Journey to the West
Moc Chau Love Market and the Black River Valley
For generations, the Hmong of Vietnam’s northwest mountainous Moc Chau have gathered each year for a colorful ‘love market’. Today, the festival attracts people from all over the region as they search for new love or old flames, bringing a carnival of color and festivity to this scenic town. Starting in Hanoi, we’ll travel west to the Moc Chau plateau to enjoy and photograph the celebrations. We’ll mingle with the locals, photographing the mix of tradition and modernity, processions and performances. The celebrations carry on for two days, and we’ll also be venturing towards the Laos border for a local Hmong festival including time-honored traditional games and rituals.
The Black River Valley is blessed with verdant tea fields, where we’ll capture epic landscapes, along with images of the conical-hatted harvesters at work on the green hillsides. We then head further west, capturing spectacular mountain views, and visiting remote villages of Thai, Hmong and Tay minorities. At Ta Xua, we’ll climb along ‘the dinosaur’s spine’, a jaw-dropping journey above a a sea of sunlit clouds.
In Tu Le and Mu Cang Chai, we’ll traverse the towering rice terraces as they begin to turn gold, before heading down into the Red River valley to stay with our friends at tranquil Xoi Farmstay. We’ll enjoy a very local experience in the villages and tribal markets of this authentic rural area, before returning to the capital. It all makes for a visually-rich and culturally-enriching experience of Vietnam’s true northwest, providing a portfolio of fabulous images.
Expectations in the Northwest of Vietnam
Capture candid people photography as you engage with the tribes and communities of the wild northwest, documenting their stories with depth and authenticity. Festivals and markets offer plenty of opportunities for images of color and chaos, but we’ll also enjoy intimate moments with our local friends in the homes and hamlets we visit.
The landscapes here are also a photographer’s paradise, with sweeping vistas, lush tea and rice fields, and the cloudy Black River valley, offering endless opportunities for creative composition. We’ll be up at dawn and out at dusk, hunting light and clouds in the area’s most photogenic spots. Every click of your camera will not only boost your photographic skills but also weave an evocative narrative.
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.
Award-winning photojournalist Hoang Viet will lead our 2024 Wild Northwest photo tour. As well as an experienced photographer, Viet is an independent film director. Leading photo tours for Vietnam in Focus, he specializes in visual storytelling, documentary and street photography, and photo editing. Hanoi is his hometown, but Viet’s work as a filmmaker and journalist has taken him all over Vietnam, giving him unique insight into the lives and landscapes of many regions.
- Digital Camera
- Selections of lens
- Cable release
- Memory cards
- CPL & ND Graduated filters
- Storage device
- 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
- Alcoholic beverages
This is a small private group tour with designated departure dates based on North Vietnam’s festival season. However we can tailor this tour or something similar to your required dates.
Moc Chau Love Market – 3 Day Festival Tour
The Love Market where we can get together
The Love Market’s origins are rather murky, but it’s known to have been running in Moc Chau for at least 30 years. Traditionally, it’s been an opportunity for Hmong people from the surrounding areas to meet up, pair up and catch up with old flames
Vietnam’s north is rugged, traditional and full of new adventures. If you want to photograph street traders, towering mountainscapes and colourful hill-tribes, this is the place to explore.
Vietnam’s harvest time has become a magnet for photographers, but only we know how to capture the true essence of this incredible season.