Phan Thiet, Vietnam
When to go
Phan Thiet is in one of the driest areas of Vietnam, making it a year-round beach holiday destination (the risk of rain runs highest in the months of July and August). If you’re keen to try your hand at kite surfing, book your trip in the windy months of November to March.
PlanesPhan Thiet’s closest airport is Tan Son Nhat International Airport (www.tsnairport.com) in Ho Chi Minh City, serving all major international airlines. From Ho Chi Minh it’s a four-hour drive or train ride to Phan Thiet.
TrainsThe four-hour train journey from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon station) takes you from cosmopolitan cities through tropical countryside to Phan Tiet railway station.
AutomobilesPhan Thiet is a four-hour drive from Nha Trang or Ho Chi Minh City. Don't consider car hire though, the driving conditions will stress you out and you'd be much better off asking your hotel about hiring a motorbike or scooter (or just getting by on bicycle, which is brilliant).
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.
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.
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.