Follow along with Réhahn as he gives special access to 15 of the best places for photos in Hoi An, Vietnam.
Insider tips, from the best locations such as the rice fields in Hoi An, the fishing market, and the iconic Hoi An Ancient Town to the perfect times of day to capture a shot, are included.
Both amateur photographers looking for the most instagrammable spots in Hoi An and professionals interested in improving their Vietnam photos, will enjoy the ride!
My Favorite Places for Hoi An Photography
In Hoi An, my adopted home, there are endless photographic opportunities. The light shifts and sparkles over the city as the bustle of the morning market and daily life begins. Even after a decade of living in Vietnam, whenever I go out, I find something that ignites my creativity. People often ask me when and where the best Hoi An photography spots. I’m excited to share some tips so that you can discover the enchantment of The Yellow City of Hoi An for yourself.
Before I give you the best photo locations in Hoi An, let me give you a few general rules. Remember that the best time to shoot photos in Vietnam is always the early morning. This becomes even more important in a touristic area like Hoi An.
There’s a saying that goes: “The early bird catches the worm.” When it comes to photography, it can be said that the early riser catches the best shot.
Hoi An Old Town
At 5:30 am, the Ancient Town of Hoi An starts to wake up and prepare for the day ahead. People sweep in front of their homes and shops, and merchants begin to carry their wares to the market. You will mostly have the city to yourself before tourists head into town for their daily shopping and visiting.
There is nothing more irritating than setting up the perfect photo of the famed Japanese bridge. Then you get stuck with a selfie stick in your viewfinder. This is why it’s important to know the best times and places to capture real life photos in Hoi An, without your image getting lost in a sea of travelers. That said, don’t let the popularity of the destination deter you. Hoi An is a warm and vibrant place with excellent food and authentic culture. It’s worth the time it takes to find the right location…then just wait for inspiration.
For example, Hoi An ancient town’s small alleyways are a must-see for photographers. Narrow and winding, the alleys are lined with traditional Vietnamese houses. The walls of the houses are often painted in different colors, from soft green to iconic yellow.
These homes make great backgrounds to capture the everyday life of the locals and can be shot at anytime of day.
You can wander around Hoi An for hours without getting bored, especially if you love visiting remnants from the past.
Even if you sit in front of the same background day after day, you’ll end up with hundreds of different images. Each one with a unique spirit.
Further, in the Ancient Town around Nguyen Thai Hoc street, you’ll find many exciting walls to use as backdrops. I chose this blue wall to create a soft contrast to the white ao dai of this young woman from my TRADITION series of photographs.
Between 6:30 and 7 am start moving towards Tran Phu street where the historic Japanese bridge is located.
Typically, the first wave of tourists come to the bridge around 8 am. So most landmarks are better captured in the early morning or during lunchtime when the locals have their afternoon nap.
You can also see locals eating breakfast around the Japanese bridge, on Nguyen Thai Hoc and Tran Phu streets. The Vietnamese rarely have breakfast at home, so the morning streets are always filled with bustling life and delicious smells. You’ll be able to see school children enjoying breakfast on their way to their classes and locals heading to work.
Students in the town wear their national dress, the ao dai, to school every day. It consists of a long tunic over loose pants and a non la conical bamboo hat. The groups of young women dressed in white who flood the streets daily contribute to the graceful charm of the city.
The Yellow City of Hoi An
Hoi An is famous for its yellow walls, which make a perfect background for photographers.
Visit in the early morning before shops open. This is when the streets are less crowded and the light is soft, which will give you a cleaner background for your photos. You could try taking a photo of a local person riding a bike or a vendor in a conical hat carrying her baskets of fruit on bamboo sticks.
There are a number of reasons why this color is the chosen color in Hoi An. The main one being that yellow symbolizes royalty. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the color, take a look at my article: Hoi An, the Yellow City.
Hoi An’s Rooftops
One of the best ways to see the city is from above, and there are a few great places to take photos of the rooftop houses.
