With a history as complex and haunting as Vietnam’s it’s easy to overlook the naturally beautiful views that greet you when you arrive. Often unchanged despite increased tourism and growing infrastructure, these natural paradises amidst a country of culture, painful memories and fascinating city life regularly win the hearts of unsuspecting visitors. For those looking to capture stunning landscapes on camera, Vietnam is the perfect travel destination and provides surreal and breath-taking photo opportunities that rival those anywhere else in the world.
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay in the north-east of Vietnam is 165km from the capital Ha Noi and covers an area of 43,400 hectares. Featuring 1,600 islands and islets, most of which are completely untouched by humans, it provides photography gurus with a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars and mysterious natural caves. The huge number of islands and islets make it a natural limestone maze that offers hugely varied scenery thanks to their varying sizes and shapes.
Of course, such a beautiful and unaltered paradise is not easy to reach, and any avid camera enthusiasts will have to travel by boat to see the best that Ha Long has to offer. There are a huge number of tours available, from budget day tours to three day cruises, each offering a different experience of these vast limestone islands. For those looking to snap some photos, however, the longer tours offer more of an opportunity and can also include an night sleeping at sea, providing a unique view of the area that’s missed by many.
Covering an area of around 15,000 square miles, the Mekong Delta is where the stunning Mekong River finishes its 2,700 mile journey from the Tibetan plateau to the South China Sea. Surrounded by an area of tropical forests and fertile land, the location is commonly known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam thanks to it’s the large production of rice crops in the area.
Sometimes overlooked by tourists seeking purely inner-city experiences, the Mekong Delta is a lesser-explored utopia of waterways, bustling river communities and cottage industries that survive on the mighty river. The river and surrounding landscapes provide a great opportunity for photography, but the busy floating markets are more than capable of providing unique photo opportunities of their own.
It’s easy to reach the Mekong Delta by car or train thanks to the transport links of the nearby Ho Chi Minh City, but once you’ve arrived you’ll rely almost exclusively on boats for transportation. As with Ha Long Bay, there are a huge number of cruises and tours available that allow tourists of any budget to experience the natural beauty of the area, many of which will provide trained guides to ensure you have the opportunity to catch some of the most unique views on camera.
Mu Chang Chai
Visiting Mu Chang Chai is a must. This most unusual and beautiful of landscapes is studded with terraced rice fields that stretch for miles down the mountain sides. Between these, you’ll be able to notice wooden huts and houses that further make the landscape more striking to look at. Traversing the roads there can be slightly more difficult, but not impossible by any stretch – however many tourists like to visit when the fields are green and at their most stunning. The best time to visit there to get the best from the experience is between September and October.
Capital of Vietnam, Ha Noi is often used as an entry into the country for those seeking to photograph striking Ha Long Bay or the mountainous regions of the north. However, this small but remarkable city provides some unique photo opportunities of its own. Hoan Kiem lake is the best place to start, offering visitors a green oasis with an island pagoda, rich in legend and culture that’s bound to inspire the artistic.
The city is best explored by car or motorbike, both of which provide tourists with the chance to make their own way around the area without being restricted by train or bus schedules. Car insurance is recommended due to the almost chaotic driving system, which can confused first time visitors. However, it is just as inexpensive to hire a car with a driver, which can save stress and hassle for those nervous about driving themselves.
Ha Noi holds a huge amount of French influence and is often referred to as the Paris of the Orient. Featuring elegant embassies and beautiful relics of the country’s past such as the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the city is perfect for those seeking something a little different. The Old Quarter is also a wonderful destination for those looking for the best photo opportunities thanks to its charming streets and vibrant local markets filled with colourful offerings. Many of the streets maintain the city’s tradition of offering just one form of goods, providing countless chances for photographers to capture the abundance of distinctive charm offered throughout this beautiful city.