The best restaurants in Vietnam for the luxury traveller


Vietnamese cuisine is distinct, mouth-watering and bursting with flavour. A divine concoction of sweet, salty, sour and hot flavours, not overly spicy, with rice, noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs all playing a big role; there’s no wonder that over the years it has become more and more popular around the world. With a staggering 500 traditional dishes to indulge your taste buds, Vietnam is the perfect destination for foodies.

Crumbling old quarters have been transformed into fine dining eateries, headed up by globally respected chefs, and the street food scene is flourishing as ever. But with thousands of restaurants up and down the country, it’s almost impossible to decide which restaurants to go to for the best in providing quality Vietnamese food, a great atmosphere and a luxurious flare. Here we have rounded up the best, and our favourite, restaurants in Vietnam by region…

HANOI

Hanoi

Wild Rice

One of Vietnam’s finest establishments offering a range of traditional cuisine, rich in flavour and colours.  However, it has been very tastefully designed, and the architecture is almost as interesting as the food. With comfort and relaxation in mind, the designers have done a wonderful job using colours and shapes to create an environment into which one can immediately feel settled.

The Green Tangerine

This restaurant offers a menu of innovative and delicious French and Asian fare in a fantastic location. Set back from the busy streets in a lovingly restored 1928 colonial home in the Old Quarter, Green Tangerine is the best for its lunch menu.

Seasons of Hanoi

A classic Vietnamese restaurant with an intimate and romantic ambience.  Serving the finest in Vietnamese cuisine, the candlelit interior of this beautifully restored colonial villa is tastefully decorated throughout in warm earth-tone colours and authentic locally produced furnishings.

Ho Chi Minh

Temple Club

Follow the trail of lanterns up the dimly lit stairs to this elegant restaurant. This is one of the top spots in the city, and white tablecloths, whirling fans and antique silverware to accompany chopsticks create a colonial atmosphere. But the menu is distinctly Vietnamese; favourites include grilled beef on lemongrass skewers and fish wrapped in banana leaf.

Quan An Ngon Restaurant

An open-air restaurant where Ho Chi Minh City’s finest street chefs create their masterful specialities. Locals and in-the-know foreigners jostle at night time, waiting for their favourite Vietnamese classics like bun cha (vermicelli with minced pork balls and fresh herbs) and green papaya salad with shrimp. Fortunately, there are a lot of tables, so the line moves quickly.

Xu Restaurant Lounge

Xu Restaurant Lounge serves both traditional and modern Vietnamese food, using new techniques often simplifying complex dishes to emphasise a particular ingredient. Recommended dishes to try are banh bot lọc, rice cracker banh he beef, and Vietnamese cang cua salad followed by a chocolate kumquat truffle.

HOI AN

Hoi An

Mango Rooms

An unusual and hip little restaurant that was started up by Texan-Vietnamese chef Duc, who has successfully fused the flavours of Vietnam, America and hints of Japan to create some delicious and unique dishes. The open kitchen allows you to see the chef at work with all his flair, creating a great dining experience.

Morning Glory

The Cargo Club restaurant at Morning Glory not only provides clean, fresh and delicious food, but they also share the charming stories behind traditional Vietnamese cuisine and culture. Cooking with love and passion, many dishes that you just won’t find on other menus are all available here and are perfection on a plate! They also offer great cooking classes which involve a visit to the market with the chef.  Book a table on the terrace and enjoy watching the sun go down with a cocktail or two!

Full Moon Town

Located on the banks of the Co Co River along a street leading to a beautiful sandy beach, Full Moon brings together traditional and modern architectural styles in a romantic setting. Serving typical Vietnamese dishes, this is a great place to explore local flavours and soak up Hoi An’s renowned atmosphere.

 vietnamese food

Hué

Ancient Hué

This is the best local restaurant in Hué. A collection of original Royal ancient houses, with decor that evokes an authentic ambiance of a Royal Palace. Delicate sweet and spicy flavours, and an abundance of fresh produce and seafood, this opulent restaurant showcases the best authentic dishes from the region, as well as a wide range of innovative fusion cuisine.

Le Parfum at La Residence Hotel

Le Parfum chefs use the freshest market ingredients to create delicious local, regional and international dishes. The airy high-ceiled dining area enjoys views across the Perfume River to the Imperial Citadel, and the well-clipped garden of La Residence make for a fantastic ambience.

Whichever area of Vietnam you decide to visit, you’ll certainly enjoy trying all the local delicacies. If you’d like help planning your visit to Vietnam, please leave a comment below.

James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel. Ampersand Travel create bespoke and luxurious travel experiences to Asia, the British Isles and Southern Africa.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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5 of the finest luxury hotels and resorts in Vietnam


Vietnam is an exciting and vibrant Southeast Asian country where you can spend your time exploring dynamic and bustling cities, embracing the culture and natural beauty or checking in to a luxury spa resort to relax and rejuventate.

