Destinations in Vietnam
Secluded beaches, rare wildlife and untouched natural beauty make this archipelago off the south coast of Vietnam one of the country’s best kept secrets.
Vietnam’s third-largest city is an intoxicating mix of non-stop city life and tranquil bleached-sand beaches.
Known as Saigon to the locals, this Southern Vietnamese city showcases a mix of vibrant Asian culture and colonial European elegance. Sweeping, tree-lined boulevards of boutiques run in to the street-stall-lined thoroughfares of a foodie’s paradise.
Hoi An will charm your pants off, but that’s fine – this is the tailoring capital of Vietnam, so it’s easy to find another pair.
There’s more to Vietnam’s leading seaside resort than a sweeping stretch of sand. Nha Trang, on the south-central coast, is a buzzing town that offers a compact window on the country for those overwhelmed by the scale of nearby Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.
Ninh Thuận Province in Vietnam is as-yet uncharted by tourists; laze on the often-deserted beaches or explore the ancient ruins of capital city Phan Rang–Tháp Chàm.
Untouched and authentic Phan Thiet sits at the gateway to the stunning Mui Ne Cape, four hours from Ho Chi Minh City (and so worth the journey).
Vietnam’s hinterland cradles ruins of old empires, captivating Unesco-listed sites and fertile terraces of verdant paddy-fields. River-straddling Hoi An charms with an intoxicating mix of 19th-century merchant houses, ancient temples and alluring stretches of sand. Ho Chi Min City is the South’s pulsing metropolis, replete with labyrinthine streets, boutique-lined boulevards and unbeatable eats. Slow the pace down on serene white sands – untouched and authentic Phan Thiet gets our vote – or commune with nature on out-of-the-way Con Dao; secluded beaches, lush green mountains and rare wildlife make this archipelago one of the country’s best kept secrets.
Beachfront Fusion Maia Resort has stylish lodgings and smart dining down pat. Set within tropical gardens, its day spa is the largest in Hoi An and, irresistibly, all pampering sessions are included in the rate.
An Lam Saigon River is a quiet sanctuary of leafy gardens, river-watching rooms and zingy Vietnamese food. Make your lantern-lit entrance at dusk; the boat can whoosh you back to central Ho Chi Minh City in just 15 minutes.
Rustic but undeniably luxurious, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay’s boulder-perched villas are set in a secluded crescent-shaped bay; dive, spa or simply laze at this dreamy eco-friendly Nha Trang getaway.
Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa spawls across three heavenly seafront hectares; expect angelic masseuses, vanilla-infused cocktails and endless white sands at beachy, off the radar Mui Ne.
If you like your holiday to be an excuse to flaunt designer resortwear and your ritziest accessories, then we've got your A-list. Perfect your red-carpet poses and make a beeline for Cap d'Antibes Beach Hotel on the Côte d'Azur for a showstopping seaside stay. Decking clad, day-bed-dotted Maçakizi is the place to be seen on Turkey's Bodrum peninsula – pull up a chair at the Aegean-facing bar or settle in for some sea-fresh fare at its destination restaurant. In Vietnam, The Nam Hai is a shoreside style icon on Hoi An's China Beach with an OMG infinity pool, a serene spa and seductive, butler-serviced, oceanfront villas.
Ready to chill out and cool off? Then get your swimsuit out in postcard-perfect Nha Trang, Vietnam’s top beach destination. Make like a chic castaway as you arrive at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, located on the tip of a private jungle-clad peninsula, on the resort’s speedboat, the jagged peaks that back the main town receding behind you. In your secluded over-water villa, soak up the sun, go swimming straight in the sea below you or dip your toes in your private plunge pool. You’ll have to leave at least long enough to dine on fresh seafood with expansive views on the bay stretching out before you, or perhaps for your private sunset cruise on a traditional wooden boat. Hike through the jungle to hidden waterfalls, island hop by boat to try your hand at local fishing and go scuba diving among diverse and colourful sea life. Take a cooking class to learn some traditional Vietnamese dishes and let the eco-friendly spa soothe your body. We wouldn’t be surprised if you want to be castaways here forever.
Vietnam’s the kind of place where you can happily flop down on a glittering beach or strap yourself in for all manners of hillside and aquatic adventures. Nha Trang’s mountain-backed bays are the jumping-off point for diving adventures; in Mui Ne, set your surfboard to the waves, or tackle the startling red-sand dunes. Pick up Ben Thanh market bargains or boutique buys in sartorial capital Ho Chi Minh, or measure up for tailor-made togs in Hoi An’s Yaly Couture; Tran Phu Street and Luong Van Can Street stock gorgeous silks and graceful ao dais. Salute the sunrise at the jungle-set temple ruins of My Son; putter past paddy fields on a two-wheeled tour of the Mekong Delta; or go bar-hopping between the soaring skyscrapers of beachside Danang.
Where The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
Cuisine Asian Fusion
What's the inspiration for your cooking?
Simply the enjoyment of being around different ingredients and being in a kitchen with my chefs.
Favourite ingredient right now?
Herbs from our garden, eggplants and duck.
Best breakfast? The Nam Hai’s, of course.
Where do you like to eat out?
A little place around the corner from where I live called Son – good food and good feng shui.
Vietnam’s sea-plucked produce, French heritage and remarkable street food make it a strong contender for one of the best places to eat in South East Asia. Fragrant pho, bulging banh xeo crêpes and fresh banh mi sandwiches are a good start, but for the tastiest banana flower salads or charcoal-smoked bun cha, make a beeline for the roadside stall with the biggest crowd and briskest service. Nobu graduate Martin Brito mans the culinary reigns at ambitious Blanchy’s Tash; you’ll want to order everything on the menu at Bobby Chin (the tea-smoked duck and sticky coconut rice pudding are memorable). Strong, dense and aromatic, Vietnamese coffee is the stuff of barista worship; hot or iced, don’t skimp on the generous glug of sweet condensed milk for an instant afternoon pick-me-up.
Roll-out-of-bed-and-on-to-the-beach types: these are for you… On Gaya Island in Borneo, rainforest-edged Bunga Raya opens out onto a private-paradise stretch of powdery white sand and an eyeful of the South China Sea. For exotic-foliage-fringed beach luxury, Sri Lanka's simply titled Jungle Beach Resort is a romantic hideaway with curvaceous lagoon pools and its own strip of secluded Indian Ocean shoreline. If you'd rather remain in reach of civilisation, Fusion Maia Resort has Vietnamese heritage town Hoi An on its sandy doorstep – if you can tear yourself away from its all-inclusive spa treatments, seaside infinity pool and by-the-waves breakfasting…
Discovering Vietnam is like lingering over a bowl of flavour-packed pho: every ingredient that makes up this colourful country should be savoured. From the pristine beaches of the pretty coastal towns to the ancient temples and vibrant street-life of the cultured capital city, there's something to suit all tastes (especially if you pick the right tailor).