We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Soai Pham Van Vu (@soaipham) shows us around his charming hometown in Vietnam and takes us for a trip around several other photogenic locations in Asia.
Huế, in central Vietnam, is an imperial city that was the seat of the last feudal dynasty (which reigned from 1802 to 1945). It’s also where I was was born and raised.
Unlike the other cities in Vietnam, Huế is a paradise for photographers of all types, especially those who love culture, history, and nature. I feel so lucky to live and work in a city that has received several nods from UNESCO — for its buildings, archives, woodblocks, music, and royal literature.
I tend to spend my weekends in cultural spaces like this traditional craft village, where I learned how to make incense, and captured the colorful bundles of bamboo sticks with my camera.
Not long ago, I enjoyed a walk with some new friends through the long corridor inside the imperial citadel in Huế. It was a great way to learn more about its history while admiring the details, shadows, and architecture.
That said, I also love exploring the natural around the city. I enjoy riding my bike to the outskirts of Huế to see the ducks, water buffalo, and green paddy fields. Watching the flocks of ducks cross the country road is an unforgettable experience, at least when it comes to animal photography.
Since Huế is my hometown, it offers tremendous inspiration for my work, especially with the nostalgic red of the royal architecture and the yellow of the serene rural life. It means so much to me to help others discover the beauty of my home city.
Hội An, Vietnam
I travel to the Old Town of Hội An twice every year. It is just a 30-minute drive from Danang, a coastal city that’s famous for its beaches and resorts.
Many travelers visit Hội An for its tranquil, lantern-laden nightlife. Others are amazed by the architecture of the so-called “city of yellow,” and so am I. I always stay in Old Town for at least three days so I can explore all of its hidden charms.
Life on the water is a must-see in Hội An, since it allows everyone to easily observe the adversity of local farmers and feel the harmony between fishers and nature. If you’re a water lover, Hội An is the perfect place to visit.
I frequent the Thanh Ha pottery village every time I’m there as well. I go to talk to the artisans, watch them make pottery, and admire every detail of their artwork. A day at the village is an incredible journey between the past and present.
One of these photographs shows a trishaw driver reinstalling the foam seat cushion of his vehicle in preparation for his next ride.Every time I visit Hội An, I walk by this area to admire the drivers relaxing and sipping tea or coffee. Life is peaceful in this charming old town.
If asked to choose between modernity and tradition, I usually opt for the latter — or maybe something in between. This was true for my recent trip to Singapore’s Chinatown.
For anyone visiting Singapore, I’d recommend starting at the People’s Park Complex in the heart of Chinatown and climbing the stairs to the rooftop of the shopping mall. If you’re lucky enough to go up there after rainfall, you’ll be able to enjoy the photogenic reflection of this nearby residential building.
Next, I’d recommend making your way to Chinatown’s street market during non-rush hours, and admiring the sky among the old Chinese facades. Thousands of lanterns will be illuminated in red and yellow above your head. But for a special treat, head back later after nightfall. The view is breathtaking.
The area is also special because Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism come together with neighboring temples at South Bridge Road. I’d recommend climbing up a nearby residential building for some direct views of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Just be sure to follow a few locals, or ask the building’s guard for permission.
I love every corner of Hong Kong, from its busy downtown area to its awe-inspiring peaks and remote islands.
Just a few steps from the famous Hollywood Road, Gage Street is always abuzz with local life. Street photographers don’t need to bring heavy flash devices, thanks to the beautiful neon signs of Hong Kong’s best seafood restaurants and the pink lamps from the city’s fish stalls. Be sure to get on the world’s longest outdoor mid-level escalator here and view the busy streets from above. There are plenty of fruit stalls as well, as you can see in my photo, and a long queue in front of the well-known Lan Fong Yuen Cafe.
It’s a real challenge for heavily equipped photographers to climb the 268 steps to the 112 feet-high (34 meters) Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, on Lantau Island. But don’t worry! You can find other ways to capture the giant, impressive statue. In this photo, the statue appears in the background, through the doors of Po Lin Buddhist Monastery. Alternatively, photographers can take the cable car at Ngong Ping 360 for an aerial view of the island.
To sum things up: I miss Hong Kong, and I can’t wait to return.