Thailand Photo Tour: The Treasures of Thailand & Angkor Wat

Tour Intro

Thailand and Angkor Wat are an irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty and inspiring temples. Travel from bustling Bangkok with brightly decorated temples, wander through traditional Thai markets, and trek through the hill tribes from Chiang Mai, where you will interact and feel at home in the local villages. Fly to Cambodia, walk amidst the fascinating jungle clad temples and mysterious stone carvings of Angkor Wat, along with lesser known visited ruins, and photograph the unique floating fishing villages.

In Bangkok you will explore the Grand Palace, Wat Phra, cruise the canals on a long tail boat, and photograph vendors in the floating markets. Ayuthaya, about an hour outside Bangkok, is a bit off the tourist track, giving you a day to photograph its temples in a quieter setting. Then it's off to northern Thailand where you will visit and photograph hill tribes from Chiang Mai, and stroll through the hilltop Wat Doi Suthep, the crown jewel of a vivid collection of traditional Thai temples. You will have a first-hand look at the important role elephants have played in every aspect of Thai life, from ceremonial purposes to warfare, transportation, and farming. See a fascinating demonstration of elephants at work and play. You will also photograph the vibrant colors, warm faces, and local crafts at the markets.

Depart Thailand and fly (flight included) to Siem Reap, Cambodia, your base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor Wat, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire. Photograph this ancient structure along with lesser-known wats in this region, and lake villages built on stilts.

Tour Highlights

• Magnificent Buddhist Temples and Royal Palaces.
• Colorful fruit and flower markets.
• Full day hike through hill tribe villages in Northern Thailand.
• Travel by boat to the floating village of Tonle Sap.
• Elephant nature park rescue center.
• Ancient stone temples of Angkor Wat.
• Visit a traditional Cambodian fishing village built on stilts.
• Two weeks with Photographic Tour Leader Douglas Beasley.

Tour Itinerary

November 1: Depart U.S.

Photo By: Joel Collins

Photo Location: Cambodia Angkor Wat

A day is lost en-route, landing tomorrow evening (November 2) in Bangkok, Thailand (BKK). Please note due to the long flights and the typical arrival time in Bangkok is after 10PM we have automatically included an extra day for everyone to rest and relax on your own at the hotel.

November 2: Bangkok

You will be transferred upon arrival to the hotel. Overnight Bangkok (meals on plane)

November 3-6: Bangkok - Ayuthaya
Bangkok Flower Market

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Thailand

November 3 is on your own to rest, relax and get over jet lag. The following morning visit Wat Pho, the largest temple complex in Bangkok, home to the great Reclining Buddha. The tour continues on to a flower market, traveling local style, in a Tuk tuk.  The market is also known as Pak Klong, Bangkok’s largest around the clock marketplace. Your guide will take you on a tour of this lively center of commerce, showcasing fresh local produce, exotic flowers, traditional spices and herbs. Your tour will conclude with a stop at a favorite Thai restaurant for lunch before being transported back to your hotel for the afternoon. Meet your guide again this evening for a welcome dinner, with traditional Thai cuisine.

The next day begins with an early morning long tail boat ride through the khlongs (canals) of Bangkok, seeing local life pass by, on this lively waterfront. Stop at Wat Arun - the "Temple of the Dawn" - before continuing to the  Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha. This evening your guide will take you to the famous Chinatown, exploring this labyrinth of colorful shops, businesses and markets. Visit Tian Fah Foundation Temple, one of the oldest Chinese temples in Bangkok.

Your last day in Bangkok, venture outside the city where you will be transported to the ancient city of Ayuthaya, situated at the confluence of three rivers. The Ayuthaya period is looked on by many as the time when much of what is now thought of as "Thai style" was developed. In temples, this is when you see a marked transition from the Khmer style "prangs" to the bell shaped "chedi." Ayuthaya is a relatively low-key site. You can spend a leisurely day here, all with relatively low pressure compared to many other sites. Visit the historical city center to explore the stunning temples: Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Ratburana, and then join your guide for lunch on a boat cruising along the Pasak & Chao Phraya River. Enjoy the scenery along the river as you learn about the region from your guide. In the afternoon continue exploring Wat Phra Si Sanphet and Wihaan Mongkhon Bophit. Enjoy sunset in the temples before returning to Bangkok. Overnights Bangkok (B; B, L, D; B, L, D; B, L, D)

November 7-11: Chiang Mai – Hill tribe trek
Chiang Mai

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Thailand


Board your group flight this morning to Chiang Mai, where you will be transferred to your hotel. Enjoy lunch and get to know your guide of Northern Thailand at a local restaurant. Today you will visit some of the more famous Wats within the city walls of Chiang Mai. Your guide will discuss Buddhism and the role it plays in everyday life as well as showing you the many intricate details of each of the temples. Next, visit the beautiful Wat Suan Dok, which was built in the middle of the ‘Pleasure Gardens’. This botanical wonder was designed by the 14th century, Lanna, Thai monarchy. Sunsets are magical in this beautiful and serene location.

Buddhism is one of the cornerstones of life in Thailand. Wake up early and meet your guide at 6:30am, go to Wat Sri Sodha to see the monks collecting alms, typically rice and fruit, then returning to their monastery for their morning meal. Your guide will explain the history and ritual behind giving the alms, so that you may respectfully take part in this daily ritual. Afterwards you will continue by van on winding roads leading you to the summit of Doi Suthep, the most revered temple in Chang Mai. Here you will have the opportunity to learn about the history and significance of this site for Buddhists and the people of Chang Mi. Arriving in the morning will allow you take in the temple and its incomparable views without the afternoon crowds. From here your guide will escort you to the bustling morning market, where you will learn about local produce, goods and traditional cuisine. You will also get the chance to explore the fascinating craft and artisan world, touring home based businesses, learning techniques in the trades of lacquer-ware, silk and traditional Thai umbrellas.

Enjoy the next morning having a photo discussion with your leader, amidst the beautiful gardens of the hotel. Later in the afternoon visit the Elephant Nature Park, a wonderful organization dedicated to conserving and promoting elephants. Spend the morning learning to bath, feed and command these amazing beasts of burden. Please bring a change of clothes or a swimsuit as you will get wet giving the elephants their daily bath! In the evening your guide will take you to the famous Walking Street of Chiang Mai. This amazing street comes to life with stalls displaying local crafts and unusual finds. Your guide will drop you off and you are free to explore, shop, and enjoy dinner on your own before returning to your hotel.

Another day is devoted to trekking the hill tribes of this region. Start early and drive two hours to Chiang Dao where you will start your walk. From Ban Pang Tong, hike up the road as your guide tells you about different flowers and birds you see along the way. At the end of the road is a lovely village belonging to the Lao Ho people. Here Animism is still practiced and the local people are wary of visitors and can be shy. Leaving the village, you’ll climb a steep hill for some amazing views of the rice fields and the village from above, don’t worry, this is the steepest hill of the day. Continue on until you enter the bamboo forest. You will emerge into a valley with huge limestone cliffs towering around you and fields of rice and corn on either side of the trail. Follow the path into a Karen village and meet some of the locals to see their home. Afterwards you will meet your driver who will take you to a well deserved lunch. If you are adventurous and willing to do some light spelunking, head off to nearby sacred caves for some exploration with a local guide by lamplight. Explore the nearby temple and garden before your drive back to Chang Mai. 

The last day in Northern Thailand begins with an early morning drive to Doi Inthanon National Park where you will reach the summit of the highest mountain in Thailand, at eighty five hundred feet. You will have a picnic lunch on the mountain, stopping at a picturesque waterfall. There will be additional photo stops along the way before returning to your hotel mid-afternoon. Overnight Chiang Mai (B; B, L; B; B, L; B, L)

November 12-15: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Cambodia

Travel to Cambodia today via flights (included) from Chiang Mai, back to Bangkok, and on to Siem Reap. You will be met and transferred to your accommodations, having the afternoon at leisure. You will be treated this evening to a unique performance by the Cambodian Circus, also known as the hugely talented Phare Ponleu Selpak from your VIP seats. Literally translated as ‘’the brightness of the arts’’, this Artistic and Social Center has been running as a non-profit association since 1994, and was founded by a group of young ex-refugees from Battambang Province. Sitting in the center of the big top tent, you will witness some remarkable acrobatics and visual arts while supporting one of Cambodia’s most inspiring projects.

Wake up early and begin an extensive sunrise tour of the magnificent twelfth century Angkor Wat temple before the crowds arrive. Mid-morning head back to your hotel to relax in the garden, by the pool, the sitting room, or your own room through the heat of the day. Later this afternoon head to Angkor Thom, a famous walled city with many temples within its borders, including the fascinating Bayon Temple with its magnificent smiling faces. There are several beautiful spots from which to watch the sunset. Relax and enjoy a memorable end to your day.

Your guide will take you the next morning to Mey Chrey Floating Village. Arrive at the dock to board your boat where you will pass by floating shops, houses and the local floating primary school before arriving at your kayaking base. Meet the local family and jump in your kayaks to continue your exploration of the village taking you into a magical quiet part of the river system. Paddle the open expanse of the river admiring the greenery along the banks, ending your journey at the home of the village chief. Here you will enjoy a packed lunch on the front porch of this quaint little home, before boarding your boat back to the dock and return to your hotel.

Your last day in Siem Reap, set off with your guide to Banteay Srei, the intricately carved temple just twenty miles beyond Angkor Wat. As you head towards your hotel you can stop at Banteay Kdei and Ta Prohm, two of the prettiest temples in the complex. Enjoy climbing through these smaller unique sites before returning to your hotel for lunch. This evening head out in a tuk-tuk for a taste of the local nightlife. Take in the hustle and bustle of city streets, sampling Khmer fruits and snacks as you go. As you make your way through the crowds, your guide will give you the rundown on the Khmer food you sample. When you are finished, your tuk-tuk will be waiting to take you back to your hotel or into town for dinner if you haven’t filled up on local treats. Overnights Siem Reap (B; B; B, L, D; B, D)
 

November 16: Siem Reap – Bangkok – Home
Angko Wat

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Cambodia

Transfer to the airport in time to catch your flight home (check out is approximately noon). Please note flights back to the U.S. may be overnight flights, landing November 17, or if early morning flight home you may need to overnight and connect from Bangkok airport hotel November 16. (B)

Note: This itinerary has been carefully constructed to assure participants the best your destinations have to offer. However, should events arise that are beyond our control, itinerary, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.
 

Photo Leader

Douglas Beasley
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Douglas Beasley

Douglas Beasley’s personal vision explores the spiritual aspects of people and place and is concerned with how the sacred is recognized and expressed in everyday life. After receiving a BFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he also studied Eastern Religions and Native American culture, he worked for several prominent commercial photo studios as a photo assistant and darkroom slave. Both helped him develop a appreciation for detail and technical proficiency but left him longing for artistic self-expression. He then opened his own studio in Minneapolis, MN emphasizing commercial and editorial fashion. He currently works on fine-art based commercial projects around the world.

He has been published internationally and featured in numerous photo magazines such as Zoom, The Sun, B&W, PDN, Shots and PhotoVision. His first book Japan; A Nisei’s First Encounter, offers insight into his journey to his mother’s Japanese homeland. His most recent book Earth Meets Spirit was published by 5 Continents Editions of Milan, Italy and is distributed by Abrams.

As founder and director of Vision Quest Photo Workshops, Beasley provides workshops that emphasize personal expression and creative vision over the mechanics of camera use. He believes in helping each student find their own voice rather than making anonymous ‘pretty pictures’.

I love Tuscany in general, the cities, the towns and the countryside.

R. Smart

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 8 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 4-7 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

“I took some of the best photographs of my life and discovered things inside of me that I didn’t know were there. I feel like you can easily, honestly and gently point out many of the emotional blocks keeping me from making photographs. I don’t want to make excuses and I want to create work that is true to myself, and I feel like you’re a great catalyst.

S.Rust


“Doug is kind, supportive, insightful, nurturing, sensitive and brilliantly attuned both technically and spiritually to the art, the eyes and the heart.”



 

Layla Smart

“I have taken many classes from Doug and he has inspired me in all aspects of being a photographic artist. His gentle nature makes him very approachable and is willing to give advice even when the workshop is over. I would encourage any one interested even a little bit to take one of his workshops. I promise it’ll open up you mind, eyes, and soul.”


Heather Matson

“You really walked everyone through your creative process which I found, as a new devotee to photography, enlightening! Thanks for a wonderful/thoughtful/honest presentation. I was truly inspired!”

S.Weber

This was the trip of a lifetime for me. I was challenging myself to learn all sorts of new things, photography, a new culture, and was immersed in it. It surpassed my expectations and I met so many beautiful souls along the way. Kathy was fantastic, I give her a 10++!!!

D.Whitney

Additional Notes

Health and Fitness

Tour participants should be in good health and good physical condition to get the most out of the trip. You will find that every day includes walking in a hot and very humid climate, with one day devoted to a hill tribe trek. Although we will not be running marathons, we will be taking long walks in order to reach the prime photographic locations. We will be at various altitudes with the highest peak being at 8,000’. While you will not be required to climb these peaks, some of the best scenic views are from the tops of these formations. There will be a few long drives on very winding, narrow roads. 

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

Southeast Asia has made great strides in tourist accommodations and services in recent years, and we have chosen beautiful, quaint hotels in beautiful surroundings. Please remember this is still a developing country, so we may experience occasional inconveniences. All our accommodations will be clean and comfortable, with private toilet and shower/bath. The hotels have been chosen for their proximity to prime photographic locations. Transportation will be by various means: tuk-tuk, boat, optional kayak, vehicle, and internal flights.

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