Vietnam Coracle: Independent Travel Guides to Vietnam

Posts tagged Vietnam

The Odes: A Collection

The Odes | A Collection

Over the years, I’ve written ‘odes’ in praise of aspects of Vietnam: from natural phenomena to types of food to specific places & personalities…

Four Points Danang by Sheraton Hotels

Four Points by Sheraton Danang | Independent Review

On the seafront road along Danang’s long, sweeping beach, the Four Points by Sheraton is a high-rise hotel with a rooftop pool, bar and excellent views…

Lonely Planet Experience Vietnam

Lonely Planet Article

For the new Lonely Planet ‘Experience Vietnam’ book, I explore the joys, history & practicality of motorbiking Vietnam…

Vietnam Coracle short films

3 Short Films from the Archives

A mini-gallery featuring three videos made to accompany my early travel guides…

Vietnam Coracle 10 Year Anniversary

10 Year Anniversary of Vietnam Coracle

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, I’ve written an account of my website’s conception and development and an evaluation of its ‘success’.

Dam Tre Bay, Con Son Island, Con Dao Archipelago, Vietnam

Dam Tre Bay | Con Son Island

Turquoise water & abundant coral rimmed by forested hills & dramatic cliffs, Đầm Tre is one of Vietnam’s most pristine, remote & utterly magical bays…

Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

Many of Dalat’s most famous & impressive attractions lie within a 10-40km radius of the city centre. Linked by good roads through pretty scenery, these sights are best visited by motorbike…

Mövenpick Resort Waverly Phu Quoc, Independent Review, Vietnam

Mövenpick Resort Waverly Phu Quoc | Independent Review

An enormous, five-star accommodation on a long beachfront with great facilities, the Movenpick is ideal for large families with children or travelling groups…

19 Coffee Shops in Đà Lạt With a View

19 Coffee Shops in Dalat With a View

Dozens of cool, cosy, photogenic, independent coffee shops with countryside views form one of the most exciting coffee scenes in Asia…

6 Most Popular New Posts in the Year of the Buffalo on Vietnam Coracle

6 Most Popular New Posts in the Year of the Buffalo

In a year dominated by the pandemic & a particularly difficult 12 months for Vietnam, I take a look at the 6 most-read new posts in the Year of the Buffalo…

21 Great Places for Cocktails on Phu Quoc Island

21 Great Places for Cocktails on Phu Quoc Island

Stylish sky bars with sunset views, windowless speakeasies with professional mixologists, rustic-chic wine bars above the waves, cheap beach shacks & much more…

Trekking to Đỉnh Tiên Sơn Peak | Phu Quoc Island

Trekking to Đỉnh Tiên Sơn Peak | Phu Quoc Island

Ascending steeply through thick rainforest, a pathway leads to a nest of giant boulders atop Đỉnh Tiên Sơn, from where there are stunning 180-degree views…

Huu Tri ‘Donut’ Shack | Phu Quoc

A local, hole-in-the-wall, Vietnamese-style ‘donut’ shack on Phu Quoc Island, Huu Tri specializes in bánh chiên (fried dough). For over a generation, this family-run business has been serving hundreds of bánh chiên made freshly on the premises each day…

Instant Pot Noodles in Vietnam

Instant Noodles: Pandemic Staple

A national comfort food, a convenience, an indulgence & in some cases a necessity, instant noodles are a staple of the Vietnamese diet. During the pandemic, however, national consumption rose by 30%…

101 Images to Inspire a Road Trip by Motorbike in Vietnam

101 Images to Inspire a Road Trip by Motorbike in Vietnam

An independent motorbike road trip in Vietnam is one of the most exhilarating & memorable travel experiences available anywhere in the world today…

Ode to a Banyan Tree

Ode to a Banyan Tree

Temples of the forest, banyan trees are great, natural edifices rich in cultural, spiritual & folkloric symbolism. A bridge between the human, natural & spirit worlds, banyan trees are found all over Vietnam…

Vung Tau: City by the Sea, a travelogue & guide

Vung Tau | City by the Sea

An illustrated travelogue-cum-guide to Vung Tau intended to inspire a trip to this rejuvenated city by the sea…

Ode to the Ocean, A personal meditation on the sea

Ode to the Ocean

Throughout human history, the sea has been both dangerous and generous: a cause of destruction and death, but also a source of food, fun, wealth and beauty…

