Beautiful Landscapes, Stunning Geology, and Local Culture
Northern Vietnam offers a truly unique and stunning landscape. From the impressive mountain plateau, to the fascinating terraced rice paddies, the combination of shapes, forms, and cultures is unparalleled.
Join Muench Workshops pro David Rosenthal and local guide David Dennis as we explore this region on our inaugural workshop in this region. We start at the beginning of the harvest season in Tú Lệ and Mù Cang Chải, where we document the way of life of the local people and capture the farmers' activities in their stunning rice-terraced landscapes. From sunrise to sunset, and into the starry night, we will explore the villages, mountains, and farms in this magical area.
From these remote areas, we visit the popular area of Sa Pa, where we overnight in a stunning National Geographic rated ecolodge. Here we will see three ethnic minorities as they work in the fields. We'll experience the stunning vista at Heaven's Gate.
In Bắc Hà we will photograph the colorful market on our way to Ha Giang and the Dong Van Karst Plateau UNESCO Global Geopark. The Dong Van Plateau, home to 17 ethnic groups, is a breath-taking vista in a wild region of high mountains reaching up to 1,600 meters and deep canyons as low as 700 meters. The steep, pyramidal and cone-shaped mountains also feature caves and ladder-stepped escarpments.
We finish the workshop in Hanoi, where we will enjoy a full day of street photography and street food including the French Quarter in the old town of Hanoi.
You can expect a wide range of experiences, as we enjoy the first-class hospitality of a world-renowned ecolodge, and also the warm comfort of the local guesthouses.
September 13–24, 2020
Itinerary and General Information
This is a scouting trip. Our group size is very small, and the cost of the workshop is much lower than we expect to offer it for in 2021. The amount and quality of instruction is the same. Expect the unexpected! Everything about this workshop is subject to change. Below is the itinerary we will be working from.
September 13, 2020: We meet for lunch and introductions, then head to Tule village, which is about a four-hour drive. On the way, in the township of Yên Bái, we will have lunch, and in the late afternoon we will arrive at the Khau Phạ Viewpoint Station where we shoot the sunset. Late dinner and overnight at your hotel in Tú Lệ.
September 14, 2010: We depart the hotel at Tú Lệ very early to head back to the Khau Phạ Viewpoint to shoot the early light there, then head back to the hotel for breakfast. Check-out of the hotel and proceed to a small village Lìm Mông to take photos of local village life, ox carts, and the rice harvest. Then we take a two-hour drive with stunning scenery from Tú Lệ to Mù Cang Chải, where we will have a stop to shoot some spectacular rice field landscapes in Chế Cu Nha. Overnight in Mù Cang Chải.
September 15, 2020: We wake up early and leave the hotel at 4:30 AM to photograph the sunrise at some spectacular rice field formations near Mồ Dề Village, followed by breakfast back at the hotel. A morning break and time to collect images for our first critique, which we will have during the lunch hour. In the afternoon we take the motorbike or walk up to the incredible sight of Dế Su Phình, shoot the evening scene at sunset, local life, etc. Around 7:00 PM we head back to the hotel for dinner and overnight at the hotel in Mù Cang Chải.
September 16, 2020: We wake up at 3:30 AM and drive uphill to the Chế Tạo village where we can see the viewpoint of Mù Cang Chải village with some marvelous rice fields in the foreground, then we walk down the hill to photograph in the pine hills. Back to the hotel to have breakfast. After a morning rest, we will walk and photograph the town, and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon we drive about one hour to La Pán Tẩn village and go up the mountains to see local life, then wait at the best viewpoint for the sunset and hopefully a spectacular sunset. After the sunset we head back to the hotel and have dinner and overnight in Mù Cang Chải
September 17, 2020: We wake up at 4:00 AM to head back to Chế Cu Nha for sunrise and walk down the mountain to see some local life and more beautiful scenery along the way. We head to a second hidden location where we catch the early morning sunbeams illuminating the rice harvest. Around 9:00 AM we check out the hotel and leave Mù Cang Chải on the road to Sa Pa. Our drive to Sa Pa takes about two hours, and we make a stop at Bình Lư to see some fantastic mountain formations with local farmers working the fields in the foreground. We make a second stop at Heaven’s Gate where we look down the valley of Hoang Lien Son. After arrival, we check in the hotel at Sa Pa and overnight at Sa Pa Town, free time for shopping or take an evening shot of Sa Pa by twilight.
September 18, 2020: We wake up at 7:30 AM and visit the Mường Hoa valley and three villages (Lao Chai, Ta Van, Giàng Tả Chải) and three different ethnic minorities (Black Hmong, Red Zao, and the Zay) as they work in the fields and pose for portraits. We will visit some more viewpoints along the road before we head back to Sa Pa for lunch and check out of the hotel for our trip to Bắc Hà.
September 19, 2020: Early morning market visit to Bắc Hà, we shoot the whole morning at what is the most amazing and colorful market in the world. After lunch, we check out and travel further to Ha Giang. Just before Quản Bạ, we will pass the “Heaven’s Gate,” with its mountains stretching to the horizon, marking the entrance to Dong Van Karst Plateau, listed in UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.
September 20, 2020: We will start the day with a beautiful valley below Quản Bạ well filled with rice fields. We will then delve into Dong Van Plateau, an extremely wild region made of limestone pitons and black granite needles: a truly breathtaking panorama. After lunch in Yên Minh, we will head to Phố Cáo, a superb Hmong village with some 200 years old houses, an outstanding village in the area, before reaching Dong Van in the late afternoon. Dinner and night in Dong Van.
September 21, 2020: This morning we wake early for an hour hike up to the summit overlooking Dong Van, where we will be greeted with a magnificent view of the valley. We will then head towards Sà Phìn to explore the surprising Vuong Chin Duc Palace, king of the Hmongs (and opium trafficking), built on a small hilltop a palace in a similar style to Chinese yamens. At its peak, the fortress boasted up to 100 inhabitants. After lunch, we will go and visit the superb village of Phó Bảng, where Hmongs keep their traditions alive. Dinner and night in Dong Van.
September 22, 2020: After breakfast, we head back to Hanoi. This trip might take six to seven hours, and with making some stops on the way for food and relaxing it will take a full day. Evening walk in Hanoi.
September 23, 2020: Full day photographing in Hanoi. We start very early in Long Bien bridge and head to the french quarter to photograph the daily life in the city.
September 24, 2020: Flights home any time this day.
What to Bring and How to Prepare for Your Workshop
Please see our How To Prepare For Your Workshop page now for guidelines on workshop prep, gear, and packing. Approximately 90 days before your workshop, you will be sent a PDF with more specific instructions.
All meals and transportation during the workshop.
Double occupancy lodging (single is available, just ask).
All excursions, entrance fees, model fees, and local guides.
Photographic guiding and instruction from two pros
Image reviews, post-processing instruction
Fun, inspiration, and a great time!
What’s Not Included?
Air travel to/from Hanoi, Vietnam, passport and visa fees (if applicable), items of a personal nature such as laundry, alcoholic beverages. Medical Evacuation Insurance (required). Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended). There may be some nominal tipping for the locals if you take their photo, so have some cash on hand. Anything else specifically not listed as included.
Your deposit of $3,995 will secure your place on this workshop. The balance payment of $3,500 is due by June 1, 2020. Price is subject to change. No discounts can be applied to this scouting trip. All of our standard terms and conditions apply. Need special payment arrangements for your deposit? No problem, just ask us.
This scouting trip is limited to no more than five guests, and is a unique opportunity to explore Vietnam at a reduced rate.