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. Rhea says:

    Hi Tom!

    Thank you for the very helpful website. 🙂
    I am going for traveling solo to Ho Chi Minh City on August, your guide has been a big help on my plan! Thank you once again. Anyway, how about the safety for woman during day and night time there? Specifically around Pham Ngu Lau backpackers area where I will stay.
    Your information is so much appreciated!

    Thank you again! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Rhea

    • Hi Rhea,

      Yes, in general Saigon and the rest of Vietnam are still very safe places in which to travel. If you are a solo female traveller you should take all the normal safety precautions that you would when visiting any other country, but it is very rare for anything bad to happen. However, sadly when things do go wrong it tends to be in the backpacker areas of popular tourist destinations, such as Saigon (Pham Ngu Lao), Mui Ne, Nha Trang etc. This is mostly because of bad or aggressive or provocative behaviour by foreigners and Vietnamese that is usually fueled by alcohol or other drugs late at night. But, again, this is still a rare occurrence 🙂

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  2. Ivan says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks so much for this detailed blog, amazing pics. I’m planning a long solo bicycle trip from Saigon to Hanoi and then back to Saigon over the course of about 6 weeks or more if I decide to hang out in different locals along the way. Knowing me, I will. 😉

    Question for you.. I just went to this doctor here in the US about vaccinations before my trip. They were saying that I should get Japanese Encyephalitis vaccine which is like $300 for each shot (2 shots)! bring malaria pills, Hep B, Hep A, Tetanus, Rabies!, and blablabla list went on.. I’ve had Hep A/B already and tetnis already. I know you are not a doctor but since you live out there I thought I’d ask you what you think before I splurge on any of this. It can really add up and I think some of this is just unnecessary as I’m not really getting into any super jungle areas just staying on HCM Highway and Highway 1 for the most part.

    My biggest concern is the monsoon I’m going to go through once I get into the North. 😉

    Thanks!
    Ivan

    • Hi Ivan,

      Yes, you’re right, I’m not a doctor 🙂 but I would say that it’s worth having all of the inoculations that you mentioned, however I don’t know about Japanese Encyephalitis – I don’t think I’ve ever had to have that one before, but I see that it’s mosquito-borne.

      When it comes to malaria pills, it’s up to you really. Many travellers start taking them, feel awful, and then stop because the side-affects of the pills are ruining their holidays. On the other hand, malaria is, of course, deadly.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Ivan says:

        Seems the Japanese E. and Rabies are by far the most expensive. I know there are a lot of dogs there and maybe some bats but I can’t imagine getting attacked by one while biking. Stranger things have happened I suppose.

        Thanks Tom.

  3. Michelle Nawrocki says:

    Hello,
    I am taking a 3 day Saigon 5 day Bali trip in Feb 17. I am looking forward to trying as many foods as possible, BUT..I have serious food sensitivities.
    I assume most foods are prepared from whole foods and grown herbs and spices and not processed or chemical laden as in the US?
    Can you offer any insight? Also, can you tell me how to translate MSG? Monosodium glutamate? I must be sure to hold a card that says please no MSG.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Yes, it’s very difficult to travel and throw yourself into a street food culture, such as Vietnam’s, if you are sensitive to those things.

      Many young Vietnamese also find themselves allergic to MSG these days. The word is bột ngọt. Put the word không in front of it to say ‘no MSG’. Almost everyone will understand this, but you should still be aware that most dishes which come in a sauce more often than not will have MSG in it.

      Yes, get a card printed with ‘no MSG’ on it. You’ll be OK if you stick to tourist restaurants but indulging in the street food scene may be a little trickier. However, I have had other readers in the past with similar sensitivities and they’ve managed fine and enjoyed the cuisine here.

      Good luck,

      Tom

      • Michelle Nawrocki says:

        Thank you kindly!

        • Nguyen Dien says:

          Hi Michelle,

          Thank you for your interesting in our country.
          I’m a Vietnamese girl and would like to help you
          Monosodium glutamate=Bột ngọt? Instead if saying Bột ngọt, you should say “không mỳ chính” = “no monosodium glutamate” if you visit Northern provinces like Hanoi and say “không bột ngọt” in Southern provinces like Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang…

          If you have any question, pls feel free to contact me!

          Nguyen Dien

  4. Romelus Saladar says:

    Hi Tom,

    I bumped into you in the past, and a Vietnamese friend of mine brought up your name and referred to your post on the CAFE APARTMENTS on Nguyen Hue street. I laughed when I recognised who you were. We haven’t met for a while, BUT many things you mentioned about Vietnam is the same way I feel about the country. Even being from Australia originally, I get a sudden sense of PEACEFUL enthusiasm to walk around anywhere here. It’s something that people may not realize, when ONLY knowing about the country because of it’s difficult history of change and discovery to grow from those times. I feel more peaceful here than in Hip Rocking SYDNEY !!! It’s funny that many of the places you mentioned in HCMC, I’ve been to as well hahahahahaahaha, BUT I guess it’s not UNUSUAL because for those CURIOUS to discover HCMC, that a common place to find is the reason why people almost always by chance enjoy the same places. The friend of mine here that pointed out your article is the owner of MetSigns cafe in the CAFE APARTMENTS on Nguyen Hue street (now being popularly called pho di bo). That whole building 42 Nguyen Hue street, is CONSTANTLY CHANGING every MONTH. Vietnam is becoming progressively EXCITING !!! Now with FREE WIFI on the WHOLE STREET… that location will be MORE HIP than any place I know in SYDNEY !!! More INTERNET AVAILABILITY in FASCINATING HCMC !!!

    Keep up the good work mate. Maybe we’ll run into each other again. OR WE HAVE & we will AGAIN AND AGAIN!!! Hahahahahahahaha HCMC or VN is a place where people PASS BY.. and just happen to be a part of the atmosphere.. and might feel… HMmmmm… I think I know that dude???… then walk further on to just smile about the place… WHY?? because the world now feels MORE FAMILIAR !!! Hahahahahahaha…

    Viva VIETNAM !!! Hahahahahahahahaaha… BE COOL MAN !!!

    • Hi Romelus,

      I’m happy to hear you’ve enjoyed reading some of my articles, and that you have also visited some of the places before. Yes, we must have similar tastes!

      Yes, the change in Vietnam – especially in Saigon – is constant: sometimes it’s fascinating; sometimes it’s scary! But Saigon and Vietnam in general always feels like a great and exciting place to be every day 🙂

      I hope you continue to enjoy life here!

      Tom

  5. I am impressed and fascinated by all the work you’ve done with all the videos and all the information about destinations and traveling around Viet Nam.

    I am married to a Vietnamese woman and spend half of the year in Vietnam, Saigon.
    We live in Saigon from October – April and in Norway when it is summer there.
    Would just like to thank you again for all the great information in your website and all the fine videos on youtube, – and then show my appreciation for the work you do.
    We have our honda and have been inspired to take the motorbike along the : « Ocean Road from Saigon to Phan Thiet / Nha Trang» , and to Dalat where I could like to live, ( instead og noisy and dusty Saigon).
    Could wish to contact you one day in October or November when we return to Saigon for a little chat, if possible ??

    – regards
    Stein Flaten – http://vietnam.steingal.com/#!home [email protected] – and Facebook
    Hellebergvg 36, 3960 Stathelle
    Telemark, NORWAY

    • Hi Stein,

      Thanks for your kind words about my site. I’m happy to hear you’ve enjoyed reading it.

      The ride along the Ocean Road from Saigon up to Nha Trang, and then the mountain road up to Dalat is great – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

      I travel around quite a lot so I never really know where I’ll be from one week to the next, but let me know when you’re here in the autumn. If we can’t meet there’s always email instead.

      Tom

  6. George Rivers says:

    Hi Tom,

    My wife and I are planning a trip to Vietnam. I’m a retired U.S. Marine serving three tours during the war. The first one was with the ARVN as a infantry battalion advisor and the last tour was with the Vietnamese Marines as a senior Brigade advisor– all with infantry units. My question is how are folks like me treated now that the war has been over for many years. Will there be some resentment? I’m thinking about 2-days in Saigon, two or three days in Nha Trang, two nights in Hoi An/Danang and two nights in Hanoi. How is the best way to use your good services/advice. I’m thinking about planning this trip in January or February next year. I’m coinciding this trip for a stay over in Cebu, the Philippines and maybe three days in Hong Kong. What do you think?.

    Cheers, George Rivers

    • Hi George,

      In the vast majority of cases you will not be subject to any resentment. Vietnam has an extremely young population and many Vietnamese view the war as simply a subject at school, and even those that don’t are very unlikely to harbour any resentment or bad feelings towards Americans. In general, most Vietnamese – whether they fought in the war or not – do not hold grudges against individual Americans: they may resent US government policies during that period, but not the soldiers that fought on the government’s behalf.

      You may be offended or disagree with some of the interpretations of the war in Vietnam – such as, propaganda in museums etc. But, you’d be very unlucky to experience a verbal confrontation related to the war in Vietnam – unless, of course, you seek it.

