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Vietnam in Photos

Renown Travel Photographer Karol Kru

Instagram: @karoltraveler




My Time in Vietnam


With some of the most incredible natural wonders on the planet and a rich cultural heritage, Vietnam is renowned as one of the most interesting countries to visit. Despite 12.6 million international tourist arrivals last year, many travelers rushed through Vietnam, focusing only on the main destinations. Unfortunately, they miss out on many amazing things to do and see in Vietnam. That’s why I decided to spend more time here and deeply explore the country and its culture. As an outdoor photographer, this was a big challenge for me because, in all my work before this, I had primarily focused on photographing only beautiful landscapes. In Vietnam, I had to engage with the people, which was a new experience for me.



The When and Where


Vietnam is a year-round destination. The country can be divided into three areas: North, South, and Central Vietnam. Each part of the country has its own best time for visiting.


The North


Hanoi, the vibrant capital of Vietnam, is best visited in spring and autumn when the weather is pleasant with milder temperatures. Northern Vietnam offers many attractions, including Sapa in the mountains and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hạ Long Bay on the northeastern coast. If you’re like me, a traveler who wants to explore authentic Vietnam, you’ll enjoy visiting Hanoi’s craft villages. These traditional villages are integral to Hanoi’s lifestyle, representing a unique community and craft. I especially enjoyed visiting the century-old incense-making village. Incense sticks are indispensable in Vietnamese culture, serving as a channel of communication with ancestors in the spiritual realm, making it a deeply rooted Vietnamese custom.


The South


Southern Vietnam offers vibrant urban energy and a mellow countryside. The best time to visit is the dry season, with warm and sunny weather from December to April. The highlight of this region is the Mekong Delta, where visitors can explore traditional villages, visit the floating markets, and try famous local dishes at affordable prices. Learning about the way of life on the Mekong River was fascinating. Nowadays, Vietnam’s floating markets are not what they used to be as people move to bigger cities in search of better jobs. The number of boats in the markets is constantly decreasing. Even though tourism keeps the floating markets alive, it’s uncertain how long they will last. That’s why now is the time to explore the Mekong Delta.



Central Vietnam


Central Vietnam boasts historic sights, natural wonders, and world-class beaches. The charming ancient towns of Hội An and Hue attract both domestic and foreign visitors who wish to explore Vietnam’s cultural heritage. The beautiful coast has made Da Nang one of the best beach destinations in Vietnam. The central coast is dotted with small fishing villages that have preserved their traditional way of life, providing ample photographic opportunities amid the scenic landscape. The ideal time to visit Central Vietnam is during the dry season, from April to August when long hours of sunshine make it convenient for sunbathing and outdoor activities.



What to Expect When Visiting 


If you haven’t traveled to Southeast Asia yet, be ready for a culture shock, from the bustling streets to adventurous street food. Traveling to Vietnam is a fascinating experience, so make sure to give yourself time to explore and make the most of your trip. Vietnam is home to endless rice fields, beautiful coastlines, and chaotic yet exciting modern cities. Among its neighbors, it’s more touristic than Laos or Cambodia but calmer than Thailand. Vietnam is the perfect mix of the past, present, and future. 




My Top Recommendations in Vietnam:


1. Take a boat cruise among the towering limestone mountains in Hạ Long Bay, one of Vietnam’s most recognizable sites.


2. Make an authentic cultural journey to the Mekong Delta on a sunrise boat tour to the floating markets.


3. Eat your way through Saigon, famous for a wide variety of delicious cuisine that can satisfy even the pickiest tourists.



4. Discover the ancient city of Hội An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with unchanged original architecture and charm.


5. Meet the welcoming locals in Hanoi’s craft villages.



6. Spend a night in a homestay with a Vietnamese family in the rice fields of Sapa or the tea plantations of Long Coc.


7. Rent a bike and get lost in the Vietnamese countryside, or drive on one of the famous roads: Hải Vân Pass or Hà Giang loop.



8. Enjoy a day on the beach in Da Nang or Nha Trang.


9. Party at a rooftop bar in energetic Saigon.



Burning Incense

Hanoi’s traditional craft villages are vital to Vietnamese culture and showcase unique communities that contribute to the country's rich heritage. A spiritual object of the Vietnamese worshiping culture, burning incense is believed to be the communication channel to their ancestors in the spiritual realm. It has become a deeply rooted Vietnamese custom. 





Tea Culture


The origin of Vietnamese tea culture began thousands of years ago; however, tea production in Vietnam only started around the 1880s when French colonists established the first Vietnamese tea plantations in the area northwest of Hanoi, Vietnam. Today, Vietnam is the seventh-largest global tea producer and ranked fifth in global tea exports. We stayed overnight at a homestay with a Vietnamese family working at the tea plantation in Long Coc. They cooked us traditional food and proudly showed us their traditional outfits worn by the Muong group. 




Artisanal Craft Villages


Hanoi has 1350 craft villages. Among those, 200 are traditional craft villages, 1/4 of which are a century old and have rich cultural and historical values: pottery, conical hats, embroidery, bronze, casting, silk, incense, and others. Visitors to these craft villages can learn about the village's culture, watch artisans demonstrate their craft, experience stages of crafting products, and shop for gifts. My favorite craft villages are the incense village of Quang Phu Cau, Ban Yen Soy Sauce Village, and the bamboo fishing trap Village In Thu Sy. These villages are less than 1-hour drive from Hanoi, making them a perfect destination for a day trip.




My Experience


After spending three months in Vietnam, during which I immersed myself in local life, I enjoyed mingling with the locals the most. Surprising them on visits to their workshops was a highlight. The people in Vietnam are very friendly and curious. They’re always interested in my experiences while traveling in Vietnam, and because of that, I really enjoy getting lost in the streets with my camera to see what the day will bring.


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Karol Kru is a professional travel photographer who focuses on staying longer in destinations, photographing, and collecting insightful tips that he shares on his site. 


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