About

Last updated May 2021 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

Welcome to my About Page. On this page I introduce myself and my website in detail: who I am, what I do, why I do it, what Vietnam Coracle is and how this website works. Please read this page to better understand the motivation and ethos behind Vietnam Coracle and how to get the most out of using it:

CONTENTS:


Vietnam Coracle, About Page

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ABOUT: ME

I’m Tom. I’ve lived, travelled and worked in Vietnam since 2005 and I love it here. Born in London, I was lucky enough to travel abroad from an early age – my first visit to Vietnam was in 1999, age 17. But now, whenever I have the opportunity to make a trip somewhere, I rarely look beyond Vietnam’s borders. For me, everything I want from a travel destination – landscape, food, people, history, culture, adventure, romance – I can find here.

I left London when I was 22 years old and moved to Vietnam to live, work and travel. In 2012, I started Vietnam Coracle as a way to express my experiences in Vietnam and communicate my feelings about the country through words, images and film. I’m the sole author and content creator for Vietnam Coracle: everything you read on this website has been researched and written by me, and every photo, film or illustration (with a few exceptions) has been taken and edited by me.

Over the years, I’ve travelled to every province in Vietnam and covered over 200,000km on my motorbike, Stavros. However, I don’t claim to be an ‘expert’ on Vietnam or to know more about its food, history, roads, landscape, accommodation and culture than anyone else. But I do have a genuine passion for all of the above: I pursue them all with purpose and I’m highly motivated to present them to the best of my ability on this website. This has been my primary occupation for almost a decade, and I intend to continue.

Relatively camera-shy, I prefer to point my lens at Vietnam rather than at myself. For this reason, there aren’t many photos of me on Vietnam Coracle, and even those there are, I usually have my back to the camera or am hidden by a hat or sunglasses, as below. Although Vietnam Coracle is deeply personal – my opinions, character and personality run through all the content – the main focus of this website is Vietnam, not me.

*If you’d like to learn more about me & my website, please read this interview or listen to this podcast

Tom, Vietnam Coracle


Introducing Ben: I met Ben in 2019 and he’s been doing excellent work on Vietnam Coracle ever since. Ben initially contacted me through the site and we met for coffee. Ben is a web developer; I, on the other hand, am not particularly tech-savvy. As Vietnam Coracle has grown, I’ve become increasingly aware of how my lack of ability in this field limits what I’m able to do and, in some cases, has a detrimental impact on the site and readers’ experience of it. Moreover, there have always been things I wanted to do with the site, but couldn’t due to my lack of computer skills. Thankfully, Ben has a distinguished career in tech and knows all the mysteries and alchemy involved in web developing: everything that’s incomprehensible to me is terra firma for Ben.

We began working together on various tech issues on the site. Gradually, the projects became bigger, more challenging and complex. Much of Ben’s significant input may go unnoticed by readers of this site, because it’s in the background. But, Ben’s biggest project to date is very visible indeed. Almost a year in the making, Ben has completely redesigned the layout of Vietnam Coracle. From July, 2021, the way this website looks, feels and is organized is largely down to Ben’s tech wizardry. For my part, I’m hugely grateful for all the work, time and effort Ben has put into Vietnam Coracle. But, more than that, I’m happy to have Ben as a friend: he’s good company and we’ve been on several memorable trips together. Here’s Ben in his own words:

“I’m a web developer and designer from the great state of Maine in the USA. After a few years of honing my IT talent working in the Bay Area tech industry, I decided to finally chase my dream of living abroad, so I left most of my belongings in my aunt’s attic and then hopped on a one-way flight to Seoul in January of 2017. A year later, I found myself in Saigon where everything just clicked. Being a digital nomad gives me the superpower to choose where I live, and I chose Vietnam. I love it here! Independent travel has always been my favorite way to discover new places, so it was inevitable that I would find Vietnam Coracle. The first guide I ever followed was the Tet Classic, and I have been addicted to seeing this country on two wheels ever since.”

Ben Knight, Vietnam Coracle

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ABOUT: VIETNAM CORACLE

Since I have a lot to say about my website, please click an item below to read more about it:

Vietnam Coracle: Independent Travel Guides to Vietnam

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What is a Coracle? The coracle is an icon of Vietnam. These little woven ‘basket boats’ are seen all along the nation’s coastline, used by fishermen to transport their catch from the boats to the beaches. As an object, coracles are symmetrical and serene, beautiful and recognizable. Coracles float and move wherever they like: they have no bow or stern. I like to think of the coracle as a metaphor for freedom of movement and independent travel. In addition to these attributes, I like the sound of the word – coracle – it’s graceful, fluid, and a play on ‘oracle’: a dispenser of advice. However, like many aspects of traditional Vietnamese culture, woven coracles are an increasingly rare sight in Vietnam today; most fishing communities now preferring the much more durable, watertight, easier and cheaper to produce plastic coracles.

