Malishka Travel Photography: Vietnam

Even though I am an Edinburgh wedding photographer, I also take photographs in other fields of photography. Especially, I love street photography. It is so similar to the kind of the wedding photography I do. It is reportage photography - also called documentary or photojournalism photography. It simply is recording the surroundings, like on the the wedding day, undirected, just by pure observation.

It is the same for street photography. I do not tell people what to do or look at me. I simply spot and patiently wait for the perfect moment. Street photography is filled with lots emotions, movements and such variety of people that is a real feast for a documentary photographer, yes even for me as one of the wedding photographers in Edinburgh!

While travelling, you venture into new places and see new faces, you simply explore the unknown and the unexpected. It is such a pleasure for the eyes, the photographic visions. Capturing the moments then is like freezing it, carrying it in time, keeping the photograph.

Every trip seems like a little adventure. What I try to go for is to add some mystery and try out different perspectives. I try to capture the every day life of the visited places and some unique portraits.

I feel like the roots in my wedding photography come from street and travel photography. Being able to experience different things by travelling adds up to my visions as the wedding photographer.

Last year I was lucky to travel in Vietnam. Below just few images for now :-)


Motorbikes in Hanoi

Vietnam is known for its dense and chaotic traffic. Hanoi is absolutely no different; every street is full of motorbikes as people travel from their home to work. Why do the Vietnamese use bikes? Since cars are so expensive in Vietnam, bikes are used here for every purpose; from delivery to the daily commute. You are bound by the law to wear a helmet when driving along the street and you should always ride on the right hand side of the road.

Early morning cyclists on the streets of Hanoi

One thing you should do in Hanoi is to visit the Old quarter. The Old quarter has been around since the 11th century; the Old quarter consists of a mix of 36 old streets,situated near Hoan Kiem Lake. Every street is named after one of the special local products, from handmade crafts, to delicious food. Some streets here are named for their medicine, jewelry, copper, etc. Many shops in these areas still sell traditional products from hundreds of years ago.

Vietnamese family on the motorbike

Street photography from Vietnam

The urban center of Hanoi is a beautiful and charming place. The people here are very hospitable and friendly. Many take pride within their food and etiquettes as well as traditional values. Just as many aspects of the Vietnamese culture which has been influenced by the French in the Indochina war, you can still find many to buildings built by the French still remaining in the city.

Fruit seller in Hanoi

Street vendors are a very common sight in many Vietnamese cities. Most of these street vendors move around the city by bike or on foot, some even own a shop and expand their products on the pavement. What they sell may vary; most are selling snacks, fruits, home made food and local goods. Food being sold by these vendors comes with a significant amount of variety; some of the best food vendors in Hanoi sell Caramel Pudding, Fruits Salad, Fried Pork Roll, Grilled Corn and BBQ.

Busy street food stand in Vietnam

Hanoi traffic at night

At night, Hanoi becomes bustling with lots of activity; eating out with friends and family has literally become a part of the Hanoi culinary culture. This is the time when the streets are filled with food stalls, running anywhere from simple snack foods to something else more exotic like sea snails and dried squid.

Sa pa

Sapa, Vietnam, Portrait of a  little Vietnamese girl

Far to the northwest of Hanoi is the beautiful town of Sa Pa. Here it's a completely different world from the many major Vietnamese cities. Living in this town you fill find the indigenous peoples of Vietnam, or the ethnic minority, as many modern Vietnamese call them. There are five ethnic groups in Sa Pa: the Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho; many of which still live here, just like they had from many centuries ago.

Women with baskets in Vietnam

Poor villagers in Northern Vietnam

The people of Sa Pa spend most of their time working on terraced paddy fields, as agriculture makes up most of the town’s economy. Most folks living in Sa Pa live a very rural life, relying on agriculture, raising livestock and trading with other villages or people from the city for a living; some folk in the town also sell traditional crafts and clothes when the local festival comes.

Hills in Sapa

Sa Pa is very unique for its geographical location and climate. The town is surrounded by beautiful and wild mountain ranges. The town’s climate is quite moderate and rainy in the summer; while winter is more foggy and cold. Sa Pa is also known as the only place in Vietnam where you can see snow in the winter. And, we did indeed see a lot of snow when we were there over the christmas period!

View at the rice fields in Sapa, Vietnam

Black pigs

Little boy eating the sugar cane bark

Women from one of the Sapa tribes

The central highlands of Vietnam are home to the Jarai and Ede people. Much like the ethnic groups in the North, the people here, mostly work on their farm. This area also famous for exporting goods such as coffee beans, cocoa and pepper.

Kids at one of the Vietnamese villages

Fresh fish stand in Vietnam

The local market in Vietnam always sells fresh food as well as ingredients; especially when it involves sea ingredients; from fish, crabs to squid; everything must be alive and fresh.

Hoi An and Da Nang

Lights at Hoi An, Vietnam

To the south central coast region of Vietnam is the old ancient trading town of Hoi An. The city at one time possessed the largest seaport and trading port in South East Asia dating back from the 15th to the 19th century. Hoi An is famous for its well-preserved architecture which reflects many influences from the Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British traders. Today, the town still maintained its intangible cultural diversity and richness; it is considered to be a living museum of architecture and urban lifestyle. One of the many activities you can do in Hoi An is to join the Lantern Festival, which accommodated on the fifteenth day of each month when people get to pray for fortune and health.

Ha Long Bay

Fishermen boats at Ha Long Bay

To the east of Hanoi city, approximately 110 miles by road is Ha Long Bay. The bay consists of 1600 islands and islets, making an impressive seascape of limestone pillars. The rock formations and limestone islands were shaped over several centuries by repeated erosion from the wind and sea; most of the islands here are uninhabited and unaffected by human. Among these islands are the floating villages; many people who were born in the village have never stepped foot on land, most of them spend their entire life fishing in the sea!

