On the Opium Trail Photography Tour in Northern Vietnam

Multi Day Vietnam Photography Tour

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TOUR TYPE:
Group Photography Tour
TOur Length:
13

 Days  

Departure Date:
November 7, 2024

On the Opium Trail

Discover Vietnam’s historical opium trade in the mountains and markets of Sapa and Ha Giang

Capture the raw beauty and rich culture of northern Vietnam on the trail of its historical opium trade. We start in Hanoi’s French Quarter, where we’ll enjoy photographic excursions to snap both remnants of Indochine and daily life in this fascinating city. We’ll then catch the overnight Victoria Express train to the hill station of Sapa, a town blessed with a diverse population of montagnards, the colourful hill tribes of Vietnam. Heading east through the vast mountains, we encounter colonial palaces and scattered ruins of French forts and gun emplacements, all remains of the opium trade in northern Vietnam a century ago. In Ha Giang province, we’ll stay at an ancient H’mong house, now reconstructed as a homely eco-lodge, with ‘opium rooms’ still retained in the design. Our trip culminates with.the unforgettable Meo Vac tribal market, a final photographic feast to round off a unique adventure.

This is a premium photographic adventure, and we’ll enjoy the best accommodation available along the way. We’ll also taste the most delicious cuisine in a part of the world already renowned for its culinary excellence. Between train journeys, we travel by spacious and comfortable minibus, with an extra vehicle to transport our luggage between accommodation. At the same time, our close connection to the people of this region, local friendships and many years of experience give us unparalleled access to the authentic life of locals and the area’s most stunning vistas. As working photographers and journalists, with many years of teaching experience, we provide you unique insights and knowledge about Vietnam and photographic storytelling.

Expectations

Expect to get off the beaten track for unique photos of land and people on this visually-rich photo adventure.  In Hanoi, we’ll explore the backstreets of the French Quarter, capturing images where history and the modern world collide. We’ll also try out some of the capital’s famous cuisine, with some special dishes, like ‘Bo Sot Vang’ (Beef in Red Wine Stew) and ‘Banh My Pa Te’ (Pate Baguettes) clearly influenced by the colonial past. In craft villages and markets around the city, we’ll produce visual mini-stories, working on aspects of composition and lighting. Heading north, we’ll have the chance to take short hikes in the mountains, visiting tribal villages and meeting our old (and young) friends. In local stilt houses, we’ll be able to take portraits using natural light, working in both color and black and white. The tribal markets of the north provide rich opportunities for candid people photography, and a chance to work on our skills shooting in busy environments. The markets also make for unforgettable experiences, mingling with the ethnic minorities, enjoying a view of lives in many ways unchanged for centuries. Ha Giang in particular will bring epic landscape moments, and we’ll be working with the fast-changing light at sunrise and sunset to shoot stunning views over Southeast Asia’s deepest gorge, the Ma Pi Lan Pass. Along the way, you’ll develop your skills and portfolio, ultimately creating a photographic narrative of life in modern Vietnam, against the backdrop of its rich culture and history.

Image Gallery

Guiding Team

Our photographers are no ordinary guides. We’re adventurers, teachers and assistants, as well as experienced shooters.  We’re up at dawn to catch the best light, and always looking out for unexpected moments and details that make for great photography. Our guides are committed to making sure you enjoy exploring Vietnam through photography as much as we do. Your pictures and your experience are always the priority.

Recommended Equipment

Recommended Equipment

  • Digital Camera
  • Drone
  • Selections of lens
  • Cable release
  • Tripod
  • Memory cards
  • CPL & ND Graduated filters
  • Laptop/tablet
  • Storage device

What's included

  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • All transportation
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • All gratuities
  • local guides and government permits

What's not included

  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages

Seasonality

This is a small private group tour with designated departure dates. However we can tailor this tour or something similar to your required dates.

Reviews

Opium Trail review
Villia (CANADA)
Read More
We were delighted with our trip, On the Opium Trail. We could not have asked for a more congenial and attentive guides, Duc and Nhan outdid themselves. Duc's ability to approach people and to get them to enjoy his company gave us an entry point for interacting with people. His profound respect for the ethnic minority peoples really impressed us and provided the means to engage with people on an equal footing. Our Opium trail guide, Nhan was an attentive and knowledgeable with a great sense of humor. We spent much of our trip smiling and laughing with the two of them. In Hanoi, Brett and Ling were great guides and instructors. Overall you have a great team who go the extra mile. The accommodations were great, the food fabulous and the car and driver were both superb. We had an exceptional time, see VIF again!
Tour FAQ and Information

Please contact us directly and request a Brochure for this tour.

Throughout the trip, we stay in quality 4-5 star hotels or the best mountain eco-lodges available locally. In some places there are shared bathroom facilities. There is a surcharge for single bookings. If you are open to sharing with someone outside your group, we will do our best to make sure your preferences are met.

Please contact us for more Information

Throughout the tour we travel by comfortable, air-conditioned 16 seat private minibus. There will be enough room in the vehicle to carry our maximum 5 guests, guide, driver, luggage and camera gear. Please however bring a maximum of 1 large suitcase, small daypack and/or camera bag.

Prices are per person based on double occupancy, and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the tour. Single supplement is available at request. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based on international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information

Please contact us for more Information

Yes. We offer a 5% early bird discount on all featured tours if bookings are received 12 months in advance of departure.

We offer an extra 5% discount to returning guests.

We take an initial holding deposit of $500 per person, which is non-refundable, unless Vietnam in Focus calls off the trip.

The remainder is due at least 3 months in advance of the departure date. This is also our latest date to confirm tour departure at this point, and guests can go ahead and book flights.

In the event that we have our minimum number of guests booked in for the tour earlier than 3 months before departure, we will confirm the tour, and guests are free to book their flights.

Your initial $500 reservation deposit is non-refundable, except in the event that Vietnam in Focus cancels the trip. The deposit can however be put towards a future trip with Vietnam in Focus.

If you cancel your booking with us, our cancellation policy includes the following fees and cut-off periods:

If canceling 90 to 61 days before departure, the guest is liable for 25% of the trip cost.

60 to 46 days before departure is 50% of the trip cost.

45-0 days prior to departure is 100% of the trip cost.

In order to ensure an authentic, personalized experience, we take a maximum number of 5 guests per one photographer tour leader. With larger groups, we will split between 2 photographer tour leaders.

Yes, you do.  You will be asked to sign a legally-binding liability disclaimer with your insurance details before tour departure.

Absolutely, they are most welcome. There’s plenty to entertain non-photographers on our tours, as long as they don’t mind the rest of us getting up at the crack of dawn most days.

Please see the What to Bring list included in each itinerary.

It’s a good idea to do this, as you’ll have a chance to get over the jetlag and do a bit of exploring before the action begins. We can help you arrange accommodation and adventures.

Welcome the New Year with the hill tribes of Northern Vietnam

Experience the Gao Tau festival, Hmong fire dancing & lunar new year festivities with the Dzao, Hmong & Tay people during far Northern Vietnam's festival season. Cameras in hand, we'll explore the spectacular landscapes and colorful tribal communities around Sapa on a photographic adventure to remember. In the company of our photography team and local Black Hmong guides, this is the ultimate, authentic encounter with Vietnam's hill tribes.

Experience the thrilling Phuoc Hai Whale-Worshiping Festival

Explore southern Vietnam's spectacular coastline and traditional cultures on this immersive photo adventure. Travel by boat down the Saigon RIver to discover the mangroves and salt farms of Can Gio, before heading north to experience the vibrant Phuoc Hai Whale-Worshiping Festival. In Ninh Thuan, we'll encounter the ethnic Cham tribe and the wild volcanic landscapes of Nui Chua National Park en route to remote, palm-fringed Whale Island.

On the Opium Trail

Customize Your Photography Experience

Our unparalleled knowledge of travel and culture in Vietnam, and where and when to get the best shots, mean we are experts in designing tailormade photo tours.  We have planned and run tours for everyone from professional photographers on a mission to amateurs who want to get to know their cameras better on an adventure.  Each person and group is different, so once you’ve completed the few questions below, expect to answer a few more before we can create your ideal photographic adventure.

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