Vietnam is a wonderfully diverse country; from its beautiful landscapes and striking architecture to its colourful cultures, this captivating country offers incredible photo opportunities. On this exclusive, one-off tour you’ll learn how to capture memorable scenes of Vietnam, as well as Cambodia’s magnificent Temples of Angkor, under the expert guidance of travel photographer Neil Buchan-Grant.
• Hanoi: 3 nights
• Halong Bay: 1 night
• Hoi An: 2 nights
• Siem Reap: 4 nights
Day 1: UK to Hanoi Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi Upon arrival in the city, transfer to your hotel. Explore Hanoi’s bustling streets during a cyclo ride through the city’s Old Quarter which was once a thriving centre for craftsmen. During this one-hour tour you can admire the elegant French-colonial architecture as you travel down streets such as Silver, Chicken and Sugar Streets – named for the products which were historically traded there. Enjoy your first taste of Vietnam’s tasty street food during a ‘Hanoi Street Eats’ guided tour which begins at Bia Hoi corner where locals and tourists come together to enjoy the popular local brew, Bia Hoi – a light and refreshing draft beer. Pull up a small plastic chair stool, watch the world go by and soak up the lively atmosphere.
Continue through the Old Quarter’s narrow streets as your guide points out a range of bread, noodles and snacks on offer. At night, small make-shift restaurants pop up all over the city with locals offering freshly cooked dishes from bubbling pots and sizzling woks. Tuck into a flame-grilled Vietnamese barbecue of beef, chicken, tofu and vegetables on skewers before enjoying a sweet treat from Hanoi’s best-known ice-cream parlour. Stay: Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi. D.
Day 3: Hanoi Today you can pick up some useful tips and techniques during a photography workshop at one of Hanoi’s traditional villas. Models wearing áo dài – traditional Vietnamese dress with colourful silks – will provide the creative focus. Continue by foot through the Old Quarter, passing some of the only remaining streets that still sell the goods of their namesake, such as Bamboo Street. Follow your tour guide through the labyrinthine back alleys, heading further away from the tourist trail for the chance to see Hanoi at its authentic best. Hear stories about the ancient city as you pass traditional houses and temples.
Enjoy a traditional local meal with a contemporary twist at the renowned Home Restaurant which is located in the peaceful Truc Bach lake area. Finish your guided walk with a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee at a café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake before visiting Ngoc Son Temple which occupies a tiny island on the lake. Stay: Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi. B, L.
Day 4: Hanoi Rise early and put your photography skills to the test with a visit to the busy Long Bien wholesale market which is famous for its vibrant colours and towering piles of fresh fruit and vegetables. Take in the sights, sounds and aromas as you browse hundreds of bustling stalls and interact with vendors selling everything from king crab to sweet and tangy mangosteens. This is a fantastic opportunity to focus on portraiture in different lights and take naturalistic photos of local people going about their everyday lives.
Return to your hotel for breakfast before visiting the ancient Duong Lam Village, an important heritage site with a history of over a thousand years. It is known for its laterite brick houses and the red clay contrasts beautifully with the surrounding countryside and paddy fields. Learn all about the village’s history and traditions while enjoying a tasty lunch in a local home. An afternoon walking tour of the village will take you down winding alleyways and past ancient temples and pagodas housing some of Vietnam’s most remarkable collections of Buddha statues. Stay: Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi. B, L.
Day 5: Hanoi to Halong Bay Transfer to Halong City (approx. 3½-4 hours) for an overnight cruise in Halong Bay – a photographer’s paradise and undoubtedly one of the highlights of your tour. There is an optional scenic flight before your cruise for the chance to view this breathtaking region from a unique perspective. The small seaplane will take off from Tuan Chau Island Marina and the 25-minute sightseeing flight takes in all the highlights of Halong Bay, offering incredible views over the striking landscape of limestone karsts and emerald waters.
Board a traditional junk and enjoy a welcome drink before cruising around the beautiful bay which will have you snapping away in an attempt to capture the beauty and tranquillity of this UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Explore Surprise Cave before swimming, kayaking and visiting a pearl farm (weather permitting). Back on board, learn how to make Vietnamese spring rolls during a cooking demo and enjoy canapés on the sun deck. After dinner you can try your hand at squid fishing (seasonal) or enjoy a screening of the classic film Indochine which is set in the bay. Stay: Emeraude Cruise. B, L, D.
Day 6: Halong Bay to Hoi An Wake early and capture the changing light as the sun rises over the bay while enjoying tea or coffee on the deck and try a spot of t’ai chi before breakfast. If weather permits you can swim and hike at Titov island, visit a pearl farm or go kayaking (extra cost). Continue to cruise the bay before disembarking and driving back to Hanoi. Take an evening flight to the charming UNESCO-listed city of Hoi An (approx. 1¼ hours). Stay: Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa. B, L.
Day 7: Hoi An This ancient city is a feast for the eyes and during a leisurely walking tour there will be plenty opportunities to photograph the striking architecture which blends Asian and French-colonial styles. The honey-yellow buildings, wooden shutters and peeling pastel-coloured facades are wonderful to photograph, especially when strewn with the colourful lanterns for which Hoi An is famous. Visit the 17th-Century Chua Ong Pagoda, a colourful Chinese-inspired structure. Continue to the beautifully ornate Fujian Assembly Hall and the Jinshang Temple which is dedicated to the goddess of the sea. Pass the Old House of Tan Ky, which was the home of an 18th-Century merchant, and cross the iconic 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge.
Relax with a cup of tea at the peaceful Reaching Out Tea House before lunch and a cooking demo at a restaurant specialising in local delicacies. Hop on a cyclo and enjoy the rice paddy scenery on your way to Cam Thanh Village, a small fishing community and eco-village. Meet a local family and interact with the locals while capturing traditional scenes of village life. Return to your hotel before enjoying dinner at a local restaurant. Stay: Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa. B, L, D.
Day 8: Hoi An to Siem Reap Rise early for the chance to watch local fishermen returning home with their catch after a night of fishing in the Cua Dai Sea. The ever-changing light from the rising sun creates the perfect opportunity to photograph the traditional fishing boats laden with shimmering fish, crabs, shrimps and shellfish as the fishermen unload their fresh catch on the shore from where it is transported to the nearby Hoi An fish market. Return to your hotel for breakfast before reviewing your photos during a two-hour session with Neil. This gives you the chance to receive valuable feedback on your photos and ask any questions you may have about technique and composition. Later this afternoon fly to Siem Reap, the gateway to Cambodia’s spectacular Temples of Angkor (approx. 1½ hours). Stay: Tara Angkor, Siem Reap. B.
Day 9: Siem Reap Wake early for another highlight – the incredible opportunity to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat, one of Angkor’s most iconic temples. You’ll be shown a prime location to shoot this magnificent temple as the sky transforms from purple to pink, orange and yellow – a truly breathtaking sight. Spend time exploring this beautifully preserved 12th-Century temple which has three tiers and is crowned by five lotus towers. Continue to Ta Prohm for some more incredible photo opportunities. These remarkable temple ruins have been swallowed up by the jungle and you can capture trees growing out of ruins which are wrapped in vines. This afternoon, visit the grand Bayon Temple which stands at the centre of Angkor Thom and features massive stone faces that adorn the structure's multitude of towers. Stay: Tara Angkor, Siem Reap. B, L.
Day 10: Siem Reap Venture outside of the city to visit the unique fishing village of Kompong Khleang which is built high on stilts on the Tonle Sap Lake. During the wet season the streets fill up with water and are transformed into canals that are navigated by boat and the houses appear to float on the water. This afternoon, visit the more isolated Banteay Srei temple which is renowned for its exquisite stone carvings. This small, delicately carved pink sandstone temple is home to hundreds of small figures and deities cut into the walls and lintels. Stop off at the classic temple mountain of Pre Rup which presents an opportunity for beautiful sunset photos as the red stone is enhanced by the sun’s warm glow. This evening there is an optional tour to the Phare Cambodian circus to see Cirque du Soleil-style performances depicting Cambodian historical events and stories. Stay: Tara Angkor, Siem Reap. B, L.
