On the Tracks
A snapshot from bygone Saigon - as the train rumbles through
Explore Saigon’s railway village on this exhilarating sunrise photo tour. We capture life along the tracks as trains roll in from the north, photographing street traders, markets, railway workers and locals going about their daily life.
This quiet part of the city, surprisingly close to the centre, is like a snapshot from bygone times, with narrow, sleepy alleyways, vintage coffeeshops and Saigonese showing their traditional smiles and hospitality. Along the way, we’ll work on composition techniques and use of various settings to take your images to the next level.
Discover the real Saigon while learning the art of great street photography.
5am – Hotel pick-up
5:30am – We start at Saigon Railway Station, with an introduction to the tour, camera settings review and a look at how to create a picture story. Our first subject is the old steam locomotive parked at the station entrance, which stands as testament to the century-long history of Vietnam’s railway.
6am – Time to move on to the network of old Saigonese streets behind the station, already busy with commuters and market-goers. We’ll be capturing atmospheric portraits and relationship shots of all kinds of local characters among these narrow railside alleyways. It’s fascinating to see the neighbourhood waking up, and with some of the shop shutters still down, there’s a minimalist vibe to the scene. We’ll work on isolating passersby against these backgrounds for striking pictures of daily life.
7am – We arrive at a vibrant market, a fantastic place to capture shots of busy local life. We’ll interact with the traders and shoppers for intimate portraits, and look at composition tips. With the market getting busier by the minute, it’s important to tidy up our shots and make some sense of the chaos. We’ll break for a glass of tea now and review our pictures so far.
8am – Turning a narrow corner, we find ourselves right next to the railway tracks, rush hour traffic pouring over the junction. During our walk we encounter railway workers manning the track points, as well as traders selling their goods to passing commuters. And of course, many trains are rolling in from the north, passing right across the junctions and towards Saigon station. We follow a narrow path running alongside the tracks.
8:30am – We now join a very quiet trackside alleyway, with houses and cafes that hark back to old Saigon. There’s plenty to photograph down here, and we continue our picture story of life in Saigon’s own ‘railway village’.
9am – It’s breakfast time, and we’ll enjoy a classic Saigonese start to the day, with a delicious local breakfast. We finish up at a fantastic little trackside cafe, full of vintage cameras and other memorabilia from old Saigon – and most importantly serving delicious coffee!