      January and February are great months to be in the south of Vietnam, but in the north and central provinces it will be cold and grey. However, this is also the time of the Tet Lunar New Year celebrations so there’s always a lot of buzz across the country at that time. If you will be visiting during the Lunar New Year holidays it is highly advisable to book everything in advance – transport, tours, hotels etc – because things can get extremely busy then. You can read more about weather and where and when to go in my Weather Guide.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  7. Emily Le says:

    Hi Admin the website,

    I am vietnamese who is a non native english. I was so happy to find our a great website that I can learn more english in travel field. I can’t afford to pay for travel in this moment, but I will save your website like tips for the future. I also share it to some groups on facebook, there are many foreigners who want to explore vietnam.
    Thank you.
    best regards.
    Emily,

    • Hi Emily,

      Thanks 🙂 It’s great to hear that you are enjoying my website and sharing it with others too.

      I hope you get the chance to travel and experience some of the places that I write about soon.

      Tom

  8. Hoa Nguyen says:

    Hi Tom,

    I am Vietnamese and I also love travel. Today I am writing an email to my friend in Mexico and I found this website.

    I am very surprise and impressive about this website.

    Please let me know if I can help you for anything to contribute for your website. I am willing to do it.

    Best regards,
    Hoa

  9. Heather Carr says:

    Hi Tom
    I’ve also really enjoyed reading your information. It’s great because it’s so detailed.
    I wondered if you could recommend a travel guide for an independent traveller? I’ve been to Vietnam 2X and want to do some research on Ho Chi Minh so want to go to Pac Bo and Dien Bien Phu from Hanoi.
    Any help would be appreciated!
    Kind regards
    Heather

    • Hi Heather,

      Do you mean a tour guide? If so, I don’t have much to offer you I’m afraid. You could try contacting Buffalo Tours and explaining exactly what it is you want/need from a guide and they might be able to tailor something/someone that suits you. Buffalo Tours are good – probably the best in Vietnam.

      If you mean a guide book, then a mixture of the big guides – Lonely Planet, Rough Guide etc – and online information – Rusty Compass, Travelfish etc – plus some background reading – there are lots of biographies of Ho Chi Minh available – should do the trick.

      I assume you’ve already taken a look at my guide to Pac Bo Cave – beautiful place and massively significant.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  10. Jacinthe says:

    Hi Tom,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I really enjoy reading your blog. It was our first time in Asia, and first time on a motorbike. We drove from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi and loved the adventure!

  11. Kevin Kim says:

    Tom, Hello!
    I live in the States and just came back from an unforgettable adventure in Vietnam. I remember looking through your website on my iPhone while I was in the south (Nha Trang) once I heard about the Ho Chi Minh Road. I could feel your passion for Vietnam’s unparalleled beauty through your site, and I’m so grateful for your guidance on which routes to take in order to maximize the beauty. Super long story put short, it changed my life. It’s an odd feeling being back in the States…it’s like I’m having withdrawal from some powerful drug. I’m wondering if something similar happened to you. I’d love to go back…I’m currently working on moving my teaching business to an online platform so I can make money while traveling. Anyway, thank you for being you.

    Go, go, go,

    Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thanks! Great to hear that you had such an amazing time. Yes, I do feel similar after a good trip – but I’m lucky enough to live in Vietnam and have lots of other opportunities to go on more road trips, so I don’t feel too much ‘withdrawal’ once I’m back in Saigon 🙂

      I hope you get the chance to come back to Vietnam are do some more inspiring journeys.

      Tom

  12. Uyen Huynh says:

    Hi Tom,
    I just want to thank you for putting together such an amazing website! I found yours through Jodi Ettenberg’s site and I am very touched by your apparent love for Vietnam. Make me so much prouder to be a Vietnamese. I’m heading to Saigon in a week to visit family and friends. Looking forward to try some of your food & drink recommendations. It’s been 4 years since I’ve been back, so I’m sure a lot has changed. Cám ơn và chúc anh nhiều sức khỏe!
    Uyen

    • Hi Uyen,

      Thanks! It’s great to hear that you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. I hope you have a fantastic time in Saigon eating and drinking your way through the city 🙂

      Cám ơn nhiều,

      Tom

  13. Patrick says:

    Hi Tom,
    I sent you some pictures through your facebook!
    Hope you enjoy it!
    Chúc anh mọi điều tốt lành,
    Pat

  14. PATRICK says:

    Hi Tom,
    Have you ever been to any spring water in DaLat or handicraft village or bamboo village? Actually , the pine road is the way heading to my hometown.
    I would like to send you some pictures and maybe you have been there.
    Have a good day!
    Pat

  15. Patrick says:

    Hi Tom,
    I could not believe that you have been living in Vietnam and Have written such wonderful stories.
    T hank you for having good thinking about VN. As you hvae been written about beutiful places of VN I would like to guide you to the north of Dalat if you find interesting .It is the road heading to the North of central high land.
    There are a lot of villages ,waterfall, coffe plantation,rice field…you can find some on my face book( shane kosa).
    I have taken some foreigner friends they all loved it..I f you are interested in..please feel free to text me on facebook.
    I hope you keep writing interesting thing about Vietnam!
    Patrick

  16. Keri says:

    Brilliant to come across your site. We are not quite at the really adventurous end of the scale travelling with 3 really small kids but loving some of your recommendations and great detail your share, we’ll be using some of your tips when we arrive in 10 days time!

    • Hi Keri,

      Great to hear you’ve found my site useful. Yes, it must be a very different experience travelling with three kids! But great fun too, I imagine 🙂

      I hope you enjoy Vietnam when you get here.

      Tom

  17. Vy says:

    Hi Tom,

    I’m Vietnamese, Saigonese. I needed to find some information for my foreign friends, so I found you. I just want to say thank you for your love with my country.
    Vietnam Coracle is a wonderful, inspired website. You are very kind and thoughtful when you’re replied all comments with clear, helpful details.

    Cảm ơn anh, Tom.

    V.

  18. BT says:

    Hi Tom,

    Just wondering if you can tell me the type of work you do n Vietnam? are you s English teacher at the moment? as I did read in one of your previous reports you come across to do ESL course?

    If I decided to live in Vietnam long term I would look at teaching English the hard part is knowing if I would enjoy teaching as forking out $1600US to do a month long TESOL course and then not liking teaching is a risk, but if I don’t try I would never know.
    Last time I was in Vietnam I did enjoy teaching many Vietnamese people English in parks as most would approach me and I would teach 3 people all of a sudden there’s 5 then 10 minutes later 10 in front of me but obviously this is a lot different to teaching in a school!

    Cheers

    • Hi,

      Yes, I first came to Vietnam to do a TEFL course. I liked the course and I liked teaching so I decided to stay in Vietnam teaching English. It gives you a chance to live, work and travel in Vietnam (and other countries), but of course it all depends on whether you enjoy the job or not. There’s not really any way of knowing unless you try it.

      There are lots of decent teaching positions available so there’s plenty to choose from. A TEFL course in Saigon is good fun anyway.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Paulette says:

        Hi Tom

        Like others, thanks for this site. It’s always good to read up on places as much as you can before deciding to embark on a journey there and you provide great information.
        I have looked at many TEFL courses in Vietnam and confused as to the best option? Can you tell me which organisation you did your course with?

        Thanks heaps

        • Hi Paulette,

          Thanks. My TEFL course was with TEFL International. It was superb: the instructor, the course, the teaching practices and the other students – it was a perfect combination.

          However, we simply got lucky that all those aspects aligned themselves for our particular course – it doesn’t really have that much to do with the particular organization you choose.

          One thing to consider if you’re doing a TEFL in Vietnam is that, in Vietnam, when you first find a teaching job you will most likely be teaching children – regardless of your preference or skills. For me, this was perfect because my TEFL course had focused primarily on teaching children. But, for many people – especially those who’ve done a CELTA course, which focuses of teaching adults – this can be a big problem.

          So try to think about what age/ability you’d most like to teach and then see if you can find out which TEFL courses focus on which age bracket.

          I hope this helps,

          Tom

  19. Stuart says:

    Hi Tom,

    AMAZING site. Thank you for all the effort you have put into it. The information is excellent and well written.

    I am coming to Vietnam in 2017 for an open ended trip.

    Now all I need to do is find a similar site for India! Any suggestions???

    Cheers.

    • Hi Stuart,

      Thanks. I’m afraid I don’t know of a similar site for India. However, I’m sure a little research on Google and a look through some guidebooks will yield some results. I’m sure there’s someone somewhere in India who is writing good independent travel advice 🙂

      Tom

  20. Brent says:

    Hey Mate,
    Correct me if I’m wrong but I noticed you haven’t ridden down Soc Trang, Ca Mau area is there any reason for this? as I was looking at going Ho Chi Minh – Can Tho – Soc Trang – Ca Mau – Rach Gia – Phu Quoc.

    Just wanted to know if there as any issues with riding in the Soc Trang / Ca Mau area?

    Cheers

    Brent

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