Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam has over 1,600 limestone islands and islets, some of which are accessible via boat and seaplane excursions. This UNESCO-listed bay features a wide range of biodiversity, while the surrealistic scenery has been featured in plenty of films throughout the years. No trip to northern Vietnam is complete without cruising through its tranquil waters and snapping breathtaking shots of Ha Long Bay on a traditional wooden junk. While there’s no specific time to photograph this natural wonder, It’s best to visit during the summer (April and July) to enjoy clear skies and majestic sunsets.
Hue Imperial City, set along the northern bank of the Perfume River, features hundreds of monuments dating back to early 19th century. Home to the Forbidden Purple City, royal tombs, pagodas, temples, and royal quarters, entrance fee is priced at VND 150,000. The best time to visit this UNESCO-listed site during the day, as you get to shoot Hue Imperial City’s intricate sculptures, architecture, inscriptions, and tranquil ponds in great detail.
- Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00
- Location: Hue City Centre, Hue
- Price Range: VND 150,000
Also known as the Venice of Vietnam, Hoi An Ancient Town is a living museum with plenty of ornate Buddhist shrines, a Japanese-designed bridge, wooden shop-houses, French-colonial houses, and narrow canals. If your camera is able to shoot in low light (or if you have very steady hands), we highly recommend photographing the town during its monthly Lantern Festival. Electricity is switched off, while every shop is illuminated with candles and colourful paper lanterns all night long. You can also see monks performing candle-lit ceremonies at temples and along the riverside.
- Location: Hoi An Town, Quang Nam Province
- Price Range: VND 120,000
The almost-vertical Sapa rice terraces are cultivated by Vietnam’s minority hill tribes, resulting in a spectacular display of greenery against a mountainous backdrop. Located in northwest Vietnam, the fields are photogenic all year long but the best time to visit is between September and October as the cool climate allows for a comfortable day of trekking and photoshoots. We highly recommend shooting from Tram Ton Pass (about 15km from Sapa Town), as it offers the highest vantage point of Sapa rice terraces and surrounding villages.
- Location: Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa
The temple of Literature is widely regarded as one of Hanoi’s most picturesque tourist attractions, offering a superb example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture. Built in 1070 to honour Confucius, it houses a lake of literature, the Well of Heavenly Clarity, turtle steles, pavilions, courtyards and passageways that were once used by royalty of the Ly and Tran dynasties. The temple of Literature often serves as a backdrop for pre-wedding and graduation photoshoots, so visit in the early morning if you prefer shooting in a more tranquil setting.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8:30 – 11:30 & 13:30 – 16:30
- Location: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Van Mieu, Dong Da, Hanoi
- Price Range: VND 10,000
The Sand Dunes of Mui Ne are popular not only for their picturesque landscapes, but also for offering fun-filled activities such as sandboarding, kite flying and quad-biking. You can find plenty of tour operators in Mui Ne that organise daytrips to these Saharan-like red and white sand dunes, while plastic sheds are available for rental at affordable prices. Just be sure to check on the price and agree on it beforehand. The best time to visit the Mui Ne Sand dunes is either early in the morning or late afternoon as it can get very hot during the day.
Son Doong Cave is one of the many limestone caves found in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, but with sections reaching up to 200m in height, it’s widely regarded as the world’s largest. Paradise Cave is another photogenic landscape, boasting spectacular shapes of limestone stalactites and stalagmites. Be sure to carry a good low light camera to capture breathtaking shots of the caves. Entrance to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park costs VND 40,000, plus additional fees (between VND 80,000 and VND 150,000) to enter Son Doong and Paradise Cave.
- Location: Quang Binh Province (about 500km south of Hanoi and 260km north of Da Nang)
- Price Range: VND 40,000
Hanoi is known for its frenetic pace, and the most popular spot to capture its chaotic traffic situation is from Legend Beer Hanoi. Occupying the third floor of a building in downtown Hanoi, this iconic bar features an al fresco terrace that overlooks the Hanoi Roundabout and Hoan Kiem Lake. From sunset onwards, many photo enthusiasts come here for the view, as the chaotic streets below are almost at touching distance thanks to the low level of the terrace. For those with a tripod (or very steady hand), a neat trick to get some interesting night shots is to shoot with a slow shutter speed, which results in colourful trail lights from the scooters and taxis on the roads.
- Opening Hours: Daily 11:00 – 23:00
- Location: 01-03-05 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hanoi
- Tel: : +84 43 776 1666
My Son Hindu Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a great sample of the ancient Champa civilization located in the southern part of Vietnam. It was an independent state from around the 2nd to the 17th century, at which time it was enveloped into Vietnam. The impressive Hindu-themed ruins feature many beautiful stone sculptures, temples and towers in tropical jungle surroundings. The best time to visit is early in the morning before it gets too hot and when it is not too busy.
- Location: Duy Tan Commune, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province
The Cao Dai Temple, about 100 kilometres northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, is a technicoloured religious site that was constructed in the 1930s. Cao Daists believe that all religions are ultimately the same, combining Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam into a monotheistic religion. Open to the public, daily worshipping ceremonies held every six hours where you get to photograph its devotees in action, with long flowing robes of white for lay followers, yellow, blue or red for priests whilst bishops have the Divine Eye embroidered on their headpieces.
- Location: Long Hoa Village (100km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City)