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 SOUTHEAST ASIAN ODYSSEY

Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Hanoi

BHUTAN

THAILAND

VIETNAM

CAMBODIA

MYANMAR

NEPAL

Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Three countries with so much in common, yet so different.

The three countries of Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam share similar lengthy histories, running back thousands of years. But the current countries as we know them today are considerably different from one another. On this Adventure, you’ll witness the differences and similarities between these three neighbouring counties.

Starting in Thailand, the largest of the three countries, we’ll see a modern country very comfortable as a tourism leader in the region. Thai culture extends well past its borders, as a recognizable style and flavour all over the world. Its temples, elephant sanctuaries, bustling and hustling commerce, and its world-class cuisine and restaurants are familiar to almost everyone.

In neighbouring Laos, it’s like stepping back in time a hundred years, to a period of French colonialism. With temples unchanged in hundreds of years, big cities with no traffic lights, and a population that largely depends on boats as the only means of transportation, you really get the feeling you’re in a different world. 

And when we get to Vietnam, it’s like stepping into the future. Vietnam has been on something of a surge lately, as an up and coming tourist destination. Gone are the days of war tourism, cashing in on the high of victory. Now the country is eager to show off its natural beauty, its world-class hotels and restaurants, its indigenous people, and its burgeoning high-tech industries. Hanoi is one of the oldest capital cities in all of Asia, and one that is embracing its celebrity with all it can muster. It’s an exciting city to visit, with visible centuries-old history mixed in with modern architecture, a fantastic cuisine scene, and a people that are eager to advance themselves in a fast-paced world.

This adventure is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light, but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of, but use your new found skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. Apart from the technical aspect of learning your camera settings and capabilities, you will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity.

In addition, you will become knowledgeable on how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our week together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas and great fun. We cannot think of a better location to express your creativity than in Southeast Asia.

Starting in Thailand, the largest of the three countries, we’ll see a modern country very comfortable as a tourism leader in the region. Thai culture extends well past its borders, as a recognizable style and flavour all over the world. Its temples, elephant sanctuaries, bustling and hustling commerce, and its world-class cuisine and restaurants are familiar to almost everyone.

In neighbouring Laos, it’s like stepping back in time a hundred years, to a period of French colonialism. With temples unchanged in hundreds of years, big cities with no traffic lights, and a population that largely depends on boats as the only means of transportation, you really get the feeling you’re in a different world. 

And when we get to Vietnam, it’s like stepping into the future. Vietnam has been on something of a surge lately, as an up and coming tourist destination. Gone are the days of war tourism, cashing in on the high of victory. Now the country is eager to show off its natural beauty, its world-class hotels and restaurants, its indigenous people, and its burgeoning high-tech industries. Hanoi is one of the oldest capital cities in all of Asia, and one that is embracing its celebrity with all it can muster. It’s an exciting city to visit, with visible centuries-old history mixed in with modern architecture, a fantastic cuisine scene, and a people that are eager to advance themselves in a fast-paced world.

This adventure is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light, but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of, but use your new found skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. Apart from the technical aspect of learning your camera settings and capabilities, you will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity.

In addition, you will become knowledgeable on how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our week together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas and great fun. We cannot think of a better location to express your creativity than in Southeast Asia.

TOUR OVERVIEW

Group Size

4 – 8 Guests

Experience | Difficulty

  • Beginner, amateur, enthusiast and semi-pro photographers
  • DSLR, mirrorless, compact or iPhone cameras
  • Moderate schedule
  • Travel by car, minibus, riverboat and airplane
  • Minimal elevation changes and lots of walking
  • (non-photographers also welcome)

Weather | Sun

February/March – Temps 90/69 F | 32/21 C  Sunrise 6:28 | Sunset 6:15 (18:15)

Includes

  • Travel, landscape, architecture, and people photography
  • Professional photographer | guide
  • Photo walks & discussions
  • Small group size (4 – 8 guests)
  • 4 or 5-star hotels
  • Breakfasts
  • 3 Dinners, 2 Lunches
  • 2 Domestic flights, 1 International flight
  • Local transportation

Travel Information

Arrival Airport: Bangkok, Thailand (BKK or DMK) – Transfer time 45min
Departure Airport: Hanoi, Vietnam (HAN) – Transfer time 40min.
Our adventure begins at 11 AM on the first day and ends at noon on the last day.
Travel Visa: A visa may be required depending on your nationality. Go to Visa Map to find out.

