6 Top Photographic Locations in Gorgeous Hoi An, Vietnam

Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Ivan Okyere-Boakye
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Affiliate Disclaimer: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission to help cover the cost of running this site, if you go through them to make a purchase. See details for full information. Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are taken by myself, and all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Graceful historic Hoi An is an incredibly atmospheric and photogenic town you must visit on a trip to Vietnam. Located by the Thu Bon River, it was a prominent Vietnamese trading port during the 15th and 19th centuries for silk, porcelain, pepper, and cinnamon. The architectural style in the city therefore has a lovely mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and French styles. The best attractions in Hoi An are within the popular areas of Riverside and Old (Ancient) Town, which are easily explored on foot.

Best time to visit Hoi An Old Town

The weather for Hoi An is generally better between February to July when it is drier, sunny and warm. The temperature ranges from 25°C to 35°C, which also means this is peak tourist season to visit Hoi An, with higher prices and crowds. 

The rainy season from August to January is quieter, so good for lower prices and having the quiet little town to yourself for exploring. Temperatures remain high between 20°C to 25°C, however, the humidity can be high. October and November can also see much more rain showers. The Hoi An lantern festival held on every full moon night is one of the best times to visit Hoi An Old Town. During this time, the streets and the river are lit by colorful lanterns, and people release candles on the river for good luck.

Hoi An Old Town is a beautiful place for people who love to explore ancient towns, take stunning photos and for street photography. You can wander around Hoi An Old Town for hours without getting bored, especially if you love visiting places with a rich history. However, with so many picturesque spots, you may be challenged hurrying from place to place to find the most instagrammable spots. Even worse is arriving at places at the wrong time when the sun is directly in front of you, giving you awful photos.

The best time of day to visit is ideally early morning to enjoy the quiet streets or at sunrise for that magical golden light quality. Yes, sunrise and sunset are perfect for great lighting, but you can’t be everywhere at those times! So some forward planning helps. You can then use the time in between to wander around Hoi, eat something or shop for souvenirs at the Hoi An Market.

My recommendations below of some of the best spots of Hoi An will help you to plan the best time of the day to visit. This will help you get the most out of your photographer skills to return home with perfect photos.

1. Tran Phu Street (Trần Phú)

6 Top Photographic Locations in Gorgeous Hoi An, Vietnam
Ti Tin art gallery with traditional drawings of Vietnamese women in Old Town, Hoi An, Vietnam
Bicycles parked outside the yellow pastel coloured walls of a women’s clothes store in Tran Phu in Hoi Ann Old Town, Vietnam
Bicycles parked outside the yellow pastel coloured walls of a women’s clothes store in Tran Phu in Hoi Ann Old Town, Vietnam
Urban photo shoot of Vietnamese bride in an elegant white wedding dress in the colourful streets of Hoi Ann Old Town in Vietnam
Urban photo shoot of Vietnamese bride in an elegant white wedding dress in the colourful streets of Hoi Ann Old Town in Vietnam
6 Top Photographic Locations in Gorgeous Hoi An, Vietnam
Night view of shopping street in old town of Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An Old (Ancient) Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.  Its narrow streets are lined with beautifully restored houses, quaint shophouses and makeshift stalls selling handicrafts, jewellery, traditional clothing, and other tourist goods. 

Tran Phu Street is one of the main streets in the Old Town, leading towards the famous Japanese Bridge, and great for street photography. The main colour of the building walls in Tran Phu Street and the surrounding side streets is a gorgeous golden yellow. This is a favourite colour as yellow symbolises royalty and superiority and is also practical in helping to reflect the heat. These faded decaying walls also provide a great backdrop for taking colourful contrasting photos of yourself and others.

Photo tips for capturing the best shots 

HoiAnnTranPhu_01
Screenshot from The Photographer's Ephemeris - click image to view conditions for your specific travel date. Legend is as follows (Grey pin: photo tips location; Red pin: your position facing towards the location; Light orange line: direction of sun towards your position; Dark orange line: direction of sun at sunset towards your position).

Walking down Tran Phu Street allows you to explore the wonderful shops and street life on Tran Phu and the surrounding side streets. Depending on the time of year you visit, the best times to aim for are generally:

  • before 12pm if you are walking towards the west as the sun will not be in your face. You will be able to take photos towards the west and also towards the north side of the road. (see the screenshot above – note this is an example using September, so check for the most ideal timing conditions for your specific date of travel)
  • after 12pm up to sunset for daytime photos if you are walking towards the east
  • in the evening and night for lovely illuminated photos. Ideally, use a tripod for sharper photos and longer exposures for fewer moving people in your shots or to get that blurred people motion effect.

