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Bhutan Photo Tour

Updated February 27th, 2024

Bhutan Photo Tour 2024

September 11-25 (tentative dates)*

15 Days in Bhutan-The Road Less Travelled – 2024

Closed to the world for many years, Bhutan is like stepping back in time to a slower more gentle time, a place where the pace of life is more sedate and the people seem to be always smiling.

15 full days of experiencing and photographing the wonders of the isolated Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan with a small group of just 8 participants and lead by highly experienced professional photographer Paul Hoelen.

Adam Monk has made 11 photo tour trips to Bhutan, and he has planned this tour with a fantastic team of seasoned (and fun) local Bhutanese guides and drivers that will make your journey truly special.

For this year’s tour we will travel to Central Bhutan and witness two spectacular festivals, The Tamshing Lhakhang Tsechu in Jakar and the unique Black Necked Crane festival in Gangtey. This really will be the trip of a lifetime.

See below for the full itinerary and dates.

If you are interested in being informed about Bhutan 2024 tours email us at  

Bhutan Tour Highlights at a Glance

  • 15 full days (14 nights) in Bhutan.
  • Just 8 places available (Maximum)
  • 2 Authentic cultural festivals.
  • Tour begins and ends at Bangkok Airport.
  • All your meals on Tour are included.
  • Travel in cars not a bus.
  • Just 2 participants to a car.
  • In Bhutan we fly one way, so only half the driving!
  • Highly experienced Bhutanese guides & drivers.
  • Photo Tuition from Paul Hoelen, a full time professional photographer who has an enduring passion for Bhutan.
  • Extensive photography and Lightroom Notes to keep.
  • AU$500 off your next Photo Tour with us

Like to Book a place on this tour? – Details for 2024 coming soon

  • Dates.  September 11 – 25, 2024 (tentative dates)*
  • Total Twin Share Price: US$tba**
  • Single Supplement: US$tba***
  • Booking Deposit: US$1,500
  • 15 days in Bhutan
  • Just 8 participants (Maximum)
  • Tour Leader Paul Hoelen

Read the Tour Terms & Conditions HERE>>

Creates an email enquiry

* Dates are Tentative only due to festivals. Festival dates are fluid and may shift a few days either side until approx 6 months prior.

** We offer this tour in US$ only. As we pay our Bhutanese suppliers in US$ this ensures our price remains stable, with no additional hidden payments due to currency fluctuations. For a full discussion of this topic click HERE>>

*** The tour price is per person on a Twin Share (or double) room basis. To book the twin share rate you must specify a room partner, as we cannot pair you with others you don’t yet know.  The potential for snoring induced sleep deprivation discord is just too high!

Bhutan, the Land of  National Happiness

Bhutan is a tiny landlocked nation on the Southern slopes of the Himalayan mountains squashed between Tibet (China…) in the North and India to the South, East and West.  73% of the land area of Bhutan is under forest, and its the only Nation on Earth where this figure is growing each year.  The countryside is mountainous, the roads are windy (as in lots of curves, not wind) and there is spectacular scenery around every corner, from waterfalls dropping out of the forests to glimpses of snow capped mountain peaks, ancient stone fortresses and terraced rice paddies clinging to the steep hillsides.

Bhutan Photo Tour
National Happiness Index

In Bhutan they really do have a National Happiness Index to measure the wealth and prosperity of the people, it is a country where Buddhist Monks make up more than 10% of the population, and most of the Government administration buildings are 500 year old fortresses and monasteries.  Bhutan is a visually spectacular and intimately beautiful place, as a photographer you will find continuous images to captivate you.

2023 Itinerary – Itinerary for 2024 coming soon.

Each Year we get the Bhutan festival calendar as soon as it’s released to find the most exciting and culturally beautiful festivals for our group to experience.  The rest of the tour is then planned around the festival dates.  

We don’t go to the big tourist festivals in Thimphu or Paro, where there are more foreigners than Bhutanese,  these festivals lack atmosphere and photo opportunities.  Rather we head to the outlying regions where the festivals are more authentic, where we tourists are in the minority. We always encourage the group to remember that we are guests at these festival and it is an honour to be there.

