Asia Photo Essays Vietnam

A Love Letter to Vietnam

December 14, 2016

By Thomas Gravanis

It was July of 2015. I was sitting at my desk staring at this illuminated globe I have, trying to pick a place that I could visit in the next couple of months. I didn’t spin it, I didn’t let luck decide for me. I just pointed at Vietnam. That was it. I was there last November; getting lost in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, swimming on a warm afternoon in Hạ Long Bay, canoeing the very next morning just when the sun rose, feeling mesmerised at the Imperial City, cycling through the worst traffic rush I ever witnessed in Huế, sleeping on overnight trains, trying all sorts of phở and bánh mì’s across the entire country, getting bespoke shirts in Hội An, practicing yoga with middle aged ladies in Nha Trang, singing with a live band at the rooftop bar of Bitexco Financial Tower, bargaining at Bến Thành Market in Hồ Chí Minh, descending into the Củ Chi tunnels, cruising down the Mekong Delta in a small row boat.

During these sixteen days, I met the most wonderful people, I photographed my way through the country and I became a better version of who I am. This is my trip, my photos, my diaries. This is me.


So I finally arrived in Hanoi. I stay in a small hotel in the old quarter. I exit the hotel. I make a left, another left, I make a right and a left. I am lost. Who cares?


Pineapple for breakfast. It costs 0.30€.


The easiest way to cross the road in Vietnam is to start walking steadily but slowly in a straight line without stopping. Miraculously, nothing bad will happen.


I’m in awe. The moment you lay your eyes for the first time on the islets of Hạ Long Bay.


So the boat stopped, I put on my swimsuit, Ι took a deep breath and I jumped into the water. I didn’t take any photos. They wouldn’t do justice to this unique feeling.


The Imperial City situated in the city of Huế.


The city centre of Hội An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cars and motorcycles are forbidden.


Narrow alleys, streets filled with tailor shops, food stalls in every corner. It feels like you’re on a movie set.


“Not to do any evil, to perform what is good, to keep one’s own heart pure, these are the teachings of lord Buddha.”


Fun fact: The wedding photos are taken months prior to the ceremony so that the guests can enjoy them during the reception.


The Mekong river. Runs through Tibet, China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Here I am, at the Mekong delta.


That was it. This isn’t a goodbye. We’ll meet again Vietnam.

Check out Thomas’s website here for more of his beautiful photography and follow him on Instagram.


Thomas loves Terrence Malick, traveling to distant places, and creating photo projects that remain hidden (for now). When he’s not taking photos with his trusted Nikon, he’s planning road trips with his friends.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Wow very nice photos and article. Vietnam is one of my absolute favorite countries. What part of Vietnam did you enjoy the best?

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