Rivers of Color – Bagan Photography Tour

Spectacular views in Bagan
Spectacular views in Bagan

A Bagan Photography Adventure on the Irrawaddy

On this unique Bagan photo tour, we follow the magical Myanmar light along the Irrawaddy river from sunrise to sunset. Rather than shooting temples exclusively, this tour showcases the people, villages, and activities following the natural rhythm of the river and its surreal light. This tour includes sunrise balloon shooting among the ancient pagodas, close-up interactions with locals, and amazing cultural experiences.

Slow life on the Irrawaddy
Slow life on the Irrawaddy

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 visit the many unique local Burmese villages and workshops around Bagan. 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.

Bagan Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

“Bagan is an exceptional example of the living Buddhist beliefs and traditions of merit making, expressed through the remarkable number of surviving stupas, temples and monasteries, supported by continuing religious traditions and activities.” – UNESCO World Heritage Inscription, July 2019

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
  • explore villages, monasteries, and workshops along the Irrawaddy river surrounding Bagan’s ancient temples
  • late afternoon village ruins 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 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

Full-Service Bagan Photography Adventure

Photograph the iconic pagodas and villages in comfort on our Bagan photography tours. 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: Walking tour of villages within the greater Bagan archeological zone. Explore local markets and workshops based on your interests and seasonal activities.  
12:00-13:30: Lunch break and travel time 
13:30-15:30: Rest time at hotel OR visit local workshops to learn about traditional Burmese crafts and culture; close-up, street, and portrait shooting opportunities. 
15:30-17:00: Shooting in local monasteries located along the river outside the main tourist areas of Bagan. Learn about Buddhist practices in Myanmar and shoot daily life in the monastery, including portraits of monks and followers. Candlelight shooting can be arrange by request.
17:00-18:30: Sunset boat cruise on the Irrawaddy, with stops for shooting between Nyaung U and Old Bagan. 
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, licensed photography guide
  • Outdoor breakfast
  • Private Bagan sunset cruise
  • 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.

More Bagan Photography Tours:

Bagan Instagram Photo Tour

Bagan Instagram Photo Tour

Our Bagan Instagram Photo Tour is a hit for all ages. Engaging temples and Instagram-worthy photography spots around Bagan by air-conditioned taxi.
Faces of Bagan Photography Tour

Faces of Bagan Photography Tour

Capture the authentic daily life of the people of Bagan on this private guided photography tour. Visit temples and villages off the tourist track and discover authentic Bagan through its people.
Iconic Temples of Bagan Photography Tour

Iconic Temples of Bagan Photography Tour

Bagan photography tour capturing the most spectacular and majestic temples in Bagan. Discover, learn and explore on this Bagan temples photography tour.
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.