Bhutan Photo tour 2023 – Itinerary

Bhutan 2023 Photo Tour – The Plan

Two Festivals in the Far East of Bhutan

We are very excited about the 2024 Bhutan photo tour, in 2024 we return to two of the highlight festivals of more than 12 years of coming to Bhutan, The Tamshing Lhakhang (Tamshing Temple) Tsechu, in Jakar, Central Bhutan and the Black Necked Crane Festival in Gangtey. We have been to these two festivals 2 times in the past, and though all the festivals in Bhutan are spectacular these two festivals are extra special, at least from a photographers perspective.

Bhutan Photo Tour Thimphu Festival

The central region of Bhutan is well off the radar of most tour companies, it is a fair way out from the more populous Thimphu and Paro regions, so there are far fewer tourists around and many more locals in their festival best colourful national dress against the stunning mountain backdrops.

Besides the festivals, the superb mountain scenery in this region of Bhutan will simply take your breath away, and not just because of the altitude.

Beautiful things along the way

Along the way we to Central Bhutan we meander along the mountain trails pausing at many beautiful sites of both natural and cultural wonder. There will lots of time for some slow intimate photography with loads of interaction with the  friendly locals.  The group is just 8 participants, so there is always time to work on your photography and get plenty of tuition and guidance, as well as learning from each other.

Itinerary – Bhutan 2023 Photo Tour: Day 1 – Day 5

Day #01:  Fly Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan. Head to Thimphu

The tour begins in Bangkok, where you will board your flight to Paro. You make your own way to Bangkok, and you may consider a night at a hotel there before the flight to Bhutan. The flights from Bangkok to Paro return, are all included, and we book these for you as part of the tour package, you don’t have to pay extra for these flights.

The Himalayan mountains at sunrise from the plane on the way into Bhutan. Bhutan Photo Tour 117

The flight from Bangkok to Paro leaves very early in the morning, so you will often be treated to a magical sunrise over the Himalayan mountains as you fly and, depending on which way the chosen flight path goes, you may be lucky enough to glimpse Mt Everest with the sunrise glinting off its flanks. The arrival into Bhutan is spectacular, as the plane descends through steeply wooded valleys before levelling out in the broad Paro Valley on the way into Paro airport.

Paro Valley airport in the mountain mist, Bhutan

The flight to Paro is 4.5 hours, so you will arrive in perfect time for lunch. At Paro airport you will be met by Adam and our crew of Bhutanese guides & drivers and we will all head to to a lovely spot for a cup of tea and a freshen up then lunch.  After  lunch we head off  on a scenic drive through the beautiful Paro valley to the Bhutanese capital city of Thimphu, where we will spend the rest of the day settling in and wandering around.

Day #02: Explore the Thimphu Valley

Thimphu Valley twilight, Bhutan

Thimphu is the bustling city of Bhutan, but it is really just a big town filled with an amazing mix of the old and the new side by side.  The ancient culture of Bhutan is alive and well in Thimphu, and we have many options of things to see an photograph here, including the lovely old Monastery and temples of Chari just a short drive out of town.

It’s about 1.5 hours walk up the hill through the Pine trees to reach the historic 13th century Chari Monastery and Buddhist Collage.  Here we can spend all morning exploring and photographing the temples and Monks, before a picnic lunch at the edge of the forest and a sunset shoot of the magical Thimphu Valley with the incredible Thimphu Dzong as foreground.

The Police Box in the centre of Thimphu

Day #03: Thimphu to Punakha

Onwards to Punhaka and the Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of the Divine Madman. This Temple was built to honour the Lama Drukpa Kunley, whose outrageous and often sexual methods of sharing Buddhism are a legend all over Bhutan and thus he is known as the Divine Madman.  We will end today with a sunset shoot of the spectacular Punakha Dzong built at the confluence of the Mo-Chu and Po-Chu (Mother and Father Rivers).  The following day we will spend exploring some of the many Temples, Monasteries and Palaces in the Punakha Region as well as the stunning Punakha Dzong.

Punakha Valley of the Chimi Lhakhang temple.  The temple of the Divine Madman

The Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 to command the confluence of the Po Chhu and Mo Chhu Rivers (mother and father rivers).  The full title of the Punakha Dzong is Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, which means the Palace of Great Happiness. In the past it has been the seat of Bhutan’s Government and is now the home Je Khempo the head of the Buddhist Monk body of Bhutan and more than 1000 Monks. The Punakha Dzong has many levels and corridors to explore as well as two stunning Temples.  There are many great viewpoints of spectacular architecture of stark white walls contrasted beautifully with the deep red robes of the Monks as they go about their daily rituals.  The Punakha Dzong also makes for a spectacular sunset and twilight shot.

