Northern Vietnam Photo Tour – 15-day tour of landscapes and hill tribes
Price: $5,995 USD (approximately £4,875). From 20th Sep – 4th Oct 2023. Halong Bay optional extension 4th – 7th October ($1,495 USD per person)
Vietnam is a country full of photographic opportunities. The landscape is diverse and includes a very long and beautiful coastline, magnificent rock formations, and mountains. Unlike other countries, Vietnam has plenty of opportunities to observe and photograph traditional lifestyles. Northern Vietnam is a relatively raw and unspoilt part of the country, with a photograph and story to be told at every bend of the road that you travel on. Because of this, now is a great time to visit Vietnam.
Our incredible Northern Vietnam photo tour takes you through some of the less travelled areas. In these remote regions, you will come face to face with the local tribes that are still very much engrained into their traditional way of life. There will be rice terraces, colourful markets, and ancient temples. By the time our 15-day Northern Vietnam photo tour ends, you will have incredible photos, amazing memories, and even some new friends.
To book your place contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why you should come on our Northern Vietnam photo tour
Having travelled to Vietnam on numerous occasions over the past 15 years, We have specifically designed this tour with photographers in mind. Come and discover the hidden charm of Northern Vietnam and the endless photographic opportunities.
Your photography tutor has extensive knowledge of this country. This gives us an unrivalled knowledge of the best locations. You will learn how to approach and photograph people even in small villages and how to capture story-telling photos. Not only will you take home an amazing set of images, but you will continue to put your new skills to use. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, amazing food, and even a few local drinks.
Northern Vietnam Photography Tour Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive in Hanoi (D)
On arrival at Ha Noi, you will be transferred to the hotel for the night. Depending on the time of your arrival, you’re free to relax and recover from your long flight or you can explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi immediately outside the hotel. We will gather at night for a welcome dinner.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 2 – Hanoi => Duong Lam Village => Nghia Lo (B, L, D)
We will arise early to go to Hoan Kiem Lake where we will be able to photograph early risers meditating, doing tai chi, exercising and playing badminton. After breakfast, we board our bus and make our way to Duong Lam Village, famous for having approximately 300 houses built three to four centuries ago. We then continue our journey to Nghai Lo where we will begin to witness the spectacular mountainous scenery of North-West Vietnam and the colourful ethnic minority people. Depending on arrival time, we may visit the local market before checking into our hotel.
Overnight in Nghia Lo
Day 3 – Nghia Lo => Tu Le => My Cang Chai (B, L, D)
We depart early for what will be an incredible day of travel and landscape photography. In the morning we begin to slowly make our way up windy mountain roads, through remote villages surrounded by fields of gold-coloured rice. There will be numerous stops to photograph the scenery and local ethnic minority people, including local Dao, Green H’mong and Thai.
After Tu Le, we commence our journey up the long and winding Khau Pha Pass, offering numerous vantage points to stop and photograph one of the most spectacular valleys in all of Vietnam, with rice terraces for as far as the eye can see. We then continue to Mu Cang Chai, home of what is regarded as the most beautiful rice terraces in all of Vietnam. We will time our travel to arrive mid to late afternoon so we can make the most of the warm afternoon light.
Overnight Mu in Cang Chai
Day 4 – My Cang Chai => Sa Pa (B, L, D)
Again, we depart early to visit the terraces of Mu Cang Chai in the morning light, before continuing our long day of driving to Sa Pa. After lunch at Tam Đường town, we enjoy special visits to local Black Dao and Lu ethnic minority villages before driving up Tram Ton pass, the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. At the very top of the pass, we stop at Heaven’s gate, offering a spectacular view of the valley and mountain pass in the warm late afternoon light. We then continue to Sa Pa for the night.
Overnight in Sa Pa
Day 5 – Sa Pa => Muong Hum => Sa Pa (B, L, D)
Today we travel to the remote Muong Hum market where we will see H’mong, Red Dao and Ha Nhi families socialising and going about their weekly shopping. Our journey to and from the market will be through some spectacular landscapes so expect many photo stops. On return to Sa Pa, you will have some free time to explore the town and meet the local ethnic people, including Black Hmong and Red Dao.
