This is not your father’s Vietnam. Things have changed, and fast. Vietnam is one of SE Asia’s fastest growing economies, and our visit here will show plenty of evidence of that. But there is also lots of history on display in Old Vietnam, with substantial French colonial influence, and remnants of the American War everywhere.
This impressively resilient country will surprise you at every corner. Not only is it physically beautiful (amazing beaches, rice fields carved from mountains), but it’s also historically fascinating, and the people have a charm about them that will leave you with photographs and memories forever.
The Vietnam that is emerging today may well surprise you. It’s found a way to embrace it’s history will still managing to grow at a pace that is envied all over SE Asia. We will experience the legendary Vietnam hospitality, bear witness to it’s beautiful people, and breathe in it’s culture through historical sites and incredible beauty. With 1000-year-old cities that appear both ancient and incredibly modern at the same time, it’s easy to see how this country will become one of the most important places in the region.
Meet and greet upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Private transfer on your own vehicle to the hotel for check in. After we are settled into our classic hotel in the city centre, we will discuss PWA’s “10 guiding principles of photography” as well as our “The Art of Seeing” photographic technique. During our “Welcome Dinner” in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s best French-Vietnamese restaurants, we will have informal discussions about what our guests are trying to achieve in their photography, subject matters, styles and techniques. A walking tour of the downtown area at night will allow us to shoot the crowded city streets and abundant late day activities.
- Liberty Central Riverside
- Villa Song Hotel
There is a lot to see in Ho Chi Minh City, particularly historical districts and buildings. Among the highlights would be the Reunification Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Central Post Office that was designed by Gustave Eiffel (remember the French influence?). We will also have a chance to visit one of the large open markets as well. We will venture up to the observation deck of Bitexco Financial Tower. With breathtaking views of the city and surrounding areas, it’s a fitting tribute to the modern Vietnam that lives today.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Bitexco Financial Tower and the Central Post Office
We head to the HCMC airport in the morning, and take a short flight to Danang. After our arrival in Danang, it’s a quick 40 km journey through the beautiful countryside to Hội An, on the central coast, where we will settle into our hotel on the waterfront. Hội An is a UNESCO world heritage site, and maintains much of it’s old charm from when it was one of the busiest ports in all of Asia, centuries ago. The market and harbor at night are highlights for photographs. We’ll catch Hội An at blue hour, when it looks it’s best. In the evening, we’ll get a chance to share our photos and discuss techniques with one another.
- Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa
- Hotel Royal Hoi An
We have the morning to explore more of Hoi An, and after lunch have a flight up to Hanoi, in order to catch a luxurious overnight train to Sapa, a small mountain village near the border with China. Sapa is a strong contrast to the bustling life of large cities in Vietnam. In Sapa, we will have wonderful opportunities to see ancient village life among the hill tribes. This village of roughly 7000 is at a high elevation and boasts beautiful landscapes filled with terraced rice paddies. It’s considered the most picturesque in the region. Because of the elevation, it’s a pretty wet climate and rain and fog is abundant during much of the year. Expect to see some of the most beautiful parts of inland Vietnam here.
- U Sapa Hotel
- Topas Ecolodge
Our first full day in Sapa will concentrate on photographing the Hill Tribes in the villages around the area. There are many ethnic minorities in this part of Vietnam, many of which are not seen anywhere else. Rural life here dates back centuries and generations, and it’s etched on the faces of the locals and their children. Our evenings will be spent in comfort in our hilltop hotel, overlooking the Sapa valley, and allow us to share our experiences and photographs. Overnight in Sapa.
Our second day in Sapa will allow us to spend time seeking out the best views of the terraces that layer the hillsides of this region. Taking a journey through the mountainous community to visit markets and interact with colorful locals, will provide you with images you will always cherish. It’s the people of Sapa that will be what you remember the most from your time here.
Visiting local market, Mountain ethnic village
Our final day in Sapa will allow us to spend time in a local market with the Hmong people, in their colorful dress. So much of their culture is centered around traditional family roles, farming and selling their produce. We’ll venture up the mountainside in search of the best views overlooking the terraced rice fields, carved out centuries ago. Tonight, we will embark on the journey south by the overnight train to bring us back to Hanoi, arriving rested and ready for the day ahead.
- Movenpick Hanoi Hotel
- Sheraton Hotel Hanoi
Our day in Hanoi will be filled with a lot of amazing images from the streets of this cosmopolitan city. We will get to explore both the Old Quarter and French Quarter, along with West Lake, the HCM Mausoleum, and the notorious Hanoi Hilton prison. Seeing this city by day will open up many opportunities to see the modern and the colonial city scenes. Hanoi is a very modern city with a long history that is clearly evident. After returning to our hotel, we prepare for a festive “Farewell Dinner” at one of Hanoi’s best restaurants. Here we will discuss the events of the trip, share our favorite photos and enjoy the fun and laughter.
Our journey comes to an end today, but only after we have one last chance to observe the charm of this wonderful city. Hanoi awakens early, and the streets are buzzing by sunrise. Locals are exercising on the streets, alone and in groups. Food vendors are everywhere, and we will be too. A farewell to our guests over breakfast and a chance to exchange contact information and share some of the photographs we’ve experience over the past 9 days.
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