Darren O'Brien - Ha Long Bay

We recently invited Darren O'Brien to be a regular blog contributor at Photograd as he travels to Singapore and Vietnam as part of his MA Photography course at Falmouth University. You can read his other posts here.

Darren writes here about his trip to Ha Long Bay. Enjoy!


I am sitting at a local home stay in the village of Tavan, looking out over the rice terraces of Northern Vietnam. It is a magical and tranquil environment to be writing this post in.

 Image from Ha Long Bay

Image from Ha Long Bay

I will write about my experience of Tavan later, but for now this is a short post about my trip to Ha Long Bay. Located 3 hours drive North East of Hanoi, the bay consists of around 2,500 limestone islands protruding from the ocean. I will confess that I organised this trip through a tour company (Indochina Junk) and it was all about rest and relaxation. I don’t usually book onto tours as I prefer to do my own thing but it is the easiest way to visit the bay. It felt strange to have everything looked after, from pick up from the hotel to boarding the boat with eight strangers, but it definitely met the relaxing brief.

 Image from Ha Long Bay

Image from Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is incredible, beautiful and breathtaking. It is also incredibly touristy. Our tour tried to find the less touristy areas, but that means you are surrounded by 15 other boats rather than 50. The tour included kayaking, beaches, caves and lots of food and beer!

 Image from Ha Long Bay

Image from Ha Long Bay

Photographically it didn't do much for me, I am not a landscape photographer and it is often hazy at sunrise and sunset. I would love to do a project on the local fishing vessels and how the fishing trade and environment is changing, but that would need more organisation.

 Image from Ha Long Bay

Image from Ha Long Bay

I didn't make much work that will feature in my MA project, but that didn't stop me having a good time.

 Image from Hanoi

Image from Hanoi

Now I am working on a small project whilst in Tavan and Sapa. I have also already spent a couple of nights in Hanoi, either side of the boat trip, and all I can say is that I am looking forward to spending time exploring the streets in that buzzing city later in the trip. Until next time…..