The rooftop of the Hoi An Central Market is a great place to take photos of the city. You can get a 360-degree view of the old town, and you can also see the river and the surrounding countryside.
Faifo Cafe is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The cafe has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the old town.
The Chef Restaurant is another great place to take photos of the rooftop houses. The restaurant has a rooftop terrace with a pool, and you can enjoy stunning views of the old town.
The best times for great shots with this “birds-eye-view” is from 5:30am to 8am or/and 4pm to 6:30pm every day.
Hoi An Central Market
Hoi An Market is a great place to take photos of the local way of life. You can find a variety of people and activities there, including elderly ladies coming from Tra Que Village wearing conical hats and carrying bamboo sticks to support heavy baskets of vegetables.
The central market is also an excellent place for action photographs. Get there in the early morning. Then you can revel in the movements as vendors unload colorful fruit, vegetables, and sea life, and bargain with their suppliers.
The vibrant colors of the vegetables and food make a great subject for photos. Look for shots that capture the contrast between the different colors, such as the bright reds of the chili peppers and the deep greens of the leafy vegetables.The best time to come is any day of the week starting from 6am.
Thanh Ha Fishing Market
Thanh Ha is one of the largest fishing markets in Hoi An. It is located on the Thu Bon River, and it is a hive of activity from early morning until late afternoon.
You will see fishermen unloading their catches, vendors selling fresh seafood, and locals buying food for their families.
Visit in the early morning, when the market is most active. There are some more markets near Cua Dai Bridge as well.
Hoi An’s Temples
Hoi An is home to many temples, some of which are located in the heart of the city, while others are more secluded.
The furthest temples are often the quietest, but they can also be the most empty. If you want to take photos of these temples without other people in them, you may need to bring a friend or family member to pose for you.
Most temples in Hoi An are free to enter, but there may be a small fee for taking photos. The best times for photos are from 5:30am to 8am or/and 4pm to 6:30pm every day.
Lantern Town in Hoi An
At night, the city transforms into what’s known as Lantern Town.
Beautiful handmade arts and crafts fill the night market. But the real charm lies in the dancing lanterns that adorn the buildings and streets. It’s a magical time to see the streets lit with the soft glow of the lanterns. It’s a great time to take photos, but be prepared to be surrounded by thousands of tourists.
In 2007, when I first came to Hoi An, it was much easier to get a photo without people crossing in front of the camera.
Photographic Daytrips in Hoi An’s Countryside
Cam Kim Island
Cam Kim Island is a beautiful island located just outside of Hoi An.
It is a great place to take photos of the local way of life, including rice farming, traditional rice paper making, and carpentry. You can also bike around the island to explore the different villages and see the different activities that are happening.
For the best light, try to get there from 5:30am to 8am or/and 4pm to 6:30pm any day of the week.
Starting at birth, we are attracted to activity and light. An infant might follow a ray of sunlight while an adult is drawn to the magnetic rush of a train whirring past. Good photographers know how to use this captivation to their advantage when taking a picture. They can use natural light to create a soft filter or capture a movement to develop a sense of action.
Hoi An’s countryside is the perfect location to get both the perfect light and intriguing subjects moving through your shots. From the beauty of Hoi An’s ricefields, to a vibrant vegetable market to a traditional fishing village, here are the best places to get out of town and shoot photos in nature.
In the countryside, 5:30am is the best time to capture the light as the first rays of dawn spread across the sky.
The beauty of the colors of reflecting in the flooded rice fields can create incredible atmosphere and a surreal effect, while the change of the seasons ensures a new color palette each time you return.
Tra Que Vegetable Village
Located 3 km from the center of Hoi An, Tra Que village is a popular location. It is the freshest and cleanest vegetable and herb supplier in Hoi An. You can easily get there by motorbike, bicycle or simply a light walk. Tra Que, with its lush grassland, marvelous ricefields, and tranquil lakes, creates the perfect backdrop of rural Vietnam.
