sunrise over cua dai beach

Sunrise in Hoi An: tips for amazing landscape photography

Simple geography: Vietnam is facing the ocean on the East, and Laos and Cambodia on the West. Because the mountains and jungle of Laos create a kind of haze, Hoi An isn’t the best location for sunsets. The colours are quite shy and we only have a few months in summer where the sunsets are really spectacular. But for sunrise, I believe Vietnam is perfectly located! So where around Hoi An are the best spots to capture landscape photos of the sunrise?

Even though our photography tours and workshops focus more on people photography, we have been exploring and capturing stunning landscape images over the years. Here is a list of the best landscape photography spots for sunrise in and around Hoi An.

Cua Dai beach

Even though Cua Dai beach no longer exists (the sand is almost completely all gone) it remains one of our fvourite photo sopt for landscapes in Hoi An. Because of the layers of palm trees that are left along the road, it is an ideal image to compose using the trees and Cham Island in the background.
Make sure you get there early, before 4.30am, to have the time to set up your tripod and find the right spot.

taking photos of the sunrise in Hoi An with hoi an photo tour and workshop

An Bang beach

Also facing East, but a little more North, An Bang beach is still very much preserved. There you can witness local fishermen heading to sea at sunrise and sunset, perfect for great photo opportunities.

Fisherman going to the sea on an bang beach, hoi an

An Bang Bridge

Located between Hoi An and An Bang beach, the bridge located near Tra Que village is a must go for sunrise. Images as simple as a boat going under the bridge can be quite stunning: the river being so quiet in this area, it acts like a mirror and reflects all the sunrise colours.

the river acts as a mirror on the river in hoi an at sunrise

Hoi An River

The river that passes through Hoi An is an amazing delta. It flows into many different directions before reaching the ocean, and creates a maze of narrow water ways. If you know where to go on the river, you can capture the most incredible images of the sunrise in Vietnam.

What we suggest is that you rent a boat in Hoi An old town, preferably the day before. Make a deal with a boat captain about a meeting time and a price. If you put the right amount of energy, they will be happy to meet you in town at 4.30am and bring you down the river.

If you’d like to capture the fishing nets, they are located close to the Cua Dai bridge, not far from the ocean. We suggest that you leave Hoi An before 4.30am so you can be on location before 5 am and capture the rising sun. If you are lucky, you may as well witness the fishermen attending to their nets at sunrise.

capturing the sunrise through the fishing nets near Hoi An, Vietnam

Note: most images of the fishing nets you can find online are actually staged, and the photographers set up a fisherman to pretend to work. We do not believe in this and we always strive to find candid photo opportunities when we take photographers there. Not to worry though: if you don’t find anyone attending to their fishing nets in the morning, just be patient and you will be able to find a multitude of fishing boats going around.

Taking photos of the fishermen on hoi an river at sunrise with hoi an photo tour and workshop

Cua Dai bridge

The new Cua Dai bridge offers more stunning photo opportunities due to its height. It is the highest point in thee whole area and from there you can even see the city of Danang.

It faces East on one side so it is perfect to photograph the sunrise. The only problem is that due to its height it is not easy to find an interesting foreground. It is ideal if you can wait a little bit for some boats to go by and create leading lines in the foreground.

Taking landscape photos of the sunrise over Cua Dai bridge with Hoi an photo tour

Under Cua Dai bridge

For the most adventurous photographers, there is a place that we love to photograph. We have been running several private photography workshops there, and it is worth getting wet.

Under Cua Dai bridge you can find a lot of fishermen slowly gathering their nets at sunrise. The water is about waist deep, and it is possible to access the main river by having local people take you there on a boat. We have always been meeting the people in the village the day before, asking us to be ready to take us at 4.30am the day after. A little tricky to organize, but very much possible.

Capturing fishermen in Hoi an at sunrise with hoi an photo tour and workshop

Hoi An old town

Because of its amazing and unique architecture, Hoi An old town itself is a great location for landscape photography. We suggest that you arrive in the old town before 4.30am (in summer time) as the best of the sunrise colours will show up around 4.45am.

Pre-dawn in Hoi An

Place yourself on the main bridge crossing the river offers one of the best point of view. A very popular photography spot for sunset, you will meet much less tourists there at 4.45am!

Note: be careful when setting up your tripod on the bridge. Some parts of the bridge can be a little shaky when motorbikes drive by.

Taking photos of Hoi An old town before sunrise with hoi an photo tour and workshop

Find the best compositions that will lead to facing East, so to capture all the morning colours. In this case, we capture the beautiful architecture of the Quan Cong Temple. If only they could burry these power lines…

Past dawn in Hoi An

Once the sun is up, the streets of Hoi An lit and we can either continue our landscape photography, or switch to people photography. In that case, I jumped on a local boat at around 5am. This woman used to offer rides to the local people going to the market. For a little bit of money, she agreed to take me in a tourist ride.

Capturing the sunrise light in Hoi An old town with Hoi An Photo Tour and workshop

Hoi An market

There is a reason why we run most of our photography tours and workshops in Hoi An early morning. Not only the light is beautiful, but the town is free of tourists and people trying to sell souvenirs. The market is n exception, and waking up early to visit Hoi An old town is a great experience, every single time.

Scene from hoi an market in the morning during hoi an photo tour and workshop