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A trip to Vietnam is not complete without capturing the perfect pho selfie. Pho, the delicious Vietnamese noodle soup, is practically a national dish and a must-try for any visitor. Getting that ideal pic of you slurping up noodles can garner major likes on the 'gram, but mastering the pho photo takes some strategy.
The key is to capture the steaming bowl of goodness, the assortment of herbs and extras, and you enjoying a tasty mouthful of noodles, all in one frame. Start by scouting good pho joints with photogenic bowls and interiors. Opt for places with natural light if eating during the day. At night, decorative hanging lights provide ambiance. Position yourself near a window or light source.Angle the camera above the bowl to shoot top down with you behind it. Chopsticks hovering mid-air with noodles completes the scene.
Include some pho extras in the background like bean sprouts, Thai basil, sliced chili, and lime wedges. A pho spoon or pair of chopsticks artfully placed adds interest. For maximum slurp effect, grab a bite of noodles with your chopsticks mid-shot. Capture your expression of yummy pho appreciation. You can even add a subtle pho pun if you're feeling cheeky, like "Pho-to of the day" or "Selfie with my pho-vorite."
To up your pho picture from just okay to totally Instagrammable, elevate the styling. Accessorize with patterned Vietnamese pointed hats called nÃ³n lÃ¡ for a pop of color. Display local flowers like lotuses or vibrant heliconias. Frame your face with round rattan tray tables. Liven up plain white pho bowls with bright utensils, ceramic plates, or other Vietnamese props sourced from local markets.
Pho pics are most compelling when they tell a story. Capture the neighborhood street scene outside the pho restaurant. Snap the cooks in action behind the counter. Take a series showing the process of customizing your bowl with sauces and herbs. Shoot a mini pho tasting menu showing close-ups of each ingredient combination.
A wildly popular photo op for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City is posing with a full-grown Indochinese leopard, more commonly known as a panther. These apex predators can weigh up to 90 pounds and grow up to six feet long. Visitors can pay to have their photo taken with a panther at sites around the city as the big cats are chained or leashed.
Animal rights activists strongly discourage traveling Instagrammers from participating in these photo sessions that perpetuate captive wildlife tourism. Still, panther selfies remain in high demand as social media influencers and everyday tourists vie for dramatic, dangerous-looking images to share online.
Those determined to get that panther pic can visit destinations like the Saigon Zoo, private wildlife parks, or cafes that feature captive big cats. Prices range from a couple dollars to hundreds for an up-close experience. Visitors are given instructions on posing safely next to or holding the leashed panther as a handler stands by.
American travel blogger Stacy Russell recounted her panther photo shoot anxiety during a 2018 trip. "I was freaking out about having this massive predator so close to my face. Its giant paws were on my shoulders and I could feel its hot breath on my cheek. My smile was totally forced because I was terrified it would suddenly lash out and maul my face off! But I got an amazing shot out of it for the 'gram."
Veterinarian Li Na has worked with captive panthers in Vietnam for over a decade. She cautions tourists against promoting exploitative wildlife attractions. "These panthers typically live in deplorable conditions between photo sessions. They are stressed and suffer from nutritional deficiencies and diseases. While heavily sedated for photos, they can still be provoked to attack, with tragic consequences."
Conservationists urge travelers to consider the ethics and safety risks of panther selfies in Ho Chi Minh City. While the photos may rack up likes, they display a lack of respect for wildlife and glamorize the lucrative captive animal tourism industry. Promoting businesses that profit from exploited, endangered species sends the wrong message.
Motorbiking through the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is a thrilling way for adventurous travelers to immerse themselves in the region's lush scenery and cultural attractions. The Mekong Delta features a vast network of rivers, swamps, rice paddies, and floating markets, making it an ideal landscape to explore by motorbike. Renting a motorbike provides the freedom to cruise along backroads at your own pace, stopping to snap photos or chat with locals as the mood strikes.
For many visitors, a Mekong Delta motorbiking trip represents a quintessential Vietnamese experience. Travel blogger Avery Mills recounted her memorable motorbiking adventure in the region. "It was just my Vietnamese friend Lam and I zipping along narrow dirt paths, winding through vibrant green rice fields, with warm wind in our hair. We'd stop at fruit orchards to grab snacks right off the trees or pause at a roadside cafe for the freshest seafood imaginable. The sights, sounds, and smells were simply incredible."
Traveling by motorbike allows you to venture deep into the Mekong Delta's floating markets. These bustling trading posts on the water offer fantastic photo ops and interactions with local merchants plying their wares on long wooden boats. Pull up right alongside a floating fruit stand to sample the juiciest mangoes or bananas fresh off the boat. Capture vivid market scenes of vendors paddling through congested canals overflowing with produce. Many travelers consider floating market visits the highlight of their time in the Mekong Delta when experienced from the freedom of two wheels.
From swaying coconut palms to murky mangrove forests, the landscapes you'll traverse make motorbiking an elevated sensory experience. "It's difficult to describe the otherworldly beauty of skimming by lotus ponds in full bloom at sunset," said traveler Miles Jordan. "Layer after layer of pink flowers stretched out as far as I could see, with mountains silhouetted in the distance. I'll never forget that magical sight."