Bell tower at the General Võ Nguyên Giáp's tomb

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…

'Fourth Wave': The Covid-19 Pandemic in Vietnam

‘Fourth Wave’ | The Pandemic in Vietnam

A long-form personal narrative & travelogue describing my experiences during the ‘fourth wave’, Vietnam’s worst outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic…

Film: A Day in Saigon, Redux

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

Khmer Temple-Hopping Motorbike Loop, Tra Vinh Province, Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Khmer Temple-Hopping Motorbike Loop | Tra Vinh

Connecting over 50 fascinating Khmer Buddhist temples via quiet back-roads through lush scenery in the seldom visited Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, this motorbike loop is rich in culture & off the beaten path…

First Rains: An Ode to the Monsoon in Vietnam

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….

Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam: All 8 Episodes Reviewed

Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam: All 8 Episodes Reviewed

Anthony Bourdain felt a special attachment to Vietnam. Over the course of his TV career, he filmed multiple episodes in the country. I’ve pulled together & reviewed all 8 of his Vietnam shows…

Motocamping in south-central Vietnam in the dry season

Motocamping South-Central Vietnam in the Dry Season

One of the most rewarding & deeply satisfying travel experiences I’ve had in over a decade of travelling in Vietnam, motocamping (‘motorbike-camping’) is thrilling, challenging, fulfilling & still a fairly niche activity…

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

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…

The Pandemic Sessions: Interviews from Vietnam

The Pandemic Sessions | Interviews from Vietnam

A series of long-form interviews with people in Vietnam focusing on their experiences & opinions of the pandemic, and how their lives have changed as a result of Covid-19

The Shells Resort, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, Independent Review

The Shells Phu Quoc | Independent Review

Quirky but classy, The Shells is a modern resort on the west coast of Phu Quoc Island, offering generously proportioned rooms with sea-views & lots of light & space…

Trà Đá: Vietnamese Iced Tea

Trà Đá: Vietnamese Iced Tea

One of the many little joys of daily life in Vietnam, trà đá is an essential but uncelebrated element of Vietnamese dining culture & social life…

Mia Resort Nha Trang, Vietnam, Independent Review

Mia Resort Nha Trang | Independent Review

A crisp, clean & contemporary beach resort straddling the cliffs on the spectacular coast road south of Nha Trang, Mia is the embodiment of minimalist-chic….

Wild camping on the La Nga River, Vietnam

Wild Camping on the La Nga River: A Guide

Midway between the coast & the mountains, the La Nga River runs clean & clear with dozens of potential campsites on its banks & opportunities for wild swimming

Bún Riêu Cua Ốc - crab & snail noodle soup, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Bun Rieu Cua Oc: Crab & Snail Noodle Soup

A broth of tomatoes & pulverized crab poured over white rice noodles & topped with marinated snails, bún riêu cua ốc is one of Vietnam’s most complex soups

Vietnam Coracle Video Library

Vietnam Coracle Video Library

A categorized archive of over 30 short films shot during my travels in Vietnam & intended to inspire wanderlust.

Ivory Falls Villa Resort, Di Linh Highlands, Vietnam

Ivory Falls Villa, Di Linh Highlands | Review

Surrounded by coffee farms, tea plantations, rice paddies & fruit trees, Ivory Falls Villa is a quiet, secluded & peaceful place to stay in the mountains & valleys of the Central Highlands…

Vietnam Coracle on the Untold Pacific Podcast with James Bradley

Podcast: Vietnam Coracle on Untold Pacific with James Bradley

A discussion with New York Times best-selling author, James Bradley, about my website & present-day Vietnam…

Pandemic Season in Vietnam, Covid-19

Pandemic Season in Vietnam: Pre-Covid, Lock-Down, Post-Virus

Part travelogue, part personal narrative, part analysis of Vietnam’s containment of Covid-19, this is a long-form account of the pandemic….

Fusion Suites, Vung Tau | Review

With an immaculate rooftop infinity pool & sky bar with 360-degree views of the city & sea, Fusion Suites is set to become one of the most photographed places in Vung Tau…

Victoria Can Tho Resort, Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Victoria Can Tho Resort | Mekong Delta

A handsome, colonial-style hotel on the banks of the Mekong River, Victoria Can Tho is an excellent place to stay with lots of ambience & plenty of amenities to match….

