Must-Read Advice for Doing Photography in Halong Bay

Must-Read Advice for Doing Photography in Halong Bay

One of the most photogenic corners of this beautiful world, Halong Bay boasts perfect scenery at every turn.
In this post, we spoke to a couple of accomplished photographers who recently visited Halong Bay. Let’s hear their experiences and find out best tips for Halong Bay photography!

Vladislav Borimsky (Photographer, US)

His Experience:

In March of 2016, while traveling through Vietnam, I made a point to visit Halong Bay.
Before, I had seen multitude of photos of Halong. They feature jungle-covered limestone rock formations rising through the tranquil blue waters. Completely reminiscing something out of Avatar movie! Then, I knew this was something I had to see.

Among many overnight cruises, I booked one which took me around the bay in a junk ship. I packed an overnight bag and a camera, ready to capture National Geographic worthy photos of this majestic region.

On the day of the tour it was chilly and drizzly. The bay was covered in fog. It was gray and hazy – not even remotely close to what I saw in color popping travel photos. My initial reaction was disappointment.

The weather didn’t look like it was going to improve. Sun was nowhere in sight. The whole atmosphere was ghostly eerie, somewhat creepy and mysterious.

And yet, it turned out to be astonishingly beautiful and serene. I quietly passed by the haze covered rocky pillars, islets and occasional fishing boats and floating fishing villages. This gave you sense that you were discovering something new – something that no one has seen before.

halong bay photography - Vladislav Borimsky
Source: Vladislav Borimsky

Nature is unpredictable and can often impact your traveling or photographic experience. Being flexible and able to adapt to your surrounding is key to making the best out of any situation. I took out my camera, trying my best to protect it from the mist and started snapping.

Eagerly, I wanted to capture the eeriness and solitude of the area and its inhabitants on that day. I wanted to seize every moment of the side of Halong Bay most people didn’t see.

His Advice:

The best advice I can give to any traveler or photographer visiting Halong Bay, is to let go of your expectations and embrace what you are given.

You are privileged to be part of a small percentage of people who have or will ever see this magnificent part of the world. Your experience will be unique. Embrace it and tell your story.

halong bay photography - Vladislav Borimsky
Source: Vladislav Borimsky

Our Conclusion:

Halong Bay is beautiful at every point of the year. Yet, if you are planning a trip with certain expectations in mind, it’s important to read up on the weather in Halong Bay throughout the year.

Are clear skies and color popping pictures what you’re after? If yes, it’s best to visit during the winter or early spring months when rainfall and cloud cover are at their lowest.

But, if you want moody and misty images, you are more likely to achieve them in summer months. They tend to bring stormy skies and misty days.

It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast again before you head off. If it looks like a spell of bad weather is on the way, you can always check it with your tour operator to confirm the cruise departure. Remember, your trip can only be called off if there’s a big storm on the way.

halong bay photography - Vladislav Borimsky
Source: Vladislav Borimsky

Helen Suk (Photographer, Canada)

Her Experience:

Halong Bay is a photographer’s dream! This surreal archipelago is rich with geological beauty. It was difficult to take my eyes away from the 1,600 limestone karsts that jut out from the emerald waters, even for 15 minutes.

I was camera-ready at all times. The region is that breathtaking. However the weather, the scenery all offered incredible photographic opportunities throughout the day.

halong bay photography - Helen Suk
Source: Helen Suk

Her Advice:

  1. Consider a cruise through Bai Tu Long Bay within the Halong Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site instead of the main route. The waters are cleaner and significantly less crowded with boats (“junks”). I often felt like the vessel I was on was the only one in the whole bay.
  2. To maximize your time and experience more transformations of Halong Bay, spend the night on the junk instead of just one day. The weather can change by the hour. This will also give you the opportunity to relax and soak it all in.
  3. Bring a wide angle lens! You’ll often want to capture as many of the rock formations as possible within the frame.
  4. Try to include a person or boat in your image to give a sense of scale to the many formations in the bay.
halong bay photography - Helen Suk
Source: Helen Suk

Our Conclusion:

Want your images to be clear of other boats and maintain an ‘isolated’ feel? Then, touring through the quieter areas of Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay will be a good choice for you. The further away you go from the main tourist wharf, the quieter and less populous the waters of the bay will be.

Taking a 2-day-1-night or 3-day-2-night cruise also means you will sail deeper into the bay and further away from the crowds. And the scenery will only get better the further you go.

In summary

Choose your cruise wisely depending on what sort of outcome you want for your images. If you want your pictures to be free of other boats, pick a cruise that sails in quieter regions like Lan Ha Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay. If your images depend on the weather, pick an appropriate time of year for your visit and always check the weather again before you go. Happy snapping!

Have you got some Halong pictures you’d like to share? Send them to us at Halong Hub for and we’ll be happy to feature them (with full credits to you) in a future post.

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