Photo Explorer Tours:
Custom Tours for Independent Photo Explorers

Vietnam  Explorer
All photos © Dennis Cox / Photo Explorer Tours

A Photographic Exploration of Vietnam

Vietnam is a travel experience never to be forgotten. With a unique civilization dating back 4,000 years, this small but dynamic nation displays strong traditions of scholarship, arts, poetry, music, and reverence for beauty in all its many aspects. Foremost for photographers is the country's immense natural beauty stretching for over 1,800 kilometers from the misty mountains and deep valleys of its far northern border with China, through timeless paddy fields of the Red River delta and fairytale islands of Halong Bay, south to the ancient Imperial capital of Hue and through the steamy and mysterious waterways of the Mekong delta. Certainly the proud Vietnamese people will welcome you with their friendly hospitality and captivate you with their gracious charm, making your stay most memorable and your photographs cherished personal treasures.

All photos © Dennis Cox / Photo Explorer Tours

Tour Highlights:

..........Bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

..........Stilted villages, floating markets, and rice paddies of the Mekong Delta

..........Colorful ethnic markets and scenic northern highlands hill tribe villages of Sa Pa and Bac Ha

..........Jagged isles, hidden lagoons, and sea caves of Halong Bay

..........Ancient sites of Hue's Nguyen Dynasty, Hoi An's Old Town, and the Sand Dunes and Fishing Boats of Phan Thiet

All photos © Dennis Cox / Photo Explorer Tours

A price quote will be determined for this tour, based on the size of your group and level of accommodations, which will include 15 nights in hotels (16 or 17 if additional nights at Sapa and Halong Bay are added), all meals beginning with dinner on Day 1 and ending with breakfast on Day 16, domestic transportation and domestic airport taxes, transfers, admission fees, and the services of our veteran English-speaking professional photographer guide in Vietnam who will accompany you throughout. The price excludes entry visa, international airfare, beverages and personal tips including to the national guide. International air service is available on United, EVA Air, China Airlines, American, Delta, Philippine Airlines, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, and ANA. Photo Explorer Tours can supply list of consolidators who can usually provide low discounted prices.

All photos © Dennis Cox / Photo Explorer Tours

Vietnam Explorer Itinerary


Day 1:: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) from home, or from Siem Reap for those taking the pre-tour extension to Cambodia's Angkor Wat.

Welcome by local photographer/guide and transfer to hotel. Welcome dinner at Kinh Bac Restaurant. Overnight in Superior room at Tan Hoang Ngoc Hotel near the Ben Thanh Market and offers free internet access.

Day 2: HCMC-Vinh Long-Can Tho

After breakfast drive to Can Tho, then take boat trip on the small canals to shoot the daily activities of the locals. Return to town for dinner. Overnight in Victoria Can Tho Resort Hotel in superior room.

Day 3: Can Tho-Phung Hiep Floating Market-Ben Tre

Early morning visit to Phung Hiep Floating Market, the biggest floating market in Southeast Asia. Here you can shoot the real life of the Vietnamese who live on the river. A highlight you won't want to miss is the Phung Hiep snake market where you will be invited to drink some snake wine and watch the dangerous snake performance. There may also be a chance to attend the Moon worshipping festival of the Khmers and the Sea God worshipping ceremony by the My Long beach and enjoy the very famous and interesting art called "Don ca tai tu." Overnight back in HCMC.

Day 4 & 5: HCMC-Phan Thiet

After breakfast drive straight to Phan Thiet. With its 192 km long coast and adjoining range of mountains, Phan Thiet is famous for its beautiful complex of sandbanks and dunes, towering lighthouse, long Buddha statue,and most colorful rocks. Many Cham festivals take place here regularly. After visiting these places and making exhausting the photo possibilities, it is an ideal location to relax in the cool, clear water of the azure blue sea. One of the highlights is a stop en route to the ceramic making village by Dong Nai River. This is not a touristy place and not yet listed in Vietnam's travel map. During one afternoon in Phan Thiet, drive to Bau Trang, 30km from Phan Thiet. This is the site of the most beautiful sand dunes in Phan Thiet, especially in the sunset. Two nights at The Beach Resort.

Day 6: Phan Thiet-Ho Chi Minh City

Activities in Phan Thiet include early morning photo shoot at the fishing wharf where hundreds of fishing boats are bringing netted fish to shore for trading. Return to HCMC for overnight.

Day 7: HCMC-Danang-Hoi An

Morning visit to Cu Chi Tunnels or shooting around bustling Saigon before flying to Danang on flight VN326 at 5:30 PM. Transfer to Hoi An on arrival at 6:40 PM. First of two nights in 4-star Hoi An Hotel in deluxe room.

Day 8: Hoi An & My Son

Full day in My Son and Hoi An includes shoot at the local Fish Market.

Day 9: Hoi An-Hue

Drive to Hue after breakfast. The ancient city of Hue is known for its numerous remains of tombs, pagodas, and temples dating back to the 17th and 18th century. The historical sites of Thien Mu Pagoda, King Minh's tomb, and Temple of Soul's Tablets are reached by Royal Boat on the Huong River. Overnight in 4-star Huong Giang Hotel in deluxe room.

Day 10: Hue-Hanoi-night train to Lao Cai

Visits of Hue. Lunch in Hue. Take afternoon flight VN244 at 2:40 PM to Hanoi arriving at 3:50 PM. Dinner in town in Hanoi. In the evening depart on the overnight Victoria Express train in an air conditioned soft sleeper to Lao Cai.

