Hoi An old town during Covid pandemic

What’s new in Hoi An in 2022? Travel photography after the pandemic. 

Photography in Hoi An during the pandemic

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hoi An has turned from the main tourist destination to a quiet coastal town. With most of the activities oriented around tourism, the city did have, like most other cities fueled by tourism, to face hard times. Many shops have closed, businesses have shut down and foreign people have left the country. Photography in Hoi An was at a very low point.

Hoi An Photo Tour & Workshop has been almost hibernating as well. We welcomed a few local visitors and took them on photography workshops. Though, most of our activity happened online, especially with Pics of Asia Online Photo School. For those who have visited the Old Town during its peak of activity, seeing it during the pandemic was just unbelievable.

Hoi An Old Town without tourism

The central market has been busy (except during a few lockdowns) and the houses of Hoi An Old Town have never been so pretty. With the closing of many shops and restaurants, we were lucky to somehow fully enjoy and photograph the beauty of architecture, the amazing colours in a peaceful atmosphere. We have been running some Photography Walks with the local photography enthusiast community. A good way for all of us to keep ourselves motivated and enjoy these definitely unique times. International travel is resuming in 2022. Local tourism has already taken over the place. Hoi An is slowly getting busier. It’s really a perfect time to visit as things are still somehow “in-between”. You will be able to enjoy a good balance of busy situations and a more “daily local pace”. 

Hoi An remains a photographer’s dream! 

First of all, yes, face masks are still here! But actually, they were already here before the pandemic. Their number and use might have increased a bit but in the end, it’s not a real change from what Vietnam used to be. As before, things are getting really interesting in the early morning and in the end of the afternoon. In the middle of the day, harsh light and slower activity make it harder (but not impossible) to capture interesting images. As a traveller, and even more as a photographer, you want to discover authentic moments. For that, following the local habits is key!

Needless to say that Hoi An Old Town hasn’t lost any of its charms. Colourful walls and stunning architecture are essential elements you will love to play with to compose your photos. Bạch Đằng street by the river, the Japanese Bridge, the Central Market, the narrow alleys… All those spots are not to be missed. During our tours or workshops, we always try to bring a different approach to those places. Travel photography and creativity find, in Hoi An, a perfect place to experiment with. This is what we aim to share with all our guests. 

Hoi An wouldn’t be the same without its people. The two blank years of pandemics have made people eager to welcome visitors again. Smiles and a warm atmosphere are waiting for you. Obviously, some more remote areas might have a few people a bit careful as Covid hasn’t disappeared. Bear in mind that for some older and less rich people, being sick can have heavy consequences.

But, for most of the places, especially inside Hoi An, things are going perfectly smoothly. As we always explain during our photography tours, taking your time is very important if you want to meet people. It’s the only way for candid and honest portraits. Hoi An is full of beautiful souls and faces. If you’ve been here before, you know that. If you plan to visit for the first time, believe us, we can make you fall in love with candid portrait photography in Hoi An! 

Hoi An has some new surprises for travellers and photographers! 

Along the Thu Bon river

Besides the Old town itself, there are other places not to miss. A boat drive over the Thu Bồn river is the perfect way to discover the iconic fishing nets hanging over the water. Capturing the work of fishermen at sunrise is worth a very early wake-up. Our “Fishing nets Sunrise” tour is almost entirely dedicated to this. Visiting the close village of Duy Hải, after the Cửa Đại bridge, allows you to experience a bustling fish market and its intense atmosphere. It has lost a bit of its glory, especially due to the massive plastic pollution on the riverside.

Though, it’s still a very interesting place to discover some typical activities. Depending on the season, you will be able to see fish drying, fish sauce factories or men fixing boats in the shipyard. And our deep relationship with the people of this village will help you to access more exclusive locations and take photos of the people. 

Trà Quế vegetable village

Trà Quế, the vegetable village, is a charming location. Group tours and cooking classes used to flock to the gardens. Good news, it’s much quieter at the moment! It’s a perfect time to explore it, especially at the end of the afternoon. Busy women and men taking care of the hundreds of aromatic plants and vegetables can be fantastic subjects for candid images. 

The new Ba Le market

Ba Le Market has grown bigger. This local market outside of the old town offers a great atmosphere. Fresh vegetables and fruits but also fish and meat are exposed in a typical Vietnamese set-up. It’s a great spot to practice your skills and capture images of daily life in Central Vietnam. 

Thanh Ha fish market

If you’re ready for a short night, the fish market in Thanh Hà is a one of a kind experience! For photography, it’s a real challenge to play with artificial lights. However, it’s a really good exercise to practice layering and push your creativity further! And if you are very lucky, you can even find the fantastic opportunity to take photos of the women selling flowers for the full moon from the top of the bridge. We suggest you go there around 3.30 pm and wait for the sun to go down. It will cast the people’s shadows on the road and create great compositions. 

New bridges around Hoi An are sprouting like mushrooms. The first one you may notice is further down the Old Town. It leads to the islet where the Hoi An Memories Show is performed. Needless to say that it might quickly become a selfie hotspot (it’s been made for that). Not really what we usually look for during a photography tour or workshop in Hoi An. It could nevertheless have some interest if you are looking for some more quirky situations, a bit of street photography in your travel photography… During private workshops, we usually try to push our students to think outside of the box. Creativity in travel and people photography can be inspired by other photography styles. 

Cam Kim island

The new large bridge leading to Cam Kim opened wider access to the north part of this island on the river. More than that, we would definitely recommend you to explore further. The other side of the Thu Bồn river is filled with massive rice paddies. When the crops are still young and green, it’s a fantastic postcard. During the rice harvest, it’s always an exciting time to practice people photography and share the simple life of farmers. As always, the kindness and curiosity of people make it very comfortable to get closer. Remember, take your time! 

Photography in Hoi An in 2022: come and re-discover!

There are a lot of fantastic areas to (re)discover around Hoi An. Even the most famous ones are, at the moment, not yet submerged with tourists. 2022 will definitely have a special feel for those who visit for the first or come again to Vietnam. For people and travel photography, we are convinced that it will be amazing. You don’t need to tick all the boxes of the most famous spots. Feel free to follow your own path, to get lost… If you need some guidance, we will be there to take you to hidden gems and show you the best way to capture the beauty of Hoi An. What are you waiting for? 

And if you are looking to expand your horizon and dramatically improve your photography skills, check out our longer photography tours in Asia.

Interacting with the locals on basket fishing boats with one of Hoi An Photo Tours instructor
2 thoughts on “What’s new in Hoi An in 2022? Travel photography after the pandemic. 
  • Looks wonderful! I was on one of your tours back in 2012 and I miss it so much! I put some pictures on my portfolio, check it out. Would love to come back one day. Hugs from Sweden

    • Etienne Bossot

      Thank you so much Linn! Please do come back, Vietnam is open for re-discovery now! And check out our longer photography tours, from 3 to 10 days in Asia :)