Dates: April – May 2019
Dates: April – May 2019
Discover Vietnam from north to south by rail while learning the art of great travel photography. Our journey begins in Hanoi, with an exploration of the residential areas alongside the tracks, where people eat, sleep, work and play as trains pass between their houses. After a brief trip to stunning Ha Long Bay, we head south on the Re-Unification Express, travelling along Vietnam’s eastern coast towards Hue, Danang and Hoi An, and crossing the Hai Van Pass, one of the world’s most spectacular train journeys. Over the course of the photography tour, with the guidance of Vietnam in Focus tour leader Colm Pierce, 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.”
Participants arrive at various times during the day, with complementary pick-up by private car from the airport and transfer to our boutique hotel in the Old Quarter. In the evening we will all meet for a delicious Vietnamese meal at a gourmet restaurant in the heart of Hanoi.
We have an early start, with pick-up from the hotel at 5am, and it’s time to head out for Long Bien Bridge. Trains are arriving from the north, crossing the century-old bridge and over busy Long Bien Market. We then wander down the railway tracks into the residential area of the city, where houses line the embankment. Locals here carry on with their daily lives, cooking, washing, working and playing, interrupted only by the occasional train passing through. We work on a photographic story of life along Hanoi’s railway, returning to the Vietnam in Focus cafe/gallery at 9:00am 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. In the afternoon, we’ll go for a city photo tour by traditional cyclo, taking in the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and the Temple of Literature. We have dinner at Ray Quan restaurant, an atmospheric little restaurant situated right along the railway tracks near Hanoi Railway Station.
We start again at 5am to catch the dawn train from Hanoi to Haiphong, rattling over Long Bien Bridge and heading East through the Red River Delta. Along the way we capture images of life in the north’s rice bowl, the paddies stretching out for miles around. We arrive at Haiphong railway station at mid-morning, and have time to explore this sleepy, historic trading port before catching a high-speed ferry to Cat Ba Island. 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 at 7pm.
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 ferry and a private minibus to Ninh Binh, arriving at 4pm. We check into our hotel and have dinner at 6pm. After dinner, we’ll enjoy a music performance by local Muong ethnic minority people.
We’ll have a day to explore the sights around Ninh Binh, including a two hour journey by longboat along rivers and through caves at Tam Coc. We will also trek up to Bai Dinh pagoda, situated at the top of a mountain overlooking this beautiful area. In the afternoon, we have time to explore and photograph classic scenes of Vietnamese rural life, with conical -hatted farmers leading their buffaloes through the paddies. We catch the overnight Re-Unification Express to Hue at 10pm.
We arrive in the Imperial capital at 10am. 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, before checking into our hotel near the Citadel. After lunch we’ll take a sightseeing photo tour of Hue, including the historic Citadel and a sunset boat cruise along the Perfume River. In the evening, we’ll sample some of Hue’s famous delicacies with a tour of the city’s best eating spots.
After breakfast, we’ll review the fundamentals of landscape photography before catching the 9am train to cross the spectacular Hai Van Pass. Our train climbs 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 Danang for lunch, and then take a private car to our beachside hotel in Hoi An. There is an afternoon free for relaxing at the beach.
In the early morning, we’ll take a boat trip to visit Hoi An’s fishermen as they cast their nets in the dawn light. The tour then follows them back to Hoi An’s fish market, and we’ll complete our photo story of Hoi An fishing life. We’ll have a delicious speciality ‘banh my’ breakfast before returning to our hotel. We have a free afternoon and early evening to explore Hoi An, with the opportunity for shopping and having clothes made by Hoi An’s famous tailors.
We catch the 11:30pm overnight Re-Unification Express to Saigon.
We arrive in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City as it is officially known, on Vietnamese Liberation Day. After checking in to our hotel and breakfast, we’ll explore some of the city’s famous sights relating to its war history, including the Re-Unification Palace, War Remnants Museum and American Embassy. Many of the war’s iconic photos were taken in these spots, and the War Remnants Museum itself has a fascinating exhibition of photojournalism from the period. In the evening we’ll have dinner and a boat cruise along the Saigon River.
On our final morning, we will take a photographic wander along Saigon’s railway tracks as trains arrive and pass between the houses. After breakfast, it’s time to finalise our photographic stories of the tour, with a workshop and presentation on the terrace of the historic Continental Hotel. After a celebratory lunch, we have free time to explore Saigon and do any final shopping. Flights depart at various times of day
Vietnam in Focus run acclaimed photography tours in Vietnam and Indochina.
Vietnam in Focus One Member Company Limited - License No: 0105989870
No. 4F Alley 54A Lane 603 Lac Long Quan street, Xuan La, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam