Chan Chao was born in Kalemyo, Burma in 1966. He and his family left Burma for the United States in 1978. Nazraeli Press has published three books by Chao: Burma: Something Went Wrong, Letter from PLF and Echo. His Burma portraits were included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Chao is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, G Fine Art in Washington, DC, and Paul Kopeiken Gallery in Los Angeles.
Chao's photographs are in the permanent collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the L.A. County Museum of Art and the LaSalle Bank Photography Collection. His work has been published in Colors Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GEO Magazine, Culture & Travel Magazine and The Walrus.