Vietnam Coracle: What is a Coracle?

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What is Vietnam Coracle? Vietnam Coracle is a free, independent, online travel resource for Vietnam. Frustrated by meeting people who had come to Vietnam – either to travel or to live – and left disappointed, I created Vietnam Coracle in 2012 as a way to communicate and share the experiences I’ve had in this country and what I love about it. This website is my way of making sure that, for anyone with a sense of adventure and an open mind, Vietnam doesn’t pass you by.

Vietnam Coracle is aimed specifically at independent travellers: people who want to explore Vietnam for themselves and avoid package tours. This website features extensive guides to destinations, food and drink, transportation, motorbike routes, and accommodation throughout the country, as well as long-form articles, descriptive writing pieces and interviews about cultural, historical and environmental topics, and short films. My guides include annotated maps, directions, contact details, travel information, hotel reviews, dining recommendations – everything you need to experience the places I write about for yourselves, without having to join a tour.

All the content on this website is 100% independent: written, researched, illustrated, and experienced by me. If it’s on Vietnam Coracle then, by definition, I’ve been there and done it. Every guide and article is personally researched and based on over a decade of travelling, exploring, living, working and studying in Vietnam. Over the years, I’ve covered over 200,000km on my motorbike and visited all 63 provinces in Vietnam. The Vietnam Coracle archives currently hold over 250 free-to-access guides, articles, reviews and more. I hope this resource will help visitors explore Vietnam and enjoy the country as much as I do.

Vietnam Coracle: Independent Travel Guides to Vietnam

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This is Personal: Vietnam Coracle is a deeply personal view of Vietnam: I write about the things that I love and the topics that interest me. I don’t let Google rankings or social media shares dictate what I choose to cover in my guides and articles. Rather, I choose to write about whatever fascinates me, excites me, inspires me, or concerns me; whatever parts of the country I think deserve more attention from visitors; whatever dining experiences I think people should try: whatever I consider worthy of my time and effort to research and write, and worthy of travellers’ time and effort to pursue. In general, I tend to prefer off-the-beaten-path destinations and activities to well-trodden or touristy ones. This is partly because the latter are well-covered by other resources, and partly because, in my experience, the further you get from popular destinations in Vietnam, the better and more memorable your experience will be. If and when I write about a popular place, I usually focus on a specific aspect of it which appeals to me.

Vietnam Coracle is personal

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I am Independent: Vietnam Coracle is free-to-read and totally independent. I am the founder and sole content creator for this website: everything that you see and read on Vietnam Coracle has been produced and financed by me. There’s absolutely no sponsored content, no paid reviews, no paywalls, no algorithm-based advertising, and I’ve never paid to promote this site. Vietnam Coracle has occupied the majority of my time for nearly a decade. I produce all content for Vietnam Coracle to the best of my ability and as far as my time and finances allow. No one tells me what to write about or how to write about it. This is something that’s increasingly rare in the world of online travel content, and that’s why it’s precious. I want to keep it that way: 100% independent and free.

Vietnam Coracle is independent

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I’m not an Influencer: These days, so many travel blogs, vlogs, online travel guides and review sites are poorly researched and algorithm-based, or just regurgitated content aimed solely at generating traffic, ranking high in Google search results, and accumulating advertising revenue. So-called online travel advice is littered with influencers whose content often amounts to nothing more than paid posts and online marketing. I consider Vietnam Coracle the antithesis of this and I define myself and my website in opposition to this: I am not an influencer. I never receive payment for anything I write. All my guides and reviews are independently researched and financed. I never receive freebies of any sort in exchange for positive reviews or listings. I only write about places I’ve personally visited. There’s no sponsored content. No paid marketing. No random Google Ads. I’ve never paid to promote my website – any momentum, popularity, or readership it’s gained has been entirely through word of mouth, whether in person or online. Again, no one tells me what to write about or how to write about it.

