Tag Archives: Vietnam

The General’s Tomb | A Memory

Sometimes referred to simply as ‘The General’, Võ Nguyên Giáp is a giant of Vietnamese history. Following his death, in 2013, millions have made the pilgrimage to his tomb in Central Vietnam, myself included…

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Film: Saigon, My Saigon [Redux]

Revisiting my short film of a day in the life of my local neighbourhood in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), where I’ve tried to capture the rhythm of life over 24 hours in the rainy season

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First Rains: An Ode to the Monsoon

Monsoon downpours & tropical storms are the quintessential expression of the tropics, representing the exotic & the mysterious. For me, the monsoon embodies the excitement & romance of living far from home….

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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…

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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…

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The Quarantine of Taz in Vietnam

My friend, Taz, was quarantined for 17 days in Vietnam as part of the government’s strategy to contain COVID-19. After her release, I interviewed Taz about her experiences at the quarantine facility, just outside Ho Chi Minh City….

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Island-Hopping in Vietnam: A Guide

From north to south, the Vietnamese coast is flecked with thousands of islands; hundreds of which are inhabited & dozens of which can be visited by island-hopping. A handful of these islands are already well-established tourist destinations, but many are only just emerging as potential attractions….

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Escalade Resort, Cam Ranh Bay

A small-scale, affordable mid-range resort with dazzling sea views over one of the prettiest bays in Vietnam, Escalade Resort, Cam Ranh is tasteful, good value for money & great place to unwind….

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Plants, Flowers & Trees of Vietnam

The colours, shapes, sizes, smells & variety of flora in Vietnam is mesmerizing. In this guide I’ve compiled an illustrated index of some of the flowers, plants & trees I regularly see in Vietnam’s countryside & cities….

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Tam Hai Island: Travel Guide

A small & tranquil island at the mouth of a river, Tam Hai is within easy reach of Hoi An & Danang. This little island is a self-contained, peaceful world, with its own beauty, its own festivals, and its own resort….

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Hon Son Island: Travel Guide

Hon Son Island is a gem. It’s a rugged yet green & exceptionally beautiful isle. With jungle-covered mountains rising from the ocean, peaceful fishing hamlets in picturesque bays, and palm-fringed beaches, Hon Son has got it all…

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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…

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Auberge de Meo Vac Mountain Lodge, Ha Giang

A timber, tile & rammed-earth structure encircling a stone courtyard surrounded by a stone wall with haunting limestone peaks looming all around, the Auberge de Meo Vac is a remarkably atmospheric place to stay in Vietnam’s northernmost province, Ha Giang….

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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….

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A Guide to Climbing Mount Fansipan Independently

Known as the ‘Roof of Indochina’, Mount Fansipan is the highest mountain in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. At 3,143m (10,312ft) it’s a ‘real’ mountain. But Fansipan can be climbed independently, without a guide or porters or any specialist climbing equipment, in one day…..

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Ba Be Lake Homestays

At Ba Be Lake, limestone cliffs meet the placid water at right angles, creating a spectacular backdrop to Vietnam’s largest natural lake. On its southern shores, where the terrain is slightly less vertical, several dozen homestays offer cheap, atmospheric accommodation & excellent home-cooked food….

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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….

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Hoi An Waterway Resort

Sitting on the palm-studded banks of a narrow channel, Hoi An Waterway Resort boasts river views, superbly designed rooms, a low-key ambience, lush gardens & a good swimming pool. Low rates make Hoi An Waterway excellent value for money….

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The Cham Towers & Ancient Citadel of Vijaya

Scattered across the plains of Binh Dinh Province, the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Champa are a powerful reminder of the rich history of what is now Vietnam. Visiting the remains of the Cham towers & Vijaya citadel is a rewarding day trip from Quy Nhon….

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Exploring Saigon’s Railway Tracks: A Guide

Lined with intriguing architecture, temples, shrines, pagodas, fruit trees, flowers, cafes, casual dining & other such urban miscellanea, exploring the lanes alongside Saigon’s railway tracks, on foot or on two wheels, is a fascinating experience….

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Villa Hue Hotel

This gem of a hotel is located on a quiet yet central street in Hue, walking distance from the Perfume River & Royal Citadel. Drawing on modern, French colonial & Imperial Vietnamese decor & design, Villa Hue is superb value for money…

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Coconut Ice Cream in Saigon

In the heart of one of Saigon’s best street food neighbourhoods, Nguyen Huong offers up a colourful, textural, tasty, Thai-style coconut ice cream. This sweet treat is a fun way to end a night of street food exploration along the buzzing sidewalks of District 10…

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Local BBQ in Phong Nha

Just north of Phong Nha town, Quán Bình Hoa serves up an excellent BBQ in a local atmosphere. Roast pork, whole roasted duck, ox tail, grilled quail stuffed with lemongrass, hot & spicy baby clams and much more await you at this smokey roadside eatery….