Accommodations

Bangkok – Sukhothai Hotel, Muse Hotel, Lebua Hotel or similar
Chiang Rai – Le Meridien, Mora Boutique Hotel or similar
Pak Beng – Pak Beng Lodge, or similar
Luang Prabang – Avana+ Hotel, Satri House Hotel or similar
Vientiane – La Seine, Le Thatluang D’or Hotel or similar
Hanoi – Hotel Metropole, L’Opera Hotel, Oriental Jade or similar

Helpful Links

> Photographing People in Asia – by Ian Robert Knight
> Five Best Dishes to Eat in Thailand – by Ian Robert Knight
> Vietnam – Hoan Kiem Lake – by Ian Robert Knight
> Legend of the Hotel Metropole – by Michael Chinnici
> Vietnam Day in the Life – A Focus on Hanoi – by Ian Robert Knight

TOUR PRICES & DATES


Photographer Leader

Photographer Leader

Ian Robert Knight

March 1 – 14, 2021
February 6 – 19, 2022

*All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Please select single occupancy for a private room. For your convenience, we offer optional early arrival and late departure accommodations so you can extend your stay before or after the trip. We typically stay in boutique hotels in the 4-star category. Not all destinations offer these types of properties. We look for unique hotels which offer cultural, historic and/or authentic features. Depending on the size of the group, smaller boutique hotels may have limited room inventory. In some countries or in remote locations, we may be limited to lodges or branded chain hotels. Breakfast is included only if included in our room rates.

ITINERARY

SOUTHEAST ASIAN ODYSSEY 14 DAY PHOTO TOUR

Day 1 | Bangkok

We begin our adventure in Bangkok. As the most popular city to visit in the world, it has to be experienced to be believed. Thailand in general is a fascinating country, but Bangkok has a reputation as one of the most exciting cities in all of Asia.

Over an early lunch, we will discuss PWA’s “10 Guiding Principles of Photography” as well as our “The Art of Seeing” photographic technique. We will also have informal discussions about what our guests are trying to achieve in their photography, subject matters, styles and techniques.

We will quickly immerse ourselves into Bangkok life, by travelling through the canals of the city, by private longtail boat. We will zip through the city, taking in sights that can only be seen from the canals, stopping in at some lesser-known parts of the city for little side trips into small temples and irresistible food stalls. 

Bangkok has one of the best dining scenes in Southeast Asia, with dozens of Michelin-starred restaurants in all varieties of cuisines. On this evening, we will enjoy our “Welcome Dinner” in one of Bangkok’s best restaurants. (D)

Day 2 | Bangkok

Our second day will be consumed with visits to some of the most impressive temples and palaces anywhere in Southeast Asia. We start with the Grand Palace, which is the ceremonial and traditional location for the Thai Royal family. This is a very large complex, with centuries of history to take in. As Bangkok’s most important attraction, the crowds are large, but then the complex is massive in size too. With the Emerald Buddha on the grounds of the Palace temple, it’s also the most sacred spot in the country. 

Nearby is Wat Po, which holds the incredibly large golden reclining Buddha, among other relics. For first-time visitors, they are taken away with how impressive the reclining statue is, and remain in awe as they walk around it. As the day winds down, we’ll finish at Wat Arun, known as the Temple of Dawn, situated along the mighty Chao Phraya river. 

At night, when the heat is reduced, we’ll visit one (or two) of the famous rooftop lounges that Bangkok is famous for, that provide views for miles. (B)

Day 3 | Bangkok - Chiang Rai

After breakfast, we’ll head to the airport for a flight to Thailand’s northern-most big city — Chiang Rai. This town, not far from the borders of Myanmar and Laos, is famous for a number of things. Of particular note are the White Temple, the Black House, and the Blue Temple. 

After we check in to our resort hotel in central Chiang Rai and get settled, we’ll venture out to see the White Temple. Wat Rong Khun, as it’s officially known, is one of the most recognizable temples in Thailand. It’s been open for just over 20 years, and is privately owned. The very intricate details of the carvings and sculptures is what sets this temple apart from any other temple in the country. (B)

Day 4 | Chiang Rai

Our day begins with a visit to the Blue Temple. This is a relatively new temple, designed in blue and gold, and is visually stunning. Called “Wat Rong Suea Ten” or the ‘House of the Dancing Tiger’, was thus named for the abundant wildlife that used to roam in the area.

After lunch, we will spend time visiting with local hill tribes that occupy small villages outside the city. We’ll get to meet and photography a wide variety of hill tribes such as the Akha, Hmong, Karen, and Yao people. Each of them have their own unique identity, which they are struggling to maintain as modern Thailand changes rapidly around them. 

