The Bus Is Better

Photography Tours

The Photography Blog

Photographic Field Guides
Practical Philosophies
Careers and Ideas
Good Gear
Inspiring Journeys

“Arriving in Gangtey”
October 2012

1/640th @ f/2.0
ISO 100
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV

Every year Ewen runs a handful of unique and marvellous tours and workshops. Find out more about what tours are coming up and how to book.

Photo Tours with Ewen

The Bus Is Better
I recently got asked the question about why I use a bus instead of cars for the Bhutan trips. Buses are ugly and at first glance don't look like a luxury option, so I get why this question comes up. I’ve done it both ways and have learned through experience that it’s waaaaay better to run my tours in Bhutan with one big bus instead a fleet of smaller cars. Here’s why.

The Photography Blog

I get that it doesn’t look classy to rock up at our super lovely hotels in a tour bus. It conjures images of school drop-offs or maybe a local bus route in Bolivia. Looks can be deceiving however.

The private car option for travelling in Bhutan should only be used when you need to access a remote location by 4WD, or if your group size is simply too big and the bus would be jam packed like a sardine tin. It's natural to think a car would more comfortable, but it’s mostly a matter of perception and lack of experience. We come from western countries where cars are a symbol of status and the idea of sharing a bus for two weeks seems like a form of punishment, yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s why the bus is better.

  1. You get to spend time with the people you’re travelling with. The conversations that happen in the bus are really valuable as part of the overall experience. Sharing ideas, information and inspiration while we cover the winding miles between temples is something you don’t want to miss out on. I answer a lot of questions from people while we’re on the road, and answer them immediately. Sometimes it’s about where we might shoot after lunch, sometimes it’s an in depth discussion on taking portraits of strangers, and sometimes it’s a question on the Royal Family. But we share these conversations and that benefits all of us.

  2. Comfort. It turns out the bigger buses are a little bit slower and a lot more comfortable on the bumpy windy roads. I was shocked at how much less comfortable I was to travel across Bhutan in the back seat of a Landcruiser. You feel the bumps more directly from the smaller vehicles and there’s actually a lot less room inside to move and get comfortable. With a group of 8 guests and a bus designed for 20 we end up with tonnes of room to flop camera bags about and stretch your legs and change seats to chat to people or review photos as we drive.

  3. Nobody misses out on a stop. When we’re in the one bus it means we all get the same opportunity to photograph. Nobody has to worry about "fear of missing out”. I often hear the conversations with car based groups who happen to arrive at the same hotel for a night, and I hear a lot of debate over why one car stopped for a shot when another car didn’t. That feeling of having travelled thousands of miles to experience Bhutan and then you missed on a moment that other people got is not good dinner table conversation. Everybody gets an equal chance on my trips.

  4. Comfort again. Part of the reason some tours don’t want to bus about is because their group sizes are too large. They say they have a “small” group but in fact they pack 12 passengers onto the same trip, plus two photographic leaders plus five drivers plus additional guides so that every car has a guide of some sort. Suddenly you have an entourage of 16 people when you arrive at places, and a fleet of cars clogging up the road-side when they arrive at a festival. My idea of small groups is a maximum of 8 guests. Not 10, not 12 and certainly not 16. Be wary when people say "small group" and then sell 12 spots on a trip, anywhere. But especially in Bhutan.

  5. Simply the best. When I run a tour the primary focus for me is that my guests have the best experience possible. That means the most comfort and the most opportunity to ask me questions. Time in the bus sharing ideas and philosophy on photography, and life, is an essential part of that experience.

    So get on board :)

Visit my Bhutan Tour page to see when my next trip to Bhutan is running:

You can also find photo essays from recent trips to Bhutan on my website here:

Happy driver makes for a happy bus!

OK Kinley you can stop posing now!

Stop me if you've heard this one before

  Keep Reading

Join Ewen's newsletter for monthly updates on new photography articles and tour offers...

Thanks, you are now subscribed. Please check your inbox for a welcome email.

Computer says NO.
Please check the email address.

Please Share Your Thoughts


I run one trip to Bhutan each year for dedicated photographers who want to learn about travel, portraits, and the deeper art of photography. No two trips are the same, each one crafted into a unique journey. Just 8 people per tour of course.
This feature was last updated on Sunday 11th March 2018
This article was published and written by

All images and words on this web site are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.
When requesting permission to republish this article please quote reference #1254.

URL for this Article

Related Links
  Bhutan  Photography Tours  Bhutan  Small Groups  Private Cars

I don't run many tours and workshops each year, so I make sure those few are really something special.

Expedition Photography Workshops

I’m changing my mix of photography tours and workshops. From 2024, I’m going to be adding a really big ship into the mix. A very lovely big boat that specialises in expedition cruising, and creating unique opportunities for people who love their photography.

Expedition FAQ

This FAQ is for anyone contemplating joining me on an expedition workshop to explore their photography, and explore some amazing parts of the world with me and Heritage Expeditions.

Cooked the Books

Each year Shellie designs a unique menu for our food photography workshop, and then publishes the recipes online for everyone to enjoy. Even if you didn't make it to this years event, you can still get a taste of our workshops in your own kitchen.

Last Minute Workshop

The recent lockdowns have caused havoc with our workshop schedule, but that might be good news if you're looking for a last minute slot on a truly wonderful workshop experience :) My brand new workshop concept is called "CHANGE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY" and the name says it all.

Taking it Offline

Online is necessary. Offline is essential.

Fiona and Sharon in Norway

The best thing about getting feedback from my travellers is the way it lets me re-live the moments from a journey. The 2020 Arctic Norway trip was really special because we had such a lovely group of people and so many great experiences. The weather was some of the least helpful we've ever had on a tour, and yet we still got exactly what we came for. The Aurora Borealis.

Ewen's Photography Book

"ReIMAGINE" is now available to order online.
It's a very big and very generous book that will help you to reconnect with your creative side.