The land boundaries of this country meet the coastline to create awe-inspiring natural beauty. And that sublime visual is complemented by the traditional and cultural diversity of people living there. Vietnam is a delightful old land where elements of human life blend harmoniously with that of its geographical grace.
That mingled beauty of Vietnam is one that of endurance, of significant glories. To live viscerally the experience of Vietnam is in a class by itself if you are affected by wanderlust.
- A four-night/five-day experience in a country where geographical beauty and human-life elements blend enchantingly
- A rewarding photographic journey through the beautiful landscapes of this ancient country
- A productive time savouring nature, architecture, landscape, portrait and street genres of photography
- Extensive photography learning under the guidance of accomplished Skippers
- An array of memorable travel experiences that you will cherish for a long time
Most of Vietnam comprises densely-forested hills. While the northern part mostly consists of highlands, the southern part is divided into extensive forests, coastal lowlands and mountains. The elemental existence of Vietnam itself renders you speechless as you behold it, which is why you let your camera shutter speak, to make memories.
Home to two World Natural Heritage Sites, Vietnam is ranked 16th worldwide in biological diversity, nurturing about 16% of the world’s species. Its caves, gorgeous rivers, scenic countryside, ancient temples, lovely terraced rice fields; people and their complex cultures and lifestyles work their way into your sensory overload. If you are a foodie, there are few better places than Vietnam to taunt your tastebuds!
For travel photographers, Vietnam lures their creative instincts into capturing its charm in multitude into memorable frames, especially in Mua Caves, Tam Cốc-Bích Động, Thung Nang, the breathtaking Ha Long Bay, the Bai Tu Long Bay, the explore-worthy Thien Canh Son Cave and the sandy beach at Hon Co Island. The Vung Vieng fishing village, Yen Duc village, and the Hoan Kiem Lake are places that can also equally enchant you.
The capital city Hanoi itself is a gorgeous place worth all your sensory attention while you are in it. To sum up in simple words, to see the plethora of alluring things in Vietnam is an unrivaled human experience.
To welcome a new day by climbing up a cave isn’t an opportunity that comes along often. In Vietnam, climbing up the Mua Cave to see the sun rising to define the horizon clearly, to gather the details of the countryside and of the beautiful Ngo Dong river in a sweeping view is a bliss. You will also see and photograph the spectacular lush-green rice fields, rocky outcrops before visiting the Bich Dong Pagoda. At Thung Nang, you relish the scenic beauty of this old land languorously.
The Ha Long Bay is perhaps the most vital Vietnam experience. To grasp the depth of the emerald-blue waters dotted by the rugged beauty of the tall limestone islands wearing rainforests, to photograph this flamboyant show of nature is a visceral encounter with nature. The sinking limestone plateau, the Bai Tu Long Bay, is yet another untamed, wonderous part of the country. As is the wild Thien Canh Son Cave.
The sandy beach at the Hon Co Island is for your leisurely mood, while you will get to soak in the delightful native details at the Vung Vieng fishing village, which you will reach by a rustic row boat to see and photograph to your heart’s content. In the Yen Duc village in the Dong Trieu province, you will enjoy a rare art form, the water puppet show performed by local artists.
A place bustling beautifully with human activity, a place for the photographer’s senses to feast on, anywhere at all, is a market. You will visit one on the edge of the city of Hanoi, along with the railway tracks around which thrive more human activity. At the Hoan Kiem Lake, as you witness more of nature’s music, you will also see the locals practicing Tai Chi, all leading to surprising, unusual photo opportunities.
The Saint Joseph’s Cathedral that was built in 1886 is another breathtaking place you will see and photograph, along with the ancient Temple of Confucius, Temple of Literature, that was built in 1070. At the Huu Tiep Lake, better known as ‘B-52 lake’, the US B-52 bomber wreckage makes an interesting photographic challenge. And when you return from Vietnam, you will have a vast array of stories to share, most of them kept safe in the form of pixels.
Please note: This Tour begins at Hanoi on the morning of Tuesday, 11 December, and end after breakfast on Saturday, 15 December. Travel between your home and Hanoi is not included in the Tour cost or itinerary.
Upon arrival in Nội Bài International Airport in Hanoi, our driver and guide will meet us and transfer us to Ninh Binh. After about two hours, we will reach the hotel, check in and spend our time at leisure on our first day in Vietnam.
We wake up in the early morning, make a little journey to climb up the Mua Cave to witness the glory of sunrise. This place attracts visitors with its many interesting stories. From atop the cave, we can see all the way to Tam Coc. We enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the countryside as well as the wonderful Ngo Dong River before going back to the hotel for breakfast.
Later, we will be guided through the lush-green rice fields and rocky outcrops and visit the Bich Dong pagoda. Later, we will take a sampan ride along a river in Thung Nang, which is used by farmers in the village nearby to access their paddy fields. We just relax and enjoy the experience as we are gently paddled by hand in a little boat into the center of Ha Long Bay. Along a stretch of the blue-green river, we marvel at the dancing refractions while passing the limestone caves.
After an early breakfast at about 08:00 am, we meet up with our guide and driver, then depart for Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karts’ landscape. After a 3.5-hour drive towards the north-east of Hanoi, we will reach the Hon Gai International harbour, on board Indochina Dragon’s Pearl Junk. A refreshing welcome drink will be served and we can check into our cabins.
As we settle, the boat will set sail to the magnificent Bai Tu Long Bay. Lunch will be served in the restaurant while we enjoy the amazing scenery. Around 3:00 pm, we will explore the well-hidden Thien Canh Son Cave. Located in the centre of the World Heritage area, Bai Tu Long Bay covers an area of 2000 square meters, while Thien Canh Son Cave offers a wild and mysterious beauty. The pathway to Thien Canh Son Cave is set below the forest canopy and a stone cliff, which will offer us an experience that we will cherish for a long time.