However you decide to spend your vacation there are some exceptional hotels and resorts to choose from; our list of ‘5 of the finest luxury hotels and resorts in Vietnam’ may just help you to decide which is the best option for you.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi was built in 1901 and if hotels could tell a story this one would keep you enthralled for a very long time with a history that is unrivalled. Considered one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic hotels and a true ‘Grande Dame’, the recent $20 million restoration which was completed in 2009 firmly positioned it as one of the leading hotels in the region.

With 364 luxurious guest rooms to choose from, and exquisite suites including those named after Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene there really is something for everyone at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi.

After spending the day exploring Hanoi, guests can enjoy relaxing by the pool and a treatment at Le Spa du Metropole before choosing their favourite cuisine at either Spices Garden (Vietnamese), Le Beaulieu (French) and Angelina (Italian).

La Residence Hue Hotel and Spa

La Residence Hue Hotel and Spa is situated on the banks of the fabled Perfume River overlooking the former Imperial Citadel, the UNESCO World Heritage Site which is one of the premier reasons that tourists head to this central Vietnamese city. Set in the former home of the French Colonial Governor, this boutique design hotel opened in 2005 following an extensive redevelopment and restoration.

Throughout the property design features include hallmarks of ‘Streamline Moderne’ architecture which is characterized by curving forms and long horizontal lines whilst the 122 rooms and suites are furnished in a complimentary Art Deco style.

Dining options include the fine dining restaurant, Le Parfum, where guests can experience Mediterranean and French fusion cuisine or a selection of dishes from an expansive Vietnamese menu.

The Reverie Saigon

The Reverie Saigon is a stylish, bold and luxurious hotel where you can experience opulance and grandeur that has never been seen previously in Vietnam, from the grand and lavish public areas to the magnificent and extravagent rooms and suites this is a luxury hotel like no other.

Situated in the heart of Saigon, on the upper floors of the prestigious Times Square Building, The Reverie Saigon offers world class hospitailty and impeccable service to discerning guests from around the world.

Expect the best of Italian design and craftsmanship throughout the property, sophisticated treatments from the urban luxury spa and enjoy contemporary Italian fine dining at R&J’s whilst staying at this simply stunning property.

Fusion Maia Danang

Fusion Resorts offer a unique concept where guests can enjoy “spa inclusive” and “breakfast anywhere, anytime” during their stay, this allows you the freedom to enjoy breakfast in your villa next to the private pool, before commencing on your programme of selected spa treatments and yoga classes at the luxury spa.

Recently named as one of the top 5 spas in the world for 2018 by Conde Naste Traveller, Fusion Maia Danang has firmly positioned itself as a ‘must visit’ spa location. As the only Asia based spa to join this prestigious list it was also recognised as a resort where ‘clean eating’ is a priority with guests being able to select from a variety of vegan, plant based and raw cuisine.

Fusion Maia Danang boasts a stunning beachfront location and a selection of elegant pool, spa and beach villas which are both chic and spacious, providing the perfect retreat for guests who enjoy the finer things in life; diners can expect menus with an emphasis on health and wellness, where the fusion style dining concept takes inspiration from ‘The Five Elements’ food philosophy.

If you can manage to leave the resort, the inclusive spa treaments and your private villa, then the beautiful and picturesque ancient town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is just 20 minutes away.

Fusion Resort Cam Ranh

An exceptional beach resort situated on the beautful and pristine coast between Cam Ranh and Nha Trang, Fusion Resort Cam Ranh is the down-to-earth alternative for those looking for five star quality without the fuss, formality, and routine of a traditional hotel or resort.

As with all Fusion Resorts, guests can enjoy the unique “all spa inclusive” and “breakfast anywhere, anytime” services at Fusion Resort Cam Ranh and expect wellbeing, originality and sensibility to be core values of their stay.

Guests will have a selection of stylish villas and suites to choose from, each boasting an ocean view and many with private pool including the 4 bedroom Beachfront Grand Villa. In addition to these modern and contemporary room options, when it comes to dining guests can enjoy healthy Vietnamese specialities at ‘Fresh’ restaurant and when booking spa treaments there are a wide array of healing massages, wraps, body scrubs and facials on offer.

We hope these ‘5 of the finest luxury hotels and resorts in Vietnam’ will provide you the inspiration to book a trip to Vietnam and explore the wonderful country and all that it has to offer.

Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest. Vegan Food Quest have become luxury vegan travel specialists as they continue to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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5 ways to eat like a local in Hanoi


Want to eat like a local in Hanoi? As a city, Hanoi is changing rapidly from the old to the new, and its rapid transformation is reflected clearly in the food scene: while fancy restaurants continue to pop up everywhere, the old street food culture still continues to flourish.

The markets of Hanoi’s old quarter, for example, have changed dramatically in recent years. According to Hanoi local Mrs Yen, who until recently hadn’t visited the area for 10 years, it’s much more modern and clean. But the essence of the street scene – the fresh tasty food, the companionship and the fun – is still there. So how can you experience street food like a local?

1. Get low

For a start, get ready to be low on the ground – most likely on a small plastic stool. Think being back at school, but flimsier.

