Myanmar is a golden land of breathtaking beauty, saffron-clad monks and friendly, charming locals, steeped in fascinating history and traditions. Explore the magical, mystical, off-the-beaten-track locations of “tribal Myanmar” on this epic two-week photographic journey, under the leadership of photojournalist Karl Grobl and his long-term experienced charming local guide.
Tribal Myanmar is a great trip for first timers to Myanmar, as well as for those who have already experienced more well-known locations in the country, and who are looking to dive deep into the remote, fascinating, vanishing cultural diversity of this amazing country. The tour concentrates less on the well-known landmarks, (although we do visit a few), and focuses more on the last remaining vestiges of tribal cultures that still cling to the traditional ways of life.
We will see and photograph the Padong Long-Neck women, the ornately decorated Akha tribal people. From there, we will make the long journey to the last remaining Tattoo-Faced Chin ladies, up river from Mrauk U, in the Rakhine State. But that’s not all, we will also explore and photograph the Silver Palung and Ta’Ang, and Eng black-teeth people. Then we will make several visits to Wa and Kun Shan villages, Lwe tribes in their distinctive longhouses, and the fascinating Lahu tribes.
This is an intensive, immersive trip with several short, easy treks through some of the most scenic areas of Myanmar and through countless traditional villages.
If you are looking to get off the beaten track to capture unique, once in a lifetime images, then this is the trip for you!
Day 1 (Oct. 28):
Participants will meet on arrival at Yangon airport then transferred to the hotel. There will be an orientation meeting in the early evening followed by dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 2 (Oct. 29):
We’ll begin the day at sunrise photographing spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda. The early morning hour means few tourists and an opportunity to photograph alms offerings to monks and ritual chanting by various religious groups. After breakfast, we’ll visit a large monastic school where hundreds of novices and nuns study. We’ve timed it to be there during their alms receiving event.
Next, we’re off to photograph the Thiri Mingalar wholesale market where produce and flowers are arriving and being distributed. After a late lunch in downtown, we’ll explore the photogenic Yangon Central Railway Station and experience a short train ride. At sunset, we’ll visit the Yangon river port or Kandawgyi Parks. Time permitting, there may be an opportunity to visit Chinatown for some street photography. Stay overnight in Yangon.
Day 3 (Oct. 30):
Following breakfast, we’ll be transported to Yangon airport, fly to Keng Tung and check into the hotel. We’ll then take a drive to the Pin Tao area to photograph the tribal villages of the Eng, Akhar, and Lahu-na people. In the evening, you’ll have some free time to explore the town – perhaps visiting the main temple just outside the hotel and the beautiful Naung Tong Lake area. Stay overnight in Keng Tung.
Day 4 (Oct. 31):
We’ll enjoy breakfast at the hotel then set off to photograph the Silver Palaung Village of Wan Pauk and Akhi Village of Wan Sai. Later in the afternoon, we’ll do some landscape photography in the area with possible models in traditional dress. Following an early dinner, we’ll venture out to experience and photography Myanmar’s “festival of light”, known as Thadingyut. The festival marks the time when the majority Buddhist population celebrates the end of Buddhist lent. The town will be filled with light displays on the many Wats. Overnight in Keng Tung.
Day 5 (Nov. 1):
You’ll have some free time this morning to relax or explore the historic town and the multi-cultural, bustling market. Mid-morning, we’ll head to the airport to board our flight to Heho. Upon arrival, we’ll head to the Nyaunghswe docks where we’ll catch our boat to take us to our hotel right on Inle Lake. In the evening, we’ll photograph the lake and surrounds in the beautiful evening light. Stay overnight in Inle Lake.
Day 6 (Nov. 2):
After an early breakfast we’ll board a boat destined for the southern part of the lake to attend a highly popular religious festival called Paungdaw Pagoda Procession. We’ll be situated to capture holy statues of Buddha sailing on a royal barge, plus ceremonial boats powered by leg-rowers will be all around enhancing the background. After the festival shoot, our group will visit a market near the Tharlay village and some villages on stilts. We’ll return to our hotel in time for some relaxation and sunset photography from the hotel deck. Stay overnight in Inle Lake.
