Iconic Temples of Bagan Photography Tour

Bagan temple sunrise
Bagan temple sunrise

Bagan is an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site situated on a flat plain on the Irrawaddy River in the Mandalay Region. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 4,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive today. Our Bagan temples tours and photography experiences uncover the hidden gems of this unique site of global importance.

Capture Bagan With Insiders

We live, work, and shoot in Bagan year-round, so we have an intimate understanding of the temple and village locations and lighting conditions. Our Bagan photo tours are more than just staged shoots with paid models. We visit friends and family we work with throughout the year, enabling us to experience, share, and photograph authentic, intimate scenes of Burmese daily life on our tours. Join us!

Bagan Now Officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

“Bagan contains an extraordinary ensemble of Buddhist monumental architecture, reflecting the strength of religious devotion of an early major Buddhist empire. Within the context of the rich expressions and traditions of Buddhist architecture and art found throughout Asia, Bagan is distinctive and outstanding.” – UNESCO World Heritage Inscription, July 2019

Through the Lens: Bagan Photography Tour

An illuminated temple scene in Bagan
An illuminated temple scene in Bagan

Explore the most photogenic Bagan temples in the best light! Photograph the most impressive Bagan temples, from the majestic Ananda to the golden spires of Shwezigon.  Let our team of professional guides and photographers show you the secrets of unforgettable Bagan. We all live here, and we know the optimal times of the day to see the temples in the best light with the fewest crowds—and we’re sharing our secrets with you! Your Bagan photography tour includes sunrise balloon shooting among the ancient pagodas. Try photography of village people and farming activities during “blue hour” after sunrise. Enjoy an al fresco light breakfast with local pastries, fruit, and fresh coffee/tea at our “home” pagoda situated within the harvest area of a local community.

Experience Bagan’s Magical “Golden Hour”

  • pre-sunrise pickup and orientation to position ourselves to make the most of available light during the sunrise/sunset “golden hour”
  • get closer to real people and communities your tour fees support to capture the everyday beauty, culture, and colors of Myanmar
  • late afternoon village life under warm pre-sunset light
  • sunset in intimate location for capturing exceptional moments otherwise inaccessible
  • journey by horse cart, ebike, or taxi

Bagan Photography Tour Highlights

  • maximize your limited time available in Bagan for capturing the epic sunrise, balloons, shrines, architecture, and amazing local people
  • get closer to real people and communities your tour fees support to capture the everyday beauty, culture, and colors of Myanmar
  • late afternoon village life under warm pre-sunset light
  • sunset in intimate location for capturing exceptional moments otherwise inaccessible

The Most Authentic Myanmar Photo Tour!

Photograph the iconic pagodas and villages in comfort on our premium Bagan photography tour. For example, drinks and refreshments are provided throughout the day. A large, air-conditioned private vehicle is always on hand to transport your gear and provide a break from the heat. All our Bagan photography tours allow you the flexibility to design your own itinerary. We will apply our local knowledge of sites and contacts in the community each day. Visit local farmer and artisans for close-up photography of daily life in Myanmar. Practice your portrait photography with children on their way home from school. Have a laugh with local monks as they sit for their portraits. We know the light and how to position ourselves to capture village life, landscapes, portraits, ancient temples, sunrise or sunset.

Sample Itinerary

05:30: Pickup from your hotel by air-conditioned private taxi to position for sunrise
06:00-07:30: Sunrise balloon shooting at location within the monument zone. Due to changing regulations and to avoid crowds, specific site will be chosen shortly before tour date.
07:30-8:30: Photography of village people and farming activities during “blue hour” after sunrise.
08:30-09:30: Al fresco light breakfast with local pastries, fruit, and fresh coffee/tea at our “home” pagoda situated within harvest area of local community. Orientation to Bagan, its historical significance, topography, agriculture. Discussion of shooting goals and confirm the day’s shooting plan. Return to hotel for breakfast by request.
09:30-12:00: Shooting largest and most iconic pagodas, most of which are clustered along the riverside from Old Bagan to Nyaung U. Emphasis on exterior landscapes, dramatic interiors, significant structures, and murals.
12:00-13:30: Lunch break and travel time
13:30-15:30: Rest time at hotel OR interior tours of main (and less-visited) pagodas in riverside section of Old Bagan-Nyaung U to avoid harshest light.
15:30-17:00: Shooting late-period ruins in northeastern sector against tourist traffic, situated adjacent to agricultural village and reservoirs with amazing golden light in late afternoon. Sunset shooting among village ruins OR position for classic shots among Old Bagan pagodas.
17:00-18:30: Complete your Bagan photo tour with sunset shooting at a secluded pagoda in northeast section or Old Bagan based on your desired subjects and perspectives.
18:30-19:00: Return to your hotel or drop-off at local restaurant by private taxi

Price includes:

  • Air-conditioned private taxi and driver
  • Experienced English-speaking licensed tour guide
  • Outdoor breakfast
  • Chilled drinks all day

Price excludes:

  • Bagan Archaeological Zone fees
  • Lunch

Why Choose Us?

Part of what makes our Bagan photography tours so special is the direct contact with locals as we share our community connections with our tour guests. This allows our guests to experience Myanmar more authentically than any other tours on offer, and to capture better, more intimate photos of local people and activities. Our photography tours are operated in cooperation with Myanmar SEEDS, our development nonprofit and founding partner. 

Ethical Travel Photography

We understand that some visitors have concerns about staged photographs and paid models. These concerns are especially serious when photographing monks, monasteries and religious sites in Myanmar. What makes our Bagan photography tours unique is that we work directly with local communities in authentic settings.

Your Bagan photography tour fees go directly to local community projects, including monastery education programs for children. We offer these photo tours only after building long-term relationships with village leaders, including the abbots of local monasteries where we shoot. The monks who participate in our photography tours are not paid; a portion of your tour fees is donated to the monastery directly or into the monastery education fund. During your tour you are welcome to meet these village leaders who welcome your participation on our tours.

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Rivers of Color – Bagan Photography Tour

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This bagan photography adventure showcases the people, villages, and activities following the natural rhythm of the river and its surreal light. Includes sunrise balloon shooting among the ancient pagodas, close-up interactions with locals, and amazing...
Bagan Photo Gallery

Bagan Photo Gallery

Check out some of our recent Bagan tour photos! Our local and international guides are always keen to explore the fantastic light of the newly-listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.