The Bureau Podcast

Join The Bureau Chief Matt Cowan as he introduces you to the most intriguing discoveries in Vietnam from food, destinations, people & experiences drawn from over a decade of living in one of Southeast Asia's most alluring countries.


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Backpackers not welcome in Vietnam anymore?

A recent online magazine ranking of the best cities in the world inspires Matt, Mel and Andy to come up with a list of 9 Best Streets in Ho Chi Minh City to visit, followed by a discussion on the value of backpackers in Vietnam.

Millennial slang, 9/11, HCMC news, dream trips to the Philippines & Vietnam

It's 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, so we recall what we were doing at the moment the World Trade Centre twin towers collapsed. 

The Future of Travel in Vietnam

We interview Dr Nuno Ribeiro, a senior lecturer and leading researcher in tourism and hospitality at RMIT Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, about the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on travel in Vietnam, including what steps will be taken to open the industry back up again.

Men in uniform, US Vice-President hits Hanoi, expats divided over vaccine, unusual burgers

While US Vice-President Kamala Harris visited Hanoi this week with very little fanfare, the same can't be said of Vietnam's military who landed in Ho Chi Minh City to manage the city's Covid-19 crisis. The boys in green lit up social media with their hunkiness.

HCMC's migrant worker exodus & looming 24/7 curfew, Phu Quoc travel bubble, historic Saigon sights & a pirate story

HCMC's Covid-19 caseload is rising even with a city-wide curfew in place 24/7 from 6pm to 9pm daily. Also, what can we expect with the military in town to enforce it?

Friday the 13th Special

We talk superstitions, Pizza Hut and Vietnam's own Pizza 4Ps' entrance into Cambodia, the Nas Daily backlash in the Philippines, and what it's like trying to make a living in Vietnam as an influencer or content creator.

HCMC news, silence in the Nguyen Thai Binh neighbourhood, tone deafness & a new co-host

Some restaurants and bars in Ho Chi Minh City are offering vouchers as an alternative form of cash flow during forced closures - is this a good idea or not? Meanwhile, our new co-host Andy provides a grim-looking snapshot of the alleyway in which he lives in the heart of the city.    

The Rise of Saigon's Underworld - Part 1 Trailer

The history of Vietnam's largest city has had as many twists and turns as a best-selling thriller. The truth it seems really is stranger than fiction. How did a small group of river pirates led by a man who would become a national hero, emerge from the swamps south of Saigon to become a fully-fledged army fighting for independence against the French?    

The Rise of Saigon's Underworld - Part 1

The history of Vietnam's largest city has had as many twists and turns as a best-selling thriller. The truth it seems really is stranger than fiction. How did a small group of river pirates led by a man who would become a national hero, emerge from the swamps south of Saigon to become a fully-fledged army fighting for independence against the French?    

My RODE Cast Entry June 2021

This is our entry for this year's My RODE Cast competition which puts us in the running for the Major Prize as judged by a panel of experts and the People's Choice Award as voted by the public. If you like what you hear, support us with your vote by visiting

Blood Debt - The legend behind the Nguyen Thai Binh neighbourhood of Ho Chi Minh City 

In the city centre, there's a small neighbourhood named after a South Vietnamese college student from the Mekong Delta who at the height of the war became a beacon of peace at college campuses across the country. This is a story about a man who stood for peace when it was deadly to do so.

From Banh Xeo to Be Be - 5 of the Best 'No Name' Places to Eat Local in Vung Tau, Vietnam 

The charming seaside town of Vung Tau is just a 2-hour ferry ride from Ho Chi Minh City and is typically regarded as a place just to get away from the city for the weekend to enjoy the fresh sea breeze and ocean views. But, in fact, it's actually one of the best destinations for foodies in Vietnam! 

Pirates, Tractor Pulls, Be Be & Whale Cemeteries - The Vung Tau Special

Vung Tau, a beachside town approximately 100km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, is often left off the itineraries of international travellers & dismissed by expats as a seedy getaway for men wanting to escape & get up to no good. But Matt & Mel think the town deserves more respect.

Saigon's F&B situation & influencer marketing in COVID times 

Matt talks to Harper's Bazaar Vietnam editor-at-large Chris Thompson about his predictions for hospitality in Vietnam, while Mel explains to us what digital marketing actually is. 

Staying fit & healthy in isolation

With the biggest public health crisis we've confronted this century playing out, it's forced us indoors for the foreseeable future. As this existential threat to our health & livelihoods comes from beyond our four walls, what impact is it having within them? 

