Places - May 29, 2020 | 06:58 pm PT

A dawn discovery of popular Vietnam destinations

While exploring the S-shaped country, Hanoi-born photographer Pham Huy Trung stumbled on valleys, mountains and seas bathed in first light.

Muong Hoa Valley near the resort town of Sa Pa in northern Vietnam is shrouded in a sea of clouds at sunrise.

Home to ethnic minority groups in Ban Ho, Lao Chai, Ta Van, Hau Thao, Ta Phin, and Su Pa communes, culture-rich Muong Hoa Valley combines the water rice planting techniques of the Giay and ground-breaking methods of the H’Mong and Dao.

Muong Hoa is best enjoyed in September and October when its terraced rice fields weave a golden carpet across the valley. Trekkers can easily reach Muong Hoa from Sa Pa in an hour. Taxi services cost VND100,000 ($4.3).

Long Coc in Phu Tho Province, 112 kilometers from Hanoi, comprises numerous tea plantations. Local tea ‘islands’ are often compared to the limestone islets in Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site in Quang Ninh Province, northern Vietnam. The mountains in Phu Tho are home to the Muong ethnic minority.

Dawn on Tam Giang Lagoon, around 12 kilometers from Hue, Vietnam's former imperial capital and a popular tourist destination in the central region.

Tam Giang in Thua Thien-Hue Province, one of Southeast Asia's largest brackish lagoons, has a floating market where trading happens with a typical bustle before the sun is out. Dawn here typically sees local fishermen return with boats full of fish and shrimp after a long night out.

The iconic Hoai River in the ancient town of Hoi An at dawn.

Here, a lantern festival takes place on the 14th day of each lunar month, with all the lights in town switched off while lanterns are set adrift on the river. Last year, the U.S.-based Travel+Leisure listed Hoi An in central Vietnam as the best global destination while Google honored the town on its homepage.

Fishermen row their boats back to a coastal fish market in Binh Minh Commune after a long night at sea. Traders hasten to pick out the freshest baskets of fish as boats dock.

Binh Minh is a poor coastal commune in Quang Nam Province’s Thang Binh District, central Vietnam. The majority of local residents earn their living from the ocean. 

Dai Lanh Cape, around 35 kilometers from Tuy Hoa Town, capital of Phu Yen Province.

The best spots to catch the sunrise are the lighthouse or Mon Beach. Visitors can spend the night at Mui Dien lighthouse, and when the time comes, take in the view of the bay and the ocean drenched in golden light.

Phu Yen, located on the south-central coast, is the first point on the Vietnamese mainland to welcome the sun every morning.

A panoramic view of Nha Trang, a famous beach town in the central province of Khanh Hoa at dawn, showing shrimp farms and high-rise buildings.

One of the most beautiful bays in the world, Nha Trang is considered the "pearl of the East Sea". The town has been a top holiday destination in the country for years, favored particularly by Russian and Chinese tourists for its long sandy beaches and islands.

A man rows his boat in early morning mist on Tuyen Lam Lake, recognized as one of Vietnam’s natural heritages in 1998.

Situated about seven kilometers south of Da Lat Town, Tuyen Lam is the largest freshwater lake in the Central Highlands, with many small oases surrounded by pine forests. 

A Frenchman named Farraut, who lived in Da Lat in the 1930s, rented out the entire area to be used as a farm and private resort. In 1987, Lam Dong Province's irrigation department built a large dam across the Tia stream, which eventually formed Tuyen Lam Lake.

A sea of clouds and thick fog cover the pine forest and Thanh Xa Church in Bao Loc Town in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

This plateau town is about 110 kilometers from Da Lat, boasting year-round cool weather. In Bao Loc, visitors can drop by tea plantations, Bao Loc Church, Bat Nha Monastery, Dambri Waterfall or Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda.

Dawn across a salt field in the coastal town of Phan Ri Cua in Tuy Phong District of the south-central province of Binh Thuan.

Tuy Phong, located about 90 kilometers from Phan Thiet, capital of Binh Thuan, boasts many beautiful and pristine beaches such as Bai Thach and Doi Duong, alongside sand hills and historical relics. It has developed its economy thanks to aquaculture, wind power, salt making as well as goat and sheep breeding.

The sun begins to rise on Mui Ne Beach in Phan Thiet Town.

Mui Ne, one of the most popular vacation spots in the country, is often referred to as "a seaside paradise". Over the last few years, it has added to its vacation value by offering many exciting water sports like windsurfing, surfing, jet-skiing, and kayaking.

Fields at the foot of Ta Pa Hill in Tri Ton District are a popular destination among tourists in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang, bordering Cambodia. The best time to visit is during the rice harvest season from August to early December.

At the top near the mountains lies Soai Check Lake. This area is part of That Son or Seven Mountains in the districts of Tri Ton and Tinh Bien. An Giang is additionally known as the land of palm trees. If you travel to Ta Pa from Chau Doc Town in An Giang, explore the palm groves on either side of the road.

Story by Hoang Phong, Huynh Phuong

Photos by Pham Huy Trung