We first ran this photography tour in late 2009 and we loved it. Beautiful temples, peaceful monks, the magic of the Mekong, diverse cultures and cuisine, remarkable sunrises and boutique accommodation that brought it all together. South-East Asia is rich in colour and life, a great place to practice the art of photography.
We designed this tour to follow the historical influences of four great Asian kingdoms, the Lanna, Siam, Laos and Khmer. They are distinctive from each other despite their close geographical locations. Everything from religion to cooking varies along the journey through the kingdoms.
In Bangkok we explore markets, life along the river and get adjusted to the humid conditions of Thailand. Further north we travel to Chiang Mai and roam the dozens of active temples that occupy the inner-walled city. We enjoy some Lanna culture on the edge of town and spend a day at the best elephant conservation park in Thailand. Across the border into Laos we get a chance to slow down the pace even more as we join the monks for 'giving alms', explore Buddhist grottos along the Mekong, visit beautiful silk workshops by the river and learn to cook Laos cuisine. Our final stop is the jungles of Cambodia where the ancient ruins of Angkor await our cameras. Sunrise and sunset provide stunning images to photograph, and we escape the ruins to explore markets and the Tonle Sap villages.
The trip runs in November each year, at the beginning of the dry season as the weather cools off and dries out. Asia is still very hot and humid, but the conditions are better for photography than any other time of year and the abundance of water in key locations gives us the photographic inspiration we want.
I spend more time in South-East Asia than any other part of the world, so the chance to run a tour through the Ancient Kingdoms is a real treat for me. When we first designed the trip we were unsure if enough people would know the region to want to travel on a photo tour. The trip has proved very popular with our regular travellers though, and in the first year of operation there were just a few seats that went to first-time customers.
Like all our scheduled group departures this is a great introduction to our photo tours and style of travel. A well planned itinerary helps to ensure that you spend your time shooting pictures and learning about the art of photography. The group is very small to ensure you have good access to the instructing photographer (me!). And the journey itself is abundant with inspiration, a series of engaging destinations that encourage your expression.
Of all our photography tours this trip is perhaps the most rewarding. So many colours, such variety of culture and the contrast from bustling Bangkok to laconic Luang Prabang.