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25 of the Greatest Riding Roads in Vietnam

Vietnam has some incredible riding roads: possibly some of the most scenic in the world. Based on my experience of riding around Vietnam for the last decade, I have compiled a list of what I consider some of the greatest riding roads in Vietnam…

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Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa

On the edge of Sapa town, Aira Boutique is a brightly-painted, alpine-style lodge affording spectacular vistas across the plunging, mist-filled valley, with the jagged peak of Mount Fansipan casting a long shadow over the scene. Aira is one of Sapa’s best higher-end accommodations…

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Cafe Culture on Con Son Island

Vietnam has a rich & thriving cafe culture – probably among the most active, dynamic, and independent cafe scenes in the world. And now, the cult of coffee has reached the remote, utterly beautiful island of Con Son, in the Con Dao Archipelago….

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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…

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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….

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Floating Lotus Lake Homestays, Mekong Delta

In the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, a collection of bamboo & palm-thatch huts on wooden stilts above a sea of lotus flowers, offer a night in a hammock or on a futon under a mosquito net, just a few feet above the frogs, the fish & the flowers…

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Eating Bánh Khọt in Vũng Tàu

Bánh Khọt are delicious gems: crispy discs of rice flour batter & coconut milk, fried until they’re crunchy on the outside but moist on the inside, then wrapped in herbs & dipped in a sweet-spicy sauce. Here are 7 places to eat bánh khọt in Vũng Tàu…

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The Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & Beyond

Thanks to new coastal roads, it’s now possible to ride from Saigon to Hoi An, and beyond to Dong Hoi, following the coast all the way & avoiding the busy main artery of Highway 1 for the vast majority of the route. This is a salty, sunny, sandy & scenic road trip….

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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….

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Hải Đăng Vegetarian Restaurant, Saigon

Hải Đăng is a simple, local, informal vegetarian restaurant in Saigon’s Binh Thanh District. The sheer variety and freshness of vegetable dishes on offer (not just tofu and ‘fake meat’) sets it apart from other Vietnamese vegetarian eateries in the city….

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Tomb Rider: Hue to Dong Hoi on Back-Roads

Covering nearly 200km of completely empty beach, coastal back-roads lead from the old imperial capital of Hue to the beach city of Dong Hoi. Scattered with thousands of traditional-style tombs, this coastal region is rarely explored by foreign visitors…

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Binh Chau Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Just a couple hours’ drive from Saigon, Binh Chau Hot Springs Resort & Spa has improved it’s facilities and aesthetics in recent years: it’s now a lush, relaxing and satisfying retreat from the city….

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Sapa-Y Ty Scenic Motorbike Loop

Sapa’s dramatic mountainous landscape continues north of town, via Y Ty Village, all the way to the Chinese border. Several small roads penetrate deep into steep, terraced valleys & climb high above ferocious rivers creating a scenic loop….

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Liberty Central Hotel, Nha Trang

Liberty Central Nha Trang is a contemporary, stylish, high-rise hotel just a block from the beach. Featuring elegant, minimalist decor, extraordinary sea views, rooftop bar & its own section of beach, Liberty Central is a solid place to stay in Nha Trang….

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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’….

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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…

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The Twin Passes: Cổ Mã & Cả

Historically, four great passes have divided what is now Vietnam. These occur at the four points along the coast where spurs from the Truong Son Mountain Range spread eastwards to the sea. Of these, my favourites are the ‘twin passes’….

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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’….

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How to Send a Motorbike on the Train

Putting your motorbike on the train is a very convenient option for road-trippers in Vietnam, allowing you to start or end your journey pretty much anywhere along the coast between Saigon & Hanoi. These days, it’s a fairly easy & efficient process…

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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….

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Quán Ốc Cẩm: Shell Feast

Dining out on snails, shellfish & beer is a national pastime in Vietnam. Everyone has their favourite quán ốc (snail restaurant) for a night of shells, booze, banter & fun: Quán Ốc Cẩm, in Saigon’s District 10, is one of mine…

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Mì Quảng 85 Noodle House, Saigon

Defined by its thick yellow noodles, crunchy rice crackers, quail eggs, fresh mint & salty-sweet sauce, mì quảng is a much-loved dish from Central Vietnam. The version at Mì Quảng 85 in Saigon is full of texture & colour, if a bit too sweet….

