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Photographing Vietnam’s Rainy Season


My friend and two-continent club member Sherry Ott is a prolific travel photographer and blogger. She recently visited visited Vietnam during the rainy season. While that might be a deterrent for most people traveling, Sherry managed to find inspiration and beauty in the rain. Here is Sherry…

I often get people who tell me they are skipping a country in Southeast Asia because it’s rainy season, monsoon season, or it’s ‘just too hot’ at that time of year. Little do they know that traveling in rainy season is one of my best kept travel secrets and I always wonder if I should tell them what they are missing when they skip countries or locations due to a less than desirable weather season.

From a cultural experience and photography standpoint, inclement weather seasons are wonderful opportunity to see how the locals really live in situations that we would deem less desirable. You get a true feel for the country and local culture and traditions through the ‘tough’ times. On top of it you get introduced to a number of new products that are used in that inclement weather season that you probably never even dreamed of. In Vietnam you’ll see surprising products such as the double headed ponchos or ponchos with a headlight window.

On my recent trip to Saigon during rainy season, I was lucky enough to have the skies open up and pour down their wrath on city streets. I was on a motorbike myself, so I had a great perspective for photography and luckily I had proper rain gear for my camera. I watched as the streets flooded rapidly and the Vietnamese locals didn’t skip a beat. Rain doesn’t stop them – and it shouldn’t stop you.

Sherry Ott is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger and photographer. Sherry has been blogging about her travels on Ottsworld: Travel and Life Experiences of a Corporate America Runaway since 2006. She’s a co-founder of Meet, Plan, Go!, a website and national event offering career break or sabbatical travel inspiration and advice to mid career professionals.

  • 32 Comments... What's your take?

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  1. Dave says:

    Wonderful photos Sherry, seriously. I’ve seen a lot of pics of Vietnam and other parts of SE Asia during the rainy season, but this set captures the mood better than almost any others. I had to chuckle at some of the “riding-through-the-floodwaters-on-a-scooter” shots – I’ve had a few of those experiences in Thailand and it’s always amazed me that the scooter seems to just keep on going, even with water lapping up over my feet. I even lost a flip-flop at one point – the bow wave from a passing car tore it right off my foot!

    Great stuff. :)

  2. Dave says:

    The mood and language you’ve captured in these images is astounding – I especially love the pic of the skyline and the jungle – I missed rainy season in Vietnam thinking it was for good reason, I see I missed out now!

  3. Sherry Ott says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind words – glad you like the photography and a big thanks to Gary for letting me show it off to a new audience! And for all of you who wondered how I kept my DSLR dry in the pouring rain – I use a Rain Sleeve from LensCoat. It’s a little raincoat for your camera – normally used by professional wildlife photographers for their huge lenses – but they have them for normal DSLR’s too. My plan is to head to India next to photograph Holi and use the Rain Sleeve!

  4. Ivana says:

    Great work! I have always loved challenging photo “settings”. Thanks for sharing this experience.

  5. Chris says:

    Your photos are amazing, I love how you have captured Vietnam’s rainy season. I live in Japan which also has a rainy season and e all use umbrellas which has no meaning cause we all get soaked

  6. Josh says:

    These are some really cool pictures. It really does make me rethink trying to travel to places only when the weather is at its best. Traveling during off seasons really does give you a different experience.

  7. Denise says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I went to SE Asia during the rainy season-prices were good, it felt like a tight knit group with fewer travelers, and the showers made for a nice break in the heat!

  8. That is some intense rain and flooding. She did a fantastic job. I have had minimal success in the past with taking pictures when it was wet. I was filming a fountain once and the camera stopped working.

  9. These photos capture the true Vietnamese spirit. Many people that have traveled to Vietnam have hated it and it’s people. I only felt the opposite. They are a positive and energetic people. These pictures capture my sentiment EXACTLY. Sherry has an amazing talent!

  10. Vincent says:

    What I feel after looking these pics is majority of people were enjoying the rain…..and surely you Sherry……..

  11. That really is a good way to find the real culture. What people do when there are no tourists around and they are just living their normal lives. That’s why I like vising the beach in winter. I’m not getting in the water anyways.

  12. Corinne says:

    I love, love, love these photos. Wet can be fun…except for keeping the camera dry, I guess. My favorite shot is the 2nd, with the grass hat dripping…gorgeous!

  13. I agree with you! Your photos also look very nice! They really give this blog entry more life!

  14. Awesome photos!! Congratulations!!

  15. Were you using a D-SLR or a point-and-shoot? What is your rain gear? You have perfected panning :-)

  16. Rebecca says:

    these photos are amazing! thanks for the inside tips! you really managed to get some great ones here! some of your best work :-)

  17. Majida says:

    like always fabulous photography. Esp. liked your panning pictures!! Some of them reminded me of our trip to Bali in the rainy season

  18. Oh wow, I love these! I can almost see, hear and smell the rain. I especially love the pic of the person in the yellow poncho and your POV pic from a motorbike. Great job!

  19. These photos are amazing. I’m not saying I’m completely sold on heading there during rainy season, but these photos make a compelling argument.

  20. Kaleb says:

    I love Sherry!!!! She is awesome!

  21. micheal says:

    Really loved your pictures! Especially the one with the lady riding a cycle wearing a yellow raincoat…..I must say that you have a mind-blowing blog here and some great pictures and videos too!

  22. These pics are too beautiful. I remember my childhood in rainy season by seeing these pics.

  23. These photos are SO AWESOME! Happy to see two of my favorite bloggers and people working together. :)

  24. Wow, Sherry takes gorgeous photos as always! Stunning …

  25. rajveer says:

    these shots are fantastic!!

  26. I love the movement and action in these rainy day photos.

  27. Tom says:

    Love your pictures ,keep shooting . Just terrific

  28. Charlie says:

    Stunning photos! Almost makes me want to plan my trip next year to arrive in Vietnam FOR rainy season. Looks kinda fun!

  29. Katie says:

    Completely inspiring. I wish people in every city could learn to be so unconcerned about the rain!

  30. These are amazing! I love them all though am especially amazed by the shots in which the background is a blur and the foreground is perfectly clear and incredibly vibrant – and of course, the image of the fellow peaking out from under a red tarp and smiling as you photograph him – both of you on speeding motorcycles!

  31. Maria says:

    Sherry is definitely in touch with her inner child (she knows how to play in the rain).
    Fantastic photos – so glad you featured her work here – I find her photography spellbinding.

  32. Mona says:

    This photos are amazing!

    and visiting Vietnam in rainy season just pop on my list “to do before you die”. thank you :)

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