Sarah our Digital Manager went out to Vietnam in May.
I arrived in Saigon Airport feeling better than anticipated after my very comfortable overnight flight with Thai Airways in Royal Silk Class. First stop was the wonderful Six Senses Con Dao. The Con Dao archipelago is a hop, skip and a 45 minute flight from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in the south of Vietnam. The resort is laid out along a pristine, long sandy beach between the mountains and the sea. The impressive villas have a contemporary design and all have private infinity pools and ocean views of the beautiful bay. I stayed in a stunning Oceanfront Villa with an incredible panoramic view of the bay, as evidenced by the photo below.
View of the bay from Oceanfront Villa
Six Senses Con Dao is on Con Son Island, the largest in the archipelago and has a dark history that belies its dreamy beauty. For more than a century, it was used as a prison base for political prisoners first under the French, then the South Vietnamese and finally the Americans. A tour round the prisons is very worthwhile, if somewhat harrowing.
Phu Hai Son Prison, Con Son Island
I would definitely recommend trying a Vietnamese cooking class. While I wouldn’t say that I mastered the art of Vietnamese cuisine, the class was great fun and at the end it was hugely satisfying consume the fruits of our labour. I’m not generally one to photograph my food but this was an exception! Please note progress from the first dumpling like effort on the left through to the fine specimen on the right.
Vietnamese hand rolls (goi cuon)
Six Senses Con Dao offers some fantastic destination dining options – it seems almost anything is possible so worth asking if you have an idea in mind! We enjoyed a superb meal in By the Cellar, which included what I think must be the most fantastic steak I have ever had! The traditional Vietnamese Hot Pot at By the Market Place is a really fun interactive experience. I became slightly addicted to ubiquitous and delicious Vietnamese iced coffee (café sữa đá) which is made with condensed milk and if you try it at Six Senses Con Dao it will be served with an eco-friendly hollowed out lemongrass straw.
From Con Dao, I then spent a night in Ho Chi Minh City. I was somewhat confused about how best to refer to city as both Ho Chi Minh City and the old colonial name Saigon are still in use. Some questioning revealed that the Vietnamese call the wider city Ho Chi Minh City but refer to District 1 as Saigon.
View from Chill Sky Bar in Saigon
Vietnam, and particularly Saigon, seems to have really embraced the concept of the rooftop bar so there’s a great selection from the new, opulent Chill Sky Bar to the iconic Saigon Saigon Bar in the Caravelle Hotel. The draw of a rooftop bar in Saigon is not just a view of the city but also a refreshing breeze.
I flew from Saigon up to Nha Trang on the central coast. Although it is actually on mainland Vietnam, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is only accessible by boat so there is no-one else around and it really feels like you are arriving on an island. Ninh Van Bay is the epitome of the wonderful Six Senses barefoot luxury. I stayed in a Beachfront Pool Villa, which has a secluded private garden and direct access onto the beach, and an outdoor shower (as does the accommodation at all Six Senses Resorts). There are also some fabulous Water Pool and Rock Pool Villas that are right by the water built on the sculpturesque granite boulders and Hilltop Pool Villas with spectacular views of the bay.
Water Villas, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
There is a wealth of experiences on offer here. Ninh Van Bay has its own coral reef just metres from the shore so you can snorkel straight off the beach. Depending on your tastes you can choose from island hopping, windsurfing, fishing, canoeing or perhaps a private BBQ on the beach.
Drinks by the Beach
The new beach bar (above) opened at the beginning of the year and is a lovely focal and meeting point in the centre of the resort, serving a pleasing range of beverages and light meals. There is also some almost hammock style net seating just in front of the bar where you can enjoy your drink from a semi-reclined position looking out over the bay (below).
View from the nets at Drinks by the Beach
If you would like to find out more about these wonderful properties and get some ideas for itineraries, go to Six Senses in Vietnam or of course you can get in touch with one of our Vietnam specialists to discuss exactly what you’re looking for.