Woman in a boat at Ha Long Bay

Planning a trip to Vietnam

If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, you might be interested to see the travel itinerary I used.

Wed 11 Dec 13:05 Depart Glasgow Airport
Thu 12 Dec 12:05 Arrive Bangkok
  Overnight Hotel in Bangkok
Fri 13 Dec 07:00 Depart Bangkok DMK Airport
  08:40 Arrive Hanoi
  Overnight @ Elite Hotel
Sat 14 Dec   (L,D)
  08:00 Hanoi - Halong Bay: Pick up in Hanoi by shuttle bus for
  Dragon's Pearl junk - 1 deluxe cabin.
  Overnight on junk boat
Sun 15 Dec   (B,L)
  Vung Vieng fishing village
  10:00-11.30 Hon Gai Harbour, a la carte lunch
  Halong Bay - Hanoi - Day use hotel in Hanoi (New Moon Hotel)
  20:00 Pick up @ New Moon Hotel, for Night train to Sapa.
  Check in King Express Train (2 beds in a 4 soft sleeper
Mon 16 Dec   (L)
  Early Private car + guide pick up at Lao Cai train station for
  light trek to Sapa
  Cat Cat
  Y Linh Ho
  Lunch in a restaurant
  Check in H'Mong Sapa Hotel
Tue 17 Dec   (B,L,D)
  Private car and guide pick up for light trek to Lao Chai
  Ta Van
  Giang Ta Chai
  Lunch in a local house.
  Drive to Lao Cai station.
  Night train back to Hanoi.
Wed 18 Dec   Early Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning. Trip ends
  14:10 Fly to Da Nang by VietJet VJ8883 (1h 15m)
  15:25 Arrive Danang
  Go to Hoi An
  Stay overnight in Hotel in Hoi an
  Essence Hotel (£52/night) paid
Thu 19 Dec   Day Hoi an
  Stay overnight in Hotel in Hoi an
  Essence Hotel (£52/night) paid
Fri 20 Dec 07:00 Jeep from Hoi An => Hue $250
  ITINERARY Instead of taking the direct coast road to Hue
  we can follow the beautiful mountain roads through the
  central highlands. In the morning we will stop and see
  some Ca Tu ethnic minority villages, and then continue to
  the Ho Chi Minh Highway. The Ho Chi Minh Highway is a
  newly paved, nearly deserted road winding thru beautiful
  green hills. We can experience a delicious lunch with
  amazing mountain views right near the Laos border before
  continuing through the countryside and arrive at your
  destination in the early evening.
  Stay overnight Hue Serene Palace Hotel
  Hue Serene Palace 21 Lane 42 Nguyen Cong Tru street, Hue,
  Thua Thien-Hue, Property information: +84 54 3948585
  1 Room: Superior Room 2 Guests: 2 Adults
  1 Night: Fri 20/Dec/2013 to Sat 21/Dec/2013 Total: £18.47
  , paid in full
Sat 21 Dec   Day Hue
  18:15 Fly to Saigon ($23) VietJet VJ8373
  19:35 Arrive Saigon
  Stay overnight Signature Saigon Hotel (£56.44 for 2
  nights, superior room)
  65-67-69 Nguyen Thai Binh St | Dist 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  70000, Vietnam
Sun 22 Dec   Day Saigon
  Stay overnight Signature Saigon Hotel
Mon 23 Dec   Cycling Tour and
  Cycling Day 1: Sai Gon - VinhLong. (L,D)
  Overnight @ Homestay
Tue 24 Dec   Cycling Day 2: VinhLong - CanTho. (B,L,D)
  Overnight @ The Hau Giang hotel (3* hotels)
Wed 25 Dec   Cycling Day 3: CanTho - ChauDoc. (B,L)
  Overnight @ The Chau Pho hotel (
Thu 26 Dec 07 .10 Cycling Day 4: Chau Doc-Phnom Penh by high speeds boat (B)
  Overnight in Hotel in Phnom Penh
  Rambutan Resort #29 Street 71,Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh, ,
  Property information: +855 17 992240
  1 Room: Standard Double Room 2 Guests: 2 Adults 1 Night:
  Thu 26/Dec/2013 to Fri 27/Dec/2013 Total: £39.51 , paid
  in full
Fri 27 Dec   Day Phnom Penh
  18:20 Fly Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (£63.39) Cambodia Angkor Air
  Non-Stop / K6 117
  19:05 Arrive Siem Reap
  Overnight in Hotel in Seam Reap
  V&A Villa 9($20/night)
  Lucky International School Road
  National Road 6
  Sala Kanseng
Sat 28 Dec   Day Siem Reap
  Overnight at V&A Villa in Seam Reap
Sun 29 Dec   Day Siem Reap
  21:45 Fly to Bangkok Air Asia (£74) FD 2859
  22:50 Arrive Bangkok (Don Mueang DMK)
  Overnight in Hotel in Bangkok
  The Warehouse Bangkok
  120 Bunsiri Road, San Chao Por Sua, Pranakorn, Bangkok, ,
  Property information: +66 2 6222935
  1 Room: Deluxe (Corner Room) - Breakfast Incl - Hot Deal
  2 Guests: 2 Adults
  2 Nights: Sun 29/Dec/2013 to Tue 31/Dec/2013 Early
  Booking Bonus - Save 16% on your hotel stay
  Total:£71.30 , paid in full (Expedia)
Mon 30 Dec   Bangkok
  Overnight in The Warehouse Bangkok
Tue 31 Dec 20:40 Bangkok
  Fly Bangkok to Glasgow
Jan 07:30 Arrive Glasgow