Vietnam is easily one of the most exciting countries in the world. The vibrancy of the people, the dramatic scenery and the flavours of the cuisine are unmatched. Arriving in Hanoi our jet lag was swiftly banished as we walked the pedestrianised streets around Hoan Kiem Lake, watching bands of school children aged six to sixteen strutting their stuff in dance competitions; sashaying in camp modern dance routines, gymnastics performances, line dances, cheer leading and more. It was a vibrant mass of life as hundreds of pedestrians ambled past, soaking up the atmosphere.
The city of Hanoi is alive. Mopeds and motorbikes five lines deep wind their way around streets and pavements like ants, the cacophony of honking horns never stops, the fragrances of street-food vendors mingles with the heady heat. Yet there is a pervading feeling of safeness and order amongst the chaos. You are not hassled or harassed, the people are gentle and kind. Young children run up to engage you in conversation, with the sole intention of practicing their English as their mothers stand eagerly watching by.
This welcoming attitude continues throughout the country and is only enhanced by the captivating scenery. The famous Bai Tu Long Bay and Ha Long Bay which we visited are surely an eighth wonder of the world, on par with the lesser known Ninh Binh. Thanks to Hollywood’s 2017 rendition of King Kong, much of the area is now open to tourists and we braved two nights in a muddy lakeside hut, battling off snakes and mosquitos to explore this exquisite region. Throughout Ninh Binh, lush green karst mountains soar hundreds of metres into the sky out of fertile paddy fields. Waterways weave amongst them and we took a rowing boat to explore the caves and temples secretly hidden within. The views of the region from the top of Hang Mua mountain are seared into my memory.
The food in Vietnam is something else. From fancy restaurants to street food tours, we could not get enough of it. Beyond the crispy spring rolls and melt in your mouth beef pho we happily consumed daily, we tried sweet banana pancakes cooked until crunchy on a street-side fire pit, multiple iterations of Bun Cha pork and rice noodles, Dalat ‘pizza’ smothered in sweet chili sauce, deliciously sweet Vietnamese iced coffee (filled with condensed milk – YUM), Banh Xeo pancake with prawns and so much more.
After a lot of travelling, we could not have been happier to have ended up here at The Anam, Cam Ranh, having five days relaxing on the beach in luxury. With its immaculately landscaped grounds and palm tree avenues looking out to sea, The Anam is the perfect spot. The mattress thick sun loungers, shimmering infinity pools and beachside cocktails are exactly what we were after! Longing for even more Vietnamese food, we were delighted to discover that amongst its international cuisine The Anam has some seriously good Vietnamese cooking – especially thanks to the staff’s mamas! Yesterday the mothers of the employees came in to cook at one of the hotel’s beachside restaurants, as they do weekly, and it could not have been more delicious. Now we’re off to swim in the crystal-clear sea and soak up the sun as it is absolutely boiling here! Oh how we love Vietnam!