9 Great Northern Motorbike Routes in Vietnam

Riding the Great North: 9 Motorbike Routes

Northern Vietnam offers some of the best motorbiking opportunities anywhere in the world. In the north, the mountains are higher, the passes are loftier, and the scenery is more majestic than anywhere else in the country….

Bamboo Cottages, solar-powered resort, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Bamboo Cottages Off-Grid Resort, Phu Quoc Island

Situated on one of Phu Quoc Island’s most attractive & least developed bays, Bamboo Cottages is a small, tasteful, mid-range beach resort powered by solar energy….

Vietnam Reading List & Book Reviews

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…

Quarantine in Vietnam during COVID-19 virus

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….

Food in the Time of Corona, Last Meals before Lock-Down, Vietnam

Food in the Time of Corona: Last Meals before Lock-Down

Before the lock-down, street food was still thriving: indeed, sitting down to a bowl of noodles was one of the only times you could take off your mask. I documented my last meals before the spread of COVID-19 forced a nationwide lock-down.

Motorbike Chronicles: Diary, Map & Film of a Vietnam Road Trip

Motorbike Chronicles: Film, Map, Diary

To provide an opportunity for vicarious travel during this time of self-isolation & travel bans, I’ve republished my film, route map & diary of a two-month road trip across Vietnam…

Donate to Vietnam's fight against COVID-19

Vietnam vs Corona Virus: How to Donate to Fight COVID-19

Vietnam is doing an excellent job in the fight to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Please donate to help Vietnam continue its good work…

Island-hopping in Vietnam: A Guide for Independent Travellers

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….

Hanoi→Lang Son→Dong Dang by Train: Passengers & Motorbikes

A train runs once daily in both directions between Hanoi, Lang Son & Dong Dang, on the Chinese border. Linking Vietnam’s capital with its mountainous northeastern provinces, this is a scenic rail journey & passengers can carry their motorbikes on board

Thien Thanh Limousine bus, Saigon to Rach Gia, Vietnam

Beach Bus: Saigon↔Rach Gia Limousine | Passengers & Motorbikes

Thien Thanh Limousine runs luxury buses between Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) & Rach Gia in the Mekong Delta, gateway to Vietnam’s islands in the Gulf of Thailand. This is a great service for passengers & motorbikes…

Pirate Islands (Dao Hai Tac), Travel Guide, Vietnam

Pirate Islands (Đảo Hải Tặc) | Travel Guide

Lying in the Gulf of Thailand, just off Vietnam’s southwest coast, Pirate Islands is a rugged archipelago, only recently opened to foreign visitors…

Best times of day to ride in/out of Saigon & Hanoi by motorbike, Vietnam

Best Times of Day to Ride In/Out of Saigon & Hanoi by Motorbike

Riding a motorbike in/out of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) & Hanoi can be congested & polluted, but some times of the day are better than others…

Escalade Resort, Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam

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….

Hanoi to Hai Phong by Train: Passengers & Motorbikes

The Hanoi↔Hai Phong train is a brilliant option for travellers with motorbikes looking to get from the capital city to Cat Ba Island (or vice-versa), without having to negotiate the horrible highways….

Plants, Flowers & Trees of Vietnam

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….

Tam Hai Island, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam

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….

Hon Son Island, travel guide, Vietnam

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…

Sustainable Travel: Single-Use Plastic in Vietnam

Sustainable Travel: Single-Use Plastic in Vietnam

By making some simple changes to way I travel & live in Vietnam, I’m trying to reduce the amount of single-use plastic I consume. Here’s my experience….

Nam Du Islands, Kien Giang Province, Vietnam

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…

The Southern Dry Season in Vietnam: Travel Guide

The Southern Dry Season: Travel Guide

A period of glorious, warm, sunny weather in the lower regions of Vietnam, the southern dry season lasts from November to May. Here are some of the best places to travel & stay during this time of year.

Auberge de Meo Vac Mountain Lodge, Chung Pua, Ha Giang

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….

The Vietnam Coracle Map

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….

Climbing Fansipan mountain independently, without a guide, Vietnam

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…..

Ba Be Lake homestays, Bac Kan Province, Vietnam

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….

The beaches of Quy Nhon & Phu Yen, Vietnam

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….

