Pictures & Stories: Hanoi and Vietnam! (I)

Local ladies in the Cho Dong Xuan market in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Vietnam is a unique place with colorful unique characters at every turn. As far as street photography goes it is a dream. These are from a decade or more as I was learning to use digital cameras, and figure out light and do more than just click and point. I also learned to how to interact better with those on the ground in order to share the lens as a fun tool and not an intrusive weapon. Places like Hanoi and My Khe always have great scenes!

The ladies above were at the Cho Dong Xuan market in the center district in Hanoi,Vietnam. It is a covered market where vendors (mostly wholesale) sell all the usual stuff you find at markets world wide and especially in south east Asia. From clothes to foodstuffs to toys to furniture…you name it. I had to act quickly and I wish I had taken a better shot but I kept it because of the mood of the photo in B&W. Looking back I learned that many folks are not as trusting of a camera and that stealth is quite important.

On the Streets of Hanoi

Little girls in the market in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Little girls in the market.

With these two little darlings, I was lucky, They wanted to show off their world famous Hello Kitty shirts! Markets are usually full of children, especially those of the vendors as well as the shoppers. The younger generation of Vietnamese are much more accustomed and at ease with foreigners than their more jaded older family members in my experience.

The teen Boys in the market.
The teen boys in the market.

These energetic boys are just the kind to show you here and there for a small fee. And they know your not broke if you flew all that way!

A lady strolling in her rice hat, in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A lady strolling in her rice hat.

This lady strolled by wearing the famous Asian conical hat. It is actually called a non la, or leaf hat in Vietnam, with different local names in other Asian locales. these are light and made of straw or in Vietnam palm leaf is popular. It is as part of Vietnam as anything. Notice in the background the vendor is selling cotton bucket hats which are seen a lot in south east Asia also.

A local constable near the Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A local constable on patrol near the market.

The men in green will be seen around Hanoi. The local constables. This one tried to look very serious and intimidating so I wouldn’t take a photo but he couldn’t stay serious at all. He turned away as to not be in the photo but I was still there when he started laughing and turned back around!

The Cho Dong Xuan wholesale market in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The famous market building.
This is delivery Asian style!
This is delivery Asian style!

Anyone who spends time in Asia, especially south east Asia is familiar with seeing everything on motorbikes from full families of 5 to all kinds of merchandise. This photo is typical of the streets of Hanoi. Also you can see a couple of ladies in the background wearing rice hats as well as my friend Ricardo taking a picture from the other side of the biker. In over a decade I never even noticed this as this is a photo kind of “lying around”. Also an Irish backpacker is walking down the street to the right. She was traveling several days with us.

A Vietnamese lady carrying items with her shoulder pole in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A Vietnamese lady carrying items with her shoulder pole.
These ladies are using the shoulder pole to transport their goods in Hanoi, Vietnam.
These ladies are using the shoulder pole to transport their goods.

The shoulder pole in Vietnam is as ubiquitous as the conical hat. Used just about everywhere from fields and countryside to city streets to carry goods and items. Also it is even seen while riding a motorbike!

Dressed to avoid the hot sun in Vietnam.
Dressed to avoid the hot sun in Vietnam.

In the above photo, a Vietnamese woman is wearing long sleeves and pants to protect herself from the heat of the sun as well as the burning/tanning element. Even her face is prepared to hide behind the scarf. Sometimes what we consider pajamas are worn by some of the younger girls here.

Other Random Locales

Lady covered up from the sun.
This working lady at the local park/beach is covered from the sun in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Above is a lady hiding from the sun in the beach side destination of Nha Trang. She is a local park worker who, like many local ladies, goes to what many westerners consider extremes to hide from the rays of the sun. Meanwhile, the western backpackers are tanning under the mid afternoon sun yards away.

Ladies riding across the flat sand on a beach near Danang, Vietnam circa 2004.
Ladies riding across the flat sand on a beach near Danang, Vietnam.

A common scene is motorbikes at the beach. In the mid afternoon many beaches are not crowded as in the west unless a group of westerners happen about. Locals don’t partake in mid afternoon tanning and you can see in spite of the August 90F (32C) temps the ladies are fully dressed, though loosely fitting garb.

Ladies help a little girl discover the beach and a bag of bread at My Khe beach near Da Nang.
Ladies help a little girl discover the beach and a bag of bread at My Khe beach near Da Nang.
My friend at My Khe beach, Da Nang
My friend at My Khe beach, Da Nang

Here we have my buddy Ricardo at My Khe beach. As I am trying to learn a digital point and shoot as is all the rage at the time he goes back a decade for a Pentax K1000 film 35mm. He was retro before retro was cool and I was always playing catch up!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed seeing some pics in my memory lane post! As always, leave a comment below!


  1. Excellent post really love the spirit of the Vietnamese people .they have been through alot
    with war tough moments yet are still so strong and the future is bright for them

    1. True. The younger people are trying hard to move on from the defining event of their country for the last century. They are doing it very well! Hey, thanks for stopping by!

  2. I’m really impressed with the quality of your pictures. I love how different pictures can tell different stories without words too sometimes as well as how different effects such as black and white can help capture the mood. I think my favorite here is the one with the two ladies squatting down with the young child and as you put it, helping that child enjoy and discover the beach! Thanks for sharing these!

    1. Thank you so much. When at a location I try to find something that will resonate with someone seeing it. It doesn’t always work and maybe only 1 out of 10 seems to be anything special. Then it gets paired down lower. It always feels good when you can send a mood or a feeling through a photo. Thanks…I amd just a rank amateur. thanks for stopping by!

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