Anantara Vacation Club helps you to explore top Asia holiday destinations by taking advantage of staying in Club Escapes properties with partner hotels such as Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and AVANI Hotels. To help plan your exotic holiday in Vietnam, we’ve asked four general managers of leading luxury resorts throughout the country to share their best insider tips, tricks and recommendations for truly experiencing an authentic Vietnam.
The Best Luxury Destinations in Vietnam
Originally from Germany, Nikolas Chazipetros (NCh), General Manager at the elegant seaside Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa, has been at the property for nine months.
Anthony Borantin (AB), the French General Manager at AVANI Quy Nhon Resort & Spa located in Vietnam’s stunning south central coast, has more than 20 years in the hospitality industry and has been at the AVANI property for nearly a year,
Christian Bernkopf (CB), General Manager of AVANI Hai Phong Harbour View Hotel & Spa in the northern city of Hai Phong, has been managing the property for almost two years.
In the charming historical town on Hoi An, Noel Cameron (NCa) has been overseeing the Anantara Hoi An Resort for two years and has a deep appreciation for the town’s cultural history and architecture.
Here’s what they have to say…
Q: Who is your property perfect for?
NCh: The Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa is an excellent choice for travellers dreaming of a luxurious escape by the sea. From world-class cuisine to indulgent spa treatments, we have it all. Our Executive Chef, Ms. Preeti Bomzon, is delighted to create private, personalised culinary experiences for guests, called “Dining by Design”, and “Spice Spoons” cooking classes during your stay with us. Of course, the onsite Anantara Spa features a selection of Vietnamese and Thai Signature treatments for the ultimate in relaxation.
AB: Those looking for leisurely week-long escapes love staying at AVANI Quy Nhon Resort & Spa thanks to its beautiful location and surroundings right on the beach.
CB: The AVANI Hai Phong Harbour View Hotel & Spa is ideal for business travellers and tourists alike as we are located in the centre of Hai Phong within close proximity to the city highlights. Hai Phong is a bustling Vietnamese city, the third largest in the country, but has managed to preserve its long-held traditions allowing guests plenty of opportunities to discover the local way of living. We’re also just an hour by car to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay – it’s a perfect day trip.
NCa: Anantara Hoi An Resort is an ideal place for travellers who enjoy discovering the authenticity of Vietnam and Hoi An Ancient Town. While staying at the resort, guests can learn conversational Vietnamese or sign up for daily yoga classes. The resort also organises boat trips along the river and walking tours to the Cham Imperial City of My Son or the Marble Mountain. For a relaxing day, the spa offers a wide range of beauty treatments and massages, however the highlight of any stay is the delight of the amazing Vietnamese cuisine from our bespoke Spice Spoons cooking class.
Q: Vietnam offers a number of diverse destinations and experiences – what are some of your favourites that you would recommend to Club Owners?
NCh: There are plenty of opportunities to adventure in Mui Ne and the surrounding areas such as a visit to the in Mui Ne, the famous lighthouse, The “White” and “Red Dunes”, a visit to the famous seafood market and more. Adventurous guests should take advantage of the array of watersports available such kite surfing, one of the activities Mui Ne is famous for.
AB: Of course, I would recommend staying at the AVANI Quy Nhon Resort & Spa – sunbathe on the private beach, take a dip in the cool clear waters and simply enjoy this exclusive property.
CB: Vietnam is a very large country and many tourists visit on set tours that simply don’t do the country justice. To truly discover Vietnam you should visit at least twice to explore the northern and southern regions. Halong Bay is internationally recognised as one of the most stunning places on earth and from Hai Phong you can easily visit Cat Ba Island and Ninh Binh.
NCa: Vietnam is a fascinating country. Due to its unique location, the country has inherited traditions from some of the greatest cultures in the world, such as Chinese, Indian and Arabic, that are reflected in the country’s diverse religions and architecture. Hoi An, in my opinion, is my favourite place! The city was once a flourishing port town where traders from Europe, Asia and the surrounding nations came to meet and exchange goods. Touches of Dutch, Chinese, French and Japanese influences made their way into the city’s architecture and are still well preserved to this day.
Q: What surprised you most about local surroundings and local cultures?
NCh: The warmth and amazing hospitality from the local people. People are always friendly and willing to help. As far as the place, I was blown away by the incredibly beautiful beach in Mui Ne and wide selection of amazing seafood that’s available year round! The motorbike traffic is always a surprise to newcomers as well…
AB: So much – the country’s dramatic landscapes, the authenticity and genuine care and concern of its people, and the incredible cultural sites.
CB: Vietnamese people are extremely friendly and open to foreigners. It is easy to start a conversation and mingle in a coffee shop, escaping the hustle of a long day. The Vietnamese spend a lot of their time outdoors and meet in small local coffee shops or teahouses. These are the hubs of social life and where friends and family gather together – you’ll find all ages and generations.