Bhutan Photo Tour with Adam Monk. Punakha Dzong twilight

Day #04: Punakha to Gangtey

From Punakha, we continue East and then South to the wide glacial valley of  Phobjikha and the lovely town of Gangtey with its beautiful 17th Century Monastery and Temple.  The Phobjikha Valley is unlike anywhere else we visit in Bhutan in that it was formed through glacial action and it is wide and open with gentle slopes and woodlands on both sides.  The town of Gangtey is situated on a high promontory at one end of the valley and has wide sweeping views right down the valley on all 4 sides.

Gangtey town in the Phobjikha Valley in Central Bhutan. Bhutan Photo Tour 107

The Phobjikha Valley is actually a sanctuary for the endangered Black Necked Cranes that migrate here each year, and by the time we get there we should see the first of them coming into their winter home.  We also know a few of the locals quite well in Phobjikha, so it’s always nice to visit in the afternoon to experience village life first hand.

If we are lucky, we will be able to photograph the novice Monks at prayer first thing the following morning.

Early morning prayers Gangtey Goempa in the phobjikha Valley, Central Bhutan

Day #05:  Gangtey to Trongsa

Onward today to the steep and heavily wooded Trongsa Valley and the biggest and most spectacularly situated Dzong in Bhutan.  The Trongsa Dzong is perched on a sheer mountainside commanding the valley in both directions. 

Trongsa Valley with Tshering

We will arrive here for lunch and spend the whole afternoon photographing and exploring, with lots of great shooting opportunities with Bhutanese Monks in striking saffron robes. Followed by a leisurely walk back to the hotel along the rim of the Trongsa Valley for the sunset and twilight light.

Trongsa Dzong was built in 1648 and has many levels cascading down the mountain on whose side it is precariously perched.  It was once the primary seat of power over Central and Eastern Bhutan as the Dzong commands the only connecting trade route in both directions.  Both the first and second Kings of Bhutan commanded the country from the ancient seat of Trongsa, and even today is customary for the Crown Prince to serve as the Trongsa Penlop (Governor) prior to ascending the Throne of Bhutan.

Trongsa Dzong early morning. Bhutan Photographic Tour with Adam Monk
Itinerary – Bhutan 2023 Photo Tour: Day 6 – Day 10

Day #06:  Trongsa to Jakar

Bhutan Photo tour, Trongsa Valley View on the way to Jakar

Starting with an early morning shoot of the Trongsa Dzong in the valley, hopefully with a bit of mist, is a great way to begin the day.  Followed by a substantial hot breakfast, before heading further East to the Central Bhutan Region of  Bumthang.

We will spend a little time investigating the beautiful region of Bumthang around Jakar, in particular the lovely Jakar Dzong.  This Dzong was built on a ridge overlooking the Chamkar valley in around 1549 on the site of an even more ancient temple.  It is thought to be the biggest Dzong in Bhutan with a circumference of more than 1500 metres. We also have a spectacular sunset and sunrise viewpoint of this Dzong from the site of our hotel just across the valley.

Jakar Dzong in central Bhutan

Day #07 :  Explore Jakar & the Chamkar Valley

Jakar in the Central Bhutan region of Bumthang, the province where, according to my guides, the most lovely women in all Bhutan are from.  Bumthang is a beautiful region of  open valley woodlands and small scenic villages 

Jakar and the surrounding regions have many possibilities for us to explore and we have many plans for this day, some of the many stunning Monasteries that surround the town of Jakar in the valleys of Bumthang.

Monks rehearsing for the upcoming Tshechu in the Jakar Dzong, central Bhutan

Day #08:   Jakar to Ura Valley

From the Bumthang Region today we move to the Ura Valley.  We travel through verdent green countryside (hopefully with some snow in the high passes) exploring lovely small villages and Monasteries dotted along the length of the valley, amongst fields and Yak farms. Ura is the fourth and most remote valley of the Bumthang region.  

Ura Valley central Bhutan

Here we will leave the cars outside the valley and walk down the trail through beautiful autumn countryside and forested hills along the old walking trails that used to be the only link for these remote locations.  We are walking downhill, so it’s not a strenuous walk, rather it is a chance to breath the fresh Himalayan air and listen to the sounds of birds, while photographing the beautiful views across the valley along the way.  As we reach the bottom of the valley we walk into the outskirts of the traditional rural town of Ura.