Vietnam Coracle: I'm not an influencer

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Readers can Support Vietnam Coracle: If you enjoy this website and the work I do, please support Vietnam Coracle. There are 7 ways to do this:

Please Support Vietnam Coracle

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Ratings & Reviews:  As you read and use this website, you’ll begin to get a sense of what my general tastes and standards are for accommodation, dining, and destinations. I have no fixed criteria for ratings and reviews: my assessments are entirely subjective. I review all standards of accommodation, dining, and transportation on this website – budget, mid-range and luxury are all covered. In many cases, I enjoy staying at cheap, local guesthouses as much as I do fancy, 5-star resorts; and I enjoy one-dollar rice lunches on the streetside as much as I do expensive cocktails at a rooftop bar. However, I always judge a place based on my own expectations of value for money. If, for example, a $200-a-night resort offers good but not excellent accommodation and service, then I will rate the $10-a-night, friendly, family-run guesthouse next door more highly.

Likewise, when it comes to dining in Vietnam, a good meal is about more than just the quality of the food: a confluence of physical surroundings, ambience and food is what constitutes a good meal for me. Since street food is so good and so ubiquitous in Vietnam, the kind of place that’s most likely to meet the above criteria is not an indoor, quiet, sterile, restaurant environment, but an outdoor, busy, messy, noisy and delicious place on the sidewalk. 

Street food in Vietnam

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Accuracy & Updates: I do my best to make sure that all the information in my guides and reviews is accurate at the time of writing and publication. But, such is the pace of change in Vietnam, some details are bound to be out of date by the time you read them. Always check the date of publication/latest update at the top of the guide you’re reading to gauge the accuracy of the information, and adjust your expectations accordingly. In addition, check the comments section at the bottom of the page to find any updates that readers have contributed.

Please bear in mind that my travel guides cover hundreds of destinations, and my motorbike routes cover tens of thousands of kilometres of road, across the entire nation. The more content I produce, the more difficult it is to keep information up to date. I encourage readers to let me know of any new developments or changes they encounter while travelling, so I can keep my content as current as possible. Readers can either comment at the bottom of my posts or email me with information. Your input is a great help to me and other travellers who use this website. However, before commenting or emailing, please read my Updates & Accuracy Page.

Finally, this website is a very personal view of Vietnam. I, like everyone else, am a work in progress; in a constant state of becoming. I change. My values, ideas and opinions change. Thus, some views I’ve expressed in past articles, guides or reviews may not necessarily be representative of my opinions in the present.

Vietnam

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ABOUT: MY CATEGORIES

All content on Vietnam Coracle is organized into 4 main categories, each of which has multiple sub-categories. Below I’ve written a brief overview of the 4 main categories:

Vietnam Coracle: About My Categories

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Category: Destinations

My Destinations Category features extensive, long-form travel guides to some of my favourite places to visit throughout Vietnam: beaches, mountains, islands, cities, cultural and historical sites, and much more. My guides cover the entire nation: north, south, east, and west. As mentioned earlier on this page, I tend to prefer new, emerging or neglected destinations rather than highly popular (and crowded) ones. This is reflected in the destinations I choose to write about, many of which are relatively off-the-beaten-path. However, I do also cover some destinations that are very much on the established tourist trail. Also included in my Destinations Category are in-depth guides to transportation: train routes, ferry routes, useful bus services and urban transport, as well as hiking routes and do-it-yourself walking tours.

In addition to these, my Destinations Category features articles on aspects of Vietnamese life and culture, reading lists, interviews, descriptive writing pieces, nature and the environment, travellers’ resources, short films and more. The scope and variety of content in my Destinations Category is broadening all the time: I have a wide range of interests and many more ideas for new content than I can possibly keep up with. In order to get the most out of my Destinations Category, browse the content using the subcategories or explore using my Destinations Map. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, type the key words into the search box in the top right corner of any Vietnam Coracle page.

Destinations Category

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Category: Motorbike Guides 

I believe that a motorbike road trip through Vietnam is one of the most rewarding travel experiences you can have anywhere in the world. Few things compare to the feeling of freedom and excitement you get when starting out early in the morning on the open road. The motorbike is the most popular mode of transportation in Vietnam, and there’s no better way to see the country. Over the years, my motorbike, Stavros, has taken me to all of Vietnam’s 63 provinces, covering over 200,000km. Having your own two wheels gives you unparalleled access to Vietnam’s landscapes and cities. You won’t be restricted by bus, plane or train routes: the whole country is open to adventure. My Motorbike Guides Category outlines great rides and exciting routes throughout the country: from mountainous northern routes to coastal southern routes, from short back-road jaunts to epic south-to-north adventures. All my Motorbike Guides include detailed route maps, information about things to see, places to stay and eat along the way. With my Motorbike Guides you can do it all independently, without joining a tour: a real adventure.

Don’t be put off by the chaotic traffic in Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City): once you’re out of these cities the traffic is much lighter. In general, my motorbike routes try to stay on smaller, quieter, paved roads as much as possible. Nevertheless, sometimes busy highways or muddy tracks can’t be avoided. These roads can be dangerous, but, with common sense and careful driving, you’ll be fine. My Motorbike Guides Category also includes multiple resources for riders, such as expenses, riding equipment, and how to transport your motorbike on trains, buses and boats within Vietnam. To find the route you’re looking for use the subcategories or browse using my Motorbike Guides Map

Motorbike Guides Category

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Category: Hotel Reviews

One of the things that has always excited me about travelling is the prospect of stumbling upon, and staying in, great-value accommodation. Whether it’s a dorm bed for a couple of dollars in a cool hostel in a city centre, an immaculately clean, family-run guesthouse in an off-the-beaten-track location, a mid-range hotel in a fabulous position, or a 5-star resort with exquisite attention to detail, I love them all and I review them all on Vietnam Coracle. All my accommodation reviews are detailed, long-form, independently researched and financed – I never receive freebies or payment of any sort in exchange for positive reviews or listings. My Hotel Reviews Category features dozens of illustrated reviews of places to stay, so you can find the perfect hotel, resort, homestay, guesthouse or campsite to suit your tastes, needs and budget. From wild camping in the Central Highlands to luxurious, modern, minimalist-chic beach resorts on the south-central coast, from homestays on lakes, rivers and in the mountains to boutique hotels above the rice paddies, my Hotel Reviews Category covers the whole country and all price ranges. Use the subcategories to explore my Hotel Reviews archive or browse using my Hotel Reviews Map.

Hotel Reviews Category

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Category: Food & Drink

Food and drink should be a highlight of any visit to Vietnam. Yet many travellers return home underwhelmed by their culinary experience of the country. This is partly due to Vietnamese restaurants catering to foreign tourists – these places are more likely to offer the idea of Vietnamese food than the real thing. But it’s also partly due to a lack of adventurousness on the part of travellers. Come to Vietnam with an open mind and an open palate, avoid tourist restaurants and English-language menus, and you’re sure to fall for Vietnam’s marvellous cuisine and culinary culture. My Food & Drink Category features guides that will help to give you the confidence to go out and eat like a local. Vietnamese cuisine is complex and eclectic. Some dishes can be a shock to foreign palates, but others are much easier to get to grips with. It took me a long time to become familiar and comfortable with the Vietnamese flavour spectrum. But, once I learned to trust the local palate, a whole new and delicious world opened up to me.

In the big cities, the food and drink scene is changing and evolving all the time: there are smarter, more sophisticated restaurants and bars, many offering Asian-Western fusion cuisine. But I prefer old-school, local, family-run, informal, street-level dining experiences. In Vietnam, it’s often the most casual, run-down looking establishments that serve the best food: follow the crowds, not the décor. Vietnam is a nation of cafes and bars. The coffee culture and bar scene is burgeoning and exciting, as a new, young, creative generation turns its attention to nights out and having fun. Explore my culinary guides using the subcategories or my Food & Drink Map.

Food & Drink Category

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ABOUT: VIETNAM

Vietnam is an exciting place to be at this point in time. The country is undergoing huge transformations in almost all aspects of its society and culture: from economics to eating habits, from religion to relationships, from family to foreign policy. For the traveller, tourism is in the perfect phase of transition: infrastructure is developed enough to allow access to practically all regions of the country, but undeveloped enough to make off-the-beaten-track experiences a daily occurrence, should you seek them out. But, with the current pace of change, some things – unspoiled islands, historic buildings, local eating houses – are bound to disappear forever. Don’t wait; visit now, before those annoying people start saying, “You should have seen what this place was like five years ago.”

Vietnam is moving, changing, shifting – you get a real sense of this as you travel around the nation. The population is young, dynamic, creative, optimistic and excited by the prospects of the future. It feels like this is Vietnam’s time. Vietnamese people are often intensely proud of their culture, history and achievements, while also being extremely curious, open-minded and willing to learn about the rest of the world. Vietnam’s economy is booming, consumerism is surging, foreign travel is increasingly common, and Vietnam is becoming a bigger, more influential power in the region and the world. But, with some of these changes come new and difficult problems: pollution and air-quality, especially in the big cities, is becoming a serious health risk to citizens; the natural environment has taken a pounding with the liftoff of the economy and the advent of tourism and development; and Vietnam’s relationship with China is more complex and fragile than ever. Taken all together, Vietnam is a fascinating place to be right now: explore, enjoy, eat, ride, learn and love it.