2. Japanese Covered Bridge – Entrance

The pastel pink walled entrance to the Japanese Covered Bridge (Cau Nhat Ban) from Tran Phu in Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam
The pastel pink walled entrance to the Japanese Covered Bridge (Cau Nhat Ban) from Tran Phu in Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam
The lovely tree-lined Nguyen Thi Minh Khai (Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai ) Street with different coloured Chinese lanterns hanging from the trees, Hoi An, Vietnam
The lovely tree-lined Nguyen Thi Minh Khai (Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai ) Street with different coloured Chinese lanterns hanging from the trees, Hoi An, Vietnam

The Japanese Covered Bridge an iconic symbol of Hoi An Old Town with a beautiful arch bridge, was built in the 1590s. Also called Cau Nhat Ban, it connected the Japanese and Chinese quarters when Hoi An was a bustling international port town. It is the only covered bridge in the world to house a Buddhist temple, a symbol of goodwill between Chinese and Japanese merchant communities. It’s a wonderful bridge that is elaborately decorated in Chinese and Vietnamese architectural styles.

The bridge has kept a distinctively Japanese character. The entrances are guarded by statues of 2 monkeys on one side and 2 dogs on the other. One explanation for this is that both animals are a symbol of holiness in Japanese culture. Other reasons are thought to be linked to many Japanese emperors being born in the years of the dog and monkey. This coincides with the bridge construction starting in the year of the monkey and finishing in the year of the dog. 

It is free to get across the bridge, but you, however, need one ‘Hoi An Old Town’ ticket to access the temple inside the bridge. The ‘Hoi An Old Town’ ticket will also give you access to five attractions in Hoi An Old Town.

Try and also explore Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street (Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai ) when you cross the bridge from the Tran Phu side. It’s a lovely quieter tree-lined street with lots of hanging Chinese lanterns, shops and food places. It is a bit quieter than the busier Tran Phu side, with all the tourists fighting for photos of the bridge. It is a great spot for creative street photos, especially in the evening and at night when the lanterns are lit.

Photo tips for capturing the best shots 

Hoi-Ann-Tran-Japanese-bridge_01
Screenshot from The Photographer's Ephemeris - click image to view conditions for your specific travel date. Legend is as follows (Grey pin: photo tips location; Red pin: your position facing towards the location; Light orange line: direction of sun towards your position; Dark orange line: direction of sun at sunset towards your position).

This is one of the best places to take photos early in the morning before 7am. Regardless of the time of year, it will be the quietest time for getting a clear photo. I have shown the Nguyen Thi Minh Khai entrance side of the bridge rather than the Tran Phu side as it’s normally quieter. Most tourists tend to stay on the Tran Phu side as they hurry to grab photos of the bridge and other parts of Old Town. Depending on the time of year you visit the Japanese Bridge, the best times to aim for are generally:

  • early morning up to 7/8am for both sides. The Tran Phu side will be sunlit, but the Nguyen Thi Minh Khai side won’t be
  • between 1-3pm for the Nguyen Thi Minh Khai side. Depending on what time of the year you go there can be a lot of people inside the bridge and on the other side. So try using a wider aperture to get the façade in focus with the centre and far end of the bridge slightly blurred out. (see the screenshot above – note this is an example using September, so check for the most ideal timing conditions for your specific date of travel)

3. Japanese Covered Bridge – Front

The amazingly colourful and beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge (Cau Nhat Ban) with reflection in the Thu Bon River in Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam
The amazingly colourful and beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge (Cau Nhat Ban) with reflection in the Thu Bon River in Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam
The amazingly colourful and beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge (Cau Nhat Ban) at night with reflection in the Thu Bon River in Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam
The amazingly colourful and beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge (Cau Nhat Ban) at night with reflection in the Thu Bon River in Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam

Search for Hoi An and you will find this gorgeous view of the Japanese Covered Bridge and reflection in the Thu Bon River. It is an amazing experience and personally much more enjoyable at night when lit up because of the changing colours. You can easily also blur out people using a tripod so you have lovely people-free photos.

Photo tips for capturing the best shots 

 

Hoi-Ann-Tran-Japanese-bridge_02
Screenshot from The Photographer's Ephemeris - click image to view conditions for your specific travel date. Legend is as follows (Grey pin: photo tips location; Red pin: your position facing towards the location; Light orange line: direction of sun towards your position; Dark orange line: direction of sun at sunset towards your position).

Depending on the time of year you visit the best times to aim for are generally:

  • any time between 11am-1pm to get a daytime shot with sufficient sunlight hitting the front of the bridge. (see the screenshot above – note this is an example using September, so check for the most ideal timing conditions for your specific date of travel)
  • from twilight onwards for photographing different colour combinations to see which one gives you that ‘I know I got a good one there’ feeling!