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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…

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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…

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Thuan Phat Seafood Restaurant, Phan Thiet

Venture out of Mui Ne & find better, cheaper seafood in nearby Phan Thiet. More specifically, at the string of seafood restaurants lining the bờ kè (riverfront) road, where hundreds of fishing boats lie at anchor. My favourite is Thuan Phat restaurant….

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Victoria Nui Sam Mountain Lodge

Built on a rocky escarpment near the summit of a scared mountain, Victoria Nui Sam Lodge offers tasteful, well-appointed rooms with fantastic views over acres of rice fields. It makes a great stopover when travelling through the Mekong Delta…

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Saigon to Dalat: the ‘Back Ways’

There are many ways to ride from Saigon to Dalat, but if you want a relatively direct route that avoids highways, there are several great options. These ‘back ways’ to Dalat utilize new, quiet & scenic roads to make the journey as fun as possible…

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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…

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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’….

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Silk Path Hotel, Hanoi

Walking distance from Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake, the Silk Path Hotel offers clean, crisp, modern and comfortable rooms in the capital. Stylish yet restrained, Silk Path is a good, solid mid-range hotel for couples or families visiting Hanoi…

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Coffee with a View: Photo & Bike Cafe

The Central Highlands is famous for its coffee and its mountains. Photo & Bike Cafe marries these two elements nicely, making it the perfect pit-stop on any road trip that passes through Bao Loc, on the way between Saigon and Dalat…

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Cat Tien National Park: Where to Stay

Traditional longhouses, luxury safari tents, bamboo huts, camping under tall trees: accommodation in & around Cat Tien National Park is atmospheric, good value and, more often than not, environmentally & socially responsible…

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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…

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Vinh Hy Bay Resort

Vinh Hy is a gorgeous natural harbour between Phan Rang and Nha Trang. At the centre of the pretty bay and fishing village, there’s an excellent-value place to stay. Vinh Hy Resort is perfect if you’re on a road trip along the coast…

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The Hotel on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road

The Western Ho Chi Minh Road is one of the most spectacular & isolated routes in Vietnam. For nearly 240km there is no accommodation. But that’s all changed now, with the opening of the first & only hotel on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road…

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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.

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Dim Sum in Saigon

Dim sum is increasingly popular in Saigon. But my favourite dumpling joint is an old-timer in Chinatown. Boasting a 10 page bible of dim sum dishes, this unassuming place offers great variety, quality and value for money…

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Ocean Dunes Resort, Phan Thiet

On the beach in Phan Thiet City, the Ocean Dunes Resort is excellent value for money. Offering high-end amenities at mid-range prices, the Ocean Dunes is a great option for budget travellers looking for a slice of luxury and, because of its wide greens spaces, for families…

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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…

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Mango Bay Resort, Phu Quoc Island

By now, most travellers & expats know about Mango Bay Resort on Phu Quoc Island. It’s been around for over a decade & withstood the massive changes the island has gone through. But, despite increasing competition, Mango Bay is still the best place to go if you want to live the tropical island fantasy for a few days…

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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…

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Saigon Midnight Motorbike Loop

At night, Saigon is at its best: temperatures are cool, humidity is low, and traffic is light – it’s the perfect time to see the city. The Midnight Loop is an urban motorbike route designed specifically for riding after dark: a night out on two wheels…

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Saigon’s Street Food ‘Ghettos’

Throughout Saigon, there are clusters of crumbling old apartment complexes, all of which are on the verge of either collapse or demolition. Living conditions appear cramped and grim but, outside on the sidewalks, the street life and street food is among the best and most vibrant in the city…

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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….

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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….

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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….

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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….

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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….

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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…

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The Golden Loop: Central Vietnam by Motorbike

Many people choose to travel by motorbike between Hoi An and Hue, via the scenic Hai Van Pass. The popularity of this route is largely thanks to the 2008 Top Gear Vietnam Special episode. But there is an extension of this road trip which takes the ride, quite literally, to another level. I call it The Golden Loop…

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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…

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6 Reasons to Slurp Your Noodles

Slurp and suck: this should be every traveller’s primary objective when sitting down to enjoy a bowl of one of Vietnam’s famous noodle soups. Here is my guide to why you should embrace local etiquette and leave your preconceived table manners at home….

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The Grand Ho Tram Resort & Casino

Big, indulgent & exceptionally good quality, The Grand Resort & Casino marks the beginning of the transformation of the quiet & unassuming coastline of Ho Tram, into what is hoped will become Vietnam’s answer to Macau & Las Vegas….

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Grilled Chicken Corner, Saigon

At night, a scented fog hangs over a busy intersection in Saigon. The aromatic haze is the ‘Chicken Mist’ resulting from a dozen roadside barbecues hissing, smoking and grilling hundreds of fresh chicken carcasses. This is Chicken Corner, and this is where you come to get your poultry fix of crispy, tasty, delicious, grilled chicken in Saigon…

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The Food Triangle, Saigon

Everyone knows Saigon is full of great food. But there’s one corner in District 1, where you can eat three excellent meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – in three excellent establishments, all within a few metres of each other: I call it the Food Triangle….

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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…

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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…

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Edenstar Hotel: Saigon Mid-Range

Centrally located with a rooftop pool and sleek modern rooms, Edenstar is a solid Saigon mid-range hotel. Catering to all types of visitors, Edenstar is on a narrow street, lined with tall trees, and within walking distance of most of Saigon’s major attractions…..

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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…

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Cơm Tấm, Saigon: 7 of my Favourites

I love cơm tấm. Some of my happiest moments in Saigon have been sitting down with a good plate of barbecued pork & broken rice, watching the city go by. Saigon and cơm tấm are inseparable, and this city does it better than anywhere else. Cơm tấm is the quintessential Saigon experience. Here’s where to eat it….

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Sweet Saigon: Where to Eat Chè

A kaleidoscopic world of luminous colours, shifting shapes, unfamiliar textures, esoteric ingredients & rich flavours, chè is a fascinating sub-category of Vietnamese cuisine. Commonly translated as ‘dessert’, in reality chè is so filling & nutritious that it’s a meal in itself….

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Saigon’s other Lunch Lady

Everyone knows who Saigon’s Lunch Lady is, right? Well, probably not this one. Ms Nga is 43 years old. She serves a different soup each day of the week, from her cramped, ramshackle soup stall. Originally from Thai Binh (a northern province famous for producing excellent cooks), she moved to Saigon in the mid-90s…

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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?

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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….

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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…

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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…

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Breakfast in Ha Giang

When I had breakfast at a noodle house in Ha Giang, Vietnam’s northernmost frontier, it was one of those occasions when food, people and place come together perfectly…

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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…

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The Hanoi Impressive Hotel

In the quiet, shaded alleyways, behind the neo-Gothic façade of St Joseph’s Cathedral, the Hanoi Impressive Hotel is my go-to place to stay when visiting the capital. At around $45 a night, it’s fantastic mid-range value…

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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…

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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’…

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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…

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Thanh Kieu Beach Resort, Phu Quoc Island

The unsung hero of seafront, mid-range accommodation on Long Beach, Thanh Kieu Resort is an exceptionally lush, peaceful, and unassuming place to stay on Phu Quoc Island. It’s been my go-to resort for years…

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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…

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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…

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Victoria Beach Resort, Mui Ne

One of the first luxury resorts to grace the sands of Mui Ne, Victoria Resort & Spa is still one of the best places to stay on this popular beach on Vietnam’s southeast coast. With lush tropical gardens & a long stretch of beach, Victoria is far more spacious than its competitors…

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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…

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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….

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My Protein Diet Week

I spent a week on a protein diet in Saigon. I ate Vietnamese food from street vendors & informal eateries as much as possible, and I recorded it all in my Protein Diet Diary on this page…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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’….

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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’….

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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…

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Ho Citadel

Rising from the rice paddies of north-central Vietnam, the impressive ruins of this 14th century former royal capital were designated a World Heritage site in 2011, yet few foreign travellers pay a visit to Ho Citadel.

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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….

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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…

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Phở Gia Hân, Saigon

I was first drawn to Phở Gia Hân by the enticing aroma that wafted over the narrow street on humid evenings. A family-run soup house in a local neighbourhood, this is one of my favourite places for phở in Saigon…

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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…

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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…

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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)…

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Hotel Du Parc, Dalat

The Hotel Du Parc offers excellent value mid-range accommodation in the Central Highlands’ city of Dalat. Housed in a French building from the 1930s, this hotel has colonial ambience with modern amenities at very reasonable prices…

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The Lunch Lady: A Diary

Ms Nguyen Thi Thanh is The Lunch Lady. Her famous ‘rotating menu’ (she serves a different dish each day) is a huge draw for locals, tourists & foodies from around the world. I ate lunch here everyday for a week to see how good it really is…

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Bao Dai Waterfall

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

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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…

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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’.

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The People’s Food: Local Rice Eateries

There’s at least one quán cơm bình dân (common rice eatery) on every urban street in Vietnam. Offering dozens of typical, home-cooked dishes at affordable prices, these eateries feed the nation. It doesn’t get more local than this…

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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

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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….