On the last night before we cross over into Laos, we’ll have some time to review photos we’ve taken over the previous 4 days, and discuss editing techniques. (B)

Day 5 | Chiang Rai - Mekong River - Pak Beng

Today will be mostly a travel day, but a relaxing and enjoyable one. Initially, we’ll travel by road to the Thai/Laos border crossing at Chiang Khong, then we exit Thailand, cross the Mekong River, and enter Laos at Huay Xai.

After obtaining Visas for our stay in the country, we’ll embark on a very comfortable and leisurely cruise down the Mekong River toward Luang Prabang. The cruise will take most of two days, broken into sections. Our first day will be about 6 hours on the river, which then places us in the riverside town of Pak Beng. We will stay overnight in a beautiful boutique hotel overlooking the Mekong River. 

Along the way, we will be stopping a few times, as interesting things are spotted along the river. For example, after one-hour journeying along the river, we’ll stop at a traditional village. This is a chance to observe rural life along the Mekong and witness the daily life of ethnic minorities and their talented craftsmanship.

We’ll arrive at Pak Beng toward the end of the afternoon, in time for a refreshing drink overlooking the Mekong River at sunset. (B)(L)(D)

Day 6 | Mekong River - Luang Prabang

The second day of our cruise south toward Luang Prabang will begin early in the morning, departing at about 8 am. Starting early will allow us to enjoy some beautiful light and calm traffic on the Mekong River. 

A few hours into the day after, enjoying the sights of granite cliffs and sparkling sandy shores, the boat makes a stop to visit the hill tribe village of Baw, where we can watch the traditional process of making Lao whiskey.

Not far from Luang Prabang, at the mouth of the Nam Ou River, near Pak Ou village, the cruise stops to visit the Tam Thing cave, or the “Cave of a Thousand Buddhas”. It is famous for housing over 2,500 Buddha statues of all sizes and for being a place of pilgrimage for locals.

We arrive in Luang Prabang by 5pm, and transfer to our classic boutique hotel in the old town part of Luang Prabang, the fifth largest town in Laos. We’ll be based here for a few days, exploring all that this wonderful town and its surrounding countryside has to offer. 

In the early evening, we will wander the famous night market that takes over the main street in the old part of town. (B)(L)

Day 7 | Luang Prabang

The beautiful town of Luang Prabang has a lot to see, which may explain why it is the most popular city for visitors to Laos. Even though the town is small, it manages to have 34 Buddhist temples dotted around the city. The town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995.

Perhaps what the city is best known for is the (very) early morning alms parades, where monks walk the streets around their temples, and collect food from local residents. The event has become something of a spectacle over the past few years, but nonetheless, it is quite fascinating to witness. We will choose a smaller temple outside the main tourist area, to enjoy a parade that still has some authenticity to it.

After our Alms parade event, we’ll grab breakfast at our hotel, before we head out again later in the morning. Our day will consist of exploring the historical past of Laos. Many of the most important temples are accessible for photography, with the resident monks eager to show us around their home of worship. We’ll visit several of the larger temples, each of them with their own characteristics, but all of them bathed in gold and bright colours. (B)

Day 8 | Luang Prabang

One of the other things that Luang Prabang is well-known for are the many natural wonders that surround the city. Of particular note are the waterfalls, of which there are several beautiful ones nearby.

The Kuang Si waterfalls and the Tad Sae waterfalls are both spectacular, and are both perfect occasions to practice long exposure photography. And also for a refreshing dip in one of the crystal-clear pools at the bottom.

Near the Kuang Si falls, there is an Asiatic Bear rescue centre, where dozens of bears have been saved from poachers. We’ll make a few stops to explore some temples on the way back to town. And then we will aim to be at the top of Mount Phousi to take in the sunset, while overlooking the town below. 

After dinner in a local cafe, we’ll have another opportunity to review photos as a group or individually. (B)

Day 9 | Luang Prabang - Vientiane

On Day 9, we will have a leisurely morning at our hotel, with an opportunity to repeat a morning Alms Parade, before we check out. We’ll take a mid day flight to Vientiane. 

Vientiane is the capital of Laos, and by far the largest city. Naturally, as the capital, there are many monuments, embassies, government buildings and the like. After we get settled into our hotel in the centre of the city, we will visit one of those monuments.

The Victory Gate, or the Patuxai as it’s known in Lao, is Vientiane’s version of the Arc de Triomphe from Paris. The design certainly looks pretty similar, except the Lao version definitely has more mythical creatures on it, than the Parisian version. And just like in Paris, you can take in the city views from the top of the Arch. The arch is known colloquially as the “vertical runway”, because it was built with money given to Laos by the US, to build a runway in the 1950’s.