Vietnam Coracle

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ABOUT: ADVERTISING

Vietnam Coracle is, and always will be, free and independent. As the website has grown, Vietnam Coracle has become a full-time occupation for me: I spend the majority of my time and money researching and producing new content, and maintaining the site. Therefore, it’s necessary for me to make some revenue from Vietnam Coracle. Rather than charging for access to my content, putting up paywalls for certain posts, writing sponsored content, or using Google Ads, I have chosen to make personally selected advertising available on my pages. This advertising is aimed at complementing my content, rather than distracting from it. The advertising banners you see on Vietnam Coracle are not random, algorithm-based ads served-up by Google. I only advertise products, companies and services that are relevant to my content and that I think will be useful to my readers, and, preferably, ones that I have personal experience of. I personally select and oversee the advertising that’s allowed on my website. If you’re interested in advertising your business, services, or products on Vietnam Coracle, please take a look at my Media Kit or email me: [email protected]

Note: For details about other aspects of my website that may affect you, please read my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements and my Privacy Policy

Thanks for reading!

Thank you, Vietnam Coracle

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177 Responses to About

  1. Zach says:

    Hey Tom,

    I’m planning a one month road trip with my brother in Vietnam in January and have been using your website a lot for reference, it’s incredibly helpful! I was wondering what HP or CC engine you would recommend? I’ve been mostly looking into 125CC/ 10HP, but am unsure if they’ll have enough power to take on some of the mountain passes in North and Central Vietnam. Let me know your thoughts!

    Thanks,
    Zach

    • Hi Zach,

      Yes, 125cc is absolutely fine for any of the roads I’ve written about on my site. The only reason you would need something more powerful is if you were planning to go off-road. Even with a passenger and luggage on the back a 115 or 125cc bike will be more than capable on getting up the steepest of hills in Vietnam, as long as they are paved roads. Obviously you should make sure that the bike is in good condition before you set off.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  2. Thanh says:

    Hi Tom,

    I learned your website on google and very glad that you have made a very exciting street food in Saigon. Hope to read more about your articles. I am currently working for a school of culinary arts in Saigon. And I would like to hear from you. Thank you.

  3. Tricia says:

    Hello,
    Great site and have shared it with many people that I work with. I have a question for you please. Bike rental company in Denang that will allow for drop off in Hue? The idea is to do the Hai Van Pass.

    I emailed the bike company you mentioned but they do not have a partner in Hue to drop the bike off at.

    Thank you for any thoughts and advice you can provide. Tricia

    • Hi Tricia,

      Thanks for sharing my website 🙂

      Did you try Rent a Bike Vietnam and Flamingo Travel already? They should both be able to arrange drop off/pick up in Hue. You might also try contacting Hoi An Motorbike Adventures to see what they can do.

      Let me know if that works.

      Tom

  4. Duarte says:

    Hi Tom,
    Great Blog! I’m going to travel from north to south on a motorbike, 20 days in September! Found great tips here! This is going to be very helpful! I have one question for you: rent or buy? Some people say that its a better deal buy a motorbike in Hanói and then sell it in Ho Chi Minh, for example, than rent it for 20 days. What do you think? Is that too risky?
    Best Regards,
    Duarte

    • Hi Duarte,

      Yes, that’s a big question for many people. I think it’s all about time. Finding a good bike for sale and then checking it and making any additions (if needed) can takes days, and then finding a buyer at the other end can also take days. So if you have less than a month in country I do not think buying a bike is worth the time and effort.

      With 20 days I would rent a bike from a reputable company – try Rent a Bike Vietnam or Flamingo Travel (you can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me). Organize it in advance so that they will have the bike you want when you want it. Both of those companies can pick your bike up at the end of your trip.

      Other advantages of renting are that you can be more confident about the condition your bike is in, and if something goes wrong on the road – e.g mechanical or maybe you get stopped by the police – you can always call them for assistance.

      When it comes to money, again it’s all about time. If you’re only here for 20 days you won’t be saving much by buying instead of renting.

