Dates: September 8th to 18th 2019
Dates: September 8th to 18th 2019
Discover Vietnam from north to south by rail while learning the art of 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 Reunification 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. Before arriving in bustling Saigon, we explore the country’s beautiful southern coast and the mini-Sahara desert of Mui Ne. 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.”
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 the Old Quarter. In the evening we will all meet for a delicious Vietnamese meal at a gourmet restaurant in the heart of Hanoi. The night market is on tonight, so participants may wish to wander the stalls and buy a few souvenirs or just soak up the atmosphere before turning in.
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 9am 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 photo walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, and then head for Tran Quoc Pagoda at sunset. We have dinner at 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 a little time to explore this sleepy, historic trading port before hitting the road again for Ha Long. 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.
We’ll 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. We catch the overnight Reunification Express to Hue at 9:47pm.
We arrive in the Imperial capital at 9am. 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 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 an evening wander around the Citadel.
We’ll have an early morning photo adventure to explore Hue as it wakes up for the day. Then we catch 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, and then head to our riverside hotel in Hoi An. There is an afternoon free for relaxing at the beach, cycling or simply enjoying the tranquility at our accommodation. In the evening we’ll explore the beautifully-preserved ancient trading town of Hoi An.
In the early morning, we head out of Hoi An, back to Danang for a very special photo walk. We’ll catch the sunrise on Danang beach as fishermen bring in their nets to a busy market, and then wander the waking streets up to the city’s docks, a fascinating hive of activity at this hour. We’ll head back to Hoi An for brunch, and have time in the afternoon to explore the beaches and green rice fields in the vicinity. We have dinner together on the riverside, and then head to Danang to catch the 10:47pm Reunification Express to Thap Cham and Mui Ne.
Our train arrives in the small coastal town of Thap Cham at 10am, and then we’ll take a short but spectacular drive down the coast in the direction of Mui Ne. One of the driest, windiest spots in Vietnam, this area offers striking, rocky landscapes reminiscent of Morrocco. Fittingly, it’s also home to the Cham, a muslim minority resident in Vietnam for many centuries. In the 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.
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 south from nearby Phan Thiet, arriving in Saigon at 5:30pm. After dinner, we enjoy a boat trip on the Saigon River by night.
On our final morning, we’ll 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. We’ll have a celebratory lunch, and then 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