The walk ends at the beautiful Ura Lhakhang Temple, where our cars and drivers will be waiting for us with a picnic lunch. The Ura Valley is Bhutan at its most real, daily life as it has been going on for centuries, and a fabulous place to experience it. 

Picnic lunch Ura Valley Bhutan

DAY #09:  Ura to Mongar

From the Ura Valley and onto the far East province of Mongar.  This is the heartland of Bhutan, Bhutan at it’s most real, daily life as it’s been going on for centuries.  Today will be a long drive, but the scenery is stunning.

Lunch and afternoon tea we will carry with us to picnic in a lovely roadside location.  We may arrive with time to catch the last of the markets as they set up for the Mongar Tshechu, depending on how many stops we make along the way.

Mongar Dzong at twilight. Eastern Bhutan

Day #10: Mongar Tshechu begins  Mongar Tshechu – Day 2

A day of exploring in the far Eastern province of  Mongar.  We will see and photograph a lot of lovely small villages and Monasteries dotted in the countryside,  while our guides and drivers explain the significance and meaning of all we will be seeing.  It’s also the first day of the Mongar Tshechu, the day when everything begins to warm up and you will get your first glimpse into the true spiritual beliefs of Bhutan.

Mongar Tshechu dancers.  Far East Bhutan
Itinerary – Bhutan 2023 Photo Tour: Day 11 – Day 15

Day #11: Mongar to Trashigang – (Trashigang Tshechu Begins)

Bhutan Photo Tour 82

Further East and North today to our furthest destination of Trashigang where we will be witnessing the First and second days of the Trashigang Tshechu (religious festival).  Be prepared, this is not like any religious festival you will have ever seen!  Spectacular costumes, wild dancing, awesome Gods and intimidating demons.  All the locals will be there in their traditional finest dress and everyone will be smiling and happy.

Trashigang Tshechu Dancer.  Far East Bhutan

Day #12:  2nd day Trashigang Tshechu

A full day of the Trashigang Tshechu.  Don’t worry, you won’t get bored, every day is different and every dance is different with more and more elaborate costuming.  The Tcheshus are a local holiday in Bhutan, and everyone comes in from the outer countryside to participate.  Make sure you have plenty of memory cards, you won’t want to miss a thing.

Tshechu mask dancers, Eastern Bhutan

If you feel like a break from the festival and dancing you can always wander around the beautiful village of Trashigang.  It’s perched right on the side of a steep valley with winding streets and wonderful sights at everey turn, including spectacular glimpses of the Himalayen foothills.

Black Hat Dancers, Eastern Bhutan

Day #13:  Fly back to paro from trashigang -1hr Flight

Today we leave our cars and drivers, though not our guides, in Trashigang to board our scenic flight back to Paro in the far West of  Bhutan where it all began. The flight normally departs at a very civilised time Flight time yet to be advised) for the 60 minute flight over the foot hills of the Himalayas, viewing the areas we have just driven through from the air.  It’s now you will get to see just how many curves those roads really have, and how precariously perched those small mountain temples are.  We also get to experience again that stunning approach and landing at Paro airport, really it’s worth it just for that.

Trashigang Dzong late afternoon light

We will arrive in time for an afternoon of wandering through Paro town, which is the best place to buy those beautiful Bhutanese textiles and festival masks to take home, and also to explore the Paro Dzong.  It’s a good time to relax a little and prepare for the Tigers Nest walk the following day

View from the air flying back from Yonphula to Paro Airport

Day #14:  Paro – Tiger’s Nest  scenic “walk” (pilgrimage) – 800m ascent

We have saved one of the best until last… the hike to the Taktsang Monastery and the Tigers Nest.  It is quite a long hike up, especially if you are stopping every 5 minutes to make photographs, which you will be. It is an amazing place built right on the edge of the cliff and every step of the walk up through the conifer forest is beautiful, take lots of memory cards!

The Tigers Nest in the Taktsang Monastery, Paro Bhutan

You do have the option of a horse trip up to the Cafe at the half way point, but I think the walk is just too good to miss.  Our wonderful guides and drivers will bring a picnic lunch up for us to a great spot on the side of the mountain, there is even hot tea.  

After we decend the afternoon is free to have a hot stone bath at our Hotel, or wander a bit more around Paro town.  For those who have been missing their coffee, Paro also has the best coffee since Thimphu, and a great atmospheric little cafe to enjoy it in. This evening will be our last together, and the time to really say goodbye to our guides and hosts for this amazing adventure.  We end the evening with a hot rum punch, a speciality of the Hotel barman, and a slideshow of memories.

