Fred Van Eijk

It doesn’t take much to fall in love with Vietnam, as Travel Counsellors Australia’s Managing Director, Fred van Eijk, learned during a recent two-week escape. Read about his powerful journey of Southeast Asian flavours and Perfume Rivers below.

Travelling in Vietnam will bring you from one highlight to another. A country with many different sides; from lush landscapes to beautiful beaches and bustling cities.

In every corner of the country you’ll find the friendliest and warmest people, eat like royalty and find yourself in the midst of a rich culture. I’ve have written about Hanoi and Mai Chau in detail, but would like to share a few more unforgettable spots in Vietnam.

 

Halong Bay

halong

Just a 4 hour drive from Hanoi you’ll find Vietnam’s most photogenic treasure: Halong Bay. More than 3,000 towering limestone islands rise out of the sea with a steady demeanour. The spectacle is breath-taking at the least and is a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

Spend your night between the rocks on a small cruise, admire the natural beauty and raise the bar for holiday snaps. A few sailing stops give you the opportunity to go kayaking, visit a cave, go for a refreshing swim and relax on a sandy beach.

 

Hué

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This is the imperial capital of the old Vietnam, the impressive remnants of the past make this city definitely worth a visit. Book a tour and hop on the back of scooter, zooming from Tu Cam Tanh, the forbidden city, to the parish graves and grave tombs the emperors built for themselves along the banks of the Perfume River.

Your night could be spent in the splendid Pilgrimage Village, the perfect place for winding down and taking a break from the chaos. Equipped with a delightful spa, large swimming pool and comfortable rooms and bungalows; all designed with an exquisite taste.

 

Hoi An

Hoi An

All the different flavours of Vietnam are stirred together in the coastal town of Hoi An. You’ll find age-old influences from merchants from Japan, China, India and the Netherlands. As modern “merchants” for tourists, there are professional tailors who can craft a new outfit for you in 24 hours. For less than 60 euros I had a velour jacket made to measure from Blue Eye Tailor.

The car free centre is bursting with lovely restaurants – where many offer cooking classes -, charming boutiques, historic houses and cafés. The enchanting streets are decorated with hundreds of lanterns and in the evening these streets truly come alive.

During the day you can choose to take a scenic bike ride and discover the countryside life. This region has gorgeous beaches which have attracted a diverse set of luxury hotels such as the Four Seasons Nam Hai. An Bang beach offers a more authentic and relaxed experience with low-key yet incredibly charming villa’s, small hotels and beachside restaurants.

My personal tip for An Bang; Seaside Boutique Hotel. This lovely hotel opened its doors only recently with spacious rooms. Enjoy a fantastic hotel breakfast and walk straight to your beach bed and parasol. After lazing around you can spend the afternoon treating yourself to the culture and spirit of Hoi An and dine at places like Morning Glory or Mango Mango.

 

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh

A  true metropolitan hub with a mix of impressive modern and colonial buildings and millions of scooters zooming by; spiced up with an unique Asian flavour. The city is built up out of diverse districts and my favourite would be District One. This is where you’ll find the French colonial opera house, the cathedral Notre Dame and a post office with a ceiling designed by Eiffel (yes that Eiffel), luxurious boutiques but also a Zara and many restaurants.

Personally, I find there is no hotel more noteworthy than The Myst. This sanctuary of calm and luxury, gives classic Vietnamese art and architecture a modern spin. Friendly staff, beautiful rooms, a delightful swimming pool and lounge beds on the rooftop along with a gym.

The Myst is perfect for starting or ending your travels around Vietnam. When you are there, don’t miss out on the underground tunnels of Cu Chi, a complex enigma of connecting tunnels, part of a much larger network that underlies much of the country. The tunnels were used as a base for various Viet Cong military guerrilla actions during the Vietnam war.

 

My journey through Vietnam lasted two weeks and the route was as follows. I arrived in Hanoi ( 2 nights), Mai Chau (2 nights), Hanoi (1 Night), Halong Bay cruise (1 night), Hue (2 nights), Hoi An (4 nights) Ho Chi Minh (2 nights). An unforgettable experience.

Have you travelled to Vietnam? Share your experience with us below.