Beautiful Landscapes, Stunning Geology and Unique Local Culture
September 28 – October 10, 2024
Northern Vietnam offers a truly unique and stunning landscape. The combination of shapes, forms, and cultures is unparalleled, from the impressive mountain plateaus to the fascinating terraced rice paddies. The people who live here are as diverse as the countryside. There are over 50 ethnic groups in Vietnam, each with its own language and unique cultural heritage.
Our workshop covers so much of what Northern Vietnam has to offer. We’ll photograph the busy streets of Hanoi as we sample food from the street vendors. The local farmers will be starting their harvest on their terraced rice paddies nestled in magnificent mountain ranges, offering us endless photographic possibilities. We’ll enjoy the warm hospitality of rustic local guesthouses and the first-class comfort of a world-renowned ecolodge. The UNESCO Global Geopark of the Dong Van Karst Plateau will take your breath away, with its steep pyramidal and cone-shaped mountains reaching up to 1,600 meters.
This workshop is unlike so many other tours that will quickly skim along the entire length of this incredibly diverse nation. We’ve designed this workshop to focus on the best Northern Vietnam only so you can have a profound experience of a beautiful region.
For a great behind-the-scenes look at this workshop, check out our trip report from our Vietnam workshop in 2023.
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, local conditions, and other factors.
This workshop covers a lot of ground in remote, mountainous areas by car on roads that wind through the mountain passes. While we break up the driving with photo shoots from viewpoints or in the homes of the local tribes, there is a significant amount of time spent driving.
September 28, 2024: Arrive in Hanoi (HAN) anytime today. Check in to the hotel, and relax. This evening, we’ll have a group dinner to kick off our Vietnam workshop experience.
September 29, 2024: After breakfast, we will check out and then drive to Tule Village. We’ll have lunch along the way in the township of Yên Bái and arrive by late afternoon at our sunset shoot location at the Khau Phẩ Viewpoint Station. Late dinner and overnight stay at our hotel in Tú Lệ.
September 30, 2024: We’ll depart our hotel very early for sunrise at Khau Phẩ Viewpoint. Then we’ll return to the hotel for breakfast. After hotel checkout, we’ll proceed to a small village Lìm Mông to photograph local village life, ox carts, and the rice harvest. We’ll then make the two-hour scenic drive from Tú Lệ to Mù Cang Chải, where we will stop to shoot some spectacular rice field landscapes in Chế Cu Nha. Overnight in Mù Cang Chải.
October 1, 2024: We’ll leave our hotel early this morning to photograph sunrise at the rice fields near Mồ Dề village, followed by breakfast at the hotel. Afterward, we’ll hold our first image review, followed by lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll take motorbikes or walk to Dế Su Phình, where we’ll photograph the sunset, local life, etc. Around 7:00 PM, we’ll head back to our hotel for dinner. Overnight in Mù Cang Chải.
October 2, 2024: We’ll wake up early and drive uphill to the Chế Tẩo village. From here, we can see the viewpoint of Mù Cang Chải village, with some marvelous rice fields in the foreground. We’ll then walk down the hill to photograph the pine hills. After breakfast and a morning rest, we will walk and photograph the town, then enjoy lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll drive about one hour to the mountainous La Pán Tạn village, where we’ll photograph local life until sunset. Overnight in Mù Cang Chải.
October 3, 2024: We’ll head back to Chế Cu Nha for sunrise. We’ll then head to a second hidden location to catch early morning sunbeams illuminating the rice harvest. Around 9:00 AM, we’ll check out of the hotel and leave Mù Cang Chải for Sa Pa. Our drive to Sa Pa will take about two hours, with a stop at Bình Lư to see some fantastic mountain formations. We’ll make a second stop at Heaven’s Gate, where we can look down the valley of Hoang Lien Son. After arriving at our hotel, we’ll check in and take some free time for shopping or shooting Sa Pa by twilight. Overnight at Sa Pa Town.