Overnight in Sa Pa
Day 6 – Sa Pa (B, L, D)
For those really energetic, you may wish to rise early to climb Ham Rong Mountain (Botanical Gardens) to photograph Sa Pa in the early morning light. At the top of the mountain, you can discover and photograph unique rock formations discovered in 1925.
Today we trek down the mountain to Ta Van village. Along the way, we will photograph the magnificent terraced rice fields and local ethnic minority people going about their day-to-day activities. After an enjoyable lunch, we will explore and photograph the village and conduct photo shoots with the local Black Hmong and Red Dao people. Late afternoon we commence our drive back to Sa Pa town, stopping at strategic places to photograph the sunset over the valley and terraces.
Overnight in Sa Pa
Day 7 – Sa Pa => Coc Ly Market => Bac Ha (B, L, D)
This morning we say goodbye to Sa Pa and start our journey down to Lao Cai on the border with China. After a brief stop at the border, we continue to Coc Ly Market, situated between stunning mountains by the Chay River. This is a weekly market attracting local Flower H’mong, Dao Tuyen and Nhung ethnic groups. We then continue to Bac Ha where enjoy visiting a local Flower H’mong Village and Hoang A Tuong Palace, built in 1914 by Emperor Hoang Yen Tchao of Tay ethnic minority.
Overnight in Bac Ha
Day 8 – Bac Ha => Hoang Su Phi (B, L, D)
Today we take a road less travelled by tourists, winding our way up narrow, windy mountain roads. During our travels, we will pass numerous remote villages and fields of terraced rice. Stops will be provided as we travel to meet and photograph the locals going about their daily lives, as well as make the most of the landscape opportunities. Our destination is Hoang Su Phi and its spectacular terraced landscape.
Overnight in Hoang Su Phi Lodge
Day 9 – Hoang Su Phi (B, L, D)
After a busy week of travel, today our pace will slow a little, as we take time to visit the nearby rice terraces as well as local villages. Pa Then, Giay, Hmong, Phu La and Dao ethnic groups reside in the area, and we will make the very most of our opportunities.
Overnight in Hoang Su Phi Lodge
Day 10 – Hoang Su Phi => Quan Ba (B, L, D)
After enjoying our sunrise shoot and breakfast, we commence our journey to the city of Ha Giang, temporarily leaving the mountains and terraces of rice behind us. After lunch in Ha Giang we continue our journey to Tam Son town in Quan Ba District. About 40 km out of Ha Giang, the road zigzags its way up the amazing Quan Ba Pass, providing spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. We will continue to wind our way through fields of rice, small villages and towns, stopping at one of the rarer ethnic minority groups, the Bo Y.
As we near Tam Son town, we commence our journey down into the valley. Midway we stop at a lookout offering a great view over the town and Twin Mountains. Tonight, we enjoy the unique experience of staying in a Dao village.
Overnight in Quan Ba
Day 11 – Quan Ba => Dong Van (B, L, D)
We arise early to shoot sunrise over Quan Ba Town. After breakfast at our lodge, we will enjoy a short portrait shoot with one of the local Dao Ao Dai girls wearing traditional costumes. Today we experience a spectacular day of driving through amazing mountainous landscapes nestled up against the border with China. Many stops will be provided along the road to photograph the ever-changing landscape.
We will also stop at the H’Mong Kings Palace (Vuong’s Palace) with its mixture of European and Chinese architecture. We end our day’s journey at Dong Van, an isolated town where we stay for two nights.
Overnight in Dong Van
Day 12 – Dong Van => Meo Vac => Dong Van (B, L, D)
Today we’re fortunate to visit and photograph two of Vietnam’s most colourful weekly markets. We arise early to visit and photograph Dong Van market, a short walk from our hotel. After breakfast, we commence our journey down Ma Pi Leng pass, regarded as the most stunning mountain pass in North Vietnam. We eventually descend into a beautiful valley that encloses Meo Vac where we will visit the local market before having lunch. After lunch we commence our return journey back to Dong Van, again stopping at strategic places for photographs.
Overnight in Dong Van
Day 13 – Dong Van => Ha Giang (B, L, D)
Early this morning we commence our journey back to Ha Giang town, winding our way back along the same road we came in on, however on this occasion, we enjoy many stops to visit and photograph local ethnic minority people. In the morning we stop at Sung La Village where we enjoy a special photo shoot with local Lo Lo girls wearing their colourful traditional costumes. Don’t be concerned about missing those landscape opportunities, there will still be opportunities to stop and photograph them from a different angle.
Our next stop is a White H’mong village before stopping at Yen Minh for lunch. After lunch, we continue our drive, with numerous stops to photograph the landscape and local culture. Our aim will be at Quan Ba Pass before sunset, affording us an opportunity to take photos of layers of rolling hills.
Overnight in Ha Giang
Day 14 – Ha Giang => Hanoi (B, L, D)
We have a casual start this morning, before commencing our long journey back to Hanoi. Around an hour into our journey, we will take a minor excursion to visit a Pa Then village where we will enjoy a visit and special photo shoot of this rarely visited ethnic minority group. We then continue our journey to Hanoi, and whilst our travel will quickly become less interesting, stops will be provided if we see something of interest.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 15 – End of Tour (B)
We will rise early to walk the streets of the old quarter one last time and photograph the locals commencing their daily activities. After breakfast, those ending their journey will prepare for their flight. For those continuing on the optional extension tour, they will depart for Halong Bay.
Day 15 – Extension Tour: Hanoi => Halong Bay (B/L/D)
This morning we enjoy a very special photo opportunity, visiting and photographing a family that manufactures bamboo fish traps. This no doubt is a craft that will eventually disappear, and you are guaranteed to get images that tourists never see. Afterwards, we make our way to Ha Long Bay, stopping at a local restaurant for lunch. Our travel is mostly on the highway and apart from not really being photogenic, we are not allowed to stop. Our goal however is to get to Ha Long City for the night.
Day 16 – Halong Bay (B/L/D)
We will rise early for a special visit to a local fish market for sunrise, with the beautiful islands of Ha Long Bay in the background.
After breakfast, we casually prepare for our overnight boat on Halong Bay. We will arrive at the dock around noon and board our junk just in time for a delicious gourmet lunch of fresh seafood on board as we sail out into the mystical bay. In the afternoon, cruise around some of Ha Long’s many islands, including Dinh Huong and Ga Choi. Along the way visit one of the bay’s 3 largest caves (Thien Cung, Dau Go or Sung Sot) and then stop at an island cove with a sheltered white-sand beach and take a dip in the warm waters of the Tonkin Gulf (weather permitting). After watching the sunset from the deck of the boat, we pass the night away on the junk, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of calm waters.
Overnight in Halong Bay on a cruise ship
Day 17 – Halong Bay => Hanoi (B/L/D)
We can wake up early to participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands. After enjoying a morning cup of coffee or tea, we set out to explore nearby islands by rowboat. On return to the junk, we enjoy breakfast before taking advantage of the sundeck where we can continue to admire the amazing rock formations of Ha Long Bay as we navigate back to Halong City. Brunch will be provided on board the boat before returning to Ha Long dock. Our driver will meet us at the dock where we commence our journey back to Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 18 – End of Tour (B/L)
We end our photographic journey with a visit to the Temple of literature where we explore the grounds of this 945-year-old temple and Vietnam’s first national university. We will also be accompanied by a local model wearing traditional Ao Dai.
After lunch, we transfer to Noi Bai Airport for our flight back home.
Inclusions and Exclusions on our Northern Vietnam Photo Tour
- Professional photographer and local guide where required
- Accommodation for the duration of the tour
- All tour-related ground transport in an air-conditioned vehicle
- Arrival and departure airport transfers
- Meals during the tour as indicated in the itinerary
- Return International Flights to Hanoi
- Airport and Airline taxes & charges
- Travel Insurance
- Any expenses of a personal nature (such as laundry, phone calls, personal tipping etc.)
- Any meals other than those specified (B/L/D)
- Any drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)
- Excess baggage fee
- Tips and gratuities
- Visa/Reciprocity Fees