Dates: 21st April – 1st May 2019
Dates: 21st April – 1st May 2019
Discover Vietnam from south to north by rail while learning the art of travel photography. Our journey begins in Saigon, with an exploration of the residential areas alongside the tracks. After a trip to the stunning sand dunes of Mui Ne, we head north on the Reunification Express, travelling along Vietnam’s eastern coast towards Danang and Hoi An, and crossing the Hai Van Pass, one of the world’s most spectacular train journeys. After a day among the mountain temples and rice paddies of Ninh Binh, we enjoy a couple of days in the world heritage site of Ha Long Bay. Our final stop is the historic capital of Hanoi, where we arrive in time for the Liberation Day holiday celebrations. Over the course of the tour, with the guidance of our Vietnam in Focus tour leaders, we shoot, choose and edit a 12-picture story of life along Vietnam’s railway.
“Whether new to photography or an experienced shooter, the Vietnam in Focus team can help you become a better photographer while having a fun and interesting experience. If you’re passionate about photography and in Vietnam make the time to take a tour with Vietnam in Focus.”
Day 1 – Arrival in Saigon
Participants arrive at various times during the day, with complimentary pick-up by private car from the airport and transfer to our boutique hotel in District 1. In the evening we will all meet for a delicious Vietnamese meal at a gourmet restaurant in the heart of Saigon. We have an overview of the tour and introductions before an early night.
Day 2 – Saigon
We have a dawn start, with pick-up from the hotel at 5am, and it’s time to head out for Saigon’s railway tracks. Trains are arriving from the north, and we wander down the railway tracks into the residential area of the city, where houses line the embankment. We work on a photographic story of life along Saigon’s railway, heading to a vibrant market for a local breakfast and coffee and review of the morning’s shoot. Time to return to our hotel for a rest, and we’ll meet again for lunch. After lunch, we head to the Cafe Apartments, a striking old apartment block which has been converted into a multi-storey building of boutique cafes. We return to the hotel for a rest and dinner, and then enjoy a boat trip on the Saigon River by night.
Day 3 – Saigon – Mui Ne
We catch our first train of the trip this morning, to take the short journey for coastal Mui Ne, and arrive before lunch. In the late afternoon we head out to Mui Ne’s spectacular sea of red and gold sand dunes, a mini-Sahara in Vietnam’s south. We’ll be looking at landscapes in this stunning area, but also documenting some of the small fishing communities along the coast. Overnight at our beachside hotel.
Day 4 – Mui Ne – Danang
At dawn we head for Mui Ne fishing village to capture the boats and fishermen bringing in their overnight haul of tropical seafood. A lively market ensues on the beach, and we’ll be working on portraiture and relationship shots to create a story of morning at the fishing village. We return to Mui Ne and relax at the hotel or the beach. In the afternoon we catch our train north from nearby Thap Cham. We’ll have time before bed for a review of pictures taken so far on the trip.
Day 5 – Danang and Hoi An
We arrive at Danang station in the early morning, and head straight for our hotel in Hoi An. We’ll have a relaxing morning, hitting the beach, cycling or simply enjoying the tranquility at our accommodation. There will be a sunset boat trip along the river to capture fishermen working with their nets and the lives of people living along the banks. In the evening we’ll explore the beautifully-preserved ancient trading town of Hoi An, which is lit up by colourful lanterns along every small street.
Day 6 – Hoi An – Danang – Hue
This morning we make an early start for a special Danang On the Waterfront photo tour, catching the fishing coracles as they bring their catch into shore. Trawlers lay at anchor on the horizon as the sun rises, and fishermen arrive as a beach fish market gets into full sway. We then head up to Danang’s city harbour to capture shots of boatbuilders, iceloaders and dockers in the midst of their working lives. After breakfast it’s time to catch the passenger train over the Hai Van Pass. We climb up into the jungle-clad mountains overlooking the East Sea, the carriages snaking slowly around each ridge. A chance now to capture some spectacular pictures of one of the world’s great railway trips. We arrive in Hue, and head to our hotel.
Day 7 – Hue – Ninh Binh
Hue Railway Station, like those of Hanoi and Haiphong, was built during the French colonial period, and is considered one of Vietnam’s best-preserved and most beautiful colonial buildings. We’ll spend some time capturing images of the station as trains arrive and depart in the morning. After a delicious lunch sampling some of Hue’s famous Imperial cuisine, we’ll head out toward Lang Co Lagoon. The road follows the railway line to the Hai Van Pass, and we’ll stop at various points to capture workers on the tracks and landscapes including the tracks. We’ll also catch some of the trains passing by on their way both north and south. The line travels around beautiful Lang Co lagoon, and we’ll spend time here towards sunset focusing on life at the water’s edge. We return to Hue for dinner and catach our overnight train to Ninh Binh.
Day 8 – Ninh Binh
We arrive at mid-morning and check into our boutique hotel. We then have a day to explore the sights around Ninh Binh, including journeys by longboat along rivers and through caves at both Tam Coc and Van Long nature reserve. We will also visit Bich Dong, an ancient ‘three-tiered’ pagoda situated near Tam Coc. We have time to explore and photograph classic scenes of Vietnamese rural life, with conical-hatted farmers leading their buffaloes through the paddies.
Day 9 – Ninh Binh – Ha Long Bay
After a dawn start to capture sunrise among the karst mountains, our minibus takes us east towards Ha Long Bay. There is beautiful countryside along the way, and we’ll be stopping in several carefully-chosen spots. We board our luxury Ha Long Bay junk at midday and have lunch as we cruise into the bay. The afternoon is spent relaxing on the junk as we float among Ha Long’s forested karst islands, with a visit to caves and beaches. We have a sunset shoot from the deck of our junk, and a delicious seafood dinner.
Day 10 – Ha Long Bay – Hanoi
After breakfast, we visit a floating village, and capture fishermen at work in the bay. We’ll have a group review of photos on deck before returning to port for lunch. Time to catch our private minibus to Haiphonng, where we’ll board our final short train trip of the tour to Hanoi. Along the way we capture images of life in the north’s rice bowl, the paddies stretching out for miles around, as well as portraits of some of the passengers heading to the capital. We rattle over historic Long Bien Bridge towards sunset and arrive in Hanoi.
Day 11 – Hanoi
On our final morning, we’ll take a photographic wander along Hanoi’s railway tracks as trains arrive and pass between the houses. Locals here carry on with their daily lives, cooking, washing, working and playing, interrupted only by the occasional train passing through. After breakfast, it’s time to finalise our photographic stories of the tour, with a workshop and presentation at our boutique hotel. After a celebratory lunch, we have free time to explore Hanoi and do any final shopping. Flights depart at various times of day.
Vietnam in Focus run acclaimed photography tours in Vietnam and Indochina.
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No. 4F Alley 54A Lane 603 Lac Long Quan street, Xuan La, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam