Tag Archives: travel

11 Most-Read Posts in the Year of the Rat

A look at the most popular posts on my website during the Year of the Rat. Although generally a torrid time for travel due to the pandemic, for much of the year travel within Vietnam was still possible, thanks largely to the government’s successful pandemic response…

Leave a comment

Vietnam Reading List & Book Reviews

A categorized reading list including personal reviews of over 50 books about Vietnam, ranging from Vietnamese authors in translation to travel writing, journalism, history, poetry, politics & more…

18 Comments

The Northeast by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

A bucolic corner of Vietnam, 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: Cao Bang, Lang Son & Bac Kan…

46 Comments

Son Tra Peninsular, Danang: Motorbike Guide

A rugged headland at the northern tip of Danang’s municipal beach, Son Tra offers mountains & forests, cliffs & coves, wildlife & centuries-old banyan trees, lofty mountain passes with majestic views & sandy beaches untainted by concrete high-rises….

12 Comments

Nam Du Islands: Travel Guide

A glistening archipelago of small tropical islands off the southwestern coast of Vietnam, Nam Du is beautiful & undeveloped. With mesmerizing beaches & bays, a jungle-clad interior, and over 20 outlying islands, Nam Du is a treat…

21 Comments

The Vietnam Coracle Map

An interactive map of Vietnam with all my guides, posts, articles, reviews, and videos marked on it, including direct links from the map to all my content. The Vietnam Coracle Map will help readers navigate the content on my website, in order to get to the information they are looking for….

9 Comments

The Beaches of Quy Nhon & Phu Yen: A Guide

The beaches of Phu Yen Province & Quy Nhon have been laying low, but their popularity is on the rise: now is the time to visit this seductive coastal region, full of hidden bays, beaches & coves. This is an extensive guide to Vietnam’s next big beach destination….

32 Comments

Long Thủy Beach Village, Phu Yen

More than just a lovely white sand beach & glistening sea; Long Thủy is also a charming network of narrow backstreets, lined with crumbling homes, small temples & cowsheds. Wandering through its tangle of alleyways is like stepping back several generations…

Leave a comment

On the Road & Under the Sky: Lunar New Year, 2018

Lunar New Year (Tết) is a time of gathering: of family & friends; of people & parties. But this year, I undertook to spend my Tết holiday in peace & solitude: I took my motorbike, my tent & my guitar & set off for 11 days on the road & under the sky…

6 Comments

Núi Dinh Mountain & Springs

Some 90 minutes from Saigon, Núi Dinh Mountain is an unexpected swell of high ground rising above flat floodplains. The mountain offers a peaceful retreat into trees & streams on its rocky slopes, upon which perch dozens of temples & pagodas….

2 Comments

Bãi Rạng Beach, Quy Nhon

A small crescent of toast-gold sand lined with coconut palms & casuarina trees, Bãi Rạng Beach is squeezed between two rocky bluffs, 15km south of Quy Nhon. It’s still a local, working beach & remains undeveloped….

2 Comments

Ha Tien: Jewel of the Mekong Delta

The most attractive place to be in Vietnam’s Mekong region, Ha Tien’s irresistible combination of bustling markets, languid backstreets, crumbling shophouses, forested hills, delicious food & local temples, makes it the ‘Jewel of the Delta’….

16 Comments

VIDEOS: Celebrating 100,000 views

To celebrate this modest milestone, I’ve compiled two video libraries: The 5 most-viewed videos on my channel, and my 5 personal favourite videos on my channel. Together they illustrate the rich diversity of Vietnam as a travel & food destination…

2 Comments

Diep Son Island & Sandbar, Van Phong Bay

Lying in the calm, warm waters of Van Phong Bay, just an hour north of Nha Trang, Diep Son is a mini-archipelago of small green islands. At low tide, a curving sandbar is exposed, linking three of the islets via a ‘sand bridge’….