4. Bridge of Lights (Cau An Hoi)

Nguyen Phuc Chu view of the Bridge of Lights (Cau An Hoi) and staff wearing traditional clothing and non la hats in ticket booth in Hoi An, Vietnam
Nguyen Phuc Chu view of the Bridge of Lights (Cau An Hoi) and staff wearing traditional clothing and non la hats in ticket booth in Hoi An, Vietnam
Group of Vietnamese women wearing traditional Ao Dai taking photographs on the Bridge of Lights (Cau An Hoi) in Hoi An, Vietnam
Group of Vietnamese women wearing traditional Ao Dai taking photographs on the Bridge of Lights (Cau An Hoi) in Hoi An, Vietnam
Young girl in school clothes having an afternoon nap in her mother’s boat in the shade underneath the Bridge of Lights (Cau An Hoi) in Hoi An, Vietnam
Young girl in school clothes having an afternoon nap in her mother’s boat in the shade underneath the Bridge of Lights (Cau An Hoi) in Hoi An, Vietnam

The Bridge of Lights connects Hoi An Old Town with An Hoi Island, which holds the Hoi An Night Market. Also called Cau An Hoi, it has many interesting design features and is lined with butterfly-themed hanging lanterns. This makes the bridge a perfect photo spot for illuminated images of the bridge at night.

Every full moon, Hoi An Ancient Town celebrates the Hoi An Lantern Full Moon Festival using silk lanterns to illuminate the houses and streets. It takes place between the bridge and the Japanese Covered Bridge and attracts everyone with traditional food and different events throughout the night. The main highlight involves floating colourful lanterns down the Thu Bon River as locals and tourists light the lanterns wishing for happiness and prosperity.

Photo tips for capturing the best shots

Hoi-An-Bridge-of-lights
Screenshot from The Photographer's Ephemeris - click image to view conditions for your specific travel date. Legend is as follows (Grey pin: photo tips location; Red pin: your position facing towards the location; Light orange line: direction of sun towards your position; Dark orange line: direction of sun at sunset towards your position).

The panoramic views from the Bridge of Lights are unbeatable but can get very crowded. Don’t forget to also look for other smaller details around and under the bridge, e.g. locals going about their normal routines. Depending on the time of year you visit, the best times to aim for are generally:

  • from sunrise to about 11am for shooting images of the bridge from the An Hoi island south side and from the bridge towards the west. Going earlier is better for softer, warmer lighting. (see the screenshot above – note this is an example using September, so check for the most ideal timing conditions for your specific date of travel)
  • at sunset for shooting towards the west side of the river and Hoi An Old Town. The warm orange reflections on the river and yellow-coloured buildings are unforgettable
  • after 2pm till sunset for shooting towards the east side of the river and Hoi An Old Town. Ideally, in the last 2hrs before sunset to get those lovely warm front-lit images

5. Hoi An Old Town Riverfront – West Side of Bridge of Lights

Large yellow fishing net suspended above the Thu Bon River and yellow pastel coloured houses in the background at Hoi Ann Old Town riverfront, Vietnam
Large yellow fishing net suspended above the Thu Bon River and yellow pastel coloured houses in the background at Hoi Ann Old Town riverfront, Vietnam

A favorite place to view the golden yellow buildings in Hoi An, is looking back from An Hoi Island across Thu Bon River. Walking along the waterfront, enjoying the cafes, restaurants and shops, and watching boats floating on the river is great fun. This area became popular when a famous Hoi An photographer Réhahn photographed a girl wearing a white Ao Dai walking past an old yellow wall.

Photo tips for capturing the best shots 

Hoi-An-bridge-west-side-01
Screenshot from The Photographer's Ephemeris - click image to view conditions for your specific travel date. Legend is as follows (Grey pin: photo tips location; Red pin: your position facing towards the location; Light orange line: direction of sun towards your position; Dark orange line: direction of sun at sunset towards your position).

The west side of the Hoi An Old Town riverfront is the quieter of the two sides. One unique thing and photo opportunity from this side is the large yellow fishing nets hanging above the Thu Bon River when not in use. These provide opportunities for lovely river reflection photographs taken from the west side of An Hoi island or from the Bridge of Lights. Depending on the time of year you visit, the best times to aim for are generally:

  • from sunrise to about 11am for shooting images towards the west side of the river and Hoi An Old Town. Going earlier is better for softer, warmer lighting. (see the screenshot above – note this is an example using September, so check for the most ideal timing conditions for your specific date of travel)
  • at sunset for shooting towards the west side of the river and Hoi An Old Town. You will then be able to capture the warm orange light hitting the river and yellow buildings.