Adam and Kuenzang with a view of the Taktsang Monastery, Paro Bhutan

Day #15: Depart Paro to Bangkok – 4.5 hr flight

Our last breakfast together, then pack and off to the Paro airport for final goodbyes for our flight to Bangkok.  Prepare to shed a tear or two here where you will say goodbye to our guides, our constant companions and friends from the last two weeks.  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself back in Bhutan in the very near future!

Bhutan Photo tour, rice harvest in Bhutan

** This Itinerary is the plan, Actual tour may vary slightly due to festival dates, weather, road conditions or other things beyond our control.  Either way, we will ensure you get the best photographic tour that we can provide and you will come away with fantastic images and memories that will last a lifetime.

Like to Book a place on this tour? – Details for 2024 coming soon

  • Dates.  September 11 – 25, 2024 (tentative dates)*
  • Total Twin Share Price: US$tba**
  • Single Supplement: US$tba***
  • Booking Deposit: US$1,500
  • 15 days in Bhutan
  • Just 8 participants (Maximum)
  • Tour Leader Paul Hoelen

Read the Tour Terms & Conditions HERE>>

Creates an email enquiry

* Dates are Tentative only due to festivals. Festival dates are fluid and may shift a few days either side until approx 6 months prior.

** We offer this tour in US$ only. As we pay our Bhutanese suppliers in US$ this ensures our price remains stable, with no additional hidden payments due to currency fluctuations. For a full discussion of this topic click HERE>>

*** The tour price is per person on a Twin Share (or double) room basis. To book the twin share rate you must specify a room partner, as we cannot pair you with others you don’t yet know.  The potential for snoring induced sleep deprivation discord is just too high!

The Important Details.

What’s Included
  • Just 8 places available (Maximum number).
  • Full 15 days, 14 nights in Bhutan with all land content included.
  • Tour begins and ends at Bangkok airport.
  • Flights from Bangkok to Bhutan and return to Bangkok.
  • Scenic domestic flight from Paro to Bumthang.
  • Comprehensive 26 page E-Book of Bhutan pre trip preparation notes.
  • All you meals in Bhutan.
  • All your land transportation in Bhutan.
  • We travel in cars not a bus – 2 participants to a car, just 4 cars
  • All your accommodation in Bhutan.
  • All photographic tuition and workshops for the duration of the tour.
  • Professional photographer (Paul Hoelen) to inspire you get your best photos.
  • Charismatic highly experienced team of Bhutanese guides and drivers.
  • Planned & arranged by Adam Monk, who has lead 12 successful tours to Bhutan
  • Extensive 21 page Photography Techniques E-Book by Adam, with complete shooting workflow.
  • In depth 36 page Lightroom E-Book by Adam, with complete post processing workflow.
  • Custom made Bhutan Lightroom catalogue with all location Keywords & Smart Collections pre-loaded.
  • Bhutan Visas and all sustainable development fees.
  • Purified drinking water on tour in Bhutan.
  • AU$500 off your next Photo Tour with us
What’s Not Included
  • Flights to Bangkok from your home port and return.
  • Hotel in Bangkok before the flight to Bhutan (optional)
  • Travel insurance (required as a condition of booking).
  • Camera Insurance.
  • Alcohol and extra beverages.
  • Any extras you may wish to buy along the way.
  • Tips for Bhutanese guides and staff along the way (optional).
  • Adobe Lightroom software subscription fees.

Prayer wheel and Tshering. Far East Bhutan

What to expect on this Bhutan Photo Tour

Many people run Photo tours and there are just as many different ways to organise them. The tabs below will help explain how we run our Bhutan Photo Tours and why we run them this way.

A tour created especially for photographers
The itinerary created by photographers

This Bhutan tour itinerary has been researched and created by Adam, by visiting and photographing each location.  

It’s not just about arriving in beautiful places, Bhutan is full of those, it’s about being there at the right time for the best light and the festivals, the times of year and the weather.  

We never jam in loads of locations for each day. Rather we spend more time in fewer more unique locations, allowing you to get the feel of a place, talk to some locals and get some great images that tell a real story.

This all takes experience and practical research, something that can’t be done from behind a desk.

Tour Group Size – max of 8 Participants
Just 8 in the group equals a better experience

Have you ever seen those tours that turn up at a peaceful location in a huge bus with an enormous group of people?