October 4, 2024: We’ll wake up at 7:30 AM this morning to visit the Mường Hoa Valley and three villages (Lao Chai, Ta Van, Giàng Tả Chải) with their three different ethnic minorities (Black Hmong, Red Zao, and the Zay). We’ll also visit some more viewpoints along the road before returning to Sa Pa for lunch and an afternoon transit to Bắc Hà.
October 5, 2024: Early this morning, we’ll visit the market at Bắc Hà, one of the most colorful in the world. After lunch, we’ll check out and travel further to Ha Giang. Just before Quản Bạ, we will pass the mountainous entrance to Dong Van Karst Plateau, listed in the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.
October 6, 2024: We’ll start the day with a shoot of rice fields in the valley below Quản Bẩ. We will then delve into Dong Van Plateau, an extremely wild region of limestone pitons and black granite needles. After lunch in Yên Minh, we will head to Phố Cáo, a superb Hmong village adorned with 200-year-old houses and wonderful village life, before reaching Dong Van in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Dong Van.
October 7, 2024: This morning, we’ll again wake early for an hourlong hike to the summit overlooking Dong Van. We will then head towards Sà Phìn to explore the surprising Vuong Chin Duc Palace, built on a hilltop. At its peak, the fortress boasted up to 100 inhabitants. After lunch, we will visit the superb Hmong village of Phó Bảng. Dinner and overnight in Dong Van.
October 8, 2024: After breakfast, check out and return to Ha Giang. We will stop along the way to photograph Flower Hmong working in their home.
October 9, 2024: We return to Hanoi for an afternoon/evening shoot, dinner, and a final night before flights out tomorrow.
October 10, 2024: Our workshop concludes. Flights home can be scheduled for any time on this day.
While this workshop does not include long or strenuous hikes, there are several challenges that you need to be prepared for and capable of participating in safely.
- Access to many of our locations is only available via motorbike. You will sit on the back as a local driver takes you on the trails to these locations. The trails are mostly paved, but some sections are dirt trails. You may or may not have a helmet provided to you.
- Getting to specific viewpoints in the rice paddies will often require walking along the retaining wall for several hundred feet. Think of it as walking on a balance beam. Trekking poles are of little use since there will be a significant drop-off on one side and mud on the other. This requires adequate balance and slow, careful walking.
- Nothing is built to code in Vietnam. Stairs are steep, narrow, uneven, and often without handrails. Ramps are steep and often slippery.
Moderate: Moderate walks on uneven ground. See “Activities” for more details.
Arrive Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), Hanoi, Vietnam anytime on September 28, 2024. Flights out can be made anytime on October 10, 2024. Air travel delays are common. Please arrive early, possibly even the day prior, so you don’t miss any of the workshop.
What to Bring
Please see our page How To Prepare For Your Workshop. We will send you a detailed information document 90 days before your workshop. This document will include specifics of where and when to meet, gear and clothing recommendations, and more.
- Double occupancy lodging. Single available for $1,600 supplement.
- All meals, soft drinks, and snacks during the workshop.
- All permits and park fees.
- All transportation during the workshop.
- Tips for crew, drivers, and local guides.
- English-speaking local guide throughout the workshop.
- Photographic guiding and instruction from 2 pros.
- Image reviews and post-processing instruction.
- Adventure, fun, inspiration, and a great time!.
- Travel to and from Hanoi, Vietnam.
- Unscheduled airport transfers.
- Passport and visa fees (if applicable).
- Any meals or accommodations before or after the workshop dates.
- Items of a personal nature.
- Alcoholic Beverages.
- Medical Evacuation Insurance (required).
- Travel Medical (required).
- Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended).
- Anything else specifically not listed as included.
- Single rooming available for $1,600 supplement.
“Greg & Neil were very helpful. Your company is the best. That was my 6th Muench trip, and it will not be the last! ”