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Tailormade Sales Manager Emily Bailey Chose a tour of Vietnam & Cambodia for her Honeymoon - read about the special moments that made this a trip of a lifetime...
“So where are you going on honeymoon?” a question you will hear time and again leading up to your wedding. Vietnam and Cambodia often got a response of “Oh – interesting” it may not sound like the “traditional” honeymoon destination but if sitting on the beach is not on the agenda then make your honeymoon a trip of a lifetime!
Welcome to Vietnam! We landed in Hanoi on the 1000 year anniversary of the cities birth and it was crazy! We had stumbled upon the event of the year, light shows on the lake and musical shows where everywhere. Hustle and bustle are complete understatements. Our hotel was a moment of calm – once a Chinese merchants house the Maison d’Hanoi is now a fabulous boutique hotel in the heart of the city. After a few days we knew this was a city we would never forget!
What we really needed was a bit of relaxation so we headed into the countryside, we were heading to Mai Chau, a little known area home to Thai hilltribes. The Mai Chau lodge was our base for the next few days, located on the edge of the village surrounded by rice paddies and views of typical Vietnamese scenery. The lodge offered a mixture of relaxation, culture and activities. On bike rides and walks we met locals, watched them work in the rice paddies, played football with their children and, during a tropical downpour, we were even invited in to their homes to have the local rice wine, well it would have been rude to say no!
Now fully chilled out, we moved on to the majestic Ha Long Bay. As we sailed into the bay of 1000? Islands we felt like the pirates of the South China Sea. We spent the afternoon on sea kayaks paddling through the calm warms waters surrounded by limestone castes as the sun set we headed back to the junk. The evening meal was course after course of fresh local fish, a perfect end to a wonderful day.
So northern Vietnam was done and we headed south, first stop – shopping! The destination – Hoi An. Here, every other shop is a tailors and 6 hours later we have two ball gowns, two suites, two pairs of trousers and two shirts all made to measure - now that’s what I call service!
Hoi An isn’t all about the tailors, it has great colonial feel with French influenced architecture, and a cafe culture combined with Chinese temples and, a short bike ride away, white sandy beaches. And best of all – no mopeds! As a UNESCO World Heritage Site the old town is being preserved so you can wander through the quiet streets at a wonderfully relaxed pace.
Next stop the capital – Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon. A name that conjures up visions of French colonial times and images of recent wars. My husband is into his war history so we had to include the Chi Chi Tunnels . And what an interesting place it was - we went into tunnels that the Vieng Cong spent years burrowed away from the American, saw the weapons that they designed to fend off the enemy and saw craters where B52’s had dropped their bombs. Not something most people do on their honeymoon but now I was intrigued and wanted to know more about the atrocities of the 1960’s.
So the next day we wandered through Saigon, first stop the Reunification Palace – the tanks that liberated the palace still sit on the lawn. A knowledgeable local guide takes us round the state rooms and describes how it would have been before the day that made history. Another must visit is the War Remants Museum, whilst inside is moving and has many images and stories of the atrocities the courtyard is home to the American armies abandoned helicopters, jets and tanks. The day was educational and I have learnt so much about the Vietnam War. Although a sombre day the many pit stops at French influenced cafes and bars made it bearable!
Now back to the present and the Mekong Delta, a day trip sees us bargaining some crisps and chocolate and bought us a watermelon at a floating market. Our private boat cruised through down the mighty Mekong and through its tributaries and canals. We see how this delta gives great trade to the area making popcorn and rice paper in abundance.
Now I need some beach time! Three hours from Saigon and we arrive and the Cham Villas at Phan Thiet, a wonderful resort. With just a handful of bungalows all set in lush gardens, each bungalow feels private and has a day- bed on the veranda, bliss! We have a few days to play in the sea and lie on a beach. And the restaurant has some of the best food of the trip so far!
So after three days on the beach we are ready to move on and Cambodia is the next destination. Whilst we were in the area we wanted to see Angkor Wat. We explore the fabulous Angkor temples, all so diverse and intriguing in their own way. We watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat and as the hoards head back to their hotels for breakfast we head into a near deserted temple. Our local guide produces the issue of National Geographic featuring the Angkor dynasty and Tim has a new best friend! We learn the stories of the bas reliefs and get into the centre of the temple and climb the steep stairs to the top, here there are views of the jungle that hide these awesome temples.
Now to Angkor Thom (better known as the Tomb Raider temple), in stark contrast the temple is still entwined with the trees that dragged it back into the jungle until recently discovered. Our guide has timed our visit so it is fairly empty – a theme that goes through the whole day.
We return late in the afternoon to the FCC Angkor, our base for our stay in Cambodia, a contemporary hotel that was once the Foreign Correspondence Club. The pool is sheer luxury after the steam of the jungle and the colonial feel means a gin and tonic on the veranda is a necessity.
And that was how our time in South East Asia ended, next morning we are on a plane homeward bound and the trip of a lifetime is done! My abiding memories of the trip will be that it felt like we were away for months, a few days in each place made the excitement of a new destination last for 3 weeks. So if sitting on a beach in a luxury hotel isn’t your thing then consider a trip like mine!"
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