Among our Vietnam photography tours, Muong Hum and Y Ty are the highlights due to their otherworldly landscapes. From Hanoi, the new highway will get you to Lao Cai within 4.5 hrs drive. From here, it is 1.5 hours to get to the Muong Hum – Y Ty area. This is a very scenic drive, as you get to see mountains, forests, valleys, rice terraces. And of course, minority communities dotting the hill foot. For Vietnam photography tours, the scenery here is more beautiful than the well-known nearby Sapa. Moreover, this area has so far been away from the reach of mass tourism. Therefore, everything remains authentic. And annually, many Vietnamese photographers seek their best landscape photography shots here. This is something you can’t miss, if you are juggling one from another among the available Vietnam photography tours of Momentlives. Especially if you are traveling in May – June or September – October period.
There’s no doubt that most people go to Muong Hum and Y Ty in search of the best landscape shots. As the region is home to an unparalleled combination of rice terraces and mountains. And this region is, thus, a favorite shooting point for our team at Momentlives – Vietnam photography tours.
The minority people living in Vietnam, for years, have shaped the mountains into steps as you can see in the picture above. This is because of irrigation purpose for rice cultivation. So, in the rainy season, each of these massive steps becomes a little reservoir to keep water in. When each has “enough” water, the water will flow to the next lower step. The routine goes further down the valley. And this time the terraces look their best or most photogenic. As the steps are full in water, they becomes mirrors, reflecting the clouds, the people and everything above. This is truly photogenic as the photos change completely in different times of the day.
And what makes our experience more well-worth is that the farm works are done by hands. You will be seeing farmers transporting the seedlings on their shoulders. Then they hand-transplant the seedlings into the mud. Each section of the rice terrace then becomes a stage for your photography creativity. And the terraces stretch out all over the region. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a week here is just barely enough.
Among our Vietnam photography tours, this one is when we spend a good number of days shooting at both sunrise and sunset.
The lights are so magical on the mountains at these time. All enhanced by the water and the shapes of the terraces. Thus, they all create a magical picture for every photo you shoot.
One of the great things about doing photography at sunrise and sunset in the mountains is that the mountains create a set of layers. This bring elements of dimension in to your photo and help the content to be richer. This keeps the viewer stick to your shot and bounce their eyes from one detail to the next. The dynamism of your shots becomes greater.
Every day of our Vietnam photography tour to Muong Hum and Y Ty, we make sure we arrive to the best sites at sunrise and sunsets and get the most out of the amazing lights.
Muong Hum is a hotspot for market scenes, as the weekly market of Muong Hum is among the most colorful in the region. One a week, the quaint little land of Muong Hum booms in sounds, smells and the colors of traditional costumes of the minorities.
Going back in time, the minority in Vietnam scattered from one hilltop to the next. Going out meant reaching the rice fields and then home. Still, the needs of trade was a naturally a part of life. Markets came into existence hence. However, since it was a difficult to go out anywhere due to the terrain and infrastructure, the once-a-week markets provided the solution. Yes, once a week, people met in this kind of market. They bring along what they make, and they buy other necessaries and of course, beauty.
Starting from 5:00 am, the minorities start to get to Muong Hum market. It is on and crowded every Sunday (leaving other days occupied by just some small stalls). Here, there’s a variety of all the things you need to live in the mountains: Foods, clothes, traditional herbal medicines, footwear, silver wears, you name them all. A bunch of ladies gather near a silver wears shop and juggle different items. A group of men sitting gossiping next to a steamy bowls of soup and small cups of rice liquor. Smoke rising from a market corner where food stall owners are cooking. The photography stages are everywhere.
“Clouds hunting” has become popular on some Vietnam photography tours. On Wikipedia, this is however professionally known as “Cloudscape photography“
Muong Hum and especially Y Ty are on high altitude. It’s 600 meters high in Muong Hum and 1500 meters in Y Ty. Here, clouds come and go hourly on some certain days.
Cloudscape is a photography passion. And no one can ignore its beauty. You can really do so much with it in photography. If you are into time-lapse, this Vietnam photography tour is of course for you. If you like to combine clouds in your shots, you have it all here. The photo shows a traditional house of the Ha Nhi people, which sits by the hill edge. The house stands out from the white background of surging clouds. If you’re luckier, there might be people working in the field. Or kids running and buffalo walking in front of the clouds. Clouds help so much to make your shots idealistic. They sometimes make the region completely surreal. Some of your shots might well make a painting within a photo.
On this photography tour, we will have the opportunities to photograph the local minority people living in Y Ty. These are the artists behind the ascending rice terraces in Muong Hum – Y Ty area.