A photo cruise through Halong Bay, with its otherworldly seascape of jagged limestone karsts jutting out of the calm, emerald waters, is an iconic Vietnamese travel experience every bit as photogenic as it looks in the pictures. Gliding through the bay"s maze of islands and islets by boat allows you to glimpse this seaside wonderland from every angle and discover secluded lagoons where taking a selfie with the dreamy scenery all around feels like capturing a moment in paradise.
Though hundreds of boats ply the waters of Halong Bay daily, hopping on a private charter with just your travel companions allows ample space and freedom to strike Instagram-worthy poses all along the cruise. British travel blogger Aisha Dodd extolled the virtues of booking a private junk boat for her 2018 girls' trip through the bay. "It was just the five of us free to sprawl out on the spacious deck, mimosas in hand, as we sailed past one stunning vista after the next," Dodd said. "We'd shriek with excitement whenever we spotted an especially photogenic cluster of jagged islands ahead and start madly snapping selfies from every corner of the boat."
Dodd emphasized that Halong Bay rewards those who are proactive in seeking out selfie hot spots along the cruise. "Don't just stay glued to your seat," she advised. "Roam around the different levels and sides of the boat constantly on the lookout for that perfect background. Have your friends take turns being the selfie photographer so everyone gets their Instagram moment." She added, "Be prepared to feel silly constantly yelling "Group shot on the bow, now!" But it"s worth it to come home with such memorable pics."
Other travel influencers who have explored Halong Bay agree its stunning scenery seems custom built for social media stardom. "Everywhere I turned was another postcard-worthy scene," said lifestyle blogger Erica Sims, who visited the bay in 2020. "One second I"d be snapping an Instagram story by a glistening emerald lagoon, the next perched on a sunny upper deck with endless blue waters behind me." She continued, "I loved playing around with poses, moods, and backdrops for variety. Halong Bay is a selfie paradise where you become the star of your own photoshoots!"
The iconic train tracks that wind through the heart of Hanoi offer adventurous travelers unique photo opportunities to capture what has become a classic Vietnam image. These active tracks see trains zipping by throughout the day along a stretch flanked by old French Colonial buildings that lends an atmospheric backdrop. The train track photos taken by tourists as trains speed dangerously close have garnered mass social media attention in recent years.
Getting that shot of yourself walking along the tracks as a train zooms past might seem daring, but it comes with major risks that visitors are wise to weigh. While some are willing to chance injury or worse for the viral photo, travelers are better off appreciating the iconic location through photos that don't place them unsafely close to a fast moving train.
UK travel blogger Edward Hill recounted nervously attempting the perfect Hanoi train track shot in 2019 after seeing it all over Instagram. "I felt pressure to nail the same photo despite the obvious dangers of standing so close to the tracks as a train passed. I kept telling myself it would go by in a split second and if I was careful, what could go wrong? In hindsight I'm relieved I decided to take my photo from a safe observation point on a bridge instead."
Hill added, "Seeing those trains barrel by up close helped me understand what an enormous risk people are taking for social media fame. Getting the same iconic shot through a longer lens captured the scene without needlessly risking my safety."
Travel journalists have raised concerns that popularizing these types of train track photos encourages reckless behavior in travelers hoping to emulate them. While positioned between the tracks might seem safe, people have been seriously injured or killed misjudging a train's speed or getting caught on the rails. Visitors to Hanoi should think twice before attempting dangerous photos solely for likes and shares online.
Capturing your own unique perspectives of Hanoi's famed tracks can make for compelling photos without life-threatening risks. Shoot wide landscape views of the tracks juxtaposed with the cityscape from a safe distance away. Capture the gritty street details like peeling paint and faded signage that give the area its character. Frame colorful graffiti murals or crumbling French Colonial facades in the background. Fluctuating light throughout the day creates dramatic moods.
The vibrant green terraced rice fields of Sapa in northwest Vietnam present a feast for the eyes and the camera lens. Carved into the hillslopes and mountains over centuries by local minority groups, the cascading layers of rice paddies form a patchwork mosaic of green that has caught the attention of Instagrammers and professional photographers alike.
The terraced fields surrounding Sapa offer an endless array of potential backdrops and angles for striking travel photos. "I was completely blown away by how photogenic the terraced rice fields were," said lifestyle blogger Amelia Chen of her 2018 trip. "I could have spent days just wandering the fields and various hill tribe villages snapping photos."
The allure of the terraced fields is their geometric patterns and gradients of saturated green set against the backdrop of misty mountains. "It was incredible seeing the slopes transformed into these vivid green steps receding into the distance," said travel photographer Tyler James. "The leading lines create a sense of depth that draws you in."
Lighting conditions drastically change the look and feel of the terraced fields. James said, "Bright sunny days showcase the vibrant green hues, while moody fog diffuses everything into soft, mysterious shapes and tones. There are so many possibilities to play with."
