Vietnam in Photos:
Instagramming Saigon

I’m still running around Vietnam taking photos with my micro 4/3ds camera [1] but I find myself frequently relying on my iPhone – an older 3GS, so the camera leaves quite a bit to be desired. But as the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have on you. And these days, Instagram and sister applications like Hipstamatic have been turning up not just in our newsfeeds on Facebook, but also in the news.

Photojournalism features in Foreign Policy, NYT Lens Blog , Time Magazine and others have moved these photo tools into a different sphere of public consciousness, away from the selfie. Of course there are detractors as well as new angles on ethical quagmires. But coupled with the Internet, mobile photography is hard to ignore, and I know I’ve enjoyed my recent experimentation with it as I’ve traveled.

[1] More on my camera and lenses used via the world travel resources page.

 Vietnam in photos: Instagramming Saigon

All of the above background to say: I have taken many, many pictures during my months here, a good amount of them with my clunky iPhone. While much more foresight goes into the photographs I use in my general photoessay posts, there is something to be said for the off-the-cuff captures here. They show not only my daily life in Saigon but also the small snippets of others’ lives too. Taken together, by no means a full story but each a moment in time worth stopping all the same.

In the spirit of my prior Instagram roundups of Iceland and Portugal, I will be posting Instagram roundups of both Saigon and Hanoieach. In terms of process, I take the photo with my iPhone camera and then use Camera+ to edit before uploading to Instagram. Collages are made using Diptic. Whenever possible, I stabilise the camera against a wall or post as it really does poorly to do so on its own.

I know, I know – I could break up this giant photoessay into separate posts but you know me: I’m all for longer, less frequent posts in lieu of part 1, 2 and 3 versions.

Hope you enjoy these 40+ photos! For realtime versions, I’m also legalnomads on Instagram.


Vietnam in Photos Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral in a sea of cottonball clouds.

Vietnam in Photos Post Office Saigon

Post office ceiling in the heart of District 1.

Vietnam in Photos Frangipani

A splash of colour outside the Vincom Center.

Vietnam in Photos coffee

One of many work days at L’Usine in Saigon.

Vietnam in Photos birds

Minimalist bird funsies.

Vietnam mangosteens

Mangosteens are one of my favourite fruits, but I’ve never seen them sold this way elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Back of the bike fruit delivery!

bun mam vietnam

Bun mam, a sour fermented fish soup with all sorts of goodies (shrimp, roast pork, eggplant and more).

Tanh Dinh market Vietnam

Tanh Dinh market ceiling. It pays to look up.

Tanh Dinh church in District 3

The pinkest church that ever was.

bun xeo

Banh xeo dinner, always satisfying.

L'usine Le Loi

Christmas plants in December at L’Usine Le Loi cafe.

tree vietnam

One of my favourite trees in the city, one of many that loom over Saigon’s streets.

urban chicken vietnam

I will do a separate post, I suspect, about my many urban chicken spotting occasions in town. But here’s one to tide you over.

Dave Dean, James Clark and Travelfish's Stu McDonald

Meeting up with old friends in Saigon: What’s Dave Doing‘s Dave Dean, Nomadic Notes‘ James Clark and Travelfish‘s Stuart McDonald

Com tam op la Vietnam

This is what we ate: pork and rice, fried egg and pickled vegetables.

sunset saigon

A crazy sunset over Saigon.


Oricafe, a new little cafe with great, strong coffee and a fun decorative touch.

bun rieu vietnam

Bun rieu soup from the side of the street. Fabulous.

Breakfast nem at a market near Pham Ngu Lao

Breakfast nem at a market near Pham Ngu Lao

Cat cafe Vietnam

One of my favourites from the cat cafe in Saigon. So expressive!

Goi cuon

Goi cuon, fresh salad rolls with herbs, lettuce, shrimp and more. Light and delicious.

Chicken art

Chicken meme courtesy of Simon from Never Ending Voyage, who took it upon himself to add some text to my chicken photo.

Fish vietnam

Fish out of water.

sticky rice vietnam

Xoi, sticky rice, served with pork sausage, curled fried garlic and more for breakfast on the street.

Sunset Vietnam

A fiery sunset over Saigon.


A valentine’s day goodbye dinner for my friend Hung.

Alley way clothesline hcmc

Alley way clothesline.

Vietnam dong

The Dong jokes continue! This was a dong flower I made for my landlady before paying my rent.

vietnam photos train tracks

Train tracks and power lines, District 3.

cat cafe vietnam

Falling for a small kitten at the Saigon cat cafe.

Vietnam in photos fruit

Fruit-filled breakfast at a friend’s apartment. We were 10 people and we pretty much polished off this full spread.

Vietnam in photos banh chung

Learning how to make Banh Chung and Banh Tet during the holidays, with my landlady’s family.

Vietnam in photos urban decay

Urban decay from the roof of my place. Unfortunately it turned out quite blurry, but this is essentially my backyard in Saigon!

Vietnam in Photos Street

I crawled down to pavement level to take this, a shot of flowers against pavement. Passerbys were very confused but I like the result!

Vietnam in Photos flower

Lotus flower at Tanh Dinh market, District 3.

Vietnam in Photos Tree

Tree branch camouflage.

Vietnam in Photos Bun Thit Nuong

Breakfast: bun thit nuong, cha gio and a big smile.

Vietnam in Photos buildings

Buildings off of Hoang Sa, in District 1.

Vietnam in Photos District 1

Alleyway off of Hoang Sa, in District 1.

Vietnam in Photos hotel de ville

The old Hotel de Ville lit up at night.

Vietnam in Photos Tet

Just before Tet, the city started putting up Vietnam flags on buildings, trees and signposts, a sea of red and yellow.

Vietnam in Photos Tet

Tet decorations in my neighbourhood.

Vietnam in Photos alleys

Spending my non-working hours in the rabbit hole of alleyways that spiderweb across the city.

Vietnam in Photos market

Early morning market exploration.

Vietnam in Photos Pho

Pho sign replacement just before Tet. I’ve eaten here so many times that it seemed fitting to end my post with it.