Xiapu Photography Tours

Xiapu Photography Tours by Andy & Mia

Xiapu Photography Tours are not yet trending like Iceland, it’s not on most peoples radar, which is a good thing! A photography tour to Xiapu not only give you the chance to take some award-winning images, but it adds something fresh and unique to our portfolios that compliments some of the more iconic shots you might already have of China.

It first hit my radar back in 1995, when I passed through the area on the way to a remote farming island on the coast of Shanghai. I also recall once seeing vast lines of poles along the mudflats in the morning light as I was flying from Finland to Hong Kong, as we flew down over China’s eastern coastline, from just north of Xiapu down to Hong Kong.

Xiapu photography tours must surely capture the fishermen walking out on to the mudflats with nets
WIDE AREA NET-WORK – The fishermen of Xiapu walking out across the expanse of mudflats in the blue hour light.

Why Photograph Xiapu?

Xiapu is known for miles of vast unique mudflats, seaweed harvest, and unique seascape images, especially the patterns of the bamboo poles lining the ocean for miles.  The isolated subjects, patterns, and minimalistic art that can be created here are simply stunning. If you are looking to add some different images to your portfolio, visit a place few overseas friends (or even expat friends living in China) have ever heard about, this could be it.

Is Xiapu Right for You? – Why some should skip it.

Xiapu offers unique images and a unique photography destination in China, even many expats or photographers who’ve visited China many times would not have images from here. But be warned…

  1. ‘The experience’ that many photographers are looking for, ie. a feeling of adventure and a story about  ‘remote, natural, just me, a special place just for special old me….’ is undeliverable. All locations are either by roads, on bridges, near villages, at viewpoints created to get photographers over the trees,  or by local made man-made towers on houses, all to serve photographers.  You are unlikely to meet a westerner, although some overseas photographers come, they are very few. I have only met one pro photographer (a chap living in China) out of my last 3 photo tours to Xiapu, and seen two foreigners in a hotel lobby.  The thing is… Chinese domestic photographers come and come in massive numbers, we are talking on average 12-20 person groups, sometimes 40+ person groups, and there will be multi groups. 1/5 of the world is Chinese, and photography has become very popular. Some locations I have seen 300 people lined along a clifftop path at sunrise, during a photography competition week in October. I love remote locations, wild places, untouched, but I also love creating images like this, despite there being lots of others in the area.
  2. Let me continue selling this to you 😉 lol… But, in seriousness, sometimes from our images people get the wrong idea and imagine a person taking a photo from a clifftop grass top wild remote place. I would hate it if someone came with unrealistic expectations.
  3. Hotels and restaurants are simple or look nice in photos but only one hotel has western beds, others are too hard.
  4. Food choice is very limited, beyond seafood and Chinese hotpot.
  5. Typhoons bring the best weather (color after and between weather changes) but also delays and canceled flights.
  6. Join-in Group Photo Tours work best in Xiapu. It’s a niche destination that works best in groups because there are zero English speaking guides, someone has to be brought in, plus the logistics of arranging fishermen, and fishing boats in places we need them. We have a team that can do this, but when you add in a quality car with a commercial safe driver willing to work at 3-4am starts, finish very late, my local Chinese pro photographer to do all the fixing locally, one of my awesome Chinese English speak photo guides brought in as your translator and help compose shots and make decisions on constant itinerary changes that Xiapu require, a 5/4 star hotel, fishermen arrange to act as models, it does adds up.

When’s the Best Time to go to Xiapu?

There are two/three perfect times to visit, spring or autumn, at the times we run our Xiapu trips. 

Here’s why those are the best time to visit…

  • April to June because it’s the seaweed harvest time. You can capture photos of the fishermen at work, and the seaweed hung on miles of bamboo poles to dry. We visit the last week or April or May each year.
  • July to late September, it is typhoon season on the east coast, Xiamen, Fuzhou, and Hong Kong often get hit. With this weather comes the most amazing sunsets and clouds. You also get the chance to take wonderful photos of the rippling lines of oyster nets suspended above the mudflats for miles. We run our trips in the middle of September most years. Just make sure you have space built in for separately booked connecting flights, and that you have insurance for delays or missed connections caused by the weather.

The third best time to visit, in our view is as good as the ‘best times’ according to our local photographer friends. Here’s why October rocks…

  • October to December is also harvest time, but for laver. The weather is very comfortable, cooler than the heat of summer, and there are lots of people working in the villages, and if you time your week just right you can capture some maple leaf areas in the Yangjiaxi, but it’s not Canada people 😉 so don’t come for the maples especially! There are also some unique shots of the nets suspended on poles for miles, like the following shot. (Publishing here soon) Last year we were here October 15-20 2017 we had awesome weather, and the week before and afterward according to our local friends. There were also lots of Chinese photography associations, media and photo competitions in town, so it’s clearly viewed as a good time but not just us!

Join us for 5 Days 4 Nights to photography Xiapu and it’s amazing seascapes!