Next, we will enjoy on a white sandy beach at the Hon Co Island. As the sun sets over the bay, we head back to the cruise and relax. Dinner will be served with local seafood, and we can choose to enjoy a drink from the bar or experience squid fishing before going to bed.
Enjoy the morning view of the Bay’s landscape with a cup of tea or coffee, and have breakfast in the open to enjoy fresh air. We will then visit Vung Vieng fishing village by a rustic row-boat, meet the local people and pass through the floating school and fish farms. Checkout of the cabin and start cruising towards the harbor while an a la carte lunch is served.
At noon, we will get back to the Hon Gai Harbour where our guide and driver will be waiting to take us to the Yen Duc village in the Dong Trieu province. We enjoy the water-puppet show performed by local artists. We will arrive in Hanoi at about 05:00 pm to check in to our hotel.
At 06:00 pm, we meet our guide and driver at the hotel, who will take us to Hanoi’s railway tracks for us to photograph the daily-life activities. This is something very peculiar to this city as the railway tracks are sometimes located only meters away from entrances of houses, thus offering some unique photographic opportunities! We will walk along the railway tracks and take some of the most beautiful pictures of the city. Then we will do some low-light shots of Hoan Kiem Lake where the city lights reflect magically across the lake, and head back to the hotel.
The last day of the Tour will be busy with more exciting photography opportunities. In the early morning, we will visit the wholesale market on the edge of the city. This is a major league market where fruit and vegetables are bought and sold in bulk – a true delight for photographers. We will then hit the streets in the old quarter of the city where the narrow roads offer perfect soft light.
Walking through these streets, we will eventually reach Hoan Kiem Lake where many of the locals practice their Tai Chi. A walk around the lake will offer us some very unusual, interesting photo opportunities. One last stop before returning to the hotel for breakfast is the Saint Joseph’s Cathedral. Built in 1886, it is the oldest church in Hanoi which bears a resemblance to Notre Dame.
After breakfast, we head towards the Temple of Literature. Built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this amazing place will give us a chance to interact with the graduating students dressed in their finery. Next, we will go to the Huu Tiep Lake, better known as ‘B-52 lake’, where the US B-52 bomber wreckage poses an interesting photographic challenge. Then we are transferred back to Hanoi – the Noi Bai Airport – for our homebound flight or next destination.
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable hotels
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea)
- Permits and photography fees
What’s Not Included?
- All airfare
- Transfer expenses between your home and Vietnam
- Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, extra meals and beverages ordered
- Insurance, laundry and phone calls
- Bottled water and soft drinks
- Alcoholic drinks
- All applicable taxes
- Anything that is not included in the Inclusions list
- At least 50% of the booking amount (not refundable)
- Remainder before 7 August, 2018
- 25% on or before 9 August 2018
- 50% between 10 and 24 August 2018
- 75% between 25 and 31 August 2018
- 100% on or after 1 September 2018
Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.
While Toehold Photo Travel is one of our most popular offerings, we work as a travel agency without bringing the photography guide element in to your travel. In short you would be using our travel experts service to just plan the vacation and execute it.
- Unlike a Photo Travel experience, your Vacation is completely personalised.
- The dates, style of travel, class of hotels and lodges, destinations, everything is tailor-made to suit your custom requirement.
- A Skipper or a photography guide doesn’t travel with you to guide you unless you decide to take our customised and guided photo travel experience.
So take advantage of the immense experience and field knowledge that we bring in to your Vacation’s planning without having to pay for our time and costs. Plus, we don’t charge an additional fee for our time and travel planning services.
What are the requisites to participate in this Tour?
Apart from interest in travel, architecture and portrait photography, a minimum level of fitness is essential. If you’re unsure of your fitness or suffer from a known illness, please consult your physician before signing up for this Tour.
Why is fitness required for this Tour?
A minimum level of fitness is essential as we explore some parts of Vietnam on foot, walking especially in Hanoi and Ninh Binh.
Who can be a part of this Tour?
Any individual above the age of 18 (unless accompanied by a parent or guardian) who has the requisite fitness to complete the Tour can participate.
I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?
Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold’s eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up for an Art and Science of Photography Workshop.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
A tripod, filters, a good wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle lens (between 10 and 28mm) are musts. A short or medium fixed telephoto or zoom lens will help you make ‘compressed landscape’ images, abstracts and do candid people or street photography (70mm to 200mm). You may also bring along a portrait lens, such as a 50mm, 35mm or 85mm lens, to make high-quality portraiture. A full-frame (35mm) camera with compatible wide-angle and fisheye lenses will allow you to make the most of the opportunities. If you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer.
How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?
Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven’t experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.
I had a great time on the Toehold tour. They took care of all the logistics so all I had to do was enjoy myself! The evening sessions were great fun and I got to interact with a lot of like-minded people. I’m already planning for my next trip with Toehold!
The ‘Skippers’ made me totally comfortable and helped me with the most basic of my camera settings with a lot of patience, and the sightings made the experience even better and totally worth it. Thank you Toehold!
Going on this Toehold tour has been the most enriching experience in recent times. The amount of learning about photography that’s possible just being around these guys is amazing.
I went on a tour with Toehold to a destination I was so familiar with but ended up learning a lot more things than I already knew. Great bunch of young pros.
Toehold injects a lot of interest in youngsters about photography and natural history. Wish them all the best!