2. Get ready

Remember, it’s all about speed. Vietnamese street food is characteristically simple, fresh, flavoursome – and quick. This food is about a fast turnaround, which is fantastic as it means you can hop from spot to spot and focus on one dish at a time. There will be a lot happening around you and it’s a brilliant assault on the senses.

3. Visit at night

Visit the markets at night when they really come alive. A quiet street you saw during the day suddenly becomes packed with pop up restaurants. The transition is an experience in itself – it’s a battle between the restaurant staff, who keep putting out more and more tables, and the police, who need to make sure they don’t spill onto the street too much. It’s pretty funny to watch.

4. Get a guide

Explore the markets with a guide. They will be able to take you to the best local eateries which are often tucked away in hidden corners that you would never find on your own. They will also be able to recommend the dishes that are most authentic and distinctive to Hanoi.

5. Get out of your comfort zone

Try something you’d never usually order – or better still, that you’ve never even heard of. Ask questions (language barriers permitting) and see what locals would recommend. Maybe not everything will be to your taste, but it’s the best way to experience authentic cuisine – and you’re bound to find some mouth-watering gems in there too.

Sam Clark is CEO at Experience Travel Group. Experience Travel Group offers tailor-made luxury travel experiences in South and South-East Asia.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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5 outstanding Six Senses resorts in southeast Asia


With a mission to “create exceptional guest experiences in stunning settings “Six Senses have long been associated with offering exemplary service in extraordinary locations; the Six Senses style of luxury travel is delivered in a manner that truly compliments the natural beauty of the surroundings by ensuring that the impact on the environment is minimal.

Their ever growing portfolio of luxury resorts has recently reached Europe, and is soon to debut in New York, but the focus of this article is southeast Asia where Six Senses has firmly positioned itself as a market leader for eco conscious luxury travellers.

Our ‘5 outstanding Six Senses resorts in southeast Asia’ features 3 existing resorts in Thailand and Vietnam alongside 2 brand new resorts which will open during 2018 in 2 brand new locations, the first in Bali which has long been regarded as one of the premier tourist hotspots in the region, with the second off the coast of Cambodia which is currently becoming one of the new ‘go to’ countries for those that are seeking a cultural adventure.

Six Senses Uluwatu, Bali

Six Senses’ first Indonesian resort opens in March 2018 and where better for it to be located than the paradise holiday island of Bali, it will be situated in the south of the island and this eagerly awaited resort promises to fast become a favourite for discerning travellers visiting the region.

Six Senses Uluwata is perched atop a rugged cliff in Pecatu boasting far reaching Indian ocean vistas and situated close to Pura Uluwatu, the Balinese sea temple; guests can enjoy multiple swimming pools, 3 restaurants (including a cooking school and chefs table experience) alongside an open air event venue and function space.

Less than an hour from the international airport of Denpasar and a million miles away from the busy resort towns of Bali this new addition to the island and to the Six Senses portfolio will be one of the hottest new openings of 2018.

Six Senses Krabey Island, Cambodia

Cambodia is famed for the incredible temples of Angkor and the vast temple complex attracts tourists from around the world in ever growing numbers, this fast paced growth has seen other areas of the country opening to tourism and who better than Six Senses to open a brand new resort on a small private island just off the south coast.

At Six Senses Krabey Island guests can choose from a selection of pool villas and expect dramatic sea views from the restaurant before heading to the all day ice cream parlour for a refreshing treat; be sure to book a treatment at the Six Senses Spa where signature therapies will be on offer alongside ancient Cambodian healing traditions.

For those that wish to include a visit to Angkor Wat and the other magnificent temples of Angkor rest assured that a flight of less than an hour will see you arrive at Siem Reap which is the gateway town to the temples.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay has a unique island feel despite being situated on the mainland in Central Vietnam; the picturesque bay is reached by private speedboat and you can rest assured that your Six Senses experience begins once you check in at the private harbourside resort lounge (complete with cooling towels and a glass of something chilled).

Guests can select from an impressive array of villas including the Water Pool Villas with a private pool carved from the rock and multi room specialist villas complete with your very own private wine cellar; as with all Six Senses resorts your GEM (Guest Experience Maker) will always be on hand to ensure your stay is memorable.

 

Six Senses Con Dao, Vietnam

Yet another unique and naturally beautiful location is home to our second Vietnamese Six Senses resort, Six Senses Con Dao is situated on a tropical island which is reached via a 45 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City; the island is part of a remote archipelago which is also a long time protected national and marine park.

As you would imagine the resort is breathtaking and we are sure you will find it hard to leave this peaceful and tranquil location, the far reaching ocean views and surrounding jungle combine to make this unique resort truly unforgettable.

All Six Senses resorts offer guests the chance to join their ‘Integrated Wellness’ programmes which have been exclusively created in partnership with a team of doctors and wellness professionals; part of the programme is based around healthy and sustainable eating including plant based and vegan options available on all menus.

Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand

Six Senses Yao Noi overlooks the surreal limestone pinnacles that majestically rise from the waters of Phang Nga Bay between the island of Phuket and Krabi on the Thai mainland; your private boat transfer from Ao Por Grand Marina offers close up and stunning views of these rock formations before you arrive at your island holiday paradise.

Six Senses prides itself on both social and environmental sustainability programmes and whilst at Six Senses Yao Noi guests can rest assured that these policies are taken seriously; amongst other on site initiatives, waste management takes place at ‘Eco Centro’, drinking water is produced through reverse osmosis before being bottled in re-usable glass water bottles and produce is sourced and purchased locally weherever possible.

Multiple villa choices, the Six Senses Spa and a selection of dining locations and options will ensure your stay at Six Senses Yao Noi is relaxing, peaceful and one you will remember for a very long time.

This selection of 5 outstanding Six Senses resorts in southeast Asia offers guest a choice of countries, locations and resorts for their next vacation, each of which deliver that unique Six Senses ethos of sustainable and responsible luxury travel for their eco-conscious guests.

Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest. Vegan Food Quest have become luxury vegan travel specialists as they continue to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Asia’s 10 most beautiful train journeys


An atmospheric train ride is second to none. The perfect way to get to know a country’s landscapes and customs, train trips transform perfunctory journey time into an experience in itself. There are myriad fantastic routes across Asia to choose from, ranging from the more upscale first-class carriages to those which are more basic, but often capture the spirit of a destination. We’ve compiled our top 10 scenic and culturally significant trips that are guaranteed to enrich your holiday.

Train through the hill country, Sri Lanka

Widely hailed as the world’s most beautiful train journey, this fantastic route is definitely one for the bucket list. Wind your way through densely covered tea plantations, remote villages and spectacular waterfalls on this journey from Kandy up into the highest corners of the hills. Seats in the 1st class seat observation cabin are limited, but travelling in 2nd or 3rd class allows you to encounter the vibrant, bustling daily life of Sri Lankan locals.

Toy trains, India

India’s toy trains run on historic mountain railway lines that once provided access to colonial hill settlements. Three of the lines- the Kalka-Shimla Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and Darjeeling Himalayan Railway– are now UNESCO world heritage sites and their routes showcase stunning mountainside scenery across India.

British North Borneo Steam Railway

The British North Borneo railway is Borneo’s oldest running steam train and a rather romantic memento of the country’s colonial past. Running Wednesdays and Saturdays, the route trundles from Tanjung Aru to the ‘Rice Bowl of Sabah’, Papar and takes approximately 4 hours. Brimming with nostalgia, it is designed in typical early 20th century style.

Monkey Train, Rajasthan

So-called because of the monkeys that gather around the stations to be fed by passengers, the Monkey Train is a lovely, lazy journey that takes you through the hilly Kamlighat region of central Rajasthan. This short trip has been operating since 1930 and is still an essential line for many local villagers.

Eastern and Oriental Express

Ideal for those wanting to travel in the utmost style, the Eastern and Oriental Express is one of the most luxurious trains on the continent. The line offers multiple routes across Asia, the most popular being that between Singapore and Bangkok. This is a three-day long excursion in which you can travel in pre-eminent luxury, with 24-hour steward service in a private cabin. Though relatively expensive, it is worthy of the price tag: its journeys take you through rural landscapes, colonial cities, tea plantations, temples and more.

Bamboo train, Cambodia

Not your typical train, this bamboo vehicle has neither motor nor engine; in fact, if it weren’t for significant improvements in infrastructure in recent years, this railway would have become obsolete had it not been transformed into a fun travel experience! At only 20 minutes long, this is a fun brief trip (ideal for kids) that allows you to see the countryside in an unusual way.

Goteik Viaduct, Myanmar

Drive north from Mandalay to board the Goteik viaduct railway in Nawnghkio, Myanmar. The bridge connects the towns of Pyin Oo Lwin and Lashio and is the highest railway trestle in Myanmar. Though time spent over the actual bridge is of course limited, it’s an impressive construction and the slow trundle over is a lot of fun.

Da Nang to Nha Trang, Vietnam

A charming, laid-back day trip that guides you through lush paddy fields and villages. A perfect one to just sit back and enjoy the countryside.

Train through Java, Indonesia

Roll through verdant paddy fields and impressive volcanic peaks on this spectacular route through the Java countryside. This rail service offers a comfortable first class executive carriage with air conditioning and a surprisingly tasty lunch if travelling at that time.

Yangon to Mandalay sleeper train, Myanmar

Not for the faint-hearted, this 13 hour trip provides little by way of creature comforts- but is a truly unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience.

Sam Clark is CEO at Experience Travel Group.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Travel guide to Aman Resorts


Phenomenal luxury, exquisite comforts and an astonishing array of different cultures and landscapes, Aman serves up the best of the best every time. Below we have listed their properties in Asia, but specifically highlighting what we love about each one. Carry on reading and let us know in the comments if you have any other highlights you love about Aman and want to share!

For isolated luxury: AMANKORA Bumthang, Bhutan

The Choekhor Valley is Bhutan’s least visited region, which means you can explore the country’s spiritual hub and most auspicious monasteries in complete private solitude.

