Beautiful Landscapes, Stunning Geology and Unique Local Culture
September 30 – October 12, 2023
Northern Vietnam offers a truly unique and stunning landscape. From the impressive mountain plateaus to the fascinating terraced rice paddies, the combination of shapes, forms, and cultures is unparalleled. 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 on 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 also the first-class comfort of a world-renowned ecolodge. The UNESCO Global Geopark of the Dong Van Kast Plateau will take your breath away, with its steep pyramidal and cone-shaped mountains reaching up to 1,600 meters.
This workshop is not like so many other tours which will quickly skim along the entire length of this incredibly diverse nation. We’ve designed this workshop to focus on the very best of Northern Vietnam only so that you can have a profound experience of a beautiful country.
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, local conditions, and other factors.
September 30, 2023: Arrive Hanoi (HAN) anytime today. Check in to hotel, and relax. We’ll have a group dinner this evening to kick off our Vietnam workshop experience.
October 1, 2023: After breakfast we will check out and then embark on our 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 Phạ Viewpoint Station. Late dinner and overnight at our hotel in Tú Lệ.
October 2, 2023: We’ll depart our hotel very early for sunrise at Khau Phạ 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 3, 2023: We’ll leave our hotel by 4:30 AM this morning to photograph sunrise at the rice fields near Mồ Dề Village, followed by breakfast back 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 sunset, local life, etc. Around 7:00 PM, we’ll head back to our hotel for dinner. Overnight in Mù Cang Chải.
October 4, 2023: We’ll wake up at 3:30 AM and drive uphill to the Chế Tạo 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 in 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 mountainous La Pán Tẩn village, where we’ll photograph local life until sunset. Overnight in Mù Cang Chải .
October 5, 2023: We’ll wake up at 4:00 AM and head back to Chế Cu Nha for sunrise. We’ll then head to a second hidden location where we can catch early morning sunbeams illuminating the rice harvest. Around 9:00 AM, we’ll check out 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 arrival at our hotel, we’ll check and take some free time for shopping or shooting Sa Pa by twilight. Overnight at Sa Pa Town.
October 6, 2023: 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 heading back to Sa Pa for lunch and an afternoon transit to Bắc Hà.
October 7, 2023: This morning, we’ll make an early visit to 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 8, 2023: We’ll start the day with a shoot of rice fields in the valley below Quản Bạ. We will then delve into Dong Van Plateau, an extremely wild region made 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 outstanding village life, before reaching Dong Van in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Dong Van.
October 9, 2023: 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 10, 2023: After breakfast, we’ll make the 6 to 7-hour journey back to Hanoi, with stops along the way for meals. Evening walk in Hanoi.
October 11, 2023: Today will be spent photographing in Hanoi. We’ll start very early at Long Bien bridge, then head to the French quarter to photograph daily life in the city.
October 12, 2023: Our workshop concludes. Flights home can be scheduled for any time this day.
Moderate: Moderate walks on uneven ground.
Arrive Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), Hanoi, Vietnam anytime on September 30, 2023. Flights out can be made anytime on October 12, 2023.
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 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.
- 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).
- Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended).
- Anything else specifically not listed as included.
- Single rooming available for $1,600 supplement.
“Oh yes! Muench workshops are excellent. The value is definitely there for the price point. They are a real treat and well worth it. ”