11 Most-Read Posts in the Year of the Rat

First published February 2021 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle


Happy New Year! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Exit the Rat; Enter the Buffalo.

In Vietnam, the Year of the Rat was defined by the pandemic: the first cases of Covid-19 were detected here in late January, 2020, when most of the country was on their Tet Lunar New Year vacation. Now, at the dawn of the Year of the Buffalo, a new outbreak has surfaced just as the Lunar New Year holiday is beginning. With borders closed for almost a year now, The Year of the Rat was a torrid time for travel. And yet, for much of the year, travel within Vietnam was still possible, thanks largely to the government’s successful pandemic response. This website, of course, has suffered during the Year of the Rat, but my traffic remains relatively healthy and people inside and outside Vietnam still read and engage with my content. So I thought it would be interesting to take a look at which posts, guides, and articles my audience has been reading during the Year of the Rat. Are the most popular posts of the pandemic different from those of ‘normal’ times? Are there any surprises? Any anomalies? Below I’ve compiled an illustrated and annotated list of the 11 Most-Read Posts in the Year of the Rat.

11 Most-Read Posts in the Year of the Rat, Vietnam Coracle, Travel Blog

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The list of posts below is arranged in order of popularity during the Year of the Rat, starting with the most popular. For each of the 11 posts, I’ve included a brief description, a direct link to the full post, and a cover image. Each post is also plotted on my map. In analyzing my site’s traffic for the Year of the Rat, it’s clear that the addition of pandemic-related content has made an impact, with the result that posts such as Pandemic Season and The Quarantine of Taz feature in the 11 most-read. On the other hand, it’s good to see perennially popular posts, such as The Ha Giang Loop and Phu Quoc’s Beaches still receiving a lot of attention, presumably from people in Vietnam who have been able to travel during the pandemic, but also, I hope, from readers around the world entertaining the idea of a trip to Vietnam whenever borders reopen, or perhaps just travelling vicariously from lock-downs in their own countries via the words and images on this site.




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View in a LARGER MAP

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1. Plants, Flowers & Trees of Vietnam

Region & Province: nationwide [MAP]

Full Guide: Plants, Flowers & Trees of Vietnam

Description: The popularity of this post has surprised me: for the last 12 months it has been by far the most-read page on my website. I compiled this informal, illustrated index of more than 50 plants, flowers & trees in Vietnam over the course of a couple of years. I’m no botanist, but when I started living in Vietnam and, in particular, when I started making road trips through the countryside, I was mesmerized by the colours, smells, shapes, sizes & variety of the flora I saw……read more

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Vietnam's flora: flowers, plants, fruits & trees

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2. Pandemic Season in Vietnam: Pre-Covid | Lock-Down | Post-Virus

Region & Province: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vung Tau, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc Island [MAP]

Full Guide: Pandemic Season in Vietnam: Pre-Covid | Lock-Down | Post-Virus

Description: Part travelogue, part personal narrative, part analysis of Vietnam’s so far successful containment of Covid-19, I began writing this long-form account of the pandemic as a way of organizing my thoughts, experiences & emotions during mùa dịch (‘pandemic season’ as this period of time is known in Vietnam). I’ve divided the narrative into three parts, thus forming a ‘Covid Trilogy’ of sorts: 1. Pre-Covid; 2. Lock-Down; 3. Post-Virus. At the time of writing, the first two parts of the trilogy are complete……read more

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Pandemic Season in Vietnam: the 'Covid Trilogy'

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3. Ha Giang: Extreme North Loop

Region & Province: Ha Giang Province; northern Vietnam [MAP]

Full Guide: Ha Giang: The Extreme North Loop

Description: In ‘normal’ times the Ha Giang Extreme North Loop is one of the most popular guides on my website. And, it would seem, even during a global pandemic which has forced Vietnam to close its borders to international travellers for nearly a year, interest in this spectacular motorbike route is still high. Vietnam’s northern-most province, Ha Giang is home to a mythical landscape of conical limestone peaks & craterous valleys. Over the years, it has gained an almost legendary status among riders. This is perhaps the most thrilling road trip in the country……read more

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Ha Giang Extreme North Motorbike Loop

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4. Con Dao Islands: A Guide

Region & Province: Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province; the south coast [MAP]

