Hanoi and the north
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.
Hanoi has a unique, understated allure, and that’s what first sparked our interest in running photo tours here all those years ago. Sure, there’s sightseeing to do, but the real attraction is the city’s street life, the maze-like alleyways, the railway village, and the bustling local markets. It’s the conical-hatted cycle traders, the delicious street food you eat on plastic pavement stools, the crumbling colonial architecture and the cafe-circled lakes. It’s so many things, and it all makes for a visual feast. Whether you’re setting off along the railway tracks, shooting sunrise from Long Bien Bridge or mixing with locals at Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum in the evening, your pictures and memories from one of our Hanoi tours will stay with you.
Northern Vietnam has some well-known gems like Ha Long Bay and Sapa, and we often include these on our multi-day Featured Tours. Still, we feel the best experiences and photos are to be found off the beaten track. On a tour with us in the north, you’ll enjoy the benefit of our many years experience of travelling and shooting in this area. We know where to find the best shots, when to go, and have friends in places you wouldn’t imagine. In particular, we have a close connection with many families from hill tribe groups in the region, allowing us (and you) unique insight and access for amazing photographs.
Weather-wise, the best times to visit are between late April and early June, and late September to mid-December. If you’re heading north, you’ll catch the rice plantation period in May, and the golden harvest season starting in late September.
Ha Giang is known as Vietnam’s final, northernmost frontier. Until recently, access to this area was restricted for foreigners, but now it’s opening up. Ha Giang is home to an incredible array of ethnic minority groups, with the Dzao and H’mong only the most visible. You’ll see the colourful garments of these hill tribe people on the highest mountainsides, and encounter their smiling faces at the many ‘cho phien’ or market fairs that spring up in local villages along the way. The landscapes here are some of the most incredible in Asia, with the unearthly, volcanic Dong Van Rocky Plateau and hair-raising journey through the clouds over the Ma Pi Leng Pass making for unforgettable pictures.
Mu Cang Chai is home to Vietnam’s most stunning rice terraces, paddy fields sculpted into the landscape as if at the hand of great artists. Tiny hill tribe villages teeter on the edge of these arenas of high-altitude agriculture, and you’ll see the local minority people working in the fields most of the year – the artists themselves. In late September, the paddies turn from green to gold, a short two or three week window before farmers fill the fields and begin to reap their crops. The immediate area has numerous stunning spots for landscape photography, such as La Pan Tan village, the Khau Pha Pass and Tu Le village.
Hanoi Popular Day Tours
Long Bien Sunrise
Photograph Hanoi’s bustling Long Bien morning market, as thousands of deliveries from the provinces and farther-flung regions of Vietnam provide traders with stock. From century-old Long Bien Bridge, we learn how to introduce a photo story with a ‘context’ or ‘landscape’ shot.
Venture deep into one of Hanoi’s most intriguing and photogenic street markets on this atmospheric afternoon tour.
Hanoi by Night
Capture Vietnam’s capital after dark, from bustling markets to exotic food stalls on lowlit corners. capture the evening train passing though famous train street and experience the local cafe’s and landmarks. Enhance your low light photography skills on this unique Evening Photo tour.
Ninh Binh is all about its landscape, lakes and caves. Our Photography Day Tour includes a two-hour boat journey at Tam Coc Nature Reserve, villagers and the boat people of Tam Coc Valley.
Capture and explore Hanoi. On our private half day photography tour through the cities Old Quarter, experience the morning markets and life around the inner-cities railway as well as the historic monuments of this historic city.
Hanoi On the tracks
Explore and Photograph Hanoi’s intriguing stretch of railway running between Hanoi and Long Bien Stations. Enhance your street photography skills on this once original and mesmerizing photographic tour
The Ultimate Private Photography Experience in Hanoi. Ultimate Hanoi packs the most photography and fun possible into a single day. Includes our iconic incense village tour and the ancient village of Cu Da. This is the number one way to experience the true Hanoi vibe and capture it through your lens.
Quang Phu Cau Incense Village
Discover and photograph one of the north’s most fascinating and colourful craft villages, Quang Phu Cau Incense Village. Only about an hour by car from Hanoi, the villagers here produce traditional bright red incense, making for stunning imagery at all stages of the process
Northern Vietnam Featured Tours
Traditional Festivals in SapaExperience the Gao Tau festival, Hmong fire dancing & lunar new year festivities with the Dzao & Tay people during Northern Vietnam's festival season.
Discover Vietnam from south to north by railTravel from Saigon to Hanoi on Vietnam's Reunification Express while learning the art of photography. Capture daily Vietnamese life in the cities of Saigon, Danang and Hanoi. Explore the eastern coastline, fishing villages and sleepy towns, snap portraits of traders, fishermen and local life along the railway. Experience crossing the Hai Van Pass, one of the world’s most spectacular train journeys, on our 11 day photography adventure through Vietnam.
Northern Vietnam Photographic AdventureExplore on our ultimate mountain photo adventure. Capture ‘golden season’ on the towering rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai and golden paddy fields in remote Hoang Su Phi. Rainy season is over, the harvest fast approaches, and the paddies turn from bright green to gold in a matter of weeks. As hill tribe farmers begin to work the fields, it's a photographer’s dream.
Explore and Capture Vietnam's North West13 days following Vietnam’s historical opium trade and the environment in which it flourished. You'll encounter and photograph the montagnards of the northern hill tribes and visit colonial palaces and the scattered ruins of French forts and gun emplacements, all remains of the opium trade in northern Vietnam nearly a century ago.