake fills to ten times it’s size in the wet, and then drains back out for the rest of the year. Villages near Siem Reap have learned to adjsut, some my living on floating homes, others by erecting stilts that put houses into the tree-tops. We visit the lake and the community before returning to Siem Reap for our final group dinner.
Our final day on tour is dedicated to visiting one of the less obvious sites around Angkor, a temple that has not been restored in any way but left in it’s state of semi-chaos. Massive stone blocks reveal the outline of former glory, with some libraries still in tact and others tossed about like lego bricks. Earthquakes and the jungle have conspired to render Beng Mealea a fascinating site for photography.
The next morning marks the end of the tour, with a scheduled hotel check-out and a flight back to Bangkok. You can extend your time in Siem Reap in case you want to allow more time to chase the temples, or just make plans for a connecting flight out of Bangkok in the evening.
Don’t see the date for this tour to suit your schedule? No problems, Create Your Own Date. Choose the dates that you want to travel and as long as you happy to open the tour to other people joining we will charge you the standard tour price – no markups!
1. You must have booked and paid your deposit for travel dates that are at least 1 to 3 months in the future. This just gives us time to promote the trip and find other people to join you.
2. Create Your Own Date for this tour applies for bookings of two or more people only. If you are a solo traveller we can do our best to get a group for the dates you choose but we cannot guarantee standard pricing until we achieve a minimum of 2 people
3. This offer is subject to availability. In peak season we may not have the capability to add tour dates to our already busy schedule..
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