Full Guide: Con Dao Islands: A Guide

Description: I have always felt a deep attachment to these rugged, isolated & beguiling islands: a feeling which gets stronger each time I visit. With its wild & beautiful beaches, mountainous, jungle-covered interior & fascinating but tragic history, the Con Dao Islands is a remarkable place. Once a brutal penal colony established by the French colonial administration, today the Con Dao Islands is one of Vietnam’s most captivating destinations……read more

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The Con Dao Islands, Travel Guide, Vietnam

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5. Phu Quocs Beaches: A Guide

Region & Province: Kien Giang Province; southwest coast [MAP]

Full Guide: Phu Quoc’s Beaches: A Guide

Description: A halo of sand encompasses this green & forested island in the Gulf of Thailand. Even during the pandemic & without any international arrivals, Phu Quoc has remained popular with both domestic tourists & expatriates. Despite rapid development & environmental destruction, there are still dozens of excellent beaches on Phu Quoc & a plethora of good places to stay……read more

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A Guide to the Beaches of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

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6. Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Routes

Region & Province: nationwide [MAP]

Full Guide: Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Suggested Routes

Description: Riding by motorbike from south to north between Vietnam’s two largest cities is unquestionably one of the best ways to see & experience the country. Thanks to new roads there are now dozens of different potential routes to take between Saigon & Hanoi: from lazy coastal roads to twisting mountain passes, slow back-roads to fast highways. Here are but 5 suggested routes, each one specifically designed to suit the needs of different travellers, based on scenery & time-frame among other things……read more

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Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Suggested Routes

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7. The Quarantine of Taz in Vietnam:

Region & Province: Binh Duong Province; the southeast [MAP]

Full Guide: The Quarantine of Taz in Vietnam

Description: Beginning the last week of March, 2020, Vietnam closed all its land borders & ceased all international flights in & out of all domestic airports. The nation effectively went into self-isolation. My friend, Taz, returned to Vietnam just before the borders closed & was quarantined for 17 days as part of the government strategy to contain Covid-19. After her release, I interviewed Taz about her experiences at the quarantine facility just outside Ho Chi Minh City……read more

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Quarantine in Vietnam during COVID-19 virus

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8. Riding the Great North: 9 Routes

Region & Province: the northern provinces [MAP]

Full Guide: Riding the Great North: 9 Motorbike Routes

Description: Northern Vietnam offers some of the best motorbiking opportunities anywhere in the world. In the north, the mountains are higher, the passes are loftier & the scenery is more majestic than anywhere else in the country. Before the pandemic, motorbike tourism in parts of the north was exploding: it remains to be seen whether or not it will return……read more

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9 Great Northern Motorbike Routes in Vietnam

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9. Ho Chi Minh Road: Riders Guide

Region & Province: nationwide [MAP]

Full Guide: Ho Chi Minh Road: Motorbike Guide

Description: One of the most evocative road names in the world, The Ho Chi Minh Road stretches over 2,000km along the mountainous spine of Vietnam. Now fully paved from south to north, the Ho Chi Minh Road is littered with historical sites, largely from twentieth century conflicts, but also passes through some glorious areas of undisturbed natural beauty……read more

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The Ho Chi Minh Road by Motorbike, Vietnam

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10. 25 Greatest Riding Roads in Vietnam:

Region & Province: nationwide [MAP]

Full Guide: 25 of the Greatest Riding Roads in Vietnam

Description: Vietnam might have some of the best riding roads in the world. Over the years I’ve been running this website, dozens of motorbiking enthusiasts (who have ridden extensively in countries across the globe) have written to say that, with the possible exceptions of northern India, Nepal & parts of Andean South America, Vietnam has offered some of the greatest riding roads in the world. Based on my experience of motorbiking the country for the last decade, I have compiled a list of what I consider some of the best riding roads in Vietnam……read more

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25 Greatest Riding Roads in Vietnam

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11. The Northeast by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

Region & Province: Bac Kan, Lang Son, Cao Bang provinces; the northeast [MAP]

Full Guide: The Northeast by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

Description: In my opinion, the three northeastern provinces of Cao Bang, Lang Son & Bac Kan currently offer the best on-road motorbiking opportunities anywhere in Vietnam. A bucolic corner of the country, the Northeast is a garden of rice fields, forests, lakes & rivers ambling through limestone corridors. This guide focuses on 5 motorbike loops on meandering back-roads & freshly-sealed highways through three provinces……read more

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The Northeast Motorbike Loops, Vietnam

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