The Vietnamese people generally speaking, are open to photography. In Muong Hum and Y Ty, as long as you show sign of friendliness, you’re more than welcome to press the button. We will be photographing people at work (in the rice field), trading in the market, and in their community. But by no mean we are talking about pointing a long lens at someone’s face. Nor do we go into any house where it has been set up to be a stage. We’re talking about candid people photography.
One of the highlights of our photography tour is a visit to a Ha Nhi community in Y Ty. They number 22,000 and they’re among the smallest groups of people in Vietnam by population. They live in a special kind of house called “Trinh Tuong” – with a thick earthen walls and a grass roof. All Trinh Tuong houses have an earthen floor, without any tiles. This design keeps the inside cool in summer time and warm in winter time. Looking from a distance, every house shapes like a little mushroom. The scene is even more abstract if clouds partly cover the village.
Life of the Ha Nhi largely depends on agriculture, breeding cattle and forestry. Kids go to school and learn Vietnamese, given that the Ha Nhi have their own language. In everyday’s life, they wear their traditional costume with black being the main color, decorated by blue stripes.
So, join us and spend our time soaking in landscape photography of Vietnam, as well as capturing the essence of mountain life. And this is your unique Vietnam photography tour to Muong Hum and Y Ty!
Our Vietnam photography tour to Y Ty starts with a drive from Hanoi to Muong Hum. After checking in hotel and have a short break, we’ll explore the surroundings of Muong Hum. The landscape is imposing as we drive on a higher road overlooking a scenic valley of rice terrace. This afternoon we’ll focus on landscape photography.
Overnight at hotel in a motel in Muong Hum.
This morning, we’ll photograph in the market of Muong Hum. Every Sunday, the town blossoms with colorful tribal costumes and domestic products of the minorities. The locals have established this unique once-a-week market for hundreds of years. And the market of Muong Hum is among the most colorful one, largely because of the Red Dzao traditional costume color.
Our Vietnam photography tour later head for the valley of Den Sang, one of the vastest rice hubs of the area. Here, stretching from one mountain top to the next are the incredible rice terraces. May is the time the seasonal rain fills water along the hillside, creating a uniquely photogenic picture of landscape.
Later on, we will be staying in our Lodge in Y Ty, nestling at a secluded hillside with great views.
Throughout Day 3, our Vietnam photography tour will be stationing in Y Ty. We will be shooting landscape and people photography. Y Ty brings surreal vistas with mountains, clouds, waterfalls and pretty hamlets dotting the mountains.
Momentlives – Vietnam photography tours will be taking you to all our “Secret” corners of Y Ty, where the landscapes are most imposing.
In the night of Day 4, we will be staying in our home-stay in Lao Chai. This home-stay has a commanding view point, looking at a verdant valley.
On day 5, we will be doing landscape and people photography in the village of Lao Chai.
This lovely village is home to the culturally rich H’mong people. Most of the H’mong living in the mountains of Vietnam make a living out of agriculture. They’re also among the friendliest people. We will be capturing their daily life by venturing out into the village.
At the same time, the landscape that surrounds Lao Chai is among the most magnificent in the mountains of northern Vietnam. A good amount of our time is for capturing these landscapes and people working in it.
On Day 6 (May 21) we return to Hanoi. Tonight’s group dinner is in a Vietnamese restaurant. We complete our great photography journey in the mountains with Momentlives – Vietnam photography tours.
Y Ty lies at 1600 meters (4800 fts) above sea level and summer temperature (May – Sep) varies from 16 – 26C (61 – 78 F). The rest of the year temperature varies from 7-15 C (44 – 59 F). Clouds can come and go, and might be accompanied by wind. A wind stopper is suggested in the summer and warm clothes are musts at other times of the year.
Accommodation & food
Y Ty is still a distance from the reach or urbanization. Life goes on the same way as it has been, with the locals largely depend on agricultural products. Consequently, roads are not well paved and accommodation options are simple. There are local hosts who have enlarged their living space to accommodate travelers. Recently, the newly built Y Ty Lodge provides better accommodation standard. This is also the accommodation we pick up for our Vietnam photography tours.
Food is fairly simple and western food is out of the question. Food vary around rice, meat, veges and tofu. We do our best to make sure food is cooked well before served. The good thing is food are all organic.
The bottom line is: It’s important to understand that this is a photography tour to Y Ty, a beautiful yet remote regions. There will be lots of opportunities to capture great shots. But one needs to be adventurous and travel with an open heart and mind.
There will be times that we rise early (around 5:00 am to be in the right photography spot). Other times we might not return to our accommodation till dusk or later. Usually on bright sunny days, we avoid shooting between 11:00 am – 2:30 pm. Obviously these “flat” photos won’t do a justice. Additionally the locals are at their lunch break indoor.