      Have a great trip,

      Tom

  5. Hieu Dovan says:

    Hi Tom,

    A friend and I are planning a month long trip from Ha Noi to HCM city the month of December. So glad I found your site. We were going to buy Honda Wave and/or Win (2 bikes) until I noticed that you have a Nouvo. You write that you’re happy with your Nouvo. If you were to buy another bike today, would it still be the Nouvo or would you recommend another bike. We plan to buy used bikes in Ha Noi, and have them reconditioned for the trip south. Though we have looked up Craigslist, due to time constraints, we most likely will buy the bikes from a dealer in Ha Noi. Any recommendations you have on bikes and where to buy them would be much appreciated. BTW, we’ll be taking the HCM Road that you have recommended. Thank you again for taking the time to put on this site. Great information.

    Best regards,

    Hieu

    • Hi Hieu,

      Yes, I’m happy with my Nouvo, and if I was to buy another bike tomorrow, I’d buy a Nouvo again. Every single road trip guide that I’ve written on my website, I have ridden it on my Nouvo. They are reliable, very easy to drive, and can be repaired almost anywhere. However, the same can definitely be said for the Honda Wave. The Win is a bigger, ‘real’ motorbike. Ultimately, it depends on how you want to do your driving and what kind of roads you will be on. If you are going off-road you will certainly need a manual bike, and preferably a ‘real’ motorbike, like the Win. If you’re staying on paved roads, then the Nouvo or Wave is all you need. Some people prefer to Wave and Win because they are manual and you get more of a feel for the bike. But if you want it simple and comfortable, the Nouvo is fine.

      Craigslist will have bikes on there, also you could look for a Hanoi Expats Facebook group – I’m based in Saigon, and the expat Facebook page often has ads from people selling good bikes. You might also contact some of the reputable bike rental companies in Hanoi: I recommend Flamingo Travel and Rent a Bike Hanoi – they may be able to guide you in the right direction for purchasing a bike.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  6. Thomas Fowler says:

    Hi! I’ve been having a look at your website and you seem to have a vested personal interest in Vietnam which makes you stand out from the usual travel guide type website. My friend and I are going to Vietnam south to north from 1st June-17th August.

    I have some questions, do you know anything about getting a multi entry 90 day visa?? And if a multi entry visa is not possible, does Vietnam have the excitement and abundance of adventure to keep my friend and I entertained for 2 and a half months (im sure it does hehe).

    I might point out that the Vietnam Embassy in London replied to our email regarding multi-entry 90 day visa’s with, ‘We don’t do 90 day multi-entry visa’s’
    We’ve heard about these ‘on arrival’ visa’s you can get but they don’t sound too reliable and many websites claiming to issue 90 day multi entry visa’s appear questionable to say the least…You got any advice for me?!

    • Hi Thomas,

      I’m not certain of the visa situation at the moment. There have been an awful lot of policy changes over the last few months – no one, including the government, seems to know what the actual situation is. However, I would advise against the visa on arrival. Lots of people do it, and it works out fine most of the time, but who needs the hassle of a long queue, paperwork, and uncertainty of not having a visa in-hand once you land. Better to prearrange your visa and slide out of the airport and straight into Vietnam, no fuss.

      Yes, there’s plenty to do in Vietnam for 90 days, especially if you have an adventurous spirit, palate, and a motorbike for at least some of that time.

      Have a great trip,

      Tom

  7. Neville foley says:

    Hi tom foley here great info I will be returning to vietnam April hcmc to hanoi.3 months tour by motorbike as you say fantastic country and people food superb iwould like to know good place to buy yamaha nuovo hcmc for my trip. Tom also your take on camping on the trip thanking you. Never Foley

    • Hi Neville,

      Well, 3 months is certainly plenty of time to enjoy riding in Vietnam!

      When looking for a Nouvo in HCMC to buy you can check the notice boards of popular budget hotels in the Pham Ngu Lao backpackers area. There’s always notices from people looking to sell bikes. Also, try Craigslist and other popular on-line listings. You can also contact some of the bigger motorbike rental companies in HCMC to see if they have any bikes to sell. Try Flamingo or Saigon Scooter Rental.

      Camping is fun and certainly doable, but it’s best to be as discreet as you can: try to find a place where you are not visible from the road. It also depends on the route you take. If you’re taking country back roads then they’ll be more opportunities to camp, but if you’re taking highways it’s unlikely you’ll find a suitable spot.

      Have a great trip.

