“A journey of 1,000 miles must begin with a single step”
With these words by Vietnamese philosopher Lao Tzu to inspire us, we made that step towards our dream trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. As seasoned world travelers always look for next adventures, we had long heard of the beauty of Vietnam and the wonders of Angkor Wat. Why had it taken us so long to plan a trip to Indochina? It was time to change that.
One of our greatest discoveries on this journey began while researching it on the Internet. We came across three words that perfectly described what we wanted: Luxury Travel Vietnam.
Our first stop was Hanoi. We were instantly taken in by the charm of Hanoi. Our days were spent strolling through the old town section, discovering delightful little shops and warm, friendly people. Hanoi was an explosion of colors and beauty. We walked or took cyclo’s all over the city and when we were tired, we made another great discovery: the excellent Vietnamese spa’s offering fabulous massage and spa services.
Too soon our guide was gathering us up for our overnight journey on the Victoria train to the mountains of Sapa. We were thrilled to learn our guide would be going along with us to be our guide on our next stop as well. The Victoria train was clean and comfortable and we slept well as we rumbled along the tracks into the mountains bordering China. We awoke to the exquisite beauty of Sapa. The fog-draped mountains were stunning. The terraced rice fields being tended by farmers and water buffalo were living photographs. To enter the world of Sapa is to enter a different world entirely. It was sheer joy to stroll through villages, meeting the friendly people, all so beautiful in their ethnic costumes.
Halong Bay is one of the New Wonders of the World and tourists flock to sail its karst-dotted waters. However, a few miles away there’s another bay – just as beautiful but minus the crowds. We embarked on a day cruise, discovered the natural beauty of the bay and experience kayaking.
We ventured into an “off the beaten track” area of the bay and explore the secrets of the sea within Bai Tu Long Bay and experienced the suite sensation for one night, the luxury marries adventure on board Emperor Cruises . An experience is fitting for Kings and Queens.
While we would have been happy to stay there for days…we were soon heading for our next stop: Nha Trang. We were about to discover if the beaches of Vietnam really were as beautiful as we’d always heard. If anything…they were better!
This was a stop designed strictly for pampering, rest and relaxation. For that, we couldn’t have found a more perfect spot than Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. Upon arrival in Nha Trang, we took a refreshing Emperor Cruises boat ride to Six Senses’s beautiful secluded beach and peninsula, only accessible via the sea.
We enjoyed experience every moment on Emperor Cruises, staff treated us like kings and queens. The cruise was inspired by the luxurious life of Emperor Bao Dai, Vietnam’s last. He often chose to spend his leisure time in Nha Trang, going fishing on a beautiful dragon boat that was fully equipped and operated by experienced members of the Vietnamese Naval Corps who were knowledgeable about where the best bays in the area could be found.
Our relaxation started immediately as we were taken directly to our villa. No worries about check-in details, as that would be taken care of by our personal butler Long. His job was to take care of us…and only us…for our entire stay (and he did an excellent job at that!).
Luxury Travel had arranged for us to be in the Presidential Villa, which was indeed fit for a President! Docking at our private villa complex, painstakingly built over huge boulders on the sea, we found 2 villas complete with bedroom/bath; a covered, open-air pavilion for dining; a private swimming pool and covered open-air massage tables with a fantastic view out to the sea.
Our goal was to completely relax and we had no trouble accomplishing that at Six Senses. Every morning, we’d slide into the crystal clear water to snorkel with an array of colored fish before the boat arrived to whisk us to breakfast. While the resort offered a wide variety of daytrips/activities, we were content to enjoy our beach, villa, pool and massage tables.
The spa services, as in every earlier stop, were excellent; the surroundings beautiful and quiet; the staff absolutely delightful and eager to grant our every wish. Way too quickly our 4-night stay was over and we were sailing away watching the smiling staff waving goodbye from the dock.
Refreshed and renewed, it was on to HCM city where another great driver and guide were waiting for us at the airport. Our driver expertly navigated through the buzz of motorbikes and delivered us to our large and lovely 2-bedroom suite in yet another fabulous hotel, The Caravelle.
HCM City is a vibrant, modern city offering great shopping, too many wonderful restaurants to choose from and an array of activities. Shifting immediately into “Shop ’til you Drop” mode, we filled our ever-expanding suitcase with many purchases. We did stop shopping long enough to take a daytrip into the Mekong Delta.
At the last minute, we also decided we couldn’t leave Cambodia without the experience of seeing Angkor Wat from a helicopter.
Alas, our fantastic journey had come to an end. Today, when we think of Vietnam and Cambodia, memories come flooding back of all the warm, friendly people we met; the hotels that rivaled the best in the world; some of the most fabulous food we’d ever tasted (not one bad meal in the entire trip!); amazing sites and beautiful scenery. Our journey had all the elements we desired – from adventure to luxury, seclusion to cities. Every stop was perfect. Our only complaint was that we couldn’t stay longer and see more, but that simply means we have to return.
As an ancient Vietnamese proverb says: “Venture all, see what fate brings.”
We say to all our fellow travelers of the world: You couldn’t pick a better place to venture to than Vietnam and Cambodia to fulfill every kind of travel experience.
Pham Ha of Luxury Travel told us to describe our dream trip and he would make it happen. He was a man of his word.
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