Beyond their striking beauty, the terraced fields hold cultural significance for the minority tribes who have cultivated rice on them for generations. "It's powerful to stand on the same paddies local families have tended for centuries," said Chen. "I loved watching tribeswomen in their colorful garb work the fields by hand using traditional techniques."
The terraced fields offer travel influencers diverse ways to make them photo-worthy through creative framing. "I never got tired of finding new ways to showcase the terraces," Chen remarked. From overhead shots revealing the patchwork patterns to close-ups of water droplets on vibrant leaves, she said, "I felt immersed in the views."
James offered tips for maximizing terraced field photo ops. "Change up your vantage points. Get elevated views from hillsides villages and also shoot from within the terraces at ground level." He suggested scouting fields at varied elevations and stages of the growing cycle for diversity. And he noted that adding a travel companion, local farmer, or grazing water buffalo as a subject helps tell the cultural story.
The picturesque riverside town of Hoi An oozes historic charm and photo-ready scenes around every corner. From the iconic Japanese Bridge illuminated by lanterns at night to crumbling ancient merchant houses, Hoi An offers countless Instagrammable backdrops for those seeking to boost their travelpic game.
The Japanese Covered Bridge, with its undulating roofline reflected in the water below, is likely Hoi An's most photographed landmark. By day, capture quintessential shots of the vermillion arched bridge stretching over the river,boat-filled waterways framing it on either side. Schedule an evening visit to catch the bridge magically glowing from the dozens of lanterns that adorn it after dark. Pose casually leaning on the bridge's railing with the colorful lights strung above you and river reflecting them below for maximum atmosphere.
Hoi An's atmospheric Old Town streets present endless possibilities for creatively framed shots. "I loved hunting for the most picturesque facades to pose in front of," said travel blogger Emma Wu of her recent visit. She continued, "The fading yellows, rusty reds, mossy greens, and intricate details like shutters and balconies make every block highly 'grammable." For something different, capture the crumbling, historic buildings from across a canal, using their reflection in the water to frame the image. Or, position yourself in a doorway flanked by baskets of blooms for a pop of color.
Capture a series of playful poses showcasing traditional ao dai, Vietnam's elegant tunic and pants ensemble, against the backdrop of Hoi An's storied shopfronts and homes. Many tailors in the Old Town will whip up bespoke silk versions at affordable prices. "I felt like a Vietnamese princess wearing the beautiful green and gold ao dai I had custom-made," Wu shared. "It was the perfect outfit for glamming up my Instagram travel pics."
Hoi An's tranquil temples provide contrasting options for peaceful, contemplative photo moments. Stand peering through an ornate Chinese temple gate framed by burning incense coils and swirling smoke. Adopt serene poses seated cross-legged beside a weathered Buddha statue amid tropical greenery. Wu said, "I loved experimenting with moody, light-filled shots from different angles inside the temples."
Venture down narrow alleyways painfully early to beat the crowds and capture theOld Town coming to life at dawn. Bike vendors wheeling wares, shops opening shutters, and residents going about morning rituals make for visually compelling street photography. For people-free shots, wander side passages and lanes so tiny they remain peaceful even at peak times.
Nha Trang is renowned for its palm-fringed beaches and laidback island vibes that beckon travelers in search of seaside relaxation, refreshing cocktails, and picturesque sunset views. This beach town on Vietnam's south central coast enjoys a stunning natural setting of white sand beaches hugging clear turquoise waters, offshore islands dotting the horizon, and jungle-clad mountains serving as a lush backdrop. For many visitors, spending days lounging and wandering Nha Trang's sunkissed shores represents the ultimate chill beach getaway.
"Nha Trang was my happy place and the epitome of beach bliss," said travel vlogger Aisha Lee of her recent girls' trip there. She highlighted the area's signature beach, Tran Phu, as ideal for reveling in the seaside atmosphere. "Whether grabbing oceanview chairs at a breezy cafe, strolling the boardwalk at golden hour, or joining locals for dawn tai chi on the sand, the vibe at Tran Phu was totally zen." Lee added that paddling out onto the calm waters by kayak or standup paddleboard allowed her to soak in the beach's beauty from tranquil new angles.
Other influencers gush over Nha Trang's embarrassment of beachy riches beyond the main stretch at Tran Phu. "Finding 'secret' spots felt like discovering hidden beach treasures," said travel blogger Noah Chen. He suggested heading south of town to quieter Bai Dai Beach for quality one-on-one time with the ocean and powdery sand. Or splurging on a boat trip to remote tropical islands like Hon Tam or Hon Mun for next-level beach escape feels. "Snorkeling in crystal waters fringed by jungle, then picnicking on a secluded white sand cove was my ultimate island castaway fantasy," Chen raved.
Yet Nha Trang isn't just about basking in natural beach beauty"it also know how to amp up the laidback fun in the sun. "I loved how you could easily alternate chill beach days with partying all night," said lifestyle influencer Mia Sanders. She highlighted lively beach clubs with infinity pools and pumping EDM beats as the place to dance the day away. The area's famous mud baths offer a more unique beachfront experience. Sanders described relaxing in nutrient-rich mud pools overlooking the ocean as "rejuvenating and hilarious when done with friends."