Azerai Ke Ga Bay, Vietnam, is an oceanside sanctuary of peace and luxury, with a private beach and expansive ocean views. Salt air and a cool coastal breeze permeate the warm, lush tropical setting of the complex. Set on 4.5 hectares, this white stone resort has clean air, open space, and serenity.

We recently attended the resort’s grand opening, where we enjoyed a weekend of exquisite traditional Vietnamese cuisine, delectable canapes, a barbecue that ensued around 14 courses and live entertainment.

This exclusive resort is a peaceful getaway from the hubbub of popular Vietnamese tourist areas; it is largely undeveloped, not yet a fledging hub of commercialism.

A 2.5 hour drive along a newly-built road from Ho Chi Minh City, this is the third Azerai hotel in Vietnam, developed by renowned hotelier, Adrian Zecha. Sister hotels include Azerai La Residence in Hue and Azerai Can Tho, which is set on a private island on the Hau River and in the Mekong Delta.

Ke Ga Bay is an undeveloped, peaceful region

The hotel design is contemporary, spacious, and open. The original establishment has been redeveloped to create a seamless merging of the natural coastal surrounds with modern living. The Ke Ga Bay region feels untouched, and this resort nestles effortlessly within the unspoiled natural landscape.

It creates an ambiance of purity that feels in resonance with the local coastal natural elements. The building structures and furnishings have been sourced locally from native timber and stone.

The estate is expansive. Tropical leafy grounds line winding walkways, creating a maze through the tropical grounds. The tranquillity and quiet are perceptible.

It is a good walk from the spacious, open lobby, along the serene walkways which weave through verdant gardens, past several swimming pools, and into the capacious restaurant and bar area, which formed a backdrop for the two expansive swimming pools that overlook the ocean. This was framed by a five-kilometre stretch of white sandy beach.

The entrance to the restaurant structure is grand, lined with majestic, white alabaster pillars. It is spacious and open with modern, minimalistic furniture made of natural materials.

All of the 46 residential rooms and pool suites are secluded with private entrances and decks. They are light, bright, and airy; the décor is neutral in tone.

The bathroom was impressive with a large standalone bath, a shower, a separate vanity and dressing area with double sinks, and a separate toilet. The large wardrobe included luxury bath robes and slippers, and the towels were thick and fluffy.

Our private porch included a large white sofa from which to lounge and soak in the tranquillity of the green leafy surrounds.

We enjoyed a cocktail evening by the Ginger Pool, set among tropical gardens. Two frangipani pools provided another comfortable area to spend time basking in the sun, surrounded by leafy foliage.

The Oceanside pool offers uninterrupted views of the ocean, from which to take in the magenta, sapphire, and soft rose skies at dusk, which are reflected upon the infinity pool as the moon begins to rise.

The occasional Vietnamese wooden fishing boat can be spotted, as is Vietnam’s oldest lighthouse, situated on nearby Hon Ba Island, which can be visited by the hotel’s private boat tours.

Sunbeds, afternoon tea, and a la carte dining were offered poolside.

We sampled a variety of the menu which was extensive and delicious, including a barbecue of lobster, lamb, prawns, and steak; fresh, tasty salads; and traditional Vietnamese cuisine.

The breakfast buffet featured delicate pastries, fresh, juicy fruit, cheeses, cured meats, yogurts, and an a la carte menu that included perfect eggs benedict and a classic Western-cooked breakfast.

I experienced a delightful full-body massage at the resort’s Wellness Spa, which was rejuvenating – I came out feeling lighter and refreshed. Dawn yoga was also offered.


Vietnam is a fantastic place for families to visit! It is exciting, exotic, inexpensive, and offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, food, adventure, and fun.

I recently spent three weeks exploring this vibrant country with my 15-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. I felt it was largely an undiscovered destination for Australian families. We generally tend to visit Bali and Thailand, yet Vietnam is so accessible, cheap, and very interesting.

I spontaneously bought tickets on a whim one evening – $1500 for three of us including travel insurance to fly with Scoot Airlines via Singapore. What a great decision that was!

I wasn’t familiar with Scoot, Singapore Airlines’ budget carrier, but it was adequate, despite ingratiating reviews. It was, however, delayed several times and we were compensated with a $90 meal voucher at the airport. The flight was comfortable, professional, and drama-free.

We spent five days in Singapore en route to Ho Chi Minh City.

Downtown Ho Chi Minh City

There is so much to explore in Ho Chi Minh! After complications with my initial accommodation booking, we ended up in the backpacking District 1 – this in itself was an adventure, exploring the nightlife of discos and pole dancers, as we sauntered through the zesty, lit streets filled with music and action. The energy was high and colourful.

Shops and street food fare were open until the wee hours as a mix of tourists, backpackers, and locals took to their delights along the streets, dodging the motorcycles.

The biggest challenge I found in Vietnam was the traffic mayhem and the absence of English-speaking people. A translating app was a Godsend; and crossing the streets was a feat!

After a quick Google phone search, I found a local hotel that had a roof-top pool – this was a priority as the humidity was sweltering.

Cityscape from rooftop pool of Prague Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
Cityscape from rooftop pool of Prague Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City

We stayed at Prague, which was a budget hotel situated in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, within short walking distance to the nightlife, restaurants, and bars. It only cost $60 a night for the three of us and included a nice breakfast of fresh fruit, toast, cereal, and hot Vietnamese dishes. Fresh spring rolls to start the day were delicious! The rooftop pool was small but clean, and comfortably warm, and offered interesting views of the motley Ho Chi Minh cityscape.