World renowned Venetian tattoo artist Crez

When you think of Italy, you think of great food & wine, including great cities like Milan & Venice. In 2018, over 60 million tourists visited Italy, making it the 5th most visited country in the world. But now it's become the epicentre of COVID-19.

The Bureau Bites Top 10 Countdown

We're celebrating the first 10 Bureau Bites episodes, a shortened "pod-bite" series, with a little bit of fun & a playlist of songs befitting of the stories & pandemic experience we're going through right now.

Surviving Vietnam

Vietnam can be a perilous place to live. Traffic accidents remain the single biggest cause of fatalities in the country, however, drownings in rivers, lakes, & oceans remain the leading cause of death for children.

Singapore Social's eco-warrior Paul Foster 

To find out how Singaporeans are coping with COVID-19, we speak to Singaporean actor, host, environmental activist & Netflix Singapore Social star, Paul Foster.

Nightlife in Saigon, eco issues & an electric car

Someone who's been keeping himself occupied during lockdown is Doru Tudose, a DJ by night, but by day, he's building his own car.

An AusCham update on COVID-19 in Vietnam

While the Australian Government has acknowledged that restrictions will change the way Australians live, what of Australians living & doing business overseas?

Destination Saigon with author Walter Mason

Walter Mason is an Australian author who has been visiting Vietnam since 1994. In 2010, he published his first book, an entertaining travel memoir called Destination Saigon, which he describes as a "love letter to Vietnam."

Viral untruths & safeguarding against fake news 

The outbreak of COVID-19 has dominated the news with stories of illness, death, economic hardship & isolation, made more difficult by the proliferation of incorrect information. Aren't there any positive, uplifting stories to come out of this?

Bars locked down or not? And innovation in hospitality thanks to COVID-19

We ask hospitality insider Richie Fawcett of The Studio Saigon his thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry in Saigon for the foreseeable future.

What's it like under house quarantine?

We talk to Stanley Boots, founder of 7 Bridges Brewing Co. in Danang, who, along with his 45 staff, has been under house quarantine for almost two weeks after it was discovered two patrons carrying COVID-19 had visited his taproom.

Travel restrictions, quarantine & holidays

Vietnam's travel industry has been decimated with estimated losses starting at US$7 billion for the first quarter of 2020. We ask Linh Le, principal founder of Luxperia, an inbound travel company, what travellers & the travel industry can expect.

Saigon bars, beer clubs & nightclub closures

City officials have decided it's time to close bars & nightclubs in Saigon indefinitely in a bid to contain COVID-19. We ask Harper's Bazaar Vietnam editor-at-large, Chris Thompson, what immediate & long-term impacts it will have on the hospitality industry.

The woman who ran the length of Vietnam

Naomi Skinner has spent the last 6 months running 2,000km from Hanoi to Saigon to raise money for charity, but as you can imagine, it hasn't been all cool runnings, she's had to confront the likes of roadside dogs who she says "chase to kill." 

The Vietnamese carnivore who's turned vegan

Hien Tran called meat quits for veganism & hasn't looked back. He's passionate about sustainable food production, animal welfare, farming, cooking & eating & supports others making the transition to a plant-based diet.

The Sambal Queen of Saigon

Indonesian Imelda Van der Wulp has sambal in her blood, so when she launched Imelda's Kitchen, she quickly earned the crown of Queen of Spicy with her eye-wateringly fragrant batches of sambal made in Vietnam.

What starts with 'f' & ends in 'uck'?

In this episode, we get excited by the arrival of food trucks in Saigon & we get the lowdown on the Harper's Bazaar Vietnam Star Awards night of nights the morning after with a couple of regulars from our show.

Footy pies, luxury hotels & business lunches in Saigon

We get a rare taste of an Aussie meat pie while watching the AFL grand final & we get the lowdown on the best set lunches for business meetings as recommended by 5-star hotel concierges when we give them a cold-call.

On location at much-loved bar Ruby Soho

District 7 bar Ruby Soho has long been a favourite for punters, not just because of its friendly atmosphere, but also because it's a shrine to popular culture & the love of music.

Saigon's changing skyline & cocktails named after its streets

Our guests are "The Bartist" Richie Fawcett & renown local architect Dr Hoanh Tran who discuss Saigon's rapidly changing skyline & its gentrification, on location at The Studio Saigon.

Burgers but not really, well kind of. Beyond belief

We chat about what's got us excited in F&B in Saigon, we sink our teeth into Beyond Burgers & catch up with serial Saigon restaurateur Albin Deforges to talk about seafood sustainability. 

The episode that started it all, whatever that is

We get excited about Saigon's F&B scene & discuss whether we actually care if food is "authentic" or not, plus we wonder what ever happened to celebrity chef Bobby Chin.

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