Our photo tour to Bhutan is not like that.

Our Bhutan photography tour now has a maximum group size of just 8 people. Which means you get to experience the life and culture of Bhutan more closely without intimidating the locals, and you won’t get in the way of each others shots.

Many people forge lasting friendships on these Bhutan photo tours and this always works better when the group is kept small.

No Hidden Extras
This tour really is all inclusive

There are no hidden extras on this Bhutan photo tour, no meals that are not included or nights you have to find your own Hotel.

The flight from Bangkok to Paro and return is included, as is the domestic flight back from the far east. We arrange your Bhutan visa and even all your bottled drinking water is included.

Our Bhutan photo tour begins and ends in Bangkok, so you just have to make your own way to Bangkok and back home at the end.

The only additional money you need is for extra beverages and any souvenirs you may want to buy along the way.

Flying instead of driving
Flying means less time driving

Bhutan has one major road that runs East to West across the country and only one effective international airport in Paro, in the far West.  

Most tours to Bhutan drive out from Paro towards the East and then turn around and drive all the way back, going through all the same places again…  That’s a lot of time spent in the car!

We don’t do it that way.  

We drive one way and fly the other.  This halves the time spent in the car which means lots more time seeing, experiencing and photographing the unique culture and beauty of Bhutan.

This also means we don’t have to move on each day, so we spend multiple nights in most locations, so you can relax and unpack, get to know the area and some of the people a little.

The Road less traveled – by car

Cars, not a bus…

In Bhutan we travel in a small group of comfortable cars, not a bus. Each car is driven by a qualified and experienced Bhutanese driver and accompanied by one of our Bhutanese guide team.

We have just two participants per vehicle, so there is plenty of room for camera gear and everyone gets a window seat.

Having several vehicles instead of a bus makes for a more comfortable trip with much more flexibility for timing and locations. So you get to see more of what interests you.

As we are just 8, that’s only 4 cars, so we are a very compact group indeed.

Great local guides and drivers
Great guides make for a great experience

You will be very well looked after on this Photo tour to Bhutan, we have a guide or a driver for every person on tour.

All our guides and drivers are hand picked certified professionals, who speak excellent english and are a vast store of historical and cultural knowledge. More important, they are all great people to hang out with.

They stay with us for the duration of the tour and become an integral part of the experience as they share the beauty of their country and culture.

The Bhutanese have a wonderful sense of humour and our guides and drivers will become your friends, you won’t want to say goodbye to them at the end of the tour.

Comfy Hotels for multiple nights
A hot shower and a good night’s sleep

We stay in clean well managed 3-4 star hotels all across Bhutan. They range from ancient royal palaces with wonderful wall murals to brand new very western style hotels.

Each hotel room has a private bathroom and a comfortable bed and each hotel has been hand picked by us through the experience of actually staying there. Of course, each hotel also has excellent food!

We  don’t stay in the 5 or 6 star hotels, even though Bhutan now has a few of those. We are here to experience and photograph the life, culture and landscape of Bhutan not to hang out around the pool…

Food in Bhutan
Food glorious food…

Our meals in Bhutan are usually Buffet style cooked fresh just for our group, with lots of choice and mostly mild Indian flavours.

The food quality is excellent and it is abundant, but Bhutan is not a foodies destination like Vietnam or Japan.

Traditional Bhutanese food is fairly basic seasonal farmer style meals with lots of rice and lots of chillies!

We will have the opportunity to try many traditional Bhutanese dishes as we travel including the national chilli dish, Ema Datshi (Chilli and Cheese), Momos (steamed buckwheat dumplings) and buckwheat pancakes

If you like Chilli, then Bhutan is your place, the Bhutanese eat chillies like a vegetable. The chilli isn’t seasoning, it is the main dish!

Being Vegetarian in Bhutan

Being a vegetarian in Bhutan is easy. Our meals are buffet style so you can choose what you eat and most of the dishes available are vegetarian anyway. There will be one or two seperate meat or fish dishes with every meal so just avoid those in the line-up. Vegetarians eat very well in Bhutan.

Extensive Pre trip notes
What you need to know before you go

The best way to ensure you enjoy this trip to Bhutan is to be fully prepared before you leave. “What weather should I expect, what clothes are appropriate, both for the climate and to be culturally sensitive? What is the exchange rate, how is the tour organised and what about my camera gear?

All these and just about any other questions you can think of are clearly answered in the pre trip notes.

If you have questions after reading the notes we are always available via email or over the phone to help out.

The better prepared you are the more fun you will have and then the more fun we will have.

Comparing beards, Dave and a local Lay Monk at a festival in Thimphu Bhutan.

Should you go on this Bhutan Photo Tour?

Is this Bhutan Photo Tour right for you? Does it meet your needs and fulfil your important expectations? What type of people does this tour suit, how old are they and what is their level of photographic experience? These and other questions are answered in the tabs below.

A love of culture and adventure
Photography in Bhutan

This photo tour is for anyone with a keen interest in photography and a love of adventure.  

It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned professional or a complete beginner, all levels of photographers are welcomed, and in fact the diverse experiences of the group are an integral part of what makes it so much fun.  

Our group size is just 8 people, so you are always assured of personal interaction and tuition, whatever your needs.  

Physical Fitness
Plenty of walking, but no hiking

Bhutan is in the Himalayan Mountains, but the altitude rarely causes any issues besides needing to walk a little slower.  

A basic level of walking fitness is essential, but this tour is not a hiking tour or a trekking tour and you are able to set your own limits. 

We have several scenic walks planned and the climb to the top of the Tigers Nest is exhilarating and spectacular, but you go as far as you feel comfortable, there is no requirement to reach the end of anything.

This tour does involve some walks over uneven ground and lots of stairs on the way to the Tigers Nest, so you just need to let us know if you have any health issues or doubts and we will work with you to ensure you are comfortable.

Non Photographers?
Non photographers & partners are welcome on this tour

Non-photographers are very welcome on this tour, whether as a partner to a keen photographer or someone who just loves the slower pace of travel and intimate perspective that this photography tour provides.

Bhutan is an intensely beautiful place with a rich culture in architecture, history, dress, language, and Buddhism, so there is never a shortage of things to see or explore.

And the great thing about travelling with photographers, is that we like to be at the beautiful locations at the best times to see them and we are not in a rush to leave.

We must warn you though, an obsession with photographing beautiful places and interesting people is highly addictive.

You may begin as a non-photographer thinking it’s not for you, but by the end of the tour this may well have changed…

Lyn showing a smiling local the photo she has just taken.  Somewhere on the road in central Bhutan
Tour Age Group
Friendly Monk meditating in a small cave near Thimphu Bhutan
You’re only as old as you decide you are

The age group for our Bhutan photo tours is very diverse, we have people from 30 years old to 78 years old (he was very fit) on the same tour and it seems the more diverse the age group the better.

Photography is one thing that is not limited by age, you simply adjust the way you shoot.

At 25 you may want to hang upside down off a balcony (we don’t recommend this) to get the perfect shot, but at 50 that probably won’t seem like such a great idea any more.

That doesn’t mean you won’t get that perfect shot though, it has just matured.

Provided you can get around unassisted and are reasonably fit for walking, you will be just fine in Bhutan.

Himalayan View from from Dochula pass, Thimphu Bhutan

Photo Tuition and Camera Gear

What level of photography experience do I need, and what level of tuition can I expect on this Bhutan Photo Tour? Do you just drop me in locations or are you there to assist and guide me to the best images? What sort of camera gear do I need and how will I remember it all? See the tabs below to find answers to all these questions.

Photography tuition on tour
Our priority is you

Our group is small so you are assured of personal interaction and tuition, whatever your needs. Some people just like to be taken to the great locations at the right time of day and set free to roam.

Others are looking for more guidance with everything from composition or how to approach locals for portraits, to getting the most out of their camera gear.

Most evenings we run informal photography workshops on various photography topics.

Such things as low light photography, street photography, photographing movement, landscape to more technical based subjects as downloading images, key-wording and Lightroom post processing, to the all important composition and the decisive moment.  

We also look at examples of everyones images every few days, demonstrate some post production techniques and some tips for improvements.

One of the best things about photo tours is seeing the diverse images different people make from the same locations.

We cater for all levels and with a small group and our diverse photographic expertise, we will ensure you get exactly what you need.

Adam will be shooting a few images along side you, but your images, your tuition and  your experiences will always be the priority.

What about Camera gear?
Chenchou minding cameras outside Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of the divine madman) in Punakha, Bhutan
Your Camera Gear

There is really no limit to what camera gear you take other than your ability to carry it.

Everything from Digital SLRs, professional and consumer, simple point and shoot cameras, even medium format digital and film.  Whatever level of camera equipment you have, we will ensure you get the most out of it.  

