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[Photos] Saigoneer's Best Original Photography of 2019

It’s been a year of big changes for Vietnam: an impressive year-end economic growth rate of 6.8%, a historic gold medal from the men’s football team at the SEA Games, and the arrival of numerous international brands in big cities like Saigon and Hanoi.

Yet, amid the whirlwind of development, some things stay the same. Cheery vendors continue their hustle at early market sessions, selling the day’s freshest catch; Saigon residents sip on their morning coffee with a happy-go-lucky ease; and across the pond on Con Dao’s remote islands, volunteers tirelessly dedicate their days to helping young endangered sea turtles hatch and return to the sea safely.

Over the past 12 months, Saigoneer and our contributors have recorded all of these moments and more to capture the many slices of Vietnam’s natural and man-made beauty, and tell the life stories of Vietnamese people living within the country, and even abroad. Here are some of our favorite shots, in no particular order, from 2019:

Photo by Hoang Trung Hieu.

An elderly man has his glass of morning coffee right on the pavement of a street in Saigon. See more photos here.

Photo by Eric Hundert.

A merchant at Phan Rang’s Dam Nai Market and her display of fresh fish, caught just a few hours ago. See the entire photo set here.

Photos by Cindy Trinh.

When she was growing up in the US, Cindy Trinh’s mother forced her to learn Vietnamese and participate in cultural traditions. Now a visual journalist, Trinh visited Vietnam recently to explore her roots and culture through photography.

Read her story here.

Photo by Hoan Phan.

Bay Canh Islet in Con Dao National Park is home to many of Vietnam’s breeding turtles. This magical moment was captured by a volunteer from a program run by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to boost the local sea turtle population.

Read the full story here.

Photo by Kevin Lee.

Minh, a 75-year-old man in Long An Province, poses with a portrait of himself in the 1970s, when he was one of the area’s most prominent rice wine producers.

Read our story on rice wine production in Vietnam here.

Photo by Alberto Prieto.

Vietnam’s first-ever gold medal for men’s football at the SEA Games prompted everyone and their mother to hit the streets to express their joy in the most rambunctious, over-the-top, and loudest ways possible.

See the full set of photos here.

Photo by Mark Ratcliff.

On the Thu Thiem Peninsula, the juxtaposition between old and new is striking. As residential complexes and high-rises slowly materialize, some vestiges of the past linger on in the form of wildlife, flocks of ducks, and even a buffalo here and there.

See the full set of photos here.


Photos by Zula Rabikowska.

In photographer Zula Rabikowska’s project Ba Lan, she records portraits of the Vietnamese diaspora in Poland and explores their personal connection with the concept of Vietnamese-ness.

Read the story here.

Photo by Mervin Lee.

A tantalizing cross-section of a bánh mì thịt from Lò Bánh Mì Pasteur, one of Taichung, Taiwan’s few Vietnamese restaurants. The owner is originally from Can Tho and moved to Taichung when she got married. She’s been trying to recreate a piece of home in a foreign land.

Read her story here.

Photo by Alberto Prieto.

A spectacular top-down view of the interior of the Saigon Opera House during a performance rehearsal. See more photos here.

Photo by Michael Tatarski.

The serenity of Lak Lake in the Central Highlands on a dry season morning. Read more here.


Apart from original photography, the Saigoneer team is also proud to have created many illustrations championing the beauty of Vietnam’s urbanscapes, folk culture and even literature. Here are some of our favorite original illustrations.

Illustration by Hannah Hoang.

The interplay between lust and creativity, origins of capricious desires and the relationship between art and artist: 'Deviate,' by Vietnamese-writer Tran Thi NgH, explores a multitude of themes and subjects with strikingly original language reliant on familiar idioms, inventive phrasings and obscure terms from science and anatomy.

Read the short story ‘Deviate’ here.

Illustration by Hannah Hoang.

While the rainy season's flooded streets, soaked satchels and delayed appointments can make one curse its arrival, sometimes when the torrent hits the neon storefronts just so, it becomes a source of inspiration.

Have a look at Saigon Postcard No. 16 here.


Illustration by Hannah Hoang.

Do you know the legend behind how Turtle Lake came to be? It involves feng shui, historical urban planning and even a mythical dragon.

Have a look at Saigon Postcard No. 18 here.

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