Phuong Boi hill & forest, the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh's retreat, Vietnam

Phương Bối Hill: The Buddhist Monk Thích Nhất Hạnh’s Retreat

In the misty forests on the slopes of the B’lao mountains, the young Buddhist monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh, came to build a retreat in the late 1950s. Now a world-famous spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh was forced to abandon the retreat in the 1960s, but the site still exists….

Hoi An Waterway Resort, Vietnam

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….

Vijaya Cham towers & citadel, Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam

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….

Exploring life along Saigon's railway line, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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….

Villa Hue Hotel, Hue City, Vietnam

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…

Coconut ice cream at Nguyen Huong, District 10, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

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…

Quán Bình Hoa BBQ, Phong Nha, Vietnam

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….

25 of the Greatest Riding Roads in Vietnam

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…

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

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…

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….

Tet Lunar New Year, 2018, Vietnam

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…

Núi Dinh Mountain, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Vietnam

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….

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…

Eating bánh khọt in Vung Tau, Vietnam

Eating Bánh Khọt in Vũng Tàu | 7 Places

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…

The Coast Road: Saigon to Hoi An & Dong Hoi

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….

Bai Rang Beach, Quy Nhon, Phu Yen, Vietnam

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….

Hai Dang Vegetarian Restaurant, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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….

Tomb Rider: Hue to Dong Hoi on Back-Roads by motorbike, Vietnam

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…

Binh Chau Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Minera 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….

Sapa-Y Ty Scenic Motorbike Loop, Vietnam

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….

Liberty Central Hotel, Nha Trang

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….

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’….

Vietnam Coracle YouTube Channel, 100,000 views

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…

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’….

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’….

How to send your motorbike on the train in Vietnam

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…

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….

Quán Ốc Cẩm snail restaurant, Saigon, Vietnam

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…

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….

Leman Cap Resort, Vung Tau, Vietnam

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…

The Banyan Tree Cafe, Route 28, Central Highlands, Vietnam

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…

Thuan Phat Seafood Restaurant, Phan Thiet, Vietnam

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….

Victoria Nui Sam Mountain Lodge, Chau Doc, Vietnam

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…

The Road East of the Long Mountains (Đường Trường Sơn Đông), Vietnam

The Road East of the Long Mountains (Đường Trường Sơn Đông)

A romp through the Central Highlands, the Truong Son Dong Road is a ride to be savoured. With mystical overtones & military undercurrents, the name in Vietnamese translates as ‘The Road East of the Long Mountains’. It’s one of the best riding roads in Vietnam…

Saigon to Dalat, back roads, Vietnam

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…

Vung Bau Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

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…

Cam Ranh Bay, Cam Lap Promontory, Vietnam

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’….

Silk Path Hotel, Hanoi

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…

Photo & Bike Cafe, Bao Loc, Central Highlands, Vietnam

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…

Accommodation in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam

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…

23 Differences Travelling South to North Vietnam

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…

Silverland Jolie Hotel & Spa, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Silverland Jolie Hotel & Spa, Saigon

Pseudo-colonial decor, a very central location, good river views, and a lush rooftop bar and spa make Silverland Jolie a cosy nest in which to base yourself while visiting Saigon…

Vinh Hy Bay Resort, Ninh Thuan, Vietnam

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…

The Hotel on the Western Ho Chi Minh Road, Vietnam

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…

Ho Tram & Ho Coc beaches, Vietnam

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.

Dim Sum in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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…

Ocean Dunes Resort, Phan Thiet, Vietnam

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…

Mountains in the Mekong, motorbike road trip, Vietnam

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…

Mango Bay, Phu Quoc | Independent Review

A long-time favourite beach retreat for travellers & expats, Mango Bay is still the best place to stay on Phu Quoc Island in its class & price bracket. Mango Bay offers guests both comfort & a connection to nature, but not one at the expense of the other…

My Saigon Video, by Vietnam Coracle

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…

Saigon Midnight Motorbike Loop, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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…

The Cafe Apartment on Nguyen Hue Street, Saigon

The Cafe Apartment on Saigon’s Walking Street

Boasting over 30 independent coffee shops & fashion boutiques, the old apartment block at No.42 Nguyen Hue is the coolest address on Saigon’s Walking Street. I call it the Cafe Apartment: this is my complete floor-by-floor guide…

Saigon's Street Food Ghettos, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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…

My GIVI Bike Box, Vietnam Coracle

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….