After you book the tour we will send out a detailed recommended gear and packing list, and we are very happy to discuss the camera gear you have and how to best make it work for you.

Any Special camera gear?

No special or exotic camera gear is required for this photo tour, it’s not great cameras that make great images after all, and we are big fans of getting the most out of what you already have.

Plus all the notes as well
Photography & Lightroom E-Books to keep

In the months leading up to the tour we will send you out all the information you will need to prepare for the adventure ahead.

This includes several comprehensive E-Books on Photography techniques & workflow, plus an in depth guide to using Lightroom to manage and edit your images.

We will be running workshops on many photography topics, and we use Lightroom to demonstrate post processing tricks and techniques.

These E-Books help cement this knowledge and are yours to keep.

Chenchou explaining the rules of death and rebirth, Jakar Dzong Central Bhutan
Do you enjoy keywording?
Young Monk at Prayer, Gangtey Goempa
Custom made Bhutan Lightroom catalogue

Just before tour departure we will send you a fully functioning Lightroom catalogue (you will need to have your own Lightroom software) with a complete set of Bhutan Keywords – including all the complex spellings for locations, and Smart Collections already loaded.

Since keywording is rather boring (but important) having keywords already loaded makes the job very quick and easy so you can get on with the fun and creative stuff.

Even if you already have a Lightroom catalogue, it’s easy to merge catalogues together. How to achieve this is set out in our Lightroom E-Book.

What if I use Capture One?

Don’t worry if you use Capture One instead of Lightroom, we also give you the keyword file that can be directly imported into Capture One.

Adam has been using Capture One extensively for years, so he can help you with this too.

Like to Book a place on this tour? – Details for 2024 coming soon

  • Dates.  September 11 – 25, 2024 (tentative dates)*
  • Total Twin Share Price: US$tba**
  • Single Supplement: US$tba***
  • Booking Deposit: US$1,500
  • 15 days in Bhutan
  • Just 8 participants (Maximum)
  • Tour Leader Paul Hoelen

Read the Tour Terms & Conditions HERE>>

Creates an email enquiry

* Dates are Tentative only due to festivals. Festival dates are fluid and may shift a few days either side until approx 6 months prior.

** We offer this tour in US$ only. As we pay our Bhutanese suppliers in US$ this ensures our price remains stable, with no additional hidden payments due to currency fluctuations. For a full discussion of this topic click HERE>>

*** The tour price is per person on a Twin Share (or double) room basis. To book the twin share rate you must specify a room partner, as we cannot pair you with others you don’t yet know.  The potential for snoring induced sleep deprivation discord is just too high!

Your Photo Guide – Paul Hoelen

Originally born in New Zealand to a Dutch Sailor and an American Nun, Paul has managed to put his four passports to excellent use before eventually settling on the beautiful, wild island of Tasmania.  Paul is a Master of Photography in the AIPP and Fellow of the NZIPP, he has won many awards and judges regularly at a state, national and international level, runs photo workshops worldwide and writes for numerous magazines.  

Self taught, travel hungry and with a healthy thirst for adventure he thrives on the challenge and freshness of shooting a wide diversity of genres ranging from fine art nudes, landscapes, and large-scale event photography through to fashion, travel, documentary and environmental portraiture – though he’s most renowned for his exquisite landscape imagery.  Amongst his many talents, Paul has worked as a wilderness guide in some of the most remote parts of Tasmania for some years, and he has a deep and abiding passion for Bhutan. You can see more of Paul’s Photography HERE>>

Your Photo Tour Organiser – Adam Monk

Photo tour leader Adam Monk Portrait

Adam is a landscape and travel photographer with a longstanding passion for the natural environment, people and culture.  He has been travelling and photographing the worlds wild places and exotic cultures for over 30 years, and the enthusiasm just continues to grow. Adam has been based out of his own landscape photography gallery in the port city of Fremantle Western Australia for the last 13 years. His images can be found in hundreds of private and corporate collections all over the world.  

For the last 15 years Adam has been organising and running photography workshops and photography tours to some of the world’s wild and beautiful places such as The Kimberley, the Pilbara, Tasmania, Cambodia, Iceland, Greenland, Japan and of course Bhutan, where he has been visiting regularly since 2011.  So far Adam has organised and run 12 successful photo tours to Bhutan, it’s a place he never gets tired of and the anticipation before each tour is just like the first time.

Bhutan Images Gallery – Click for a bigger view

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