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Vietnam Photography Guide

Since the country opened to tourism in the late 1980s, the tourist infrastructure has rapidly grown. But the rapid industrialization also means if you don’t visit now, you may never be able to see traditional ways of life.

vietnam photography guide

People

Vietnamese people generally don't mind being photographed - particularly in less developed areas. Try to establish a relationship with people by learning a few words of Vietnamese or even just smiling and gesturing. Or you can travel with someone Vietnamese who can convince strangers to be in your photos. Of course, if someone tells you not to take a picture of them, don’t!

Every town and city has a market, which is a great place to begin your photographic journey. The wholesale markets in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown are particularly lively. The floating markets near Can Tho are also worth visiting.

In the mountains in the far north, you’ll find hill-tribe culture still remains largely intact. The Sapa market has become a tourist destination, but the markets around Bac Ha are still very authentic. Most hill-tribe people don't mind the camera, but the Dzao and some other ethnic groups prefer not to be photographed.
 

Architecture

The South was settled fairly recently (Ho Chi Minh City is only 300 years old) so the architecture isn’t as interesting as in other parts of the country. That being said, don’t miss the Great Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh and the Chinese temples in Cholon!

Visit the Great Cao Dai temple at noon to photograph the ceremony. (Wait about half an hour until the tourists filter out for the best view.)

The old buildings in Hoi An are also worth seeing, as are the nearby archeological remnants of the Cham Kingdom. The imperial citadel of Hue was largely destroyed during the 1968 Tet offensive, but you can still see the imperial mausoleums on the Perfume River.

Hanoi offers many ancient temples, as well as the faded yellow buildings that preserve the city’s colonial French architecture.

vietnam photo guide

Landscapes

The Central portion of the coast is particularly scenic, such as the road between Da Nang and Hue. There are also remarkable karst formations in the North, such as Halong Bay - although it can be hard to get a good picture there since your boat is far from the rocks and the perspective is not very good. If you do go, head to the Hon Gai side, where mining activity and fishing boats can make an interesting foreground. Or alternatively, check out Tam Coc, which has similar rocks but set among cultivated rice fields rather than in the water.


If you are a serious photographer, you should avoid cheap backpacker tours. Being in a group won’t give you the freedom you need to explore, especially when a lot of travel is crammed into a short time period. Instead, make your way between locations via bus - or, if you can afford it, rent a car and driver. It’s far cheaper to do so than in the West, and your driver can also help with arranging lodging and meals (you should work this out before your trip). When you’re in a city, motorbike taxis (xe om) offer a cheap and convenient mode of transport.

 

Vietnam Photo Tour

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Vietnam Photography Guide

In Vietnam, there are photographic opportunities everywhere you look. The landscape offers magnificent limestone formations, sprawling coasts and vast mountains and that’s only the geological attractions. Visit a remote area, and you can still observe the traditional lifestyles of ethnic people.

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