Award Winning Images from Xiapu

It’s easy to see why photographers on their first photo tour to Xiapu can end up with awards for images. The unique subject matter Xiapu offers photographers combined with the minimalistic elements, in my view offers the perfect balance required to win awards. Actually, countless award-winning images have been taken here, including some from Nat Geo Photographer of the Year and this image by Marsel van Oosten a TPOTY Winner with his photo of the colorful crab cages, a location we also visit. You can also find photos of Xiapu featuring on famous newspapers and editorials.

My wife Mia and I have a reputation in the photography community for our passion, a passion for our clients’ success. We are born enablers and love seeing people succeed, we’ll do all we can to help you go home with great shots, shots that win awards. As photographers too, this is our passion. Here’s what the awesome Rick Sammon says about our us…

Rick Sammon “The Godfather of Photography” and author of 40 books
I can honestly say that Andy and Mia produce perhaps the best organized – and most fun – photo workshops I’ve seen in 30 years of traveling the planet. People want to know how much you care – before they care how much you know. From the moment Andy and Mia picked up our workshop group, it was evident that this dynamic knew their stuff – and cared, very much, about everyone.


How to get to Xiapu

Xiapu is on the eastern coast of China, north of Fuzhou and Xiamen, modern coastal cities within Fujian province. There is no airport yet, but it’s very easy to get to Xiapu by highspeed trains from the city of Xiamen and Fuzhou, which have airports and many flight connections.

Here’s an overview of how to get here by train.

Trains to Xiapu

Train routes in order of popularity with photographers traveling to Xiapu:

  • Xiamen (Bei) to Xiapu | 2.5 hours  | $21/$35 for 1st class |  14 trains a day
  • Fuzhou (Nan) to Xiapu | 1 hour  | $9/$14 for 1st class |  22 trains a day
  • Shanghai to Xiapu | 5 1/2 hours  | $41/$66 for 1st class | 6 trains a day
  • Hangzhou to Xiapu | 4 hours  | $33/$52 for 1st class |  10 trains a day

Bei = North   /    Nan = South

Fuzhou Nan and just Fuzhou station are close to each other, Nan (meaning south) is about 5 minutes closer to the airport. In Xiamen Bei means north and is on the mainland, off the Xiamen island, most trains go from Xiamen North.

Prices are for indication, as would be affected by exchange rate moves and the railway authority. Prices updated May 2018. It’s best to buy tickets on Ctrip, now Trip.com, on this website or with their app. Trip.com (Formally Ctrip.com) Train Ticket Booking Service

Xiapu Photography Tours 2019 & 2020

Historically Xiapu has been our kinda secret destination, an invite-only tour, staff reward trip, or something arranged only for pros or past clients friends. But now we’ve decided to open up the trip to all in 2019. Past clients and anyone subscribed to trip alerts via this page will be offered spaces first. In 2018 our trip sold out within a week by asking just 12 people. You can now join two epic photo tours to Xiapu each year, trips we’ll pull out all stops for, trips we’re be guiding personally, and a chance to travel and shoot with both old friends and new!

Xiapu Autumn 12-16 Sep 2018  Full –  before being offered publically

2020 Xiapu will again be offered to past clients and anyone on our waiting list first.
Join the waiting list at the end of the page.

Next Trips

Xiapu Autumn May 2020

Xiapu Autumn Sep  2019  

All of our trips are first offered to past clients, wait-list and subscribers 2nd, and lastly released publically on our site.

Tour Price

  • Cost  $1850 USD per person
  • Early Bird Offer $1599 USD per person strictly for early bird bookings paid in full at the time of booking, at least 6 months+ before the trip.
  • Dates: 12 – 16 Sept 2018
  • Trip reference: 12134246
  • Group Size: 1/8 Ratio (Maximum 12 clients, typical numbers average 8)
  • Guaranteed departure – We will run our groups at a lost, with just 2 clients! So you can book and plan.
  • Hotel: Your own room in ‘the best’ 5-star modern city center hotel, (The Dijing Intl. Hotel. We would evaluate this as 4-star quality, 3-star service with soft western beds, western toilet, large rooms, and Chinese style buffet breakfast included – if we are present to enjoy it.
  • Including Hotel breakfast. Transport to all locations. Entrance fees. Land access fees. Local fixer services. Models as per itinerary. Return private airport transfer from Xiapu train station, meeting you individually.
  • We’re a fully bonded travel company that meets all UK, EU strict client fund protection rules and hold Tour Operator liability insurance of 2 million dollars.
  • Excludes Food, except for the hotel breakfast, but we might not always be able to be there for breakfast.
  • Cancelation and Refund Policy: As this is a group tour special conditions apply. Only if we can find someone to take your place will we be able to refund the balance payment, the initial payment will be retained. Full details of the terms will be provided when booking.

Over the last few years, we’re done countless hours of research in Xiapu and become friends with all the local Chinese photographers and fixers. We attended during Xiapu photography conventions and competitions and really got under the skin of the area. On all our Xiapu photo tours both for our clients, and our own research, we hired the best local fixer and they ran our entire ‘dry run’ and ‘research trips’. It’s been very costly, and we’ve learned so much. So now… we are super excited to share our locations and knowledge with others.

We hope you can join us too!

Contact Andy & Mia About Xiapu Photography Tours

Let’s have a chat, see if the tour fits your photography goals and interests and we’ll send you a detailed itinerary.