The village has been growing vegetables for over 300 years. The vegetables grown in here are all organic and are grown using traditional methods. Every morning, local farmers rise early to water their gardens and plant their vegetables meticulously. Vendors then come to collect the vegetables to bring to market.
The best time for morning shots is from 5:30 am to 8:00 am. You might be lucky enough to see a boat bringing seeds to the village or a farmer having a break and sitting on his buffalo. You can also shoot from 4:30 pm to around 6:30 pm as the sun sets and colors flood the fields.
Best Rice Fields in Hoi An
Hoi An is a beautiful city surrounded by rice fields. If you are looking for a great place to take photos of rice fields, I recommend the Cam Ha area.
Here, you’ll find many small alleys that you can drive or bike through, and you’ll be able to see lotus and rice fields depending on the season.
There are also many farmers working in the fields all year long, which can add to the beauty of your photos. The best times for photos are from 5:30 am to 8 am or/and 4pm to 6:30 pm every day.
To learn more about Hoi An’s ricefields, check out my article – Rice Fields in Vietnam: A Journey into the Pastoral in Fine Art
Hoi An’s Fishing Villages
Hoi An is also surrounded by fishing villages, which offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life in Vietnam.
The fishing villages are a great place to experiment with different compositions. You can frame your shots with the fishermen working on their boats, their colorful fishing nets, the fishermen themselves, or even the fish sauce and ice cubes that are made in the villages.
My favorite location is Duy Nghia village. It’s best to arrive around 5:30 am every day for the best shots.
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Thanh Ha Pottery Village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been producing pottery for over 500 years, and it is home to over 1,000 potters.
The pottery making process in Thanh Ha is still done using traditional methods. The clay is mined from the nearby mountains and then shaped by hand on a potter’s wheel. The pottery is then fired in a kiln, which is fueled by wood.
The village becomes more touristic after 8am, so I recommend to show up around 7 am and to seek out some local families to show you their work.
The Mat Making Village
Ban Thach Village, located just outside of Hoi An, is a great place to see how traditional Vietnamese mats are made.
The village is home to many mat weavers who have been practicing their craft for generations.
Making a handwoven rug in Hoi An’s Mat Making village
Like Thanh Ha, it’s best to arrive around 7 am so that you can have a chance to chat with some of the artisans and ask permission to take some photos.
Cua Dai Beach
Cua Dai Beach is a beautiful beach located just outside of Hoi An. It is a great place to take photos, especially in the early morning when the light is soft and the fishermen are setting out to sea.
The advantage of starting early is witnessing the incredible reflections on the water with the first rays of sunlight.
Cua Dai Bridge
For a higher perspective of the water, head to the Cua Dai Bridge. This bridge is one of my favorite bridges in Hoi An. It’s located just outside the town center.
Expect to see lots of fishermen, fishing nets and different colors in and above the water, according to the season.
The best times of day to shoot are at 5:30am to 8am or/and 4pm to 6:30pm, every day of the week.
I hope you enjoyed following along with me to learn about the artistry and natural beauty that can be found in and around Hoi An, if you know where to look.
It’s important to remember that you may need to take hundreds of shots before you find your perfect image.Thousands of photographs of different subjects passing in front of the same backgrounds fill my archives. But that’s part of the joy of the job!
The shots, over time, create an ever-transforming documentation of the seasons, people, and impressions that enrich my favorite locations.
Hoi An Photo Tours
We don’t currently run any photo tours, but we do encourage photographers to come to the gallery to learn more about photography in Hoi An.
Address: 7 Nguyễn Huệ street, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Viêt Nam
Tel : +84 94 982 06 98
Open 7/7 from 10am to 6pm
Precious Heritage Art Gallery and Museum
Address : 26 Phan Bội Châu street, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Viêt Nam
Tel : +84 94 982 06 98
Open 7/7 from 8am to 8pm