Capturing Hanoi Through a Street Photographer’s Eyes

A photographer from the south of Vietnam has arrived in Hanoi to take in the city's romantic beauty.

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Nguyen Khanh Vu Khoa, a professional freelance photographer from Ho Chi Minh City, believes that no number of visits to the capital is ever enough to truly capture the romantic essence of Hanoi. With its distinct four seasons, rich cultural heritage, and sophisticated inhabitants, Hanoi holds a unique charm that continues to captivate Khoa.

Discover the charm and beauty of our city. With its picturesque streets and enchanting architecture, it is truly a poetic destination. Explore the rich culture and history that our city has to offer. Whether you are strolling through the cobblestone alleys or admiring the famous landmarks, you will be captivated by its allure. Indulge in the local cuisine and experience the vibrant atmosphere of our city’s bustling markets. Immerse yourself in the arts and entertainment scene, with numerous theaters and galleries showcasing talent from around the world. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit our poetic city and create unforgettable memories.

Talented photographer Nguyen Khanh Vu Khoa took photos on the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake. Photo courtesy of the photographer

Unlike Ho Chi Minh City, which only has two seasons (dry and rainy), Hanoi, located in the northern region, is known for having four distinct seasons. The capital city is renowned for its splendid display of Nhat Tan peach blossoms every Spring and its vibrant and scorching Summer afternoons.

Hanoi’s special season comes alive in Autumn, captivating visitors with its unique charm. One can experience the beauty of a chilly morning on Phan Dinh Phung Street, where the golden rays of sunlight filter through the lush foliage of perennial trees lining the roadside.

During the winter, as freezing northeast monsoons sweep across the city, it becomes the perfect weather to enjoy some traditional Vietnamese dishes in Hanoi. Along Ly Quoc Su Street, one can indulge in a delicious pork rib congee known as “chao suon” and savor the warmth of a bowl of floating rice cakes called “banh troi tau”.

Khoa, a native of the former Saigon, observes that each season in Hanoi possesses its own unique poetic qualities, and the pace of life and the people differ significantly from his home city.

“Ho Chi Minh City is renowned for its fast-paced and vibrant atmosphere, while Hanoi offers a quieter, yet equally captivating experience. Life in Hanoi has a gentle and relaxed rhythm, allowing residents and visitors to leisurely stroll along the picturesque shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, explore the charming streets, and indulge in the iconic Trang Tien ice cream,” expressed the 38-year-old photographer.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter through the lens of a Ho Chi Minh City-based photographer

As a passionate street photographer, Khoa is consistently captivated by the bustling scenes of daily life he encounters in Hanoi. The city’s innate photogenic nature is a result of its abundant street shops and stalls that adorn every corner. In contrast to the more reserved residents of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoians readily offer themselves as subjects for Khoa’s camera, regardless of their age.

“I possess a strong affinity for photography, adept at capturing compelling shots by skillfully directing the camera towards middle-aged individuals who readily engage in friendly gestures or continue with their activities. I particularly enjoy photographing specialty vendors, such as those selling fruits or flowers, as they exude a pleasant charm. Additionally, the architectural marvels within the Old Quarter offer splendid opportunities to effortlessly capture stunning imagery; simply pressing the shutter button yields breathtaking results.”

Experience the captivating culture and tantalizing cuisine of our destination. Immerse yourself in the rich history and traditions that make this place truly unique. Indulge in a culinary adventure, sampling the flavors and spices that define our local cuisine. From street food to gourmet dining, there is something to please every palate. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore and savor the fascinating culture and cuisine of our destination.

According to the photographer’s observations, the distinction between street photographs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City stems from their respective cultures. “In addition to contemporary streets, Ho Chi Minh City may lack a historical appearance, but exudes a vintage ambiance of everyday life. On the other hand, photographs captured in the Old Quarter evoke the nostalgia of bygone Hanoi,” stated Khoa.

In addition, the photographer expresses his belief in the significant development of tourism in Hanoi, substantiated by the frequent sightings of Western tourists by the local residents. Unlike their counterparts in Ho Chi Minh City who tend to focus on a limited number of museums or attractions, Western visitors in the capital city have a penchant for exploring every nook and cranny of Hanoi.

Khoa Nguyen took this photo of a food vendor on the pedestrian street around Hanoi’s iconic Sword Lake.

Hanoi’s cuisine has impressed the photographer, particularly with its delightful sweet soup desserts known as “che”. The photographer considers “che” to be the epitome of Hanoi’s cuisine. Unlike the overpowering sweetness of “che” found in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, Hanoi’s “che” offers a balanced and refreshing sweetness, making it a perfect choice for a satisfying afternoon snack.

Memorable Food Experience in Hanoi

During their trip to Hanoi in early May, Khoa and his friends had the most unforgettable culinary experience – dining on bun cha, a traditional Vietnamese dish consisting of rice noodles, grilled pork, and an assortment of herbs and vegetables.

Whenever the southern photographer visits Hanoi, he is captivated by its culinary delights, vibrant culture, and friendly inhabitants. What truly drives him to return, however, is his insatiable urge to immortalize the city’s enchanting nooks and corners through his lens.

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi.

The photographer expressed his desire to explore and capture the essence of Hanoi through his lens. While he acknowledges that there are many landscapes he has yet to photograph, he particularly longs to fully capture two distinct moments – the foggy morning on Long Bien Bridge and the autumn scenery at Hoan Kiem Lake. These iconic scenes in Hanoi have intrigued him for a long time, and he eagerly awaits the chance to experience and immortalize them through his photography.

Khoa acknowledged that his time in Hanoi so far has not allowed him to fully comprehend the city’s intricacies. He expressed his interest in exploring Ha Dong District, which encompasses various handicraft villages that he has yet to discover. Recognizing the vastness and complexity of Hanoi, Khoa playfully pondered the duration required for a comprehensive visit. With its distinct beauty showcased in its four seasons, he humorously mused about the possibility of relocating to Hanoi for three years solely to capture their magnificence through his photography.

Tran Quoc Pagoda on the bank of West Lak in Hanoi.
The legendary One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi.
Rickshaws around Hoan Kiem Lake.