25 Comments

La Nga River & Thac Ba Waterfall

The La Nga River and Thac Ba Waterfall offer freshwater bathing, lush jungle, mountain scenery and opportunities for wild camping, all within a few hours’ drive of Saigon. It’s a great inland escape for city-dwellers with their own wheels….

17 Comments

Saigon to Vung Tau by Ferry Boat

Taking the boat between Saigon & Vung Tau is one of Vietnam’s most underrated journeys. It’s a fascinating voyage from downtown Saigon, along several rivers, and across open sea to Vung Tau. New, comfortable & more reliable boats now ply this route…

60 Comments

Leman Cap Resort, Vung Tau

Sitting on the rocks above Vung Tau’s attractive seafront promenade, Leman Cap Resort is an excellent option for expats or mid-range travellers looking to escape Saigon for a couple of nights by the sea…

Leave a comment

The Cafe by the Banyan Tree

Named after a grand old tree by the roadside, this cafe is located on the scenic road between Phan Thiet & Di Linh, in the Central Highlands. With good views & strong local coffee, it makes a pleasant pit-stop on a motorbike road trip…

8 Comments

Vung Bau Beach: Go Now

Vung Bau beach is one of the last vestiges of ‘old’ Phu Quoc. Located in the northwest of the island, the largely undeveloped sands are lapped by a sapphire-coloured sea, a reminder of what Phu Quoc’s western shore was once like…

Leave a comment

Cam Ranh Bay: Cam Lap Promontory

Cam Lap Promontory is one of those rare places that’s easily accessible yet largely undeveloped and utterly beautiful. It’s the kind of place you fall in love with, and one that really does deserve the overused epithet of ‘hidden gem’….

44 Comments

23 Differences from South to North Vietnam

One of the most interesting aspects of travelling through Vietnam is observing & experiencing the changes that occur from one region to the next. Whether serious or superficial, significant or frivolous, I’ve jotted down some of the differences I notice when travelling south to north…

16 Comments

Ho Tram & Ho Coc Beaches

Just 120km from the city, Ho Tram & Ho Coc are by far the best beaches within easy reach of Saigon. Forget Vung Tau, Long Hai & Can Gio, this is where you should head for sun, sea & sand when you don’t have time to go to Mui Ne or Phu Quoc.

15 Comments

Mountains in the Mekong: Motorbike Loop

Most of the Mekong Delta is as flat as a sheet of rice paper. But my favourite corner of the region, the western edge along the Cambodian border, is blessed with some high ground, in the form of a mini mountain range, which rises from the plains of An Giang Province. These mountains are connected by beautiful back-roads, perfect for a road trip…

30 Comments

VIDEO: Saigon, My Saigon

My Saigon is not the high-rises or attractions of downtown. My Saigon is the local neighbourhood where I live – the alleyways, the market, and the people who inhabit it. In this film I’ve tried to capture the rhythm of daily life over 24 hours on a rainy season day in the area I live in…

12 Comments

My GIVI Bike Box

This is the story of my GIVI bike box, bearer of my baggage on all my road trips. Convenient, secure, durable and stylish, my bike box has allowed me the freedom to go anywhere and see everything, which is what motorbiking is all about….

22 Comments

Binh Thuan Back-Roads: Inland Loop

Binh Thuan Province is known for its beaches, but inland there’s a rich and varied landscape waiting to be explored. A network of rarely used, rural back-roads takes you on an inland loop – over arid plains, through forests, and across rivers….

12 Comments

River Road: The Cai Valley

A silver seam of glistening water, the Cai River meanders through a beautiful valley between Dalat & Phan Rang. A new road follows the course of the river, from its source in the high, forested hills to its mouth on the eastern seaboard….

6 Comments

The Pine Tree Road

An enticing road leads north from Dalat and into the remote forests and mountains of deepest Lam Dong Province. Coniferous forests stretch to the horizon, making this route great for camping or picnicking….

26 Comments

Portrait of Ms Ca

This is Ms Ca. Born sometime in the 1930s (she can’t remember the exact year), I met her sitting in the shade of a cashew tree, sheltering from the midday sun….

