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Thailand, Laos & Cambodia: January 20 - February 4, 2018

Overview

This adventurous tri-country tour begins in Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capitol city, where we will explore the Grand Palace, cruise the canals, photograph vendors in the floating markets, and much more! Then it’s off to northern Thailand where we get to know and photograph hill tribes, including the famous Karen Long Neck tribe.

From northern Thailand we embark on a two day boat journey down the mysterious Mekong river to Luang Prabang, Laos. During our boat journey we will be traversing and photographing largely unexplored areas of the rural Laotian countryside, still rich in traditions and authentic Southeast Asian culture. After a breathtaking two days on the river we emerge in Luang Prabang, one of the most beautifully preserved French colonial towns in Asia. There, we'll photograph its green hills and gold temples, and see hundreds of Buddhist monks take their morning alms walk through town.

From Laos, we'll fly to Cambodia’s bustling capitol city of Phnom Penh. We'll photograph and explore this fascinating city while staying and dining at the world famous, photographer-friendly Foreign Correspondent’s Club. Following Phnom Penh, our group travels overland to Siem Reap, Cambodia to explore and photograph yet another UNESCO World Heritage site: the stunning ruins of Angkor: a collection of over 100 temples set against the dramatic backdrop of lush jungle greenery and verdant fields. Stretching over some 400 Sq. km, including forested area, Angkor Archeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitols of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century.  We hope you'll join us on this trip of a lifetime!  

Itinerary Thailand, Laos & Cambodia
Day 1:
(Jan 20)

Tour participants arrive at Bangkok's brand new international airport and will be met by our local tour representative. Each guest will be sent via private taxi to the hotel. Once settled in, participants will gather for our pre-trip orientation meeting, followed by dinner and a walking tour of Bangkok's most vibrant night market. Those who are feeling jet lagged can opt for relaxation or perhaps even a rejuvenating Thai massage. We will spend the night in Bangkok, Thailand. 

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Day 2:

Wake up in Bangkok, enjoy a delicious breakfast at our hotel, then depart on our private tour: in the morning we depart for Damnern Saduak (Bangkok's famed "floating market"), where we explore and photograph the daily spectacle from our private long tailed boat. In the afternoon we visit and photograph Bangkok's ornate Royal Palace and the colossal reclining Buddha. Following our group dinner your evening is free. We'll spend the night in Bangkok.

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Day 3:

In the morning we go to visit the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Founded in 1351 it was the capital of Thailand until 1767, when it was sacked by the Burmese, and the capital was eventually moved to Bangkok. There we'll photograph the numerous ancient temples. In the evening we photograph the vibrant night market. Those who want to stay up late may even have the opportunity to shoot Muay Thai boxing up close! We will spend our final night in Bangkok. 

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Day 4:

After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our short flight to Chiang Rai where we are met and transported to Chiang Saen (Golden Triangle). We check in to the hotel where tour guests can grab a quick lunch and then either relax by the pool or take a short orientation walking tour of the local area. Later we embark on a sunset photo shoot along the scenic Mekong River followed by dinner at a local riverside restaurant. We spend the night in Golden Triangle in Thailand. 

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Day 5:

After a delicious breakfast we meet our English speaking guide and our private van and depart to visit and photograph several local hill tribe villages including the famous long neck tribe. In the afternoon we are transported to the Myanmar (Burma) border where we cross over and photograph the fascinating market (the visit to Myanmar is optional). After crossing back into Thailand, we are transported back to our hotel for a delicious dinner and spend our second night in Golden Triangle. 

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Day 6:

We wake up early this morning for our one hour van ride to the border town of Chiang Kong where we meet our Laotian tour operator who will escort us across the river to Haui Xia, Laos. On the Laotian side our immigration papers are processed and we are delivered to our private boat for our two day river cruise to Luang Prabang. We spend the day on the boat enjoying and photographing along the way. Tonight, after the leisurely river cruise on the scenic Mekong we arrive at Pak Beng, a sleepy jungle settlement where we check in to the hotel. At dinner we enjoy a local dance performance and overnight at Pak Beng, Laos. 

Day 7:

After breakfast we again board our private boat for the continuation of our Mekong river trip to Luang Prabang. Along the way we visitt the amazing Pok Au caves and several traditional riverside villages before arriving in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang, where we check into our hotel. For dinner we dine at a wonderful sidewalk café followed by a photographic exploration of Luang Prabang's vibrant night market. We spend the night in Luang Prabang, Laos. 

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Day 8:

This morning we wake up early to photograph the daily early morning ritual of saffron-clad monks with their black Alms-giving bowls being given offerings from the local people, including the ubiquitous sticky rice. At about 8:30 we return to our hotel and after breakfast, we enjoy a short-guided walking tour visiting the city's oldest and most beautiful temples. Today we also visit a local village of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Namay, Hmong Village, Ban Ou, Laoloum Village and Ban Thapene, Khmu Village, then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall Picnic lunch by the falls, return to Luang Prabang by afternoon. Later we explore Street Night Market. We spend the night in Luang Prabang.

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Day 9:

Free day in Luang Prabang…..explore the local area, visit and speak with Buddhist monks in the monasteries, or enjoy shopping and photographing the Phosi Market where you will see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings. Last night in Luang Prabang. 

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Day 10:

After breakfast we head to the airport to board our flight to Cambodia's vibrant capitol city, Phnom Penh. After arriving in Phnom Penh we enjoy dinner overlooking the river. We spend the night in this city.

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Day 11:

We are free to explore, relax, shop and or photograph the sites of Phnom Penh. We'll have the option to visit the infamous Killing Fields.  Second night in Phnom Penh.

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Day 12:

After breakfast we board our private van for transport to Siem Reap. Along the way we witness local Cambodian life, rice fields and even stop for lunch in a town where fried tarantula is the local delicacy. Once we reach Siem Reap, we'll visit the famous Angkor Wat for orientation and a sunset photo shoot at the main temple. We'll spend the night in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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Day 13:

Angor Temples: With the help of our English speaking Angkor guide, we spend all day exploring 3 or 4 major Angkor temples and several "secret ones" too. We even schedule an optional model shoot at Bayon, using one of the traditionally dressed Apsara dancers and visit a famous Buddhist monk who might be performing ritual cleansing baths for Cambodians who come from all over the country to seek his treatments.  Overnight in Siem Reap.

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Day 14:

Tonle Sap village / boat tour & Beng Melea: First we drive to Kompong Khleang, one of the largest settlements on the Tonle Sap Lake. Over 20,000 people live in high stilt houses which tower up to 10 meters over the water. It is a spectacular place which only gets a small number of visitors. There is a small island at the centre of the village which has a bustling market. We take a boat tour to see the floating market, then return for a lunch of fresh fish prepared in Khmer style at our boatman's house. After lunch we drive to the remote and recently "de-mined" Angkor site of Beng Melea for some amazing, "Indiana Jones" type temple exploration. Beng Melea surpasses even the famous Ta Prohm for atmosphere. The whole site of Beng Melea is bathed with dappled light from the jungle canopy making it a fabulous temple for adventurous photographers.  Our third night together in Siem Reap.

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Day 15:

Sunrise shoot at Ta Prom: This morning we wake very early to explore and photograph sunrise at amazing Ta Phrom, where jungle tree roots still cover the ruined temples. After our morning photo shoot we return to the hotel for breakfast, then you are free to spend the remainder of the day re-visiting and re-photographing your favorite ancient temples and traditional villages around Angkor, or grab a guide and seek out your own new temples! That evening, we'll enjoy a gourmet farewell dinner at the famous Café Indochine and our final evening in Siem Reap.

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Day 16:

Guests are transported to the airport to catch their flights home.


Leaders

Karl Grobl

Karl Grobl

Karl Grobl, (co-founder and trip leader), is a humanitarian photojournalist specializing in the photographic documentation of relief efforts and development work of NGOs worldwide. Calling upon his superb photography talents, both technically and creatively, he proficiently leads photo workshops and international photo tours (on this website). Beyond his photography attributes, tour clients frequently commend his helpfulness, professionalism and savvy about navigating global travel.

