THAILAND & VIETNAM
1 – WHERE DID YOU GO?
Phuket in Thailand and Halong Bay, Hanoi and Hoi Ann in Vietnam and spent a day in Singapore on our way home.
2- WHO WITH AND HOW LONG FOR?
Travelled with friends from the UK and Australia for 2 weeks.
3- WHO DID YOU FLY WITH AND HOW WERE THEY?
We flew Singapore Airlines to Thailand and home from Vietnam, in Economy.
We flew between Sydney and Singapore, with the 1 hour connecting through Singapore Changi Airport to our Phuket flight.
This is published by the airline as a valid connection, however our flight into Singapore was 20 minutes late landing into terminal 3, and once disembarking from the plane we had 20 minutes to get to the transit train between terminals to reach terminal 2. Once we arrived at terminal 2 our gate was one of the furthest away from the train, which meant we had to hot foot it to reach our gate on time for departure. We made it and were the last to board our flight. This made for an exciting beginning to our trip!
Overall, the food on Singapore was plentiful and delicious with a mixture of western and Asian cuisines and choices of white meat, red meat or vegetarian.
The seat back tv’s and entertainment systems had an abundance of current games, movies, tv shows and documentaries. The cabin staff were readily available offering beverages and assistance throughout all of our flights, so we felt well looked after. These were comfortable flights.
Travelling domestically between Phuket and Hanoi and Hanoi to Hoi Ann we travelled with Vietnam Airlines on their domestic routes. The did offer some snacks, without variety and didn’t have entertainment options on board, though there were drop down tv’s above every 5throw.
Both airlines ran on time (aside from Sydney to Singapore) and check in, ground staff and cabin staff were all friendly and helpful.
4- WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT?
We had so many it was hard to choose. In Hanoi there was a private walking tour through the old town and food tasting with Ling in Hanoi, who was happy to stop anywhere that caught our eye and was a wealth of knowledge on all subjects from historical stories, local faiths, superstitions and legends, to current practices and events. Ling arranged for a Cyclo ride from our hotel in French Quarter, around the old town, before stopping and starting our tour with Rice Noodle Rolls from a local restaurant on the side of the road with only 5 chairs. We also stopped for Summer Rolls, Bun Cha, Banh Mi, Pho Bo and Egg Coffee.
5 – WHAT WAS THE LOWLIGHT?
The bus trip between Hanoi and Halong bay. The mini buses are tiny with little to no leg room at all, and no overhead or under seat storage. This was not comfortable for my super short legs so I can’t imagine what 4.5 hours each way of cramped compartments did to my fellow travellers who were tall!
6 – BEST THING YOU ATE?
Barbeque Pork and Rice Noodle Salad from Au Lac Café Bistro in Hanoi. Lovely little French style bistro, amongst locals, having dinner and sipping wine with friends, down a quiet little leafy side just opposite the iconic Sofitel.
7 – WHERE WOULD YOU GO BACK TO?
Hanoi because it’s chaotic and intriguing, filled with history and lots to do in and around the city.
8 – The HOTELS
Phuket Graceland Resort and Spa. This is a huge resort, with 3 pools, 5 restaurants and bars right opposite the beach. A great resort for families and couples a alike. We stayed in the Grand Deluxe Pool Access Room on the sunset wing of the resort, on the beach side. The room was quite large with two beds and a private terrace with a sloped entry to the pool. It is a 20 minute walk from the hustle of Bangla Road, but is surrounded by restaurants and small market stalls. This is quiet area, great if you want to plant yourself in one place for the pool or the beach.
Hanoi Hilton Opera was a beautiful hotel on its own block in the French Quarter of town, only a short 15 minutes’ walk to the twisting maze of the old town. This hotel was a traditional Hilton with lots of light marble with brass and dark wood accents. Very polished and gorgeously light and airy, starting from the large two level reception and lobby. The rooms were well sized with large twin beds and a view over the street and Flower Garden park. We woke up to see a tai chi class in the park! Breakfast is served in a glass encased conservatory, surrounded by tropical plants, with lots of smiling staff serving coffee. The highlight is the Terrace Pool boarded by flower covered trellis that gives peeks of the street and the park beyond while still offering lots of privacy. The pool also has multiple speakers playing soft music to the strains of Natalie King Cole.
The bonus of staying at the Hilton was that it was a street away from the Saturday night festival that surrounds Hoan Kiem Lake weekly. This is a lovely family night out, with lots of activities for including street performers, dancing, Tai Chi, small battery powered cars to drive under parents watchful eyes, jump rope, dance aerobics and lots of music. There are people as far as the eye can see, it’s very busy and moving through the crowd can be slow, but it is a sight to see. I highly recommend getting a coconut milk ice cream and taking your time to wander around the park and its shows and activities.
Hoi An accommodation was at the Sunset Premium Resort. This hotel is modern elegant design, lots of open walk ways in the resort with the soft ocean breeze flowing through. This is small hotel, with two wings that surround the large, very deep pool. As an inclusive resort a range of cooking classes, games, dance or Zumba classes, water aerobics, volley ball, pool games and kids club, language classes and tea tastings are on offer. Our Club Access Terrace Room had two king twin beds, a modern very large bathroom, with the high lights being the pillow menu(!) and the large terrace with a family size chaise lounge facing unimpeded views over the beach. We had a private reception room and concierge, private breakfast room, afternoon tea and evening canapes and cocktails daily in the Club Lounge. We also had laundry included, which meant when we came home and could take washing duties off the list.
It was a fabulous place outside of Hoi An town for a beach and resort style stay, with the option of a free resort shuttle into town and back, throughout the day and evening.
The only down side would be, as it was shoulder season it did get dark early and the pool closed at 7pm, so if you chose not to go to town for the evening, other than dinner, there wasn’t much to do of an evening.
9 – TRAVELLING TIP POST HOLIDAY & OTHER COMMENTS
To get the in depth culture and history and local knowledge, definitely organise a walking tour. It’s the best way to get the most of our stay and explore hidden gems you just wouldn’t find on your own