Rip-off designer sunnies from Ben Thang markets and acrylic nails from street salon
Rip-off designer sunnies from Ben Thang markets and acrylic nails from a street salon.

I enjoyed having an assortment of cheap massage and nail salons on our doorstep. $18 for a terrific Vietnamese full body massage, compared with the $85 I pay in Perth, was a treat. We walked to the Ben Thanh markets and purchased impressive replica Prada handbags, Converse and Nike shoes, a North Face jacket, designer T-shirts, activewear, and Ray Ban sunnies.

We had a short-hour flight to Nha Trang for around $70 per head, where we soaked up the quintessential tropical palm-lined, enduring soft sand beaches.

The waves were abundant, and the water was warm. Nha Trang is an interesting centre – many Russian tourists and menus are written in Vietnamese, Russian and French. English speaking was sparse.

Nha Trang beach
Nha Trang beach

We stayed at Novotel, which was ideally situated beachfront in the town centre, so within walking distance to the markets where we bought $9 bikinis and $18 pearl necklaces. The food was exotic and experimental as we deciphered the local menus through a translation app. It was so cheap. Our first night, I had two large cocktails, the kids each had a mocktail and we shared three large main dishes for $20. The service was great despite communication challenges.

Peppered with bars and eateries on the sand, the beachfront in Nha Trang is terrific with bay views of the islands.

It is a resort town popular with the Vietnamese for holidays and international travelers. We were there in May during the Independence Day celebrations so accommodation was scant and travel services such as trains and buses were booked out. (It is advisable to reserve travel plans well ahead if travelling at this time, a rookie mistake I made.) We were unable to get a train or bus on our preferred dates and last-minute accommodation options were limited. We stayed at The Ibis, which was clean, modern and adequate, although not luxury.

Island views from Nha Trang beach

As such, instead of road or rail transport, we flew to the popular beachside resort city of Danang, Vietnam’s third largest city, where we stayed at a basic hotel, A25, for only $40. It was clean, included robes and tea and coffee facilities, an ensuite and breakfast.

I lost my credit card at an ATM in Danang and amazingly someone found it and tracked me down through the company details on my card. This was a great testament to the honesty and kindness I experienced throughout Vietnam.

I hired a private driver to take us from Danang to our next destination, Hoi An, which was an hour away and cost $20.

Hoi An night artisans

Hoi An is a magical city, rich in culture, the arts, and history. It is renowned for tailor-made clothing services. I could have a dress made to measure within 24 hours for under $20! The old town centre lights up at night with a buzzing nightlife, markets and artisans selling their wares. Iconic French-Vietnamese restaurants and music-filled bars are plentiful.

We stayed at Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa which was a perfect blend of traditional Vietnamese architecture, style, and sophisticated elegance. Nestled between the beach and lagoon, with water winding through the hotel grounds, and a sparkling swimming pool, there was a peaceful naturalistic ambiance that created a feeling of harmony and peace.

Poolside Victoria Hoi An Resort & Spa

We then had a fun train ride of 3.5 hours to Hue. I booked a second-class sleeper berth which was comfortable with six beds, which we shared with several local women.

The views were magnificent – high cliffs over the ocean, dense valleys and hilltops, and small villages amidst emerald fields and jungles, were the scenic entertainment.

Scenic views from the train

Food trolleys rolled outside our cabin and there was a small food service area that offered basic refreshments. I wasn’t game to try the local warm Vietnamese street food on offer but we enjoyed packets of nuts and popcorn.

2nd class 6 berth train carriage

Hue is unique – the Imperial city – abundant in culture and history. We visited the Citadel and took a tour of the old palace which had been home to 13 Emperors and maintained an aura of majesty and regal tradition. The tour was fascinating, learning about the old ways of Vietnamese royalty where one such Emperor had 400 wives and 142 children. I found the history of eunuchs disturbing, learning that adolescent boys born of servants were selected, and had their testicles removed without anesthetic medicine. Many other truths were shared including how the ancient civilization was destroyed by French colonialization, and again by US bombings during the Vietnam War.

Street food in Hue

Aside from the Imperial history, Hue is a rich hub of the Arts. The riverside markets display the artisanship embedded in this city – painting, jewellery, music, and fantastical food creations stream the walkway.

Azerai La Residence

We stayed at the majestic Azerai La Residence, which was the French Governor’s residence and then an embassy, and has since become a luxury resort offering 122 elegant rooms and suites. It offers views over the Perfume River and Citadel and is in close proximity to the downtown shopping and entertainment region.

Azerai Ke Ga Bay
Azerai Ke Ga Bay

We flew back to Ho Chi Minh City and drove out to Ke Ga Bay to the newly opened Azerai resort hotel. It is an oceanside sanctuary of peace and luxury, with a private beach and expansive ocean views. Set on 4.5 hectares of unspoiled landscape, this white stone resort has clean air, open space, and serenity. It has three swimming pools including an infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

After a few relaxing days at the peaceful coastal resort, we headed back to Ho Chi Minh City where we stayed in a modern two-bedroom suite at the Residences, Intercontinental Saigon. This is an exclusive luxury hotel with stylish décor, furnishings and modern facilities. The Residences are ideal for families due to their spaciousness and privacy.

Residences Intercontinental Saigon

We visited the War Museum which was a highly educational but very confronting account of the Vietnam War. It challenged my thinking on the allied forces’ (USA, Australia etc) involvement in the war. The atrocities were illustrated graphically – soldiers’ brutality, