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RainbowPhoto Bhutan

Two travelers to a car, not a bus.

We are the experts.  Join us for our 28th
Bhutan Cross Country Cultural and Festivals Tour
Sept. 20 - Oct. 5, 2014 — 15 days in-country

...or let us arrange a private tour throughout the year
for you or your small group.

FALL 2014
Now Booking this Tour.
All Skill Levels — Non-photographers Welcome
Read More!

Rainbow Photo Tours is a U.S. based company.

Exciting Itineraries within Bhutan in the Fall — the Best Time to Visit.


Why this tour to Bhutan?

If you are reading this, chances are you already know something about this tiny and magical "Last Shangri-La."  Perhaps you know about Bhutan from world press reports that recently covered Bhutan's first democratic election.  Most of the articles about the election also mentioned the government’s cautious attempt to open the door to the Western world—2011 saw less than 24,000 tourist visas issued and the government is considering lowering that number by raising fees, acknowledging that they cannot arm-wrestle with unabated tourism and win.

Or perhaps you saw the 60-Minutes feature on Bhutan back in 2000 when Morley Safer said, "...we found a place, perhaps the only place on Earth, where the government's first priority is something it calls Gross National Happiness." The program went on to document how Bhutan had just then allowed the installation of its first network of television cables. "We have to go there!" was my wife's comment when she heard that report. And we did, in April 2001.

I can say that for me, in all of my world travels, Bhutan is the most fascinating country I have ever visited and I can hardly wait to return in September 2014 for the twenty-sixth time.

  Capture amazing portraits at temples...

I hope the pages of our web site will give you s ome sense of what this unique country has to offer the adventure traveler who enjoys furthering photographic skills—we welcome all levels of photographers, professional to point-and-shoot, digital and film. 

If you will take the time to read these detailed itineraries, I am confident you will want to join us.  Please call or email me for more details and to discuss your personal travel and photography goals.


Bhutan is changing quickly, in spite of its best effort to move gradually, maintaining its Buddhist culture and pristine environment.  Teenage girls wear traditional government-mandated kiras and giggle their way down a rocky path from home—in platform shoes straight out of a Western shopping mall.

Yak Meat Cell Phones

Small shops line the streets in Thimpu, the capital, selling betel nut and rice by the pound from open baskets—with posters of Hulk Hogan tacked to the wall. 

And as this photo illustrates, many images of Bhutan now juxtapose the ancient with the modern—the white sign between strips of drying yak meat outside of a shop in Haa refers to purchasing additional minutes for your cell phone.

Now is the time to visit Bhutan, before more Westernization changes the face of this serene country.


It is our goal to put you in front of remarkable scenes so that you can enjoy your hobby or work your craft. To accomplish this—to get you in front of hidden photographic treasures—we have partnered with Rainbow Tours and Treks of Bhutan (RTTB), ranked #6 out of 343 registered Bhutanese tour companies by the Department of Tourism, Ministry of Economic Affairs.  For each traveler RTTB hires a Bhutanese helper, either a guide or a driver—that means each modern SUV will carry two travelers and a Bhutanese guide and driver.  They come from all walks of life, including working photographers, some with studios in Paro and Thimphu, as well as guides who are registered and trained cultural guides with the Department of Tourism.  They will carry your gear, introduce you to their families, go with you to yak herder huts to interpret, aim reflectors, and are very eager to meet you and introduce you to their country.

...and farmhouses.

Rainbow Tours and Treks has used their vast, intimate knowledge of the country and their working relationships with religious and government officials to arrange several very special events that you will not find on other itineraries.

Since 2002 most tours have sold out early, with wait lists carried over to the following year.   We have fine tuned the itinerary to the point where not a moment is wasted, and previous participant equipment suggestions in the comments and "What's in My Bag" sections will prove to be a valuable resource for photographers going to Bhutan for the first time.

So please, read on and discover the trip of your life. Come with us to Bhutan!
Robin Smillie, Owner
read.gif Rainbow Photo Tours


Drive far to the east, two to a car with guide and driver, not a bus.
Bhutan Tours Rice Field

Most of our travelers are from United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand Most of our travellers are from Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand Most of our travellers are from Australia, United States, Canada, New Zealand Most of our travellers are from New Zealand, United States, Canada, Australia
2014 Fall Tour
Now booking this tour.

Bhutan Cross Country Cultural
and Festivals Tour

Sept. 20 - Oct. 5, 2014
 15 days in country
Travel completely across the country with special permission to exit
into Assam.
Two exclusive cultural events that no other tourists attend.
Meet the nomadic people of Sakten and Merak.
Limited to 16 participants

Read detailed Itinerary for this tour
Click here for tour cost.

Custom Itineraries

We also specialize in private tours with custom itineraries to Bhutan throughout the year.
We  make all the arrangements for singles, couples or small groups, including visas, Druk Air ticketing, and exciting itineraries that go to unusual places within Bhutan.  We can make your dream tour a reality by booking many of the same events you see here on this itinerary. Email Robin.

Non-Photographers Welcome Too!

We accept all skill levels of photographers, from those who have a "point-and-shoot" to those who are advanced pro/amateurs with all the latest digital SLR gear. Our goal is to put you in front of remarkable scenes and cultural experiences--this is not a workshop with evening photography meetings or critiques. Travelers who are not keenly interested in photography will have plenty to do, always with guides and drivers at your disposal.

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Most of our travelers are from United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
Most of our travellers are from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United States
Most of our travellers are from Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada
Most of our travellers are from New Zealand, United States, Canada and Australia