Saigon to Hanoi by motorbike: 5 Suggested Routes

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike: 5 Suggested Routes

Thinking about riding the length of Vietnam by motorbike? Here are 5 great routes between Saigon and Hanoi, each one specifically designed to suit the needs of different travellers, based on scenery and time frame among other things….

The Saigon River, Vietnam

VIDEO: The Saigon River

Exploring the waterway that flows through my adopted home: this is my film of the Saigon River…

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….

River Road: The Cai Valley, Vietnam

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….

The Pine Tree Road, North of Dalat by Motorbike, Vietnam

The Pine Tree Road | Motorbike Guide

North of Dalat, an enticing road plunges deep into the pine forests of the Central Highlands before dead-ending in the beautiful Krông Nô River Valley…

Portrait of Ms Ca, Binh Thuan Province, Vietnam

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….

The Tet Classic: Lunar New Year Motorbike Loop

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…

The Golden Loop, Motorbike Guide, Central Vietnam

The Golden Loop | Motorbike Guide

Nowhere in Vietnam is there such variety of landscape & richness of culture as in the central provinces, a region best explored by motorbike…

The Saigon River, Vietnam

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…

Slurping your noodles is good in Vietnam

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….

The Grand Ho Tram Casino & Resort

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….

Grilled chicken corner, Binh Thanh District, Saigon

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…

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….

Saigon to Phan Thiet by Train: Passengers & Motorbikes

Saigon to Phan Thiet by Train: Passengers & Motorbikes

The daily, non-stop express train between Saigon & Phan Thiet/Mui Ne is a cheap, easy, fun, fast & efficient way to get from the city to the beach. Put your motorbike on the train with you & let the rails carry your wheels….

The Ninh Thuan Loop, Vietnam

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…

Weather Guide to Vietnam: When & Where to Go

Vietnam Weather Guide: When & Where to Go

Weather is an important consideration when planning a trip to Vietnam. Here’s a month-by-month guide to weather conditions across the nation, including recommendations of where to go (and where to avoid) at different times of year…

Camping the Ocean Road: Saigon to Nha Trang

Camping the Ocean Road: Saigon to Nha Trang

Pitch your tent under a coconut palm just metres from the surf & enjoy Vietnam’s south coast sleeping in the open air: This is my guide to camping on the beaches along the Ocean Road from Saigon to Nha Trang….

Edenstar Hotel, Saigon

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…..

The Deep South: Riding the Dragon's Tail

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…

Com tam, Saigon

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….

Where to Eat Chè in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

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….

Saigon's other Lunch Lady

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…

Con Dao or Phu Quoc?

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?

Trash in Vietnam's beauty spots

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….

Route Map: 2 Months on a Motorbike

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…

Ma Maison Boutique Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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…

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…

Hanoi Impressive Hotel, Vietnam

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…

The Burnt Road, Ninh Thuan Province

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…

The Northeast Motorbike Loop, Vietnam

VIDEO: The Northeast Motorbike Loop

One of my favourite corners of Vietnam, this is my film of riding the Northeast Loop by motorbike…

The Cafe Quarter, Phu Nhuan District, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

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’…

Rice wine pudding

Hot Toddy | Rice Wine Pudding in Cao Bang

Fermented glutinous rice mixed together with an egg & steamed to create a mildly alcoholic rice pudding…..for breakfast

Thanh Kieu Resort, Phu Quoc Island

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…

Saigon's Parks & Open Spaces

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…

Bac Ha Sunday Market, Vietnam

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…

Victoria Resort, Phan Thiet

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…

Grilling on hot rocks at Chu Quán

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…

Don't Miss the Dawn in Vietnam

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….

Protein Diet Week

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…

Ban Gioc Waterfall, Cao Bang Province, Vietnam

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…

VIDEO: Two Months on a Motorbike

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…

Sapa to Ha Giang by motorbike on borders & back-roads, Vietnam

Borders & Back-Roads: Sapa to Ha Giang by Motorbike

Connecting two of the most mountainous provinces in Vietnam, this motorbike route straddles the Chinese border, passing through some of the remotest parts of the country…

Pac Bo: Ho Chi Minh's Cave

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…

Ha Giang Extreme North Motorbike Loop, northern Vietnam

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…

Rice harvest, Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

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’….

Rice harvest, Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

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’….

Sapa to Sin Ho Scenic Motorbike Loop, Vietnam

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…

Ho Ancient Citadel, Thành Nhà Hồ, Thanh Hóa Province, Vietnam

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.

