Five Nights in Hue

Simon Stanley discovers Vietnam’s imperial past, wartime horrors, and modern luxury in the country’s central region. Photos by Simon Stanley and Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa. Tam Giang Lagoon, a 75-kilometre-long stretch of water, separated from the ocean by a thin ribbon of sand, sits just outside the old imperial capital of Hue. In just…

Formula Mot

Simon Stanley gets a sneak peek at the first professional motor racing circuit in Vietnam. Photo by Vinh Dao. An alpine white BMW slides sideways out of the bend towards us, its polished bodywork glinting, its rear tyres screaming, and two white-hot exhausts growling as its driver teeters on the razor-sharp edge of control. Through a cloud of tyre…

Q&A – Réhahn

Following the success of his 2014 book, Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrasts, renowned French photographer Réhahn is back with a sequel. Simon Stanley finds out about the man behind the lens. Photos provided by Réhahn. What first brought you to Vietnam? I had been sponsoring two little girls from Hoi An. I came in 2007 to meet…

“We Just Had to Escape…”

Simon Stanley finds out how one Saigon community lost everything, and how an army of strangers stepped in to help. Photos by Vinh Dao. The day began like any other for Truong Trang. The 41-year-old grandmother ran a small refreshments stall beside Quan Ut Ut restaurant in District 1 and lived nearby in the network of alleyways strung…

Finding Freedom in the Pool

Having lost the use of her legs as a child, Trinh Thi Bich Nhu’s future was far from certain, until she started swimming. By Simon Stanley. Translation by Cam-Tu Tran. Photos by Vinh Dao. I was born in Kien Giang province,” says 30-year-old Trinh Thi Bich Nhu quietly. She’s understandably nervous about talking to me. From the inquisitive looks I’ve received on…

Czech-Mate

Simon Stanley explores Vietnam’s historic relationship with the Czech Republic. Photos by Vinh Dao. “What’s that doing there?” many first-time visitors to Hoa Vien Brauhaus will ask. Hidden at the end of an otherwise sedate hem on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, this cavernous and immensely popular Czech beerhall and restaurant feels rather incongruous among the bun…

Vietnam’s Property Pioneers

Six months after foreigners were first permitted to purchase homes in Vietnam, Simon Stanley looks at how the changes have been received. Photo by Vinh Dao. At one minute past midnight on 1 July 2015, Haig Conolly, founder of Sydney-based marketing consultants Lloyds Property, and his wife Katrin signed a historic set of purchase papers and became the first…

Soul Burger

Clutching a sparkling microphone beneath the trailing lights of a disco ball, may we introduce to you the funkiest heir to the Saigon burger throne. By Simon Stanley. Photos by Vinh Dao. Beer and burgers – the hottest trends in the city right now. The last 18 months have proven that you no longer need…

I Am Vietnam Boutique Hotel

Simon Stanley finds that a relaxing weekend getaway is never too far away. Photos by I Am Vietnam. First-time visitors looking for hotels in Saigon could be forgiven for quickly overlooking those outside of District 1. Even neighbouring District 3 sounds deceptively removed from the heart of the action. But Binh Thanh District? Where’s that? Over a river?…

Namo

Simon Stanley visits the artisanal pizzeria everyone’s talking about. Photos by Vinh Dao. “Why are your pizzas so ugly?” – Namo’s staff hear it all the time. For diners used to the mass-produced, perfectly round, photogenic pies churned out by those hangover-friendly pizza chains, the sight of a true Neapolitan pizza, it seems, can be…

Southeast Asia’s Favourite Footwear

Simon Stanley reveals the dangers lurking behind Southeast Asia’s favourite footwear. Photo by Vinh Dao. The latest hand-written letter from my mum sits open beside my laptop and carries in black and white her latest warning. Last time it was about a man who died after eating sushi. “She’s probably right,” I say to myself…

A New Spin on the Circus

For some Vietnamese youth, the challenge to escape poverty can be insurmountable. Simon Stanley meets one organisation offering them a future to be proud of. Photo by Vinh Dao. In February of this year, the Asian Social Circus Association (ASCA) announced a five-year plan to improve the lives of 1.5 million underprivileged children across Asia,…