Our 10 favourite spots for photography in Hoi An in 2023
Hoi An has to be on the wishlist of anyone travelling to Vietnam. Recognized by Unesco as a World Cultural Heritage, the once quiet little town is now a bustling destination still offering a wide range of activities, for solo travellers or families.
Hoi An iconic Old town offers one of a kind experience, from a very local authentic vibe to a more modern culinary and coffee scene. The proximity to Da Nang and its international airport, train station and multiple services, makes the visit to Quang Nam province, where Hoi An is, very convenient. For photographers, Hoi An is still in 2023, a dream place. We feel blessed to be able to run photography tours and workshops again after the Covid glitch that put tourism on hold for too long. From our “Morning Photo Walk in the Old Town” to our “Sunset with the farmers” tour, we are back on track with small groups, to teach people and travel photography in some of the best places around. Spoiler: we have found new areas, off the beaten path and filled with inspirational scenes for photography…
There are still many places not to be missed in or around Hoi An Old Town. We listed for you our 10 favourites for photography. No matter if you’re using a brand new mirrorless camera, a vintage film one or even your smartphone to capture memories, you will surely fall in love with the beauty of Hoi An. Two key elements that will change your experience will be the time of your visit and the energy you share. As we always teach during our tours and private workshops, finding the best light is the first step to capturing more striking images. Then, don’t forget to give what you would like to receive. Approaching people with genuine curiosity, a respectful attitude and an open mind will surely go a long way.
Here are our 10 favourite spots for photography in Hoi An in 2023
A Sunrise on the beach to begin with!
How about an early morning facing the Cham Islands and contemplating the sky offering an incredible colour palette before the sun appears? Head to AN BANG BEACH early, even earlier in summer (it’s definitely worth it!). Sit in the sand and just wait for the shot if you are into landscape photography. If you are eager for more action, you will often find groups of local people exercising on the beach before the temperature gets too hot. It’s a fantastic opportunity to practice your composition skills with a stunning background.
Between Hoi An town and An Bang, some other spots are not to be missed. The quiet vegetable village, TRA QUE, is a little Eden. It’s perfect to capture local farmers, busy growing the tasty herbs and salads that will fill most dishes served locally. Choose your time right to avoid groups of tourists visiting the area. Early morning or end of afternoon usually offers the best conditions with ideal lighting.
Impossible to explore Central Vietnam without a photography session in the middle of the RICE PADDIES. Grab a bicycle to explore the gorgeous green patches around HAI BÀ TRƯNG street and AN MỸ hamlet. Hoi An area has two crops per year before summer and at the very end of it. It gives even more opportunities to capture images of the full cycle of rice paddies, from shades of greens to golden straws during harvest season. Choose your atmosphere and enjoy the incredible living paintings in front of you!
Look for bridges!
All around Hoi An, water is everywhere. The Thu Bon river is an essential element in daily life. Several bridges cross the river arms. They usually offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. The massive CỬA ĐẠI BRIDGE is a fantastic viewpoint of the river mouth and the sea, especially at sunrise. You can observe fishermen’s boats or larger barges transporting sand. During summer, large fishing nets are raised over the water.
The freshly built large BRIDGE TO CAM KIM island hides an early activity that photographers will surely want to discover. An early wake-up will allow you to discover THANH HÀ FISH MARKET. The place is busy with locals, coming here mostly for wholesale before heading for smaller markets around. Playing with artificial light and sky brightening at sunrise can bring some stunning results through the lens.
While you are there, push a little further to uncover the beauty of CAM KIM. This island on the Thu Bon river is filled with massive fields, local craft villages and simple scenes, typical of Central Vietnam daily life. It’s a great place to explore by bicycle if you want to take it slow. Check out the amazing chilli fields around Kim Bồng village. When the spicy fruits are ripe, it brings a fantastic touch of red to your image…
There is obviously a not to be missed bridge in Hoi An, and it’s definitely not the Golden Bridge, which is only part of an amusement park. For a deeper history, just head to the heart of Hoi An Old Town. The iconic JAPANESE BRIDGE even appears on the 20.000 vnd bank note! This little corner can get VERY busy in the afternoon. Though, it can be a good time to play with crowds, especially if you want to improve your street photography skills. If you prefer something quieter, be ready to set your alarm early. Visit the same place in the morning or join one of our “Photography Walk in the Old Town” for a fun and practical experience!
The Old Town: its beauty actually never gets old
Millions of photos have been taken in the Old Town, yet, there is still room to be creative. No matter what, the colourful walls with a perfect morning light are gorgeous. In the morning, it’s also a quieter town that will unfold in front of your camera. Less overwhelming and definitely great to refine your composition! Look for people walking or cycling to the market. As you get closer to it, the streets should be busier. HOI AN CENTRAL MARKET is a compendium of what Vietnamese markets do best: a bustling patchwork of colours and shapes with a high density of conical hats!
A walk along BẠCH ĐẰNG street at sunrise will surely bring some interesting opportunities to play with the fantastic morning light. But, don’t forget to explore some less obvious areas. The Old Town is actually full of NARROW STREETS AND ALLEYS with fantastic colours. Depending on the time of the day, you can also find some interesting and weirdly shaped shadows. Don’t forget to anticipate your composition if you see someone walking in or out of the alley.
With all the lanterns, the riverside is the hot spot for visitors in the evening. If you want to capture a beautiful view of the Old town with the countless boats moving up and down the dark water. Cross the bridge to the AN HOI islet. You will find there a much wider and nicer point of view to capture great images. As we explain to our guests during our “Night Photography Private Workshop”, playing with your shutter speed will allow you to create very interesting photos, suggesting the motion, and painting with the lights!
No matter where you choose to start your journey to (re)discover Hoi An, there are still so many fantastic spots for photography. Don’t forget to take your time and, if you can visit a place more than once. A different time of the day will surely bring a different atmosphere, another light and more photo opportunities. Even an unexpected rain can be a blessing and can push you to find a different approach to shooting. But this is another story…