For birding: AMANKORA Gangtey, Bhutan

The picturesque Phobjikha Valley is a designated conservation area for the majestic and endangered black-necked crane. Every October and until March, around 350 of these beautiful birds migrate from the Tibetan Plateau to Gangtey.

For Alpine adventures: AMANKORA Paro, Bhutan

At Amankora Paro the air is filled with the freshness of blue pines. Thick blankets of pine forest swathe the landscape as far as the eye can see, just waiting to be explored.

Rural paradise: AMANKORA Punakha, Bhutan

This charming hotel is built around a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse. Fantastic views, stunning scenery and the chance to immerse yourself in tranquil isolation.

Best address in town: AMANKORA Thimphu, Bhutan

Overlooking the capital in a quiet setting, Amankora Thimphu is in the perfect location to venture into town to visit the markets or see the many highlights and attractions.

Out of season: AMANSARA Angkor, Cambodia

From October to April is typically defined as the ‘wet season’, however with roughly an hour of rain each day and with the temples of Angkor Wat to yourself, it’s the best time to travel.

City hideaway: AMANFAYUN Hangzhou, China

Hangzhou is one of China’s most populous cities, but hidden between mountains and a monastery with verdant tea-field views, Amanfayun is a world away from urban life.

Traditional architecture: AMANDAYAN Lijiang, China

Delightfully unique and bursting with authentic character, Amandayan encompasses everything which is traditionally Chinese.

Insider access: AMAN SUMMER PALACE Beijing, China

Direct private access to the Summer Palace’s endless hidden wonders where you can experience a taste of indulgent Quing Dynasty living.

Views: AMANKILA Bali, Indonesia

From anywhere in the hotel you can soak up the jaw-dropping 360-degree views, particularly those overlooking the deep blue sea of the Lombok Strait.

Heritage conservation: AMANYANGYUN Shanghai, China

Aman’s latest masterpiece, and most ambitious project, this hotel celebrates ancient architecture. Ancient dwellings dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasty, which were under threat from demolition, have been restored to their former glory to create beautifully refined spaces.

Families: AMANBAGH Rajasthan, India

It may feel as though you are a million miles from anywhere, but there is plenty to keep idle hands active: treasure hunts, camel rides, nature walks, bike rides, horse riding, cooking classes… children of any age can benefit from these cultural experiences.

Traditional culture: AMANDARI Bali, Indonesia

Amandari is completely immersed in local life and plays an important role to the wider community. We highly recommend exploring the sprawling grounds, and meet with local people going about their daily lives.

Outdoor activities: AMANJIWO Java, Indonesia

Activities in and around Amanjiwo are abundant. Step out from the hotel and within minutes you can be exploring the incredible Borobudur, trekking up the steep flanks of Mount Merapi or rambling across rice fields and rural villages. Cultural tours, elephant treks and horse riding are also available, no request is too small!

Wildlife: AMAN-I-KHAS Ranthambhore, India

Aman-I-Khas is perched right on the edge of prime tiger spotting territory, but sightings of leopards, jungle cats, sloth bears, wild boar, sambar and spotted deer, and more than 300 species of birds are also common, and all whilst you relive the lavish history of Maharajas’ hunting parties.

Off the beaten track: AMANWANA Moyo Island, Indonesia

Far from the madding crowd, Amanwana is surrounded by pristine jungle, pure shores and the endless ocean of turquoise Flores Sea. There’s no wonder it means ‘peaceful forest’…

Unusual experiences: AMANEMU Shima-shi, Japan

Dine on a specially curated Amanemu menu with an ama (the female freedivers who collect shellfish, seaweed and sea urchin) in her home, an amagoya, whilst you learn about her way of life, unchanged for centuries.

Colonial: AMANTAKA Luang Prabang, Laos & AMANGALLA Galle, Sri Lanka

Two hotels which are bursting with old-world charm, and combine modern flourishes with nostalgic fittings, hark back to the golden days of colonial travel.

Amantaka

Beach hideaway: AMANWELLA Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Curved around a stretch of palm-fringed private beach, this hidden beach capsule is the ultimate discreet boutique hotel.

Desert island fantasy: AMANPULO Pamalican Island, Philippines

We all have that elusive fantasy of ‘getting away from it all’ but at Amanpulo you can indulge in your Robinson Crusoe whims, but in the height of luxury with snow-white beaches, crystal-clear seas, pristine diving and endless watersports.

Iconic luxury: AMANPURI Phuket, Thailand

This well-established iconic classic is the Aman Group’s first ever hotel. With an unrivalled reputation, it now sets the bar for unprecedented luxury for their many idyllic hotels across the world.

Amanpuri

Design: AMAN TOKYO Tokyo, Japan

The epitome of contemporary city-sleek. Aman Tokyo nods to traditional Japanese heritage in its décor, but wows with its thoroughly modern metropolis views from the vast floor-to-ceiling windows.

Spa: AMANOI Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam

The spa itself is resting on the calm shores of a lotus-filled lake. The open-air yoga pavilion energises, whilst the sumptuous indoor pool relaxes, and therapists are ready and waiting with vials of essential oils.

We hope this insight into our favourite Aman Resorts has inspired you. If you’ve got any questions or want to discuss your travel plans, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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5 luxury honeymoon experiences in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos : A Luxury Travel Blog


Planning a wedding is stressful, there’s no two ways about it. But planning a honeymoon should provide respite. No table plans to navigate, caterers to negotiate with, or photographers to sift through. This first holiday as a married couple should be the perfect tonic after a frantic few months.

With a relaxed pace of life, phenomenal natural wonders, rich history, and high-end accommodation, Indochina promises an unforgettable honeymoon. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are so close to each other geographically, but each have something different to offer – it would be amiss to travel all that way, only to set foot on one. Hopefully these very special experiences will inspire you to take on the trio.

1. Vietnam: Travel to Halong Bay by seaplane

Halong Bay has long been used in countless advertising campaigns the world over. Just look at it! This area is home to a series of limestone islands and islets that rise from emerald waters, leaving you positively dwarfed from below. Even on a grey day (and they can happen), mist forms a halo around the tip of each of the karsts, giving the whole place an otherworldly feel.

Weaving around by boat is a memorable experience, but it is impossible to grasp the sheer scale of the area, take a seaplane to see the moss-blanketed pillars stretch out into the horizon.

2. Cambodia: Take a private helicopter over Angkor

Angkor Wat is world-famous for a reason. This enormous complex of 12th-century temples offers a snapshot into the days of the Khmer Empire, and exploring the area on-foot is an absolute must when visiting Cambodia. Appreciate the workmanship on the faces of the bas-reliefs, and see how huge jungle roots have enveloped them over time (Ta Prohm drew particular attention following the release of Tomb Raider). It’s well worth rising early to see the sun rise over the temple-strewn skyline.

But, the area is extremely popular, and it’s (highly) unlikely that you’ll have the place to yourself. Take a private helicopter to appreciate the vastness of the site and the sprawling jungle beyond, without other tourists cramping your style. A unique way to see one of the most incredible man-made sights in the world.

3. Laos: Swim at the Kuang Si waterfalls

The magnificent Kuang Si waterfalls are only 32km from the sleepy city of Luang Prabang, but this haven, with its thick, lush greenery, could be a world away. Waterfalls cascade through trees, over limestone tiers, and into aquamarine pools below. This gift of nature (to tourists and locals alike) provides a welcome respite from the heat. After taking a dip in the waters, and breathing in the freshest forest air, take some time to explore the surrounding area.

The jungle, with its range of flora and fauna, is a lovely hiking option. Look up into the trees to spot birds jump from tree to tree, and visit the local sanctuary to see bears that have been rescued from poachers and given protection in this oasis.

4. Vietnam: Relax in the Cham Islands

With architecture that draws influence from across the world, a scenic riverside location, top tailors, and tasty Vietnamese coffee to boot, Hoi An is a firm favourite for visitors to Vietnam. Visit during the Hoi An Lantern Festival to see the town plunged into darkness (as electric lights are switched off), and then magically lit by twinkling tea-lights that float down the river.

After spending a few days in the town (and taking a day trip to the My Son ruins), reward walking-weary limbs on the surrounding white-sand beaches just a short speedboat ride from the coast. With empty coastline, and only two small fishing villages, The Cham Islands are a great option for a spot of honeymoon R&R.

5. Laos: Take a sunset cruise on the Mekong

The UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang is a relaxing place to while away a few days – a particular highlight is a walking tour around beautiful architecture, from golden temples, to French colonial villas. The city is fringed by rambling countryside, wooded areas, and the winding Mekong and Nam Khan rivers beyond.

Spend a day in the city before boarding a traditional riverboat on the Mekong in the evening, and look out as the sun sets over the surrounding mountains. All this sightseeing is hungry work; moor up and prepare for a delicious Lao feast, accompanied by entertainment from a local band and a group of traditional dancers.

All that’s left to say is good luck for the big day, and happy planning your honeymoon to Indochina.

Alastair Donnelly is Director at InsideAsia Tours.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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7 luxury reasons to visit Hanoi


Having visited Vietnam many times previously it’s been some time since we passed through Hanoi, people kept telling us we should return for multiple reasons, including some ‘must visit’ hotels, delectable vegan food and the nearby stunning location of Ninh Binh.

We heeded their advice and loved it, we will return again in the near future for sure, in the meantime here are our 7 luxury reasons to visit Hanoi.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Situated in Hanoi’s French Quarter, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel not only occupies a prime location it is often considered the premier luxury address in town; the legendary property has a rich and compelling history that adds to the attraction of this Grand Dame of South East Asian hotels.

Guests can expect to step back in time and experience opulence and elegence in equal measures, whilst at the same time enjoying first rate service and a choice of rooms and suites, including the ultimate in historic grandeur and luxury when residing in either the Charlie Chaplin or Graham Greene Suites with 24 hour butler service.

Le Beaulieu

We dined at Le Beaulieu and were treated to a vegan fine dining experience that was packed full of fresh and healthy ingredients resulting in a truly memorable meal; visiting guest Chef Fabrizio Aceti who has worked at some of the finest hotels, resorts and restaurants in the world over the last 25 years ensured that our meal was one of the best we’ve had for some time.

We enjoyed a selection of dishes that were each an adaptation from the exisiting vegetarian menu but with a few subtle changes making them 100% plant based; each course was finished at the table with a drizzle of olive oil, a twist of black pepper or a flavourful sauce, but most importantly Chef Fabrizio personally talked us through the ingredients and description of each dish as it was served.

Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh

Many tourists who visit Hanoi head North to Sapa as part of their itinerary for an escape from the city and the chance to enjoy natural beauty and wilderness. However, our suggestion is that you take the short trip South (less than 2 hours in a taxi) and visit Ninh Binh where not only will you be surrounded by supreme vistas but you can choose to stay at Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh which is by far the best option in the region.

Guests can expect traditional Vietnamese design and furnishings throughout the resort which is set amongst natural gardens. Choose from a selection of spacious rooms each offering garden and mountain views, dine at either Organics or Sen restaurants, book a relaxing spa treatment at La Cochinchine and spend your days exploring the wonderful Van Long Nature Reserve, a primeval tropical forest which is adjacent to the resort.

Van Long Nature Reserve

Words cannot describe the beauty of Van Long Nature Reserve, pictures show the natural allure to some extent but we believe that visiting is the only way to fully appreciate the full extent of the beauty; during our two days staying at Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh we visited the nature reserve 4 times, enjoying both the early morning tranquility and the serene and surreal vistas during sunset.

There are a number of options in the region for hiring a boat and winding your way along the inland waterways surrounded by humbling limestone carsts, but the more popular locations are VERY busy, with coach loads of tourists arriving all day long; therefore, if you want peace, solitude and the chance to experience the incredible scenery with very few people around then head to Van Long Nature Reserve.

JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi

The combination of impressive, stylish and modern architecture, polished and professional service alongside a choice of 450 contemporary and graciously appointed rooms and suites make JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi a very good option when visiting Hanoi.

It is well regarded as the perfect choice for events and conferences, but also offers leisure travellers the chance to relax whilst enjoying the multiple F&B options, luxurious Spa by JW and the tranquil pool with impressive 360 degree views accross Hanoi.

Crystal Jade Palace

You can expect modern and crisp design at Crystal Jade Palace where signature Cantonese cuisine is on offer including vegetarian dishes that can easily be adapted for vegan guests; we enjoyed the friendly and attentive service from a staff team who were ever present and happy to explain each of our courses.

So many flavour and textures were combined within each dish ensuring we enjoyed a memorable Cantonese vegan fine dining experience at Crystal Jade Palace; our favourites including the simple yet delicious ‘Broccoli Sauteed With Minced Garlic’ and also the favour packed ‘Braised Homemade Beancurd With Assorted Vegetables’.

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

The InterContinental Hanoi Westlake enjoys an enviable location on the largest lake in the city with many of the rooms and suites boasting views accross the water that deliver a unique ‘resort feel’ in a city hotel; situated just a few minutes from the busy city center and Hanoi Old Quarter, guests who choose this hotel can really experience the best of both worlds.

After a busy day exploring the wonders of Hanoi head back to the hotel and choose from a selection of F&B outlets including ‘Milan Restaurant’ and ‘Saigon Restaurant’ which both offer multiple vegetarian dishes on their menus; before dinner don’t forget to choose your favourite cocktail at ‘Sunset Bar’ which as the name would suggest allows you to experience beautiful sunset vistas accross West Lake.

We hope you enjoyed our 7 luxury reasons to visit Hanoi including a selection of the finest hotels in town, a couple of our favourite vegan fine dining options and a memorable ‘side trip’ to the beautiful and memorable Ninh Binh province.

Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Top 5 things to do in Luang Prabang, Vietnam


In between Vietnam and Thailand, Laos is lesser-known and lesser-discovered, but no less interesting than its pair of famous neighbours. As a long thin country that also touches China to the north and Cambodia to the south, the landscape varies wildly; from thickly-forested areas to more tropical surrounds with plunging waterfalls and thousands of islands.

No trip to this country would be complete without a couple of days in former royal capital, Luang Prabang, so beautifully preserved that it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Make sure you’re camera-ready as you take it all in; there’s a photo opportunity around every magical corner. Gilded temples with sloping roofs gleam in the sunshine, faded French colonial villas line the streets, and the rolling mountains and the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers lay just beyond the town. Everything ticks over at a leisurely pace, substituting the frenetic energy of nearby countries for a laid-back calm.

Most visitors only spare two or three days here, so it’s important to have a plan. There are more than a few ways to make the best of it.

