Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on a beautiful afternoon earlier this year.

A Year in Vietnam in the Age of COVID-19

A collection of my favorite photos of life in Vietnam in 2020.

I still remember vividly the first time I learned about the virus that would define the entirety of 2020. It was a couple weeks before I was about to fly back to the US from Vietnam to visit my family during the Lunar New Year break, and a friend sent me an Instagram post about a mysterious illness in China that was beginning to cause some worry. I chalked it up to being just another passing news story at the time, but that idea ended up being quickly proven wrong.

Flying back to Vietnam via Tokyo a few weeks later was a more nerve-wracking flying experience than I’d ever had in my life to that point due to the sheer uncertainty that the entire globe was beginning to be faced with. At the time, there was no way to know that returning to Vietnam, a country with a fraction of the USA’s healthcare budget (that also shares a long border with China), would be the best and safest decision I could’ve made, so there was a lot of anxiety about what the rest of the year would look like.

As it all turned out, I was (and still am) incredibly fortunate to be here. Vietnam has absolutely crushed the virus in comparison with most of the rest of the world, and my life has been basically normal for a majority of the year. I am, of course, disappointed that many of my goals and plans for this year have been completely thrown out the window, including virtually all of my financial goals and planned trips to Uzbekistan and Japan, but I feel so privileged to have been able to spend my year in a bubble of relative safety while the rest of the world suffers. I’m terribly scared for my friends and family back in the US, several of whom have had COVID-19 themselves or have even lost loved ones to the virus, but it would still feel wrong for me to complain while my life has been so much less stressful and traumatic than it could have been during a global crisis such as this.

So, instead, I’ll share some of the best photos I’ve been able to take this year while sitting comfortably within Vietnam’s borders. I live in Ho Chi Minh City, so many of the photos come from there, but I’ve also been able to travel within the country a bit to visit several locations in the Central Highlands — my absolute favorite part of Vietnam — as well as some places in the South Central Coast and Mekong Delta regions as well. For those of you who have also been lucky enough to be living in Vietnam during the age of COVID-19, I hope that this piece serves as a reminder of what a privilege it is to be here. For everyone else, I hope that, if nothing else, these photos will inspire you to come visit this remarkable country as soon as we’re all on the other side of this mess.

Stay safe everyone, and happy new year.

A church in rural Lam Dong Province.
A small lake in Lam Dong Province.
Foggy mountains in Dak Nong Province
The outskirts of Gia Nghia City, Dak Nong Province.
A small farm in Gia Nghia City, Dak Nong Province.
Ta Dung Lake, Dak Nong Province.
Qui Nhon City, Binh Dinh Province.
Boats in Binh Dinh Province.
A village in Gia Lai Province.
Traditional housing, an extinct volcano, and a bovine friend in Gia Lai Province.
A winding mountain road in Kon Tum Province.
The outskirts of Kon Tum City, Kon Tum Province.
A small hillside village in Quang Ngai Province.
Forested mountains in Quang Ngai Province.
A barge travels along the Mekong River in Tien Giang Province.
A repair shop along the Mekong River in Tien Giang Province.
Sunset over a V.League 2 football match in Long An Province.
Landmark 81 and a pink sunset in HCMC (left). The whizzing traffic of HCMC (right).
The flags of the ASEAN countries framing Landmark 81 in HCMC.
Downtown HCMC after a morning rain.
One of the many beautiful sunsets HCMC witnessed in 2020.
Flowers over a busy road in HCMC.
A new bridge being built over the Saigon River in HCMC.
Landmark 81 disappearing into the HCMC night sky.
Water buffaloes roam a soon-to-be developed area across from downtown HCMC.
A typical downtown HCMC intersection (left). Some kids fishing in one of HCMC’s canals (right).
Small mountains visible in the distance from HCMC on a clear day.
An elephant watches one of the last sunsets of 2020 from his enclosure.

American living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photographer, teacher, geographer, writer.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store