Hoi An lantern festival, Vietnam

Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival | Hoi An

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….

Cleansed: Saigon bathes in dawn light

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…

Phở Gia Hân, Saigon

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…

Guest houses: nhà nghỉ

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…

Dalat's Waterfalls

Video: Dalat’s Waterfalls

A vicarious tour of the region’s best cascades…

The Best Street Food Streets in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

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…

Phu Quoc's Beaches, Vietnam

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)…

Hotel Du Parc, Dalat

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…

The Lunch Lady's Menu

The Lunch Lady’s Menu: An Illustrated Guide

The Lunch Lady in Saigon is famous for serving a different soup every day of the week. Here’s her weekly menu, illustrated with tantalizing images of each of the dishes…

The Lunch Lady: A Diary

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…

Prenn Waterfall
Datanla Waterfall
Lien Khuong Waterfall
Dambri Waterfall
Pongour Waterfall
Elephant Waterfall
Tiger Waterfall
Bao Dai Waterfall

Bao Dai Waterfall

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

Dalat's Waterfalls

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…

Bo Bla Waterfall

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’.

Bún thịt nướng: an elegant classic

Bún Thịt Nướng: An Elegant Classic

This cold noodle salad is a classic of southern Vietnam. Simple, cool & refreshing, bún thịt nướng is the perfect antidote to the heat & humidity of the south.

The People's Food: Common Rice Eateries

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…

Gougah Waterfall
My Motorbike, Stavros, 200,000km in Vietnam

My Motorbike, Stavros: 200,000km

A week ago, my motorbike (known affectionately to me as ‘Stavros’) turned 13 years old & the odometer ticked over to 200,000km….

Vung Ro Bay, Phu Yen, Vietnam

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….

TOP 5: Vietnam Coracle Videos

TOP 5: Vietnam Coracle Videos

To celebrate 10,000 views on YouTube, here are the Top 5 most-watched Vietnam Coracle videos…

Best Phở in Saigon

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…

Riding red dirt roads, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

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…

Horse Meat in Vietnam

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!

Maps for a motorbike road trip in Vietnam

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.

Bún Kèn noodle soup, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

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.

Ana Mandara Villas Resort, Dalat, Vietnam

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…

Con Dao Islands on a Budget

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.

Juliet's Villa Resort

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….

Ho Tram Boutique Beach Resort, Vietnam

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….

Saigon's markets

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…

Wild camping in Dalat, Vietnam

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….

Dalat: Where to Eat & Drink

Where to Eat & Drink in Dalat

My guide to where to eat & drink in the former French colonial hill station of Dalat, high up in the Annamite Mountains.

Make the effort; it's worth it!

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.

Cat meat

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?

Exploring Saigon's alleyways, Vietnam

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….

23 of the Best Beaches in Vietnam

23 of the Best Beaches in Southern & Central Vietnam

With a coastline of over 3,200km & thousands of islands lying offshore, Vietnam is a great beach destination. Blue bays, hidden coves, white sands, swaying palms & dramatic cliffs, Vietnam has it all….

Saigon Escape Loop: motorbike guide

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.

Rat meat

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…

The Ho Chi Minh Road, Vietnam

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….

Top 5 Swimming Pools, Saigon

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…

Street eating in Saigon

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.

Cooking over the bếp than (charcoal grill)

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.

Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike

Videos: Saigon to Hanoi by Motorbike

Four films made during our motorbike trip from Saigon to Hanoi. These videos give you a good idea of how fabulous the scenery is, and how much fun a road trip in Vietnam can be.

Time to hit the road!

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!

The Sand Dune Highway: Mui Ne to Ca Na Coast Road

Sand Dune Highway: Mui Ne to Ca Na Coast Road

A short, scenic, easily navigable & rewarding road trip through desert-like landscape on excellent coast roads between Mũi Né & Cà Ná…

Hon Gom Sandbar, travel guide, Vietnam

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…

Dai Lanh Beach, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam

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…

Nui Chua Coast Road

Nui Chua Coast Road | Phan Rang to Cam Ranh

Probably the most scenic coastal route in Vietnam, this is a meandering ocean road skirting the edges of a green & rugged peninsula…

Con Dao Islands, Vietnam

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.