1. Take an architecture tour

With a combination of traditional Buddhist temples (bathed in gold leaf), traditional stilted houses, and French colonial architecture around every corner, a trip to Luang Prabang is an architecture tour in itself. But team up with an expert to get the stories behind these fascinating streets, and track the evolution of the town; from its ancient conception, through the colonial and royal eras, and right up to the present day.

2. Take a cycling tour

Why not see the sights atop two wheels? A bike gives you the freedom (and time) to see the best of the town, venture into the countryside and feel the wind in your hair – often a welcome treat in the humid months.

Wheel from place to place; the Wat Visoun, National Museum (previously the Royal Palace), the Wat Mai Temple and Wat Xieng Thong are all worth a visit. Then leave the town behind to see the landscape just outside. Hop down to potter around the Phosy Market and see great pails with mountains of rice, a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables on offer, and bottles of fresh fruit juice to fuel your onward journey. Visit non-profit organisations, chat to local villagers and peer over the waters of the Mekong. Certainly more than you could manage on foot.

3. Celebrate Songkran

To see an especially authentic side to Luang Prabang, visit in April during Songkran (Pi Mai Lao), Lao New Year. Celebrations take place across the country, with a lot of water-based events. It’s a special time when the community, along with swathes of orange-robed monks, come together. The most important Buddha statues are carried through the streets, and Buddha images, temples and houses are washed down. As are people! Find yourself doused in an enthusiastic water fight, or even the recipient of a bucket of water over your head – a good-humoured way of saying Happy New Year.

4. Take a cookery class

Lao cuisine is an unknown entity to many outsiders. It’s actually quite similar to some dishes in northeastern Thailand, and incorporates lots of fresh produce. Any cookery class in Luang Prabang is likely to begin with a trip to the market to personally pick out your ingredients, and learn about a few of the area’s more unusual herbs, fruits and vegetables. Work with skilled local chefs, discover the authentic methods that go into this delicious cuisine, and take your new found cookery skills home with you.

5. Walk to the top of Mount Phousi at sunrise or sunset

For panoramic views of the town and the lush areas in the distance, pay an nominal fee and take a gentle climb up the steps to Mount Phousi. Spot the meandering Nam Kham and Mekong rivers, as well as the undulating horizon. You can rest your feet at one of the interesting temples or outside a Buddha statue along the way, but at only 100km high, it’s not a strenuous ascent. Plan your trip at sunrise or sunset when the views are at their most beautiful.

Alastair Donnelly is Director at InsideAsia Tours.

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7 natural wonders you must see in Vietnam


Southeast Asia has an incredible variety of destinations for nature tours, and Vietnam has received increasing amounts of recognition for its dreamlike landscape. This country has natural wonders that sneak up to you. Round a corner, and there it is — a gushing waterfall or a terraced rice field that you never expected. The following destinations make an excellent day trip from some of Vietnam’s larger cities.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay is one of the most beautiful stops in all of Vietnam. It’s located in the north, about a three-hour drive from Hanoi. Pillars of limestone jut from the blue-green bay. On a boat tour, your guides will tell you what locals believe the formations most resemble — use your imagination to spot the fighting roosters and the dragon. Boat trips to the bay also stop at caves, which come with man-made stairs and railings to make for easy exploring.

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is often referred to as the Halong Bay of the land, because of the limestone formations that sit on the banks of the lush green river. Admire as your guide handles the oars with their feet. As you drift down the river, you’ll see the above-ground cemeteries that are a normal part of the Vietnamese countryside. Your boat trip also takes you through tunnels that cut through the limestone.

An Binh Island

Take a boat ride down the amber-colored water of the Mekong Delta to An Binh Island. This fertile island has bike paths lined with fruit trees. You can make stops along the way to watch locals weave hammocks and make handicrafts out of reeds. Locals still make most of their livelihood from traditional crafts.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake isn’t too impressive as far as lakes go, but it is notable for its location — in the middle of a busy Hanoi roundabout. Near the lake, you can find some of the city’s nicest shopping and most photographable temples and pagodas. The lake’s most notable feature is Turtle Tower, which was built in the 19th century to commemorate the famed warrior Le Loi, as well as the magical turtle that is said to live in the lake and guard his sword.

Phuquoc Island

Thailand gets a lot of attention for its beaches. But you’ll be missing some of the islands Fly to Phuquoc Island, off the coast of southern Vietnam, and see some of Vietnam’s prettiest beaches, with white sands and tropical rainforests. One of the most popular is Long Beach, which is on the west coast of the island. Needless to say, this is an excellent place to order up fresh seafood.

Sa Pa

Terraced rice paddies line the mountainsides of northern Vietnam. Take a bus through the winding hills to Sa Pa, and book a stay at a hotel with a breathtaking view of the mountains. Many visitors report that it’s best to visit during the rainy season when the fields are green and lush. Around September, when it’s time to harvest, the fields turn bright gold.

Giang Dien Waterfall

These waterfalls have become a popular day trip destination for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh. Spend the night under the stars in the park’s tidy campground. You can swim near the waterfall and hike around the surrounding forest.

Zach Smith is CEO of Anywhere.

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