Day 7 (Nov. 3):
This morning, we’ll photograph an amazing event – the boat racing finals of the leg-rowing Inn Thar people. Later, we’ll visit and photograph the beautiful Inn Dein village and explore the impressive ruins of Shwe Inn Thein Pagoda complex. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon for an arranged shoot with traditional Inn Thar fishermen. Stay overnight in Inle Lake.
Day 8 (Nov. 4):
This morning we’ll venture by boat to a tomato wholesale market, stopping by the Shwe Yan Pyay monastery, on the way. Later in the day, we’ll take a drive to Namsang, the largest town in the Shan State. Our route will take us through the capital, Taunggyi. Travel in this area is allowable only through special permission as some of the areas are controlled by various armed groups. We’ll reach Namsang in the afternoon. There will be time for a short rest once after we check-in to the hotel. In the evening, we’ll visit an ethnic village in the southwest of the town for photography of the village of Yinn Kyar (the stripped Yinn). Stay overnight in Namsang.
Day 9 (Nov. 5):
After breakfast, the group will depart hotel via off-road vehicles to a river jetty where ethnic people use bamboo rafts to travel back and forth across the river. From there, it’s a short trek to the village of Yinn Net (the black Yinn tribe) to explore and photograph for a couple of hours. Next, we’ll travel by coach towards Thanlwin River to Kho Lam where we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant. Should time permit, we may visit a large natural lake on our way to the Silver Palaung village, where we will photograph and explore this most traditional Palaung village featuring several long-houses. Dinner and overnight in Namsang.
Day 10 (Nov. 6):
Following breakfast, we’ll explore and photograph some of the ruins in a nearby valley adjacent to the Loilam mountain range. Once again we’ll venture via off-road vehicles for our drive to the ancient ruins of Thuwana Lyan and Namp Kaung. We’ll return to the hotel for lunch and to check-out of the hotel before we board our coach to the Shan State capital of Taunggyi. Dinner and overnight at Taunggyi.
Day 11 (Nov. 7):
After breakfast, the group will journey via coach to the capital of Kayah State, Loikaw, by way of Hsi Hseng town. There will be opportunities to stop for photography along the way at local markets, Htee Sel Khar Falls, and Lisu tribe village. We’ll enjoy a late lunch, hotel check-in, and a brief rest. At sunset, we’ll visit and photograph the town’s most iconic Taung Kwe Zedi pagoda. Stay overnight in Loikaw.
Day 12 (Nov. 8):
Today we’ll have the full day to explore and photograph the tribe villages around Loikaw and Demoso townships. Our first stop is Hta Nee Lah Le Kayah village where we’ll visit a few houses and do some arranged shoots. Lunch will be at a local restaurant in Demoso town. Afterwards, we’ll journey on to the Kayan tribe village of Pan Pet (the longneck women’s’ village) where we’ll visit their homes, hear stories and photograph their lifestyle. We’ll return to Loikaw in the late afternoon. Should time permit, we’ll photograph the sunset from a vantage point. Overnight in Loikaw.
Day 13 (Nov. 9):
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll visit a remote village (Hte Kho) where a few remaining Bwe (Kayaw) tribal people live. We’ll have a couple of hours to explore and photograph their beautiful village and possibly visit some homes. Lunch will be served by the local community, then we’ll return to Loikaw. The balance of the afternoon-evening is open to relax or perhaps visit the beautiful lakeside. Stay overnight in Loikaw.
Day 14 (Nov. 10):
Following an early breakfast and hotel check-out, we’re off to Loikaw airport, destined for Yangon. After landing, it’s hotel check-in then folks may choose to explore, shop and/or photograph downtown or the local market. Tonight’s entertainment will be a grand tour of Shwedagon pagoda and a farewell dinner. Final night in Yangon. Farewell dinner and stay overnight in Yangon.
Day 15 (Nov. 11):
Participants will be transferred to Yangon airport for flights back home.