In 2013, Karl relocated from San Diego, California to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where he now lives full time. Karl considers Cambodia the perfect place for his Asia-based NGO work and photography tours and workshops. When ‘deplaning’ from his rigorous international travel schedule, Karl lecturers on photography and photojournalism, works on personal photography projects, and scouts out new off-beat photo tour destinations in Asia. In his free time, Karl says that he enjoys "hanging out at the nearby temples of Angkor, the rural villages and rice paddies, and occasionally getting completely soaked by the refreshing monsoon rains".

Many of Karl’s images have appeared in publications such as Newsweek, CNN, Geo, Town and Country magazine and The Chronicle of Philanthropy, though the majority of his photos appear in the annual reports, newsletters and communications materials of his humanitarian organization clients.  

Over the last ten years, Karl has worked in over 50 countries and has covered and photographed post conflict peace building efforts in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and East Timor, HIV/Aids issues in Africa and Asia as well as human trafficking in Cambodia and the Philippines. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Karl spent more than a month embedded with five different non-governmental organizations (NGO) documenting tsunami relief efforts in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.  The international press has taken notice of Karl’s provoking images:  The 2005 Haiti photo-story “City of God” was nominated for a World Press Photo Award. Karl is a member of the Advisory Council of Focus For Humanity, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to provide financial support, resources and training for professional and amateur photographers wishing to work with NGOs.

    “From an early age, my parents instilled in me a desire to explore and learn firsthand about the world around me. Our family vacations and weekend excursions were general education courses disguised as fun. Knowingly or unknowingly they set me on course for a journey that today, is still just beginning. For me, the ongoing quest to document the world’s people and global events that shape our common humanity, have been instrumental in breaking down stereotypes, preconceptions and prejudices. 

I believe that the more of the world we see and experience, the more we understand. It seems people everywhere, share similar goals, aspirations, hopes and desires. It is with a strong sense of obligation that I share through photographs, the people, places and events that have profoundly shaped my vision of our world. By sharing these experiences with you, I hope to make a small, positive contribution to a heightened sense of world community.” -K. Grobl


E-mail:  KarlGrobl@gmail.com
Phone: 
Mob. phone: 

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T&Cs

Cost Includes: airport transfers, all ground transport, boat trips, all 15 nights hotel accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, 2 lunches, entrance-fees at tourist sites, dinner shows, and local English-speaking guides. 

In addition to the trip cost, $350 is collected to cover 3 flights: Bangkok - Chiang Rai, Luang Prabang - Siem Reap & Phnom Penh - Bangkok)

Cost does not include: International flights (except the 3 flights listed above), passport & visas fees, travel insurance, vaccinations and medical cover/treatment, meals not specified, tips to guides, drivers and bellboys, and personal expenses such as alcoholic beverages/snacks, internet access fees, laundry fees, etc.

DEPOSIT AND FINAL PAYMENT

A deposit of $800 per person is required at time of booking. Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure.

CANCELLATION

On cancellations more than 120 days prior to departure, all monies are refunded less a $275 administrative fee.

  • Less than 120 but at least 90 days prior, total deposit amount is forfeited.
  • Less than 90 but at least 75 days prior, 50% of trip price is forfeited.
  • Less than 75 days prior to departure, 100% is forfeited.

Notification by phone or email is acceptable, but please follow with written notice. In the unlikely event we have to cancel a tour, a full refund will be given.

RESPONSIBILITY

Jim Cline Photo Tours LLC and their agents act only in the capacity as agents in all matters pertaining to hotel accommodations, sightseeing tours, and transportation, and are not responsible for any loss, damage, theft, or injury to person or property resulting from a defect in any vehicle, or the actions of any persons who provide services for this tour or for the action or inaction of any third party. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely. The tour operator reserves the right to withdraw the tour at any time, to decline any person as a member of the tour for any cause at any time. All prices are based on current rates of exchange and, while every effort will be made to hold them firm, they are subject to change. All participants are required to submit a signed Assumption of Risk and Release of Liability form prior to the tour’s departure.