Day 11: Siem Reap Visit a small village outside of the city, stopping en route at a non-profit organisation that employs local women who specialise in the traditional craft of mat weaving. Stop just outside the village and ride an ox cart through the fields to the home of a local Khmer family who specialise in making brooms from bamboo and palm leaves. Photograph them while they work and, if you feel inspired, have a go at this traditional craft. Stroll around the village during a guided tour and capture shots of local life – children playing in the street, a water buffalo ploughing a rice paddy or fishermen patiently waiting on the shore. You’ll also have the chance to participate in local activities such as farming and fishing.
Return to Siem Reap, stopping at a Buddhist temple en route to receive a blessing from the saffron-robed monks. This evening, reminisce over your favourite moments during a farewell dinner with a traditional Apsara dance show. This classical and graceful Khmer dance features beautifully embellished silk-clad dancers and you will have the chance to photograph them during a 1-1½ hour shoot before the show. Snap away as they adorn themselves with ornate golden headdresses, flowers and elaborate jewellery. Stay: Tara Angkor, Siem Reap. B, L, D.
Day 12: Siem Reap Today you will be given a temple pass so that you can return to the Temples of Angkor and take some final shots. There will also be the opportunity to review your photos during a review session at your hotel, before transferring to the airport in the afternoon for your overnight return flight to the UK. B.
Is this for you?
If you’re passionate about travel and enjoy taking photos then this one-time-only itinerary is for you. It’s suitable for all levels, whether you’re a complete beginner, equipped with just a smart phone, or an experienced photographer with a top of the range digital SLR, this journey will help you achieve your goals.
Good to know
• For guests over 16
• Average group size of 12 guests
• A maximum of 18 guests
What to expect
• Expert advice and easy going tutorials
• Free time in each destination, during which you will receive 1-2-1 tuition
• Once booked you can contact Neil for pre-departure advice on equipment by phone or via his website at www.buchangrant.com. Alternatively, if you are local to Winchester then you can visit Neil to discuss any aspect of your photography or equipment
• Air-conditioned transport
• Local sightseeing led by our expert guides.
Accomodation on tour
The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is set in the French Quarter of Vietnam’s capital and is ideally located for local exploration. The Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa is a fishing village-style resort offering an authentic taste of traditional Vietnam. And you’ll end your tour at the contemporary Tara Angkor in Siem Reap which offers modern amenities and just 15 minutes away from the spectacular Temples of Angkor.
Included in price
• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Small groups and a relaxed approach
• Porterage and guide tips
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), or the freedom to explore local restaurants independently
• All specified flights.
Day 5: Halong Bay scenic flight from £78 per person
Day 10: Phare Cambodian circus from £36 per person.
This exclusive tour offers the unique opportunity to explore Vietnam and Cambodia with a professional photographer. As well as visiting the main sights you’ll also get to experience an authentic taste of village life and enjoy visits to local homes. We’ve chosen some memorable experiences that offer wonderful photography opportunities and you’ll have an expert by your side to offer guidance and feedback, and help you make the most out of this experience.
Neil Buchan Grant has over 30 years’ experience of landscape and travel photography and has many awards to his name, including the 2013 British Travel Press Photographer of the Year. Neil’s experience in travel and street portraiture and his easy-going and friendly style of tuition and way of imparting his knowledge will help you make the most of Vietnam and Cambodia’s spectacular visual possibilities.
During the photography workshop on your second day in Hanoi you will be able pick up some useful tips and techniques which will prepare you for experiencing Vietnam from a photographic point of view. Highlights include guided exploration of vibrant cities where you can photograph both the architecture and the people, visits to traditional villages, an overnight cruise in beautiful Halong Bay and watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat. In Siem Reap you will also have the opportunity to photograph Apsara dancers wearing traditional dress and ornate jewellery during a photo shoot.
Our limited edition tours offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience to join a journey that departs on just one date. Joined by a special guest – in this case an award winning travel photographer – makes this journey, which is only bookable through Kuoni, that extra bit special.