NCa: The Vietnamese people, and Hoi An’s local residents in particular, are humble and kind. Most often, you will find a smile on everyone’s face and they’re willing to engage in conversations just to help you, even if they do not know your language. In a tourist destination such as Hoi An, it’s surprising to see how well the locals preserve their culture. A large population of Hoi An are Buddhists and ancestral worshippers, therefore, on certain days like on the full moon and at the beginning of every lunar month, the town puts on a great display of candlelit lanterns.
Q: Name three things everyone visiting Vietnam should experience on their first trip.
NCh: In Mui Ne, must-see local attractions include the sand dunes, exploring the fishing village (visiting the local fish sauce factory), and discovering the famous Cham Tower.
AB: Visit the historical city of Hoi An, unwind on the wide, unspoiled beaches of Quy Nhon and get an adrenaline rush in Mui Ne.
CB: Vietnamese food, like pho, spring rolls and the local famous clay pot cooking, the rich Vietnamese coffee and the amazing landscapes of idyllic places like Ninh Binh.
NCa: The Vietnamese cuisine will entice your taste buds with its traditional spices and herbs, so try out new dishes. Spend a day like a local and stroll along all the streets for hidden gems. Vietnam’s cities and towns in general are still a big secret to many people, including locals. You’ll be amazed by what you encounter and the stories you take home. For souvenirs, take advantage of purchasing local handicrafts including ceramics, wood products and incense. Most production is still done primarily by hand, from the sourcing of the materials to the finished product.
Q: What is your favourite Vietnamese dish and why?
NCh: Local fresh spring rolls – definitely a must try! They’re simple, healthy and delicious.
AB: Mrs. Tai 10 spices grilled chicken; it’s incredibly succulent.
CB: Sea bass with lemongrass. It’s simply the best way to eat fresh fish.
NCa: Traditional Vietnamese goi du du is a satisfying combination of shredded green papaya, coarsely chopped basil, and strips of sweet and spicy kho bo (beef jerky) doused with a spicy soy-based sauce.
Q: If Owners have two days at your property, what would you recommend as an itinerary?
NCh: Book a villa and enjoy a relaxing mini shoulder massage upon arriving at the resort. Enjoy a private “Dining by Design” experience your first night, then the next day learn how to create classic Vietnamese dishes yourself through a “Spice Spoons” class. Afterward, indulge in a Vietnamese Signature Spa Package to completely relax and recharge.
AB: Make the most of being on the beach by going kayaking and relaxing by the ocean before taking a Vietnamese cooking class and booking time at the spa. In the evening, savour a beachfront seafood barbecue. On day two, start your morning with a tai chi or yoga class before going on the Xung Hai Fishing Village excursion, snorkelling in the clear waters and enjoying a private gourmet dinner right on the beach.
CB: First head out to experience the beauty of Halong Bay and then enjoy a city tour in Hai Phong with stops at a famous authentic teahouse, then a delicious Vietnamese dinner in our Nam Phuong Specialty restaurant. On your second day, take a trip to Cat Ba Island including a fresh seafood lunch and national park hike. While back in Hai Phong, explore the local market before taking a cooking class at the hotel and ending your stay with a luxury spa treatment.
NCa: Wake up to a fresh buffet breakfast at our Lanterns Restaurant where guests can enjoy a selection of both Western and Vietnamese favourites, then head out to My Son Sanctuary and discover what was once a great city of the Cham Empire. For adventurers, borrow Anantara Hoi An Resort’s complimentary bikes and enjoy a leisurely cycle to the sanctuary. Back at the resort, enjoy our Signature Anantara Spa treatments before a memorable “Dining by Design” private dinner. The next day, wake up early to discover Hoi An in the morning breeze – you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled back in time to the 18th century. Make your way through the town’s handicraft shops for souvenirs to take back home for your loved ones. In the afternoon, participate in our “Spice Spoons” cooking class where our chef will guide you through a thoroughly delicious culinary experience. In the afternoon, bring your good reads, order a drink and chill out by the pool. At sunset, stroll along the lovely An Bang Beach, just ten minutes away.
Q: What would be your top three travel tips for those who visit Vietnam?
1. Due to the traffic congestion in Vietnam, just relax and enjoy the “ride” the “rules” and “go with the flow”.
2. Choose Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa for your stay – you’ll love your time here.
3. Explore the region and create memories that will last for a lifetime!
1. Carefully plan your trip to make the most of your time here.
2. Limit your travelling to three main destinations for a two-week holiday – you don’t want to try and fit so much in that you can’t fully enjoy it.
3. Be ready for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and incredible moments!
1. Be clear on distances in Vietnam and time consumed by travel so you don’t spend your holiday travelling between places.
2. Focus on certain areas rather than trying to visit everywhere during one trip.
3. Spend enough time in a place to get off the beaten path and meet the local people to see their way of life.
1. Check the weather so you can plan your daily itinerary. You don’t want to go sightseeing when it’s raining or getting too hot in the day.
2. Make sure to carry cash with you at all times. For Vietnamese people, cash is still the most convenient and popular method of payment.
3. Ask the resort for advice on where to travel and eat. Suggestions in travel guidebooks cannot compare to local knowledge!
Ready to plan your dream vacation in Vietnam? Learn more about Club Escapes destinations available on Anantara Vacation Club Escapes page.