• 15 full days in Bhutan: west to east, not just the touristy west near the airport.
  • Limited to 16 participants, 8 cars, with 16 Bhutanese guides and drivers.
  • Community tourism at its best—visit farmhouses, small villages and schools.
  • Two unique festivals that we sponsor—no other foreigners there!
  • Special permission to take photographs inside certain temples.
  • U. S. based company partnered with one of Bhutan's Top Ten tour companies (... out of over 500 companies!) Since 2001 we have led {tour} tours on this unique itinerary which is always evolving as we make new friends who lead us to little known places and give us photo permissions not granted to other tours. (Not to mention finding newer and better hotels, some in the 5-star category.)

“Fascinating Photo Journey” - TripAdvisor Review

All Skill Levels — Non-photographers Welcome

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

"Photography enthusiasts should check out the expert guided itineraries of Rainbow Photo Tours."
— Lonely Planet Guide to Bhutan, latest edition

Rainbow Photo Tours 2019

Now Taking Reservations for
Spring 2019

April 5 - 20, 2019
{seatsSpring1} seats remain as of today .
• Fifteen Days in Country
• Read more About this Itinerary
GoTo Registration Page

Fall 2019 
Oct. 4 - 19, 2019
{seatsFalla}  seats remain as of today .
• Fifteen Days in Country
GoTo Registration Page

Rainbow Photo Tours 2018

Fall 2018
Sept. 14 - 29 SOLD OUT
Join Our Waitlist!

Oct. 4 - Oct. 19 SOLD OUT
Join Our Waitlist!

Tour cost starting at $6995.

Read About Our Guides and Drivers!

2016 Rainbow Photo Tours
Photo by Tour Member Nop.

Why 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 by controlling the number of tourist visas issued and setting a high price on what it calls the "government royalty." Back in the seventies when the fourth king of Bhutan set this policy he knew this tiny kingdom could not arm-wrestle with unabated tourism and win.

Capture amazing portraits in temples where our special permits allow photography....

Or maybe 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 2017 for the thirty-fourth time.

I hope the pages of our web site will give you some 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.

Festival Dancers in Bhutan
Festival dancers whirl across the courtyard in our two unique festivals. We are the only foreigners there!
Our web site offers very detailed itineraries to help you discover if we are a good fit and I am confident that if you read those details you will want to join us. Please call me or email for more details and to discuss your personal travel and photography goals. (robin@rainbowphototours.com)

Why Bhutan Now?

Bhutan is changing quickly, in spite of its best effort to move gradually, maintaining its Buddhist culture and pristine environment.  School 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.

Small shops line the street in isolated villages selling betel nut and rice from open baskets—with pictures of Spiderman tacked to the wall. And as the photo to the left 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.

Cell Phone in Bhutan

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

Why this Tour?

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—each traveler will have a Bhutanese "fixer" at their side, either a guide or a driver. That means each modern SUV will carry two travelers and a Bhutanese guide AND driver, nothing like a bus that you may have tried to avoid on your previous searches for the road less traveled.   

They come from all walks of life but most come from farm families across Bhutan.  The guides are trained and registered as cultural guides with the Department of Tourism and the drivers are mature men who carry hard-to-get special driver's permits—they know each curve of the nation's only paved highway intimately.  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.
Bhutanese Farmer
...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.

I look forward to introducing you to my friends in Bhutan and showing you this magical Land of Gross National Happiness!

Robin Smillie, Owner
Rainbow Photo Tours
  Next:  Read an Overview about our Unique Tours to Bhutan! 

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

Read TripAdvisor Reviews of Rainbow Photo Tours


Travel in cars, not a bus.  15 days in country, all the way across Bhutan.

Outdoor Photographer Bhutan Tour
Read Outdoor Photographer Magazine's latest information on our tour.
“We went to areas where no other tours are going." —TripAdvisor Review of Rainbow Photo Tours

Listen to the Bhutanese Monks' Chant again!

Photographers Welcome Too!

Mimi's Story of Bhutan
Photo taken by Robin with his iPhone.

We accept all skill levels of photographers, from those who have a "point-and-shoot" or iPhone 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

Bhutanese masked dancer
We are the experts in Bhutan cross-country cultural and photo tours.
photography will have plenty to do, always with guides and drivers at your disposal. Click to read an overview of the fantastic itinerary we have to offer for our upcoming tours.

Leave a TripAdvisor Review of Rainbow Photo Tours 
Bhutan Fall Tour

Bhutan Cross Country Cultural and Festivals Tours

15 Days In-country
Limited to 16 Participants

All Tours - Travel completely across the country and then fly back to Paro for the last two nights and a pre-dawn hike to Tiger's Nest.   Meet the nomadic people of Sakten and Merak during our exclusive cultural event that no other tourists attend.  Limited to 16 participants.  Read Tour Overview or in-depth daily itineraries.  (We generally are filled by the end of the previous year.)

“This is not your "normal" group trip." —TripAdvisor Review of Rainbow Photo Tours

Background photo:
Bhutan photo by 2013 Tour Participant Jeff Henry on the way to Tiger's Nest. Read Itinerary for Fall Tour to Tiger's Nest.

Tiger's Nest by Jeff Henry
Rainbow Rule

Robin Smillie  {year} ©
For more information on ordering photographs email Robin
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
map15 Days in Country - Travel across entire country into remote areaas