Venturing in Vietnam

Sandi was not only lucky enough to visit Hong Kong in 2014 but was also invited on a trip to Vietnam! While visiting this exotic country, Sandi and her travel companions experienced a variety of Vietnam’s hotels, tours and highlights.

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

Our first stop was at the Duxton Hotel, a very popular hotel! The rooms were large and well presented, clean & comfortable.  The hotel is within walking distance of the Opera House (10 minutes max) and close to Saigon River.  Some rooms have river views, and city views. The Pool area was okay for a quick dip but not really the setting to relax and hang out – but why would you in a city like Saigon, with so much to do!  The breakfast was great with good variety.

Next we visited the Caravelle Hotel. This is a really nice hotel and definitely a step above the Duxton. It is located opposite the Opera House, right in the heart of Saigon.  The pool area was really nice and I could of definitely relaxed with a cocktail there!  The rooms were really well presented with great modern decor and the bathrooms were lovely.

We enjoyed drinks & nibbles (which turned into dinner) on the rooftop bar which is a really cool bar with fantastic views and a nice breeze. The cocktails were going down a treat and the finger food was delish. 

Cu Chi 1We woke up early to check-out of our hotel and jumped on the bus to the Cu Chi Tunnels. It was about 1.5 hours drive (from my memory – which is bad!) but well worth the drive. For those into history and also for those who are not, the tunnels are a real eye opener. 

On arrival, our guide took us to a little open air hut to watch a 20 minute film about the history of the war & the tunnels.  The video was quote old and was hard to hear so it might be better to have your guide explain parts to you.

 Our guide then took us through the grounds where we had the opportunity to experience the claustrophobic environment the Vietnamese lived in during the war.  We had the chance to walk (or crouch/crawl) through a widened (for us westeners !) tunnel for up to 100metres. I did 15 metres down there and came up shaking!!

Towards the end of the tour you can pay to shoot a gun (you can choose from all different sorts like an AK47  which I only know from Son’s of Anarchy 😉  I think you get around 10 bullets. Very loud so keep clear if you have sensitive ears…

Danang

One of the first resorts we visited was the Furama Resort Danang. The resort is built on the beach in Danang and is a great 5 star option for people wanting to chill out and relax.  Beachfront, great infinity pool area and beautiful rooms. It is just a short walk along the beach to a cute little beachfront bar with DJ music and a couple of cheap spa/massage places are located just across the road.

For those wanting a villa with full kitchen facilities the Furama Villas Danang is for you. The resort is pretty much brand new and beautiful. The villas each have a plunge pool and there is also a common pool area with pool bar service.

Intercon Danang 1Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort has the WOW factor!  Designed by Bill Bensley (also designed Indigo Pearl Phuket), everything is architecturally designed to the highest quality, very impressive.

The resort is HUGE , you need to call a buggy to get around . We saw one of the rooms and all thought wow!  Then we saw the next and next and they just kept getting better. The resort is secluded, located out of town on a cliffside ,and the food was AMAZING!

The next day was the My Son, The Holy Land Tour which is great for history buffs but is very hot with limited shade at the site so bring a hat.

Hoi An

I was quite impressed with the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa. This beach front property has the river opposite the entrance to the hotel.  The rooms weren’t huge but they were presented well and the service at the hotel was friendly and inviting.

The pool area was nice, big rectangular pool overlooking the sea, plenty of deck chairs and good pool service.  There is a pool bar right next to the pool which is open late. I had a spa treatment-massage here which was surprisingly cheap (about $35) for a 4 star hotel .  The spa offered a good variety of services and was well presented.

There was a good variety at the breakfast buffet and it changed slightly daily, They had a shuttle to/from Hoi An old town at regular times throughout the day (can’t walk there). The only downfall is the beach/sand in front of hotel washed away after the typhoon last October. We did discover on our last day that they have beach chairs set up at the side of the property on a lovely stretch of beach but we had no idea!!!

I really liked the Palm Garden Resort. The Resort is beachfront, has lots of plush green grass, well presented landscaping and a big lagoon style pool. The rooms were presented well, modern decor, and decent size. There is a large open welcoming reception area at the front of the property.

The Hoi An Beach Resort is just up the road from the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa on the river side. You will need to cross the road and walk through the parkland to get to the beach, but they do have a private ‘beachclub’ for guests of the property so guests still get the beach holiday.

The resort have just renovated the foyer and restaurant and it looks great – really sleek and modern . The restaurant overlooks the river and at night you can dine whilst watching the lanterns float past on the river so a really nice romantic setting . There are 2 pools, one has been renovated.

The Nam Hai! Can I stay here forever??? A beautiful beachfront resort situated on a beautiful stretch of beach . There is a kids pool, main pool,  a few private pools and  ….amazing spa facilites …. and the restaurant we ate at …Ah…mazing meals. This resort is great for families.

When venturing on the Fisherman & the Waterways Tour, I didn’t know what to expect but it ended up being lots of fun. Our tour guide Hue was fantastic and made the day even better!  Basically they take you out on a boat on the river to show you how the fisherman use the big fishing nets.

Anyone wanting a go can jump in the tinnie with the local fisherman and throw the net out and try and catch something (no luck on ours!), then they take you to the basket boats for a ride through the mangroves, spinning and splashing, good fun. After that they take you onto land and show you how the big nets work, followed by a sunset dinner on the boat back to the hotel .  Everyone enjoyed this tour, recommended for all ages.

Fisherman 2I loved the Hoi An Cooking Class Tour! We met at a restaurant, split into groups of 6 and took off with our chef/guide to the local Hoi An Old Town markets to check out the fresh produce: fruit, veggies, fresh fish, poultry …

Then we boarded a boat and sailed up the river to a secluded restaurant where we learnt how to make rice paper from scratch, vietnamese pancakes and a beautiful eggplant stew. The chef was good fun and the tour was really informative.  We ate everything we cooked and it was beautiful! – Great tour and a must in Hoi An .

The Wet Rice Growing Tour was good fun and very informative. We started with a bike ride through some farmland and a small town. Then stopped and was shown the process of cultivating rice. We then headed to a local farm and had the chance to ride a Buffalo.

The local farmers then demonstrated the processes involved in growing rice. A chance to squelch through mud and buffalo poo and get right into the experience. Lunch was included at the end. I would definitely recommend this tour.  We had Hue as our guide again and the local farmers had great sense of humour which made for a really fun day.

Written by Sandra Cavallin, Infinity Area Leader, Victoria.

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