In this paper, the geotechnical aspects of soft clay improvement using prefabricated vertical drains (PVDs) with special reference to embankments will be demonstrated. The Cavity Expansion Theory is employed to predict the smear zone caused by the installation of mandrel driven vertical drains. Analytical and Numerical analyses adopting the equivalent plane strain solution are conducted to predict the excess pore pressures, lateral and vertical displacements. The advantages and limitations of vacuum application through vertical drains avoiding the need for high surcharge embankments are discussed using the proposed solutions. A few selected case histories are discussed and analyzed, including the site of the 2nd Bangkok International Airport, the coastal stretch of Muar Clay Plains in Malaysia and the Sunshine embankment, Australia. The predictions are compared with the available field data, verifying that the equivalent plane strain model can be used confidently with acceptable accuracy. Cyclic loading of PVDs is also examined in the laboratory in a manner appropriate for railway environments. It is shown that short PVDs can dissipate excess pore pressure as fast as they are built up under repeated loading conditions. Some selected on-ground experience of the first Author through the Ministry of Science and National Science Foundation during post-tsunami reconstruction efforts is described with specific reference to appropriate ground improvement requirements.