Day 10 | Vientiane

Laos was a French colony for a large part of the 20th century, from 1893 until 1975, when it became a communist republic. Because of this, there is plenty of evidence of French influences still visible throughout the country. The architecture, the wide boulevards, the street names, the wine shops, and the French bakeries all give a nod toward their colonial past.

Today, we’ll take in some of the highlights that make Vientiane one of Asia’s most charming capitals. Of course, it’s impossible to explore Vientiane without checking out a temple or two. And this city has some good ones. In particular, the very, very gold stupa at Pha That Luang is quite hard to miss. At 44 metres high, the stupa itself is impressive. But the surrounding temples, a huge sleeping Buddha and a number of gold-leaf-covered buildings all add up to a must-see destination in the city. (B)

Day 11 | Vientiane - Hanoi

We leave Laos today, for our final destination — the historically fascinating city of Hanoi, Vietnam. Our afternoon flight will only take an hour, but we will feel like we went through a time machine, after arriving in Vietnam’s capital.

Hanoi is an ancient city, with a history dating back more than a millennia. But it’s also very modern, with hundreds of skyscrapers. Mixed among the modern elements are countless monuments to the country’s past, and neighbourhoods with centuries-old shophouses. It’s a study in contrasts, and it’s what makes Hanoi so irresistible. 

We’ll settle into our modern/classic hotel in central Hanoi, in time for dinner. Luckily Hanoi has some excellent restaurants, serving Vietnamese and French cuisines — all nearby. (B)

Day 12 | Hanoi

Hanoi gets up early, and so shall we. A short walk from our hotel is Hoàn Kiếm Lake, which seems to be the epicentre for all things in Hanoi. Every morning before sunrise, the perimeter of the lake comes alive with people of all ages. Most people come to exercise, some come to dance, some just come to read. But come they do.

We will join the early risers for a walk around the lake before breakfast. You’ll be surprised what there is to see at such an early time of day. As it happens, the lake is busy all day long, and it really picks up again in the evening. We may return here again at night too.

We’ll return to our hotel for breakfast, and then head out to explore this fascinating city later in the morning. The highlight will be the Old Quarter section of town. This area is known for its market streets, each street specializing in just one type of product. It may be metal, paper, flowers, or plastics. But it’s definitely interesting. This section of the city is quite significant, and is overflowing with photographic opportunities. 

We will sit for lunch in a traditional noodle shop in this district, where you’ll have the best pho you’ve ever had. (B)

Day 13 | Hanoi

We’ll have another early morning start today, to visit the Flower Market. Like many flower markets in Asia, this one runs through the night. When we arrive, it will be winding down, so it will be much less crowded. This market is where all the hotels and flower shops buy their supplies at wholesale. If you’ve never seen a flower market, you’re in for a treat. 

We’ll return to our hotel for a wonderful breakfast, and maybe a little rest before we head out again.

Today, our focus will be on finding Hanoi’s most interesting locations for photography. Starting with the Temple of Literature, which is almost 1000 years old, and was Hanoi’s first university. Today, it’s a fascinating collection of ancient buildings in a beautiful garden setting. We’ll also visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, on the shores of West Lake. This Buddhist monument, built about 514 AD, is surrounded by lush greenery and lake water. 

Time permitting, maybe we’ll check out the restaurant where Bourdain and Obama had lunch, since it’s nearby.

But tonight, we’ll definitely dine well, in one of Vietnam’s finest restaurants, when we sit down for our Farewell Dinner. We’ve seen and photographed a lot over the past 2 weeks, so there will be lots to talk about!

Day 14 | Hanoi

On our final day, we awake to our final group discussion, review our past two weeks photos, trade contact information and bid you farewell. We urge you to extend your stay in Vietnam or elsewhere in Southeast Asia and make good use of everything you will learn on our Photo Workshop Adventure. (B)

(B) Breakfast, (L) Lunch, (D) Dinner, (E) Excursion

May all who come as guests... leave as friends®

OPTIONS AND BENEFITS

Pricing

 

All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Please select single occupancy for a private room. For your convenience, we offer optional early arrival and late departure accommodations so you can extend your stay before or after the trip. We typically stay in boutique hotels in the 4-star category. Not all destinations offer these types of properties. We look for unique hotels which offer cultural, historic and/or authentic features. Depending on the size of the group, smaller boutique hotels may have limited room inventory. In some countries or in remote locations, we may be limited to lodges or branded chain hotels. Breakfast is included only if included in our room rates.

Private Guided Adventures

 

We offer amazing private guided photo adventures, cultural tours and vacations for individuals, couples, families and groups. We can customize any of our published adventures, as well as others, to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. This may include the finest 5-star accommodations, business-class travel, and private guides and fixers who are able to make the impossible possible. If you are not interested in a photo-centric vacation, but you love our approach to private travel, we will be happy to design and deliver an amazing adventure focused on travel, culture and cuisine. Click here to request a quote. Feel free to call us at 1-888-834-0288 or contact us for more information.

 

Travel Insurance

We offer travel insurance through the internationally recognized Travelex Travel Insurance Company, as well as evacuation and medical transportation insurance through MedJet, one of the best in the industry.

The cost for travel insurance can be as low as 4% of the total trip cost, depending upon age and other factors. Knowing you have trip cancellation coverage can make a big difference should you have to cancel for some unforeseen reason. Travelex Insurance Services is a BBB Accredited business with an A+ rating. Click here to learn more about why you should consider travel insurance.

Rewards Program

Start earning points today and SAVE $200 - $900 off future trips!
Simply register for one of our amazing photo adventures and begin earning points today!

How The Program Works
For every adventure reservation you make with Photo Workshop Adventures, you earn valuable points which you can redeem on your next trip. This is a great way to save up to 8% off future trips. Our Rewards Program is designed with three tiers: Orange, Gold and VIP Members. Points may be applied towards balance payments on your next trip, or you may choose to accumulate points for a free trip in the future.

ORANGE REWARDS
All guests begin with our Orange Rewards Program (Level 1), which earns 4 points for every dollar you spend. You begin earning points immediately after your first trip. A $5,900 spend earns 23,600 points with a value of $236 USD.

GOLD REWARDS
With our Gold Rewards Program (Level 2), you earn 6 points for every dollar you spend. Orange Members who reach 120,000 accumulated lifetime* points (approx. 4-6 trips), automatically move up to Gold Rewards. A $5,900 spend earns 35,400 points with a value of $354 USD.

Additional Gold Benefits:

  • Earn up to double points during promotional events
  • Advance notifications for upcoming adventures and special offers

VIP REWARDS
With our VIP Rewards Program (Level 3), you earn 8 points for every dollar you spend. Gold Members who reach 350,000 accumulated lifetime* points (approx. 8-12 trips) move up to VIP Rewards. A $5,900 spend earns 47,200 points with a value of $472 USD, (8+/-% discount).

Additional VIP Benefits:

  • Earn up to double points during promotional events
  • Advance notifications for upcoming adventures and special offers
  • Ability to Gift or Transfer points to others
  • Receive complimentary airport transfers at the destination location*


Redeeming Your Points

Redeeming your points couldn’t be easier. You can always log in to your account to check your points balance. When you are ready to book your next trip, register and pay your deposit. When you go to pay your balance you will be given the option to apply your points and receive a discount.

THINK ORANGE Magazine

Subscribe to our Think Orange Magazine and eNews. THINK ORANGE is a wonderful mix of stories and tips related to travel, photography, adventure, culture, art, technology, cuisine, lifestyle, people and more. Our objective is to immerse you in a world you may only fantasize about. Raise your awareness and inspire your creativity. Perhaps even help make you a better photographer. We deliver similar experiential experiences that our guests enjoy on our photo adventures. Like all of our adventures, our blog is “photo-centric”, while also allowing you to experience all the nuances and cultural aspects of travel and adventure. Welcome to our world. We hope you enjoy. Our eNews is a great way to receive information about upcoming photo adventures, exciting new destinations, photography tips, special offers and more. Subscribe today!

Gift Cards

Give someone you know a Gift Card, good toward any of our Photo  Adventures, Photo Tours, Private Guided Tours, Online Courses, Prints or Merchandize. Our beautifully personalized eGift Cards and Certificates are delivered to you electronically. They are fully transferable and have a 2 year expiration date. They are available in any amount from $100 to $5000. It makes a great gift for anyone who loves photography, travel or adventure. Order now, or email for more information.

Combine-N-Save

You can SAVE up to $1200 by combining two or more back-to-back 6-Day or longer Photo Adventures. Call us at 1-888-834-0288 or contact us for more information.

Private Online Lightroom & Photoshop Tutorials

We offer private online Lightroom and Photoshop photo editing tutorials for individuals who would like to improve their post-processing skills. Each is customized to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. We provide you with one-on-one discussions using online connectivity. Many of our Photo Adventure guests select our online post-processing as an extension to their trip. Click here for more information.

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