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The Best Phở in Saigon

It’s surprisingly difficult to find a truly outstanding bowl of phở (beef noodle soup) in Saigon. But, after 8 years living & eating in this city, I’ve finally found a place that, in my opinion, serves the best bowl of phở in Saigon…

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Saigon to Phu Quoc Island Motorbike Loop

Flying to Phu Quoc is easy, but if you want a real adventure, riding there by motorbike is much more fun. This road trip takes you from Vietnam’s biggest city to some its best beaches, via the waterways & back-roads of the Mekong Delta…

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Horse Meat

After the horse meat scandal in 2013, many people in Europe discovered they’d eaten horse without knowing it, but in Saigon some restaurants specialize in horse meat, and it really is delicious!

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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.

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Bún Kèn Noodles | Island Broth

A speciality of Phu Quoc Island, bún kèn is an underrated dish that deserves a place in the pantheon of Vietnamese noodle soups. Packed with fish, fruit & colour, it’s a tropical island in a bowl.

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Ana Mandara Villas, Dalat

17 beautifully restored French colonial villas on a pine-studded hillside, Ana Mandara Resort & Spa keeps the romance of Dalat alive. Luxury accommodation in the Central Highlands doesn’t get more atmospheric than this…

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Con Dao Islands on a Budget

Despite several high-profile luxury developments, travel to the Con Dao Islands needn’t be too expensive. Budget travellers & backpackers can still enjoy this beautiful archipelago by taking certain steps. This is my guide to how to keep the cost of visiting one of Vietnam’s most enchanting destinations to a minimum.

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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….

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Ho Tram Beach Boutique Resort

Just a couple of hours southeast of Saigon, Ho Tram Beach Resort is one of Vietnam’s most tasteful & charming coastal retreats. It’s romantic, elegant, refined yet understated, and blends in with the natural surrounds….

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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…

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Camping in Dalat: A Guide

One of the best travel experiences in Vietnam’s Central Highlands is wild camping under a canopy pine trees in the misty mountains north of Dalat….

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Fetal Duck Egg

If you like eggs, you’ll love fetal duck eggs! They are, quite simply, ‘eggier’ than regular chicken eggs. Don’t be put off by the name or what they look like; this is a great, tasty, nutritious and cheap road-side snack anywhere in Vietnam.

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Cat Meat

Although less widely eaten than dog, cat meat is still on the menu in many Vietnamese restaurants, especially in the north. So what does it taste like?

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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….

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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.

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Rat Meat

Each morning for the last couple months I’ve opened my front gate in Saigon to greet the new day, only to find a fresh mound of rat droppings on my door step. By way of ‘revenge’ I decided to pay a visit to one of Saigon’s rat meat restaurants…

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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….

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13 Public Swimming Pools in Saigon

If you’re not lucky enough to be staying at one of the smarter hotels with a pool, or if you’re an expat looking to escape the heat & clamour of the city, Saigon has plenty of good & inexpensive public swimming pools to choose from…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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….

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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.

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One of the Best Soups in Vietnam

Nho Quan is a small, industrial town in Ninh Bình Province, 90km south of Hanoi. The bare concrete buildings and dusty streets are a far cry from the natural beauty of the surrounding area. However, hidden amongst the unappealing sprawl is one of the best soups in Vietnam…

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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.

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TOP 5: Rooftop Cocktails in Saigon

Saigon is at the heart of Vietnam’s economic boom: new high-rises and five-star hotels go up every year. On the upper storeys there are stylish bars with views over the city, catering to the country’s nouveau-riche and wealthy foreign visitors. But, with the price of drinks still relatively low, rooftop cocktails are affordable for travellers on all budgets, especially if you make the most of Happy Hours.

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Cà Phê Bệt: Saigon’s Street Coffee Scene

At 5 o’clock in the afternoons in Saigon, high schools and universities disgorge their students into the busy streets. Dusk is one of the coolest times of day, and many of these students head for one of the city’s parks, where they buy food and drink from street vendors and sit on the grass talking into the evening hours – this is Cà Phê Bệt.

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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….

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Snails & Shellfish: A Guide

Snail eating is incredibly popular in Vietnam. A night of shells & beer is a very local experience. Young & old feast late into the night. The snails come in all shapes and sizes and they’re delicious. ‘Shell tapas’ is a fun night out that everyone should try

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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…..

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Broken Rice & Pork Stew, Saigon

Wherever you are in Vietnam, you can always rely on broken rice or pork stew to fill you up. Breakfast, lunch or dinner; these two pork dishes are always available. Forget phở – the famous beef noodle soup – the real national dish of Vietnam is pork and rice!

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