6. Hoi An Old Town Riverfront – East Side of Bridge of Lights

View of a Vietnamese woman wearing a traditional non la hat walking in front of a classic yellow pastel coloured house with weathered walls at Hoi Ann Old Town riverfront, Vietnam
View of a Vietnamese woman wearing a traditional non la hat walking in front of a classic yellow pastel coloured house with weathered walls at Hoi Ann Old Town riverfront, Vietnam
6 Top Photographic Locations in Gorgeous Hoi An, Vietnam
Moored fishing boat restaurant at Thu Bon River with illuminated yellow pastel coloured restaurant buildings at Hoi Ann Old Town riverfront, Vietnam
6 Top Photographic Locations in Gorgeous Hoi An, Vietnam
A gorgeous afternoon view of a multicoloured fishing boat and yellow pastel coloured buildings reflecting in the Thu Bon River at Hoi Ann Old Town riverfront, Vietnam
A beautiful evening view of fishing boat restaurants and illuminated yellow pastel coloured restaurant buildings reflecting in the Thu Bon River at Hoi Ann Old Town riverfront, Vietnam
A beautiful evening view of fishing boat restaurants and illuminated yellow pastel coloured restaurant buildings reflecting in the Thu Bon River at Hoi Ann Old Town riverfront, Vietnam

The east side of Hoi An Old Town riverfront is the busier tourist end, and the best area to take photos in Hoi An. There are many chances here for street photography of street vendors, locals, boats on the Thu Bon River, and nighttime illuminated reflections in the river. It is one of the coolest places around the old town to just take your time and explore.

Photo tips for capturing the best shots 

Hoi-An-bridge-east-side-01
Screenshot from The Photographer's Ephemeris - click image to view conditions for your specific travel date. Legend is as follows (Grey pin: photo tips location; Red pin: your position facing towards the location; Light orange line: direction of sun towards your position; Dark orange line: direction of sun at sunset towards your position).

Depending on the time of year you visit the best times to aim for are generally:

  • from 2pm onwards until evening when shooting eastwards from either the north or south side. (see the screenshot above – note this is an example using September, so check for the most ideal timing conditions for your specific date of travel)
  • from sunset onwards if shooting towards the west

7. Hoi An Market

Visiting markets is fun and great for photos, and Hoi An Market is a wonderful photography spot located in an old building. The interesting building architecture and colorful marketplace displays make it a lovely place to spend some time.

Going early in the morning is best for experiencing the best vibes as Vietnamese locals go about their daily shopping, chatting and bartering. It’s a great place to buy gifts or souvenirs like beautiful handmade lanterns or try out tasty authentic Vietnamese food.

8. Hoi An Night Market

The Hoi An night market is one of Hoi An’s must-experience evening events. It runs along the Thu Bon river banks with colorful displays of lanterns, souvenirs, traditional clothing and delicious street food.

It opens daily from about 5pm to 11pm with around 8pm onwards being the best time with the lit lanterns reflecting in the river. It is especially worth visiting when there is a full moon on the 14th day of the lunar month for the Hoi An Lantern Festival. The streets are lit by colorful lanterns after dusk, and Vietnamese locals float colorful paper lanterns containing lit candles on the Thu Bon River. Other activities to enjoy include traditional music and dancing, local cultural performances, plus of course lots of tempting food to enjoy.

Conclusion

As you can see, the Old Town area will provide you with many instagrammable places in Hoi An to keep you fully engaged during your stay in Hoi An. I hope the photo tips above help you to have an extraordinary holiday with amazing photos to go along with your unforgettable memories.

Map of photo spots in Hoi An Ancient Town

Need a little help finding your way around the streets of the Old Town in Hoi An?

I have created a custom Google map showing all of the above photo spots to help you visualise and plan your trip. You can save this on your phone Google map app to have an easy way to navigate to the Old Town sights. Have a get time and do drop me a comment to let me know how it goes.

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6 Top Photographic Locations in Gorgeous Hoi An, Vietnam

Hello I’m Ivan. Welcome to my website. I am a travel photographer based in London, United Kingdom, with a love of traveling the world to meet and photograph new people and places. I am lucky to have visited so many beautiful places and look forward to sharing some of my photographs and travel photo tips with you.

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This is a personal blog and all content provided is for information only. All photographs unless otherwise stated are taken by myself and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Please note that this article:

  1. uses location maps from The Photographer's Ephemeris and Google Maps to show recommended locations, as I have personally used them for many years to support my planning. I do not receive any payments, they are free to use, and there are also other software, apps and websites available for you to use.
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