Day 11: Lao Cai-Sapa

Arrive in Lao Cai early in the morning and go immediately to village of Bac Ha for morning market activity of the Flower Hmong, the it's on to Sa Pa for more photo opportunities. Mile-high Sa Pa nestles in the Hoang Lien Mountains near the border with China and is home to 30 colorful hill tribes as well as Vietnam's highest peak, 10311 feet high Mount Fansipan. Overnight in 4-star Victoria Sapa Resort Hotel in superior room.


Day 12: Monday, November 12: Sa Pa-Lao Cai-Hanoi

Another day exploring the countryside around Sa Pa. Lunch and dinner. Transfer to Lao Cai Station for overnight train back to Hanoi in air conditioned soft sleeper.

PLEASE NOTE: Adding an additional night in Sa Pa at the Victoria Sa Pa Resort is recomended in order to more fully explore the town and additional local villages.

Day 13: Hanoi-Halong Bay

Arrive Hanoi early in the morning and transfer on to Halong Bay for 2 day cruise with overnight on board wooden Bai Tho Junk.

Arrive in Halong, transfer to the pier for embarking the junk, our crew welcomes you on board. Enjoy a welcome drink, check into your cabin and enjoy lunch with fresh seafood. At 1 PM, the boat begins a 3.5 hour cruise into Halong Bay to see the amazing karsts with different formations: Mat Qui (Monster's face) islet, But Moc islet, Cap De islet, Trong (Drum) cave, Trinh Nu cave, to a Floating Fishing village to see this unique way of life... and then explore Luon cave (from 4 to 5 PM). There will be lots of time for photographing. Enjoy a great sunset dinner and relax under the starlit sky before retiring to the comfort of your cabin.

PLEASE NOTE: Adding a second night aboard the junk in Halong Bay is highly recomended as it will permit additional photo opportunities at more locations.

Day 14: Halong-Hanoi

Disembark around noon after lunch on board. Return by road to Hanoi with a visit to Dong Trieu ceramic village. Dinner followed by water puppet show in the evening. First of two nights in 3-star Hong Ngoc 1 Hotel, which is located in the old quarter.  

Day 15: Hanoi city tour

Full day city tour in Hanoi and its suburbs.Visits to include the Literature Temple, the first university in Vietnam built in 1070 to learn more about Vietnamese study tradition, the old quarter, Dong Xuan Market, the biggest market in Hanoi and small-sized handicraft shops for lively photos of Vietnamese life and people. In the afternoon, go to the suburbs to view the farmers working on the lush paddy fields. Then visit a pagoda on the small island emerging from West Lake. Farewell dinner at Press Club.

Day 16: Departure from Hanoi. After breakfast transfer to the airport for international flights home.


All photos © Dennis Cox / Photo Explorer Tours

Optional Pre-Tour Extension to Angkor Wat, Cambodia
All photos © Dennis Cox / Photo Explorer Tours


Day 1 - Arrive Siem Reap via Ho Chi Minh City

(Note: Most flights, such as on United Airlines, arrive late in the evening, so you will want to arrive in HCMC a day early. A room for you can be booked at the Vien Dong Hotel for US$55 net per room per night including breakfast and taxes. Airport-hotel-airport transfers can be arranged and are expected to cost US$20-$30 per person with English-language assistance, US$12-$16 without translator, or US$4 each way by taxi. Price for the first two varies depending upon number of persons transfering together.) A double entry visa to Vietnam will be needed for participants on this pre-tour extension.

Arrive in Siem Reap, welcome by our English speaking guide and transfer to hotel. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire. First of three nights in Siem Reap at the pleasant 3 star HanumanAlaya Boutique Guesthouse.

Day 2 - Siem Reap

After breakfast spend the morning on an extensive tour of the magnificent 12th century Angkor Wat. In the afternoon continue to Srah Srang, Banteay Kdei, the fabulous Ta Prohm Temple, embraced by the roots of enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers and the small twin temples of Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon.

Day 3 - Siem Reap

After breakfast depart for a visit to Banteay Srei, Kbal Spean (River of 1,000 Lingas) and Banteay Samre. In the afternoon, visit the Grand Circuit taking in Pre Rup, Neak Poan and Preah Khan.

Day 4 - Depart Siem Reap

After breakfast, depending on departure flight time, choose between a boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake, a visit to the Siem Reap market and the workshops of Artisans d'Angkor (wood and stone carving) or visit the Landmine Museum of Mr Aki Ra before transferring to Siem Reap Airport for departure flight to Ho Chi Minh City to begin the regular Vietnam tour itinerary..

Above arrangementsfor minimum of four participants include all meals, admission fees, and services of a local English speaking guide. Extension price is US$450 sharing a twin room (single supplement is US$75). Air from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap and return is approximately US$250 plus tax and can be booked individually as part of you international air by your agent or consolidator, or Photo Explorer Tours can book this for you through the tour operator in Ho Chi Minh City. Please note that there is a US$25 per person departure tax from Siem Reap which must be paid to the airport individually.


Photo Explorer Tours DENNIS COX LLC

2506 Country Village, Ann Arbor MI 48103-6500 USA

Phone: 800-315-4462 or 734-996-1440....


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May all your journeys be care free,

And may all your days be filled with wonder.