The long weekend in late May allows a quick, all too brief get away to Vietnam, a country I’ve not visited since 1999. Back then it was firmly on the back packer trail, but still relatively under developed as a more upmarket traveller destination for urban dwelling SE Asians, looking to get away from hectic city life for a few days
We get a deal at the Vedana Lagoon resort, a beautiful get away spot, about a two hour drive from De Nang airport. It’s a good location – beautifully tranquil, but within relatively easy striking distance of the very popular tourist destination of Hoi An, and the bigger grown up city of Hue.
Vedana comprises of ten or so bungalow villas, perched out over the lagoon, together with more spacious villas, set back a little from the shore. We manage to snaffle a honeymoon upgrade, and are treated to a spacious master bedroom, very large adjacent bathroom with a stone oval bath, and a secluded private swimming pool. The resort is around a half kilometer in length, with all of the accommodation arranged in a manicured strip, maximizing the water frontage. The provided push bikes provide a delightful and easy way to get from the villa to the restaurant, large main pool, and extensive spa complex. For those whose idea of a relaxing weekend does not extend to the use of two wheels, then golf buggy’s are also provided. Vedana Lagoon is highly recommended, especially if you can get a good deal.
Hoi An is only about 30 kilometers away, but the slowness of the driving, makes the best part of a three hour drive. It’s worth it though, this delightful fishing village, with its UNESCO listed colourful buildings housing an array of restaurants, bars and shopping. We spend a day sauntering among the streets, making occasional forays into the old meeting houses, and temples, and walking through the old market. At night the place becomes distinctly livelier, as the happy hour cocktails get under way, and the riverside restaurants fill up.
The next day we prise ourselves away from the lure of a day idling by pool, and make our way to the city of Hue. First impressions are not great, like many Asian cities, it’s busy, noisy and featureless, but as we get to know it just a little in our short stay, we warm to the place. The Citadel and Old City are worth the trip alone, a magnificent old city, the main part of which was first constructed in the early 1800’s, though re-built several times since. The surrounding extensive gardens are ablaze with colour, and feature many old buildings, some yet to be renovated which adds to the atmosphere and appeal of the place.
Of course, the food in Vietnam is wonderful, I think up there with the best of Asian cuisine. Pho of course has spread world wide, it’s appeal in the tasty broth, noodles and fresh herbs. The use of fresh ingrediants, ginger, chilli, mint, with fresh fish, pork and beef, combine to make this cusiine here nourishing without ever feeling bloated like Indian cooking can sometimes, or the zing of Thai food without the sometimes over powering spiciness.
Great food, friendly people and beautiful countryside, and still relatively inexpensive, Vietnam is one of my favourite destinations in SE Asia.