2 Comments

The Tết Classic: Lunar New Year Motorbike Loop

Tết (Lunar New Year) is the biggest festival of them all in Vietnam, but travel can be very difficult at this time of year. That’s why, every year, I take a meandering road trip that bypasses popular tourist spots & makes the most of the dry season weather…

37 Comments

The Saigon River: A Guide

Many cities are closely associated with a major waterway that runs through them: Saigon has the Saigon River. Currently, the city is in the process rediscovering and redeveloping its river. This is my personal reflection & guide to the Saigon River…

12 Comments

Desert, Sea, Sky: The Ninh Thuan Loop

Located between the two most popular beach towns in Vietnam – Mui Ne and Nha Trang – Ninh Thuan Province boasts coastal scenery to rival its famous neighbours. One of the most sparsely populated, least developed, and driest regions in southern Vietnam, ambitious new roads have opened up access to Ninh Thuan’s captivating scenery…

6 Comments

Weather in Vietnam: When & Where to Go

Many people assume that Vietnam is bathed in tropical sunshine year-round. But Vietnam’s climate is complex, variable, and very local. Having travelled to all of Vietnam’s 63 provinces, I’ve put together this personal guide to where in Vietnam I would most want to be at different times of the year…

105 Comments

The Deep South: Riding the Dragon’s Tail

After 9 years travelling in Vietnam, the last four provinces that I have yet to visit are all in the Mekong Delta. These are the southernmost provinces in the country: the Deep South or, as I like to call it, the Dragon’s Tail. I thought it was about time I made it to all Vietnam’s 63 provinces, so I finally set out to travel as far south as roads go…

12 Comments

Southern Islands: Con Dao or Phu Quoc?

Con Dao and Phu Quoc islands are the two most alluring beach destinations in Vietnam. But these two southern islands are very different in character, and therefore appeal to different types of travellers. As most visitors or expats only have time to go to one, which island should you choose?

73 Comments

Trash Talk: Litter in Vietnam’s Beauty Spots

Vietnam is an extraordinarily beautiful country, but thousands of scenic areas across the nation are increasingly ruined by trash. A major catalyst for litter in beauty spots are picnickers, who neglect to clean up after themselves….

32 Comments

ROUTE MAP: Two Month Motorbike Road Trip

During the autumn of 2014, I spent two months travelling over 9,000km by motorbike across Vietnam. This annotated and illustrated map of my road trip is designed as a resource for other riders. On it I’ve included links to relevant motorbike guides for specific regions; all of my overnight stops; and my exact route…

22 Comments

Ma Maison Boutique Hotel, Saigon

Hidden deep within a network of alleyways, Ma Maison is a warm, bright boutique hotel in a typical, local Saigon neighbourhood. Decorated in French Provençal fashion and located away from the city centre, Ma Maison plugs travellers straight into genuine local life…

4 Comments

Expenses for a Motorbike Road Trip in Vietnam

When preparing for a motorbike road trip in Vietnam, it’s helpful to know how much to budget for each day on the road. I’ve put together a list of expenses & an estimated daily budget in order to give travellers an idea of how much they can expect to spend…

99 Comments

The Burnt Road: Vietnam’s Desert

A short, easy ride through a big, hot landscape of barren hills and abandoned farmhouses, Highway 27B is the Burnt Road. This road trip takes you inland, through the vast open spaces of Vietnam’s driest province…

6 Comments

The Café Quarter, Saigon

In Phú Nhuận District – Saigon’s unofficial ‘café capital’ – a small grid of leafy streets plays host to a collection of trendy coffee shops. Bounded by the Thị Nghè Channel and Phan Xích Long Boulevard, I call this the ‘Café Quarter’…

8 Comments

Hot Toddy: Rice Wine Pudding

Anyone who’s spent time in Vietnam’s highlands will have come across rượu nếp – rice wine. However, on a recent visit to Cao Bang, I was introduced to rượu nếp in its pure, non-liquid form: a hot toddy meets rice pudding…

6 Comments

Saigon’s Parks & Open Spaces

Saigon might be known as a burgeoning city full of motorbikes and exhaust fumes, but it still has a great many green spaces in which to escape the heat, noise and pollution. From lush gardens dating from French colonial times to sleek, modern, waterfront promenades, here are Saigon’s best parks and open spaces…

20 Comments

Bac Ha Sunday Market

In the rugged mountains of northwestern Vietnam, the town of Bắc Hà holds a big, bright and busy market every Sunday. Attracting colourfully dressed ethnic minorities from across the region, the market has become a major magnet for tourists…

14 Comments

Grilling on Hot Rocks: Chu Quán, Dalat

One of Dalat’s new & exciting places to eat, Chu Quán is run by a young Vietnamese couple with a passion for good food & inventive decor. A smoky, open-sided BBQ-grill restaurant, this place has been buzzing since it opened…

8 Comments

Don’t Miss the Dawn

Dawn is the best time of day in Vietnam. Yet most travellers and expats never experience it. Wake up before sunrise and you’ll witness exquisite skies and the ‘roots’ of Vietnamese daily life. Rising early should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Vietnam….

4 Comments

Ban Gioc Waterfall: A Guide

Ban Gioc Waterfall is one of Vietnam’s most impressive natural sights, yet very few foreign travellers make it here. Located right on the Chinese border in a beautiful pastoral landscape, Ban Gioc is the widest & most scenic waterfall in the country…

77 Comments

VIDEO: Two Months on a Motorbike

In September & October of 2014 I made a road trip by motorbike through Vietnam. Travelling over 9,000km & covering much of the nation, I saw many wonderful things, some of which I captured on film. This is the video of my 2 month road trip…

15 Comments

Ho Chi Minh’s Cave: Hang Pác Bó

In the winter of 1941, Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam for the first time in 30 years. For several weeks he lived in Pac Bo Cave. Right on Vietnam’s northeastern frontier with China, Pac Bo is an important historical site in an enchanting location…

6 Comments

Ha Giang Extreme North Motorbike Loop

Ha Giang, Vietnam’s northern-most province, is home to a mythical landscape of conical limestone peaks & craterous valleys. Over the years, it has gained an almost legendary status among travellers. This motorbike loop is perhaps the most thrilling road trip in the country…

474 Comments

The Harvest Route: Mù Cang Chải

Every year, between September & October, the terraced rice fields of Mù Cang Chải, a rural district in northern Vietnam, put on a luminous show of picturesque harvest colours. I spectacular road runs through this region: I call it ‘The Harvest Route’….

19 Comments

Theatre of Rice: Mù Cang Chải

Every year, from summer to autumn, the terraced rice fields of Mù Cang Chải, a rural district in northern Vietnam’s Yen Bai Province, put on a luminous show of picturesque harvest colours. I call this spectacular sight ‘The Theatre of Rice’….

32 Comments

Sapa-Sin Ho Scenic Motorbike Loop

Sapa and Sin Ho are two towns high up on the slopes of the Tonkinese Alps. They are connected by lofty mountain passes, offering grand scenery on a scale not seen anywhere else in Vietnam. This is an ideal scenic loop by motorbike…

168 Comments

Hoi An: The Lantern Festival

During the Mid Autumn Festival, Hoi An’s old town echoes to the sound of dragon dances and the streets are lit by colourful lanterns hanging from trees and adorning shop-fronts….

10 Comments

Two Months on a Motorbike

In 2014, I embarked on a 9,000km, two-month motorbike road trip through Vietnam. During my time on the road, I kept a full and illustrated diary of my travels, an annotated map of my route, and made a short film of the journey…

46 Comments

Local Guest Houses: Nhà Nghỉ

Essential knowledge for the adventurous or budget traveller in Vietnam, ‘nhà nghỉ’ means ‘guest house’ in Vietnamese. However, this form of cheap accommodation often goes unnoticed by foreign travellers & suffers from a bad reputation among local people…

26 Comments

7 Great Streets for Street Food in Saigon

Saigon is arguably the best place to explore Vietnam’s extraordinary street food scene. The city boasts so many street food outlets that it feels like a gigantic open-air restaurant. This is my guide to 7 of the best streets for street food in Saigon…

49 Comments

Phu Quoc’s Beaches: A Guide

A halo of sand encompasses this green & forested island in the Gulf of Thailand. But Phu Quoc is currently undergoing major development, so now is the time to visit its beaches, before it’s too late (in some cases, it already is)…

90 Comments

Datanla Waterfall

Description | Image Slideshow | Map First published May 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle Datanla waterfall is only 6km from Dalat city centre. It’s no surprise then, that this is the most touristy and developed of all … Continue reading

4 Comments

Lien Khuong Waterfall

Description | Image Slideshow | Map First published May 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle Liên Khương is a dusty, busy, and unattractive town, 20km south of Dalat. From the horrible highway that passes through town, you’d never … Continue reading

5 Comments

Dambri Waterfall

Description | Map First published May 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle Dambri waterfall is 130km from Dalat, but it still makes this list because the falls lie within Lâm Đồng Province. This impressive waterfall is, by some … Continue reading

4 Comments

Pongour Waterfall

Description | Image Slideshow | Map First published May 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle Pongour is one of the most famous waterfalls in the province. It’s much loved and much visited by Vietnamese of all ages. As … Continue reading

7 Comments

Elephant Waterfall

Description | Image Slideshow | Map First published May 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle Elephant waterfall is in a heavily farmed valley at the bottom of a mountain pass, 30km southwest of Dalat. It’s a popular excursion … Continue reading

4 Comments

Tiger Waterfall

Description | Image Slideshow | Map First published May 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle Tiger waterfall is situated deep in the pine forests surrounding Dalat. Only 15km east of the city, these falls are easily reached but … Continue reading

7 Comments

Bao Dai Waterfall

Bao Dai Waterfall is one of the most spectacular but least-visited of all the cascades within reach of Dalat…

8 Comments

Dalat’s Waterfalls: A Guide

Dalat is located in Lâm Đồng Province, a mountainous region that boasts lots of waterfalls. I visited them all, in order to compile this list & guide to the waterfalls of Dalat & the surrounding area. Many of the falls are truly spectacular, while some are ruined by tourist development…

22 Comments

Bo Bla Waterfall

80km southwest of Dalat, Bo Bla is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the area. Once a popular tourist attraction, it’s now in an attractive & spooky state of decay: it’s like entering the abandoned theme park in ‘Spirited Away’.

18 Comments

Gougah Waterfall

Description | Image Slideshow | Map First published May 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle The once mighty falls of Gougah have been tempered by the construction of a dam and reservoir nearby. As the water has subsided … Continue reading

6 Comments

Vung Ro Bay

A drop-dead gorgeous bay on the south-central coast, Vung Ro has been slated for development for several years now, but none has arrived. So, for the time being, this beautiful area remains virtually empty and perfect for exploration….

42 Comments

Which Map to Use for a Motorbike Road Trip?

A good map is essential for an independent motorbike road trip in Vietnam, but no map is 100% reliable. However, by cross-referencing certain printed maps, online maps, local knowledge & online advice, you’re sure to find the best roads & routes.

36 Comments

Juliet’s Villa Resort

Surrounded by coffee farms, tea plantations, rice paddies & fruit trees, Juliet’s Villa Resort is a family-run, quiet, secluded & peaceful place to stay near Di Linh, a part of the Central Highlands most travellers overlook….

5 Comments

My Top 5 Markets in Saigon

Saigon’s markets seem to exist in another dimension to the rest of the city. In downtown District 1 you’d be forgiven for thinking that the traditional Vietnamese market no longer exists; replaced by generic high-end shopping malls. But local markets outside the city centre continue to thrive: here are my favourite wet markets in Saigon…

25 Comments

Walking Saigon’s Alleyways

Between all the busy main roads, Saigon is riddled with narrow alleyways, which are quiet, cool, charming and great for walking. Here are some of my favourite areas in the city for alley walks….

29 Comments

Southeast Loop: Motorbike Guide

If you’re looking for a road trip within reach of Saigon that takes you to beaches & mountains, but stays off busy main roads; this is it. Saigon, Mui Ne, & Dalat are all connected by quiet, scenic back-roads: this motorbike guide shows you how to do it.

57 Comments

Ho Chi Minh Road: Motorbike Guide

Stretching almost 2,000km along the mountainous spine of Vietnam, the Ho Chi Minh Road is fast becoming famous as one of the finest motorbike rides in Asia. Now fully paved from Saigon all the way to Hanoi, this is my updated and extended guide to the entire Ho Chi Minh Road….

235 Comments

Street Food Week

Can you live only on street food in Vietnam? Is it any good and is it really that cheap? To find out I spent a whole week eating exclusively street food in Saigon. Find out what I ate, where I ate, & how much I spent in this Street Food Week diary.

6 Comments

Bếp Than Eatery: Vietnamese Tapas

Bếp Than Eatery is a small, cool, and ‘cutesy’ place to relax with some lite Vietnamese snacks & mojitos by the Thi Nghe Channel in Saigon: a great place to ‘snack & chat’ with friends.

2 Comments

Saigon to Hanoi: The Scenic Route

Vietnam Coracle will be away from August 1-23 on a motorbike trip from Saigon to Hanoi with a best friend. Click this post for an introduction, route map & photos of the road trip. Follow our journey on my Twitter, Facebook & Google+ pages!

126 Comments

The Sand Dune Highway: Mui Ne to Ca Na

Get off the beaten track from Mui Ne with this short, scenic, easily navigable and rewarding road trip. Excellent coast roads lead between Mui Ne, Phan Ri Cua, Lien Huong and Ca Na, passing some great coastal scenery…

22 Comments

Hon Gom Sandbar

Stretching 30km out to sea, like a giant causeway to a sunken castle, Hon Gom Sandbar is a beguiling peninsular on the south-central coast. A road leads along most of its length, offering access to deserted beaches, sheltered coves & isolated fishing hamlets…

24 Comments

Dai Lanh Beach

A broad sweep of sand between two dramatic headlands, Dai Lanh Beach is a strikingly beautiful spot. Long blighted by the traffic & noise of Highway 1, Dai Lanh is on the cusp of great things, with the imminent opening of a new tunnel…

20 Comments

The Nui Chua Coast Road: Phan Rang to Cam Ranh

Nui Chua is a beautiful promontory jutting into the ocean between Phan Rang City & Cam Ranh Bay, on Vietnam’s south-central coast. A spectacular coast road has opened up access to its superb beaches, forests, rivers & fishing villages….

26 Comments

Video: Con Dao Islands

From the moment you step off the plane on the Con Dao Islands, you know you’re somewhere special. The main island of Con Son has a tragic past as a penal colony, set up by the French colonial administration. But today, it is the gorgeous natural beauty of this archipelago that’s attracting attention.

2 Comments

Beef Stew (Bò Kho)

Bò kho (beef stew) is a hearty, spicy and aromatic broth with diced beef, carrot and lemongrass. Eaten on its own with a warm baguette for dunking or served over noodles, this is one of my favourite dishes in Vietnam.

4 Comments

The Limestone Loop: Motorbike Guide

Thanh Hoa is a province of limestone pinnacles, rivers & rice paddies. Quiet roads meander through steep valleys cloaked in bamboo forests, & mountain passes twist skyward toward remote Lao border crossings. This motorbike loop is easily accessible from Hanoi, but travels through remote & beautiful landscapes….

113 Comments

The Con Dao Islands: A Guide

With its wild and beautiful beaches, rugged, jungle-covered interior, and 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 beguiling destinations…..

104 Comments