      Tom

      • Neville foley says:

        Thanks Tom for info I will take coastal route and call into dalat and other central locations. Tom what’s your take on changing money in the banks in vietnam. Thanking you Nev Foley

        • Hi Neville,

          Changing money in Vietnam’s bank is absolutely fine. Just be aware that anything other than US dollars, Euros, and Vietnamese Dong will be difficult to change anywhere. Also, Vietnamese banks (and other exchange outlets) are very fussy about the condition of notes – anything that looks old is unlikely to be accepted.

          Tom

  8. Brent says:

    This is a great website! I am loving reading about your motorcycle adventures, the information you provided is exactly what I am after and from someone who enjoys the travel on motorbike so much.which means now I don’t have to read the forum posts from haters saying don’t ride a bike in Vietnam blah blah blah but with riding sensibly and cautiously as you mention you should be fine.

    I appreciate the time you have taken to write all this comprehensive information, I am planning 3-6 months in Vietnam alot of the time on motorbike with the hope of living there permanently as I loved it so much last time I visited!

    Keep up the good work mate!

    • Thanks, Brent.

      If you’ve got 3-6 months in Vietnam and a motorbike you’re guaranteed to have a great time! I hope you get a lot of exploring done and really interact with Vietnam at every turn and in every way.

      Good luck,

      Tom

  9. Alison Dunne says:

    Hi Tom. Love your blog and like everyone else am grateful for the time you spend on it and the detail you include to enhance the experience of Vietnam for all who read it. A couple of recommendations for other readers. Cong Cafe in Hanoi, opposite the Cathedral. Try the Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and coconut. Hoi An. Did a tour called The Taste Of Hoi An. Well worth it. Neville and his wife Colleen are Australians who have lived in Vietnam for 5 years. Don’t let that put you off. They use locals as guides and the whole day is worth every cent you will spend. Neville will give you great recommendations on everything from where to eat, where to buy clothes and jewellery, where to buy leather etc etc. If you don’t do the tour you must go to Madam Kanh, the Banh Mi Queen. She truly is the Queen. Sit down to eat and ask her daughter to make you a coffee. You will not regret it. Dalat. A dessert place at 59 Duong 3 thang 2. We had the banana wrapped in sticky rice and banana leaf cooked over coals and served in a sago sauce. Really really good. I didn’t have a sweet tooth till I came to Vietnam! Now it’s off to Saigon to try some more of Tom’s recommendations.Cheers. Alison.

    • Thanks, Alison.
      Good to hear you’ve had a great trip in Vietnam. Thanks for the recommendations. I’m sure my readers will benefit from your tips.
      I hope you enjoy Saigon as much as the rest of the country.
      Tom

  10. Na Phạm says:

    I happened to read your post about the duck eggs. it is such a coincidence that I have just finished my 300 word writing about that kind of dish for my friend’s website. I am curious enough to dig in your blog for more and I must say your About me is too attractive even to a VNmese who live all her life in Vietnam 🙂
    I want to say thanks, for being such a nice ambassador for VN tourism.
    Will be a close follower of your site!
    Happy new year, btw.

  11. Terry Tate says:

    Tom, myself, daughter and son in law are coming to Vietnam in February. We are flying into Saigon renting bikes and riding to Hanoi. We have two weeks and are really looking forward to the trip.
    Your site is very interesting and I am sure it will be a big help.
    Do you know anything about Flamingo Travel where we might be renting the bikes?

    • Hi Terry,
      Sounds like a great trip in prospect.
      I’ve never had any direct contact with Flamingo, but I’ve meet plenty of people who have and they all seem to have had positive experiences. I usually rent bikes for friends and family from Rent a Bike Hanoi, they are easy to deal with and very efficient, as I’m sure Flamingo are too.
      Good luck with the trip. Probably best to stay in the south at that time of year. Try the the Nui Chua Coastal Road and the Southeast Loop – they can be easily combined for a great coastal-highlands ride.
      Tom

  12. Tin Do says:

    Hi Tom! I just stumbled upon your website and I love it. I’m a Viet Kieu and have been back many times. I still love to visit there, but like many tourists, the country and its rapid development often leave me very disappointed. However, the country is still incredibly beautiful and the food is amazing (and I’ve had lots of Vietnamese food everywhere). And once you really get to know the people, they are generous and sweet as ever. Reading your blog and seeing your perspective on VietNam have given me a new appreciation for my native land. Cam on rat nhieu!

  13. Ben says:

    Hi Tom,

    You’re so right. I’ve been here in Saigon a little over a year, and feel that Vietnam reveals more to me every month. I’m in love with this country. You have an incredible website! I can’t wait to put much more of it to use – your project is an inspiration. Thanks for all the time you must put into this. I look forward to seeing even more of this great city and country with your guides.

    Ben

  14. Prince Roy says:

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for all the effort you put into the site, as a recent arrival to HCMC, you given me many great ideas for dining places to check out. I guess having lived in Vietnam so many years, you must’ve learned the language quite well. How important has that facility been to your experiences in the country, and can you recommend a good school in HCMC?

    • Hi,
      Yes, I’ve been in Vietnam 8 years. I have learned a fair bit of the Vietnamese language, but I’m nowhere near fluent. If you make an effort with the language you will benefit hugely in every way. There’s a company called I Love Vietnamese Project (google it to find their website) – they offer free lessons from English students in Saigon. This might be a good place to start. I started with one-on-one lessons at a couple of universities in Saigon – Dai Hoc Su Pham and Dai Hoc Nhan Van va Xa Hoi. Classes used to be $10 an hour – no doubt it’s pricier now.
      I hope this helps. Good luck.
      Tom

  15. Lee says:

    Hey Tom,

    Great website! Weird request here…
    Spending 25 days in Vietnam over the summer hols with my pregnant wife. She says she “won’t try street food as it’s more likely to be unhygienic”. Is this true?

    Also any tips on travelling with a pregnant lady?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Lee,

      Thanks. Well, street food is certainly one of the main highlights of a visit to Vietnam and it’d be a shame to miss it. As for hygiene I rarely have any stomach problems, and whenever my friends or family from the UK come to visit me here I take them all to my favourite street food places – they dive right in, straight off the plane and off to a food vendor, and they seldom suffer any tummy trouble. In general, I’d say if you find a busy place it’ll be good food and clean and fresh. Anyway, who’s to say that restaurant food is cleaner? You can’t see what the condition of the kitchen is so you’ve no idea how clean (or not) your food is – at least with street food it’s all out in the open and there for everyone to see.

      I have no experience travelling with pregnant women, but Vietnamese adore children, and pregnant women are treated with great sensitivity, so I shouldn’t think it will be an issue.

      Tom

      • Hong says:

        Just simply great answer.

        “You can’t see what the condition of the kitchen is so you’ve no idea how clean (or not) your food is – at least with street food it’s all out in the open and there for everyone to see”.

        Your site is very interesting, even to a Vietnamese. Thanks

  16. Sylvain says:

    Hi Tom excellent Blog, what is your country of origin ?

  17. Hạ says:

    I’m Vietnamese but currently studying abroad and only get to go home for 2 months every year during summer. I always want to spend those 2 months eating as much Vietnamese food as I can so I won’t miss it (but I will anyways) when coming back to Canada. I has been looking for good places to eat this summer in HCMC for the past few weeks. That’s how I found your website. And wooow, your website is impressive! You probably have tried way more food in Vietnam than I have 🙂 I enjoy reading your blog.
    Thank you for all your recommendations, can’t wait to try them! More than that, thank you for loving the country, especially the food! Totally agree with you that most travelers return home underwhelmed by their culinary experience of the country because of Vietnamese restaurants that cater to foreign tourists. It’s also because many foreigners are afraid to try street food in Vietnam. Thank you for introducing them the real Vietnamese food! ^_^

    • Hi Hạ,
      Thank you, I’m glad you enjoy my blog. I hope you get a chance to eat lots of Vietnamese food when you get back to Vietnam next time. If you have any favourite places to eat let me know – I’d love to try them out. I think you’re right that many foreigners are a bit reluctant to try street food, but that’s changing now because of blogs and street food tours in Saigon and Hanoi that are getting more and more popular.
      Tom

  18. Guy says:

    Wow, I have to tell you, this is one of the BEST blog I’ve ever seen! Lots and lots of precious gems.
    We are traveling for almost three years in Thailand and I really like to see a blog like that here 🙂
    Thanks.

  19. Mike says:

    Great job, I recommend this site to every traveler I’ve met here. Did the Hon Gom sandbar and doing the HCM road now. Also ate at 2 of your recs in Dalat and I never would have tried that type of food on my own. Thanks dude

  20. ryan fox says:

    hey jut wanted to say that your website is bloody great. been a real help on the coast. when looking for information on dai lanh beach and hon gom sand bar i found nothing until yours. bloody awesome lil website. keep up the good work.

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