HEALTH

It is the responsibility of each tour member to inform the tour operator of any possible health problems or handicaps upon registration. By forwarding a signed reservation form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements.

TRIP INSURANCE

To allow for any unexpected contingencies, all participants are strongly urged to purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

ITINERARY

While Jim Cline Photo Tours LLC endeavors to make the itinerary as accurate as possible, it should be considered as an approximate schedule of activities rather than a rigid schedule of events. Trip itineraries are subject to revision due to weather, ocean or trail conditions, government restrictions, and other reasons beyond our control. The tour leader has the right to make changes in the published itinerary whenever in his sole judgment conditions warrant, or if he deems it necessary for the comfort or safety of the tour.

Country Info

Thailand

Thailand

Health Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website.  To see whether this country is currently affected by Malaria click here.  The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Money: Thai currency is called baht. Currency exchange rates

ATMs, Credit Cards, Travelers Checks

Internet Access:  Broadband Internet is readily available in major cities and towns, but is still to be sought after in smaller villages and in the countryside. 

Electricity Converters & Adapters Required

Visa ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: If you are a U.S. citizen tourist staying for fewer than 30 days, you do not require a visa, but your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand. You may be asked to show an onward/return ticket. If you enter Thailand by air without a visa, you are allowed to stay in Thailand for 30 days per visit. If you enter Thailand by land without a visa, you are allowed to stay in Thailand for 15 days per visit. When you enter the country, Thai Immigration stamps your passport with the date your authorized stay will expire.

Cambodia

Cambodia

Health Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. To see whether this country is currently affected by Malaria click here.  The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Money: Cambodia has two currencies: the US dollar and the Cambodian riel Currency exchange rates

ATMs & credit cards    ATMs are everywhere, they dispense US dollars. Credit Cards are widely accepted in hotels and high end shops, Travelers Checks are basically useless, don’t bother bringing them. 

Internet Access: Internet cafes are everywhere now, including WiFi at most hotels and some restaurants.  While Internet cafes are available in the cities, Cambodia suffers from  very low Internet connectivity in rural areas.

Electricity Converters & Adapters required

Visa ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: You will need a valid passport and a Cambodian visa to travel to Cambodia. Tourist and business visas are valid for one month beginning with the date of entry into Cambodia. Cambodia offers on-line visa processing.   Tourists and business travelers may also obtain a Cambodian visa at the airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and at all major border crossings. Cambodian airports now collect fingerprints upon entry using an inkless, electronic process. You will need two passport-sized (4cm by 6cm) photographs and a passport valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of entry into Cambodia. Cambodia regularly imposes fines for overstay of an expired visa. If the overstay is 30 days or less, the charge is USD $5.00 per day; for overstays of more than 30 days, the charge is USD $6.00 per day. You should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Cambodia or visit the Embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia web site for the most current visa information.

Laos

Laos

Health Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. To see whether this country is currently affected by Malaria click here.  The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Money:  The official national currency in Laos is the Lao kip (K). Although only kip is legally negotiable in everyday transactions, in reality three currencies are used for commerce: kip, Thai baht (B) and US dollars (US$).   Laos relies heavily on the Thai baht and the US dollar for the domestic cash economy. Kip is usually preferred for small purchases and the majority of transactions will be carried out in kip.  More expensive items and services may be quoted in kip, baht or dollars. Anything costing the equivalent of $100 or more is likely to be quoted in US dollars.    Currency exchange rates

Electricity Converters & Adapters required

Visa ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:  U.S. Citizens must have both a passport and visa to enter Laos; your passport must also have at least six months validity remaining from the date of entry. As we are travelling for tourism, a visa can be secured on arrival in Laos.  Two passport-size photographs and funds (under $40 USD) will be needed.

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Testimonials

We take pride in our trip testimonials. We hope you’ll take a moment to read those below written by previous participants of this tour. 

 

"The photo opps on this tour were terrific.  I really enjoyed the rice fields, salt flats, waterfall, of course, Angkor and monks everywhere.  I am still weeding through more that 5,000 shots and am very happy with some of these.  Karl's discussions and lectures absolutely helped improve my photography.  The information he shared was very clear and immediately useful.  It was also very beneficial to see and discuss other participant's work, as well as Karl's.  I found him to be a most generous and intuitive individual. He led us day and night with enthusiasm and expertise. He shared his photography experience in a way that we could all could benefit from, no question was too trivial, he recognized individual needs and worked to satisfy those as well. 

I think all of the hotels were perfectly satisfactory and the variety of restaurants made for a great combination of experiences.  For example, lunch on the river in someone's home was wonderful.  Each meal was more of an opportunity to experience the culture, as well as an opportunity for each of us to get to know one another a little better, learn about photography and just enjoy the wonders of being together in Asia.  Without question, I would rate this trip the best possible (10). The trip was exactly what I had hoped for and I look forward to taking anther one day."  -Judi G. 2014


“The trip was very interesting, largely because of Karl knowledge of the places and his incredible talent to explain photo issues and challenges.  He selected the places to photograph and relentlessly explained to us how to set the camera and other valuable technical insights.  Karl gave our group the right tips on when and where to be for optimal photographing, as well as the monks itinerary so that we had a second chance to get the right shots.

The visit to the long neck village, Luang Prabang, and the morning ritual of the alms morning collection were enjoyable, as was the Mekong river cruise with stops at the local village - where we could photograph the children as well as their parents.   Tonle Seap lake and Beng Melea were beautiful place to visit, photograph and observe.   Except for 2 long travel days, it was a very good trip with an excellent guide and an interesting group of travelers.  I will not hesitate to pick up another trip from Jim Cline photo tours!”  -Jacques L. 2014

 

“I believe the trip was near fantastic.  Karl was a great leader, from a photography and tour point of view, [offering] just enough encouragement without any pressure.  'People photography' was my goal but I find it intimidating - Karl's encouragement helped with that a lot.  I received good value for the money for this tour and can't wait for my next trip!” -Robert D. 2013   

 

“The trip and the photo opportunities were great and I rate the overall trip a 10 +.  Karl made the trip very successful and I appreciate all his attention and energy to make it happen. He is energetic, supportive, resourceful and extremely helpful.  He instills a way to see things in a different light...a different perspective on the places we visited, which made the trip for me.  I saw the places we visited in a different way, and I feel this provided me with a greater opportunity to capture unique images.  All the guides were helpful and good.  Overall, the restaurants choices were very good and [I liked that] a few allowed one to have familiar food from back home. The choices provided both local sampling and some home food.  I had a great time so; my feelings are very positive.”  -George P. 2013 

  

"The photo opportunities were absolutely wonderful!!! Kudos to you Karl for taking us to so many special places and introducing us to so many nice people. I especially appreciated the variety, with many fascinating stops throughout our many days together. Karl, you're a wonderful tour leader, experienced and attentive, a great "people person" and conversationalist. Your energy and zest for travel and photography is infectious, and I hope to travel together again. I especially appreciated looking through each other's viewfinders in the field, and the group viewing sessions. The photo session with the models at Angkor Wat was another highlight; I learned a lot by watching how Karl positioned models and interacted with them, and then trying it myself." -Lisa M. 2012

 

“This trip was fantastic – a 9.5....providing good value for the money.  The photo opportunities were great! I particularly liked the impromptu stop at the rice field on the way to the long neck village. My photography absolutely improved and I'm very happy with the pictures I captured!  The pace, hotels and restaurants on the tour were fine and Karl was great.  I would like to travel with him again. I would absolutely recommend this trip to a friend [because]:

1 - very good itinerary

2 - good amount of "off the beaten track" sites (very important to me)

3 - adequate to quite nice lodging/food, etc.

4 - great guiding/instruction by Karl

I'm looking forward to your Oaxaca trip this Fall.” -Warren S. 2013

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