Homestays in Pu Luong Nature Reserve, northern Vietnam

Homestays in Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Set among sublime landscape just a few hours southwest of Hanoi, the homestays in Pu Luong Nature Reserve are some of the most atmospheric & romantic places to stay anywhere in Vietnam….

Bún Riêu is full of colour & flavour

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…

Bò kho (beef stew)

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.

Dragons' Graveyard Coast Road, Cà Ná to Phan Rang, Vietnam

Dragons’ Graveyard Coast Road | Cà Ná to Phan Rang

Chiseled into the cliffside high above the sea, this stunning coast road negotiates a boulder-strewn promontory where people say dragons come to die…

Rooftop Cocktails

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.

Cà Phê Bệt, Saigon

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.

The Limestone Loop, Thanh Hoa Province, Vietnam

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….

Snails, Saigon

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

The Con Dao Islands

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…..

Cơm Tấm - Vietnamese 'Fry-up'

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!

The Hai Van Pass: Motorbike Guide

One of the most famous roads in Vietnam, the Hai Van Pass weaves around a mountainous stretch of coastline in Central Vietnam, linking Danang & Hue

The Odes: A Collection

Over the years, I’ve written ‘odes’ in praise of aspects of Vietnam: from natural phenomena to types of food to specific places & personalities…

Four Points Danang by Sheraton Hotels

On the seafront road along Danang’s long, sweeping beach, the Four Points by Sheraton is a high-rise hotel with a rooftop pool, bar and excellent views…

Lonely Planet Experience Vietnam

For the new Lonely Planet ‘Experience Vietnam’ book, I explore the joys, history & practicality of motorbiking Vietnam…

Vietnam Coracle short films

A mini-gallery featuring three videos made to accompany my early travel guides…

Vietnam Coracle 10 Year Anniversary

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, I’ve written an account of my website’s conception and development and an evaluation of its ‘success’.

Dam Tre Bay, Con Son Island, Con Dao Archipelago, Vietnam

Turquoise water & abundant coral rimmed by forested hills & dramatic cliffs, Đầm Tre is one of Vietnam’s most pristine, remote & utterly magical bays…

Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

Many of Dalat’s most famous & impressive attractions lie within a 10-40km radius of the city centre. Linked by good roads through pretty scenery, these sights are best visited by motorbike…

Mövenpick Resort Waverly Phu Quoc, Independent Review, Vietnam

An enormous, five-star accommodation on a long beachfront with great facilities, the Movenpick is ideal for large families with children or travelling groups…

19 Coffee Shops in Đà Lạt With a View

Dozens of cool, cosy, photogenic, independent coffee shops with countryside views form one of the most exciting coffee scenes in Asia…

6 Most Popular New Posts in the Year of the Buffalo on Vietnam Coracle

In a year dominated by the pandemic & a particularly difficult 12 months for Vietnam, I take a look at the 6 most-read new posts in the Year of the Buffalo…

21 Great Places for Cocktails on Phu Quoc Island

Stylish sky bars with sunset views, windowless speakeasies with professional mixologists, rustic-chic wine bars above the waves, cheap beach shacks & much more…

Trekking to Đỉnh Tiên Sơn Peak | Phu Quoc Island

Ascending steeply through thick rainforest, a pathway leads to a nest of giant boulders atop Đỉnh Tiên Sơn, from where there are stunning 180-degree views…

A local, hole-in-the-wall, Vietnamese-style ‘donut’ shack on Phu Quoc Island, Huu Tri specializes in bánh chiên (fried dough). For over a generation, this family-run business has been serving hundreds of bánh chiên made freshly on the premises each day…

Instant Pot Noodles in Vietnam

A national comfort food, a convenience, an indulgence & in some cases a necessity, instant noodles are a staple of the Vietnamese diet. During the pandemic, however, national consumption rose by 30%…

101 Images to Inspire a Road Trip by Motorbike in Vietnam

An independent motorbike road trip in Vietnam is one of the most exhilarating & memorable travel experiences available anywhere in the world today…

Ode to a Banyan Tree

Temples of the forest, banyan trees are great, natural edifices rich in cultural, spiritual & folkloric symbolism. A bridge between the human, natural & spirit worlds, banyan trees are found all over Vietnam…

Vung Tau: City by the Sea, a travelogue & guide

An illustrated travelogue-cum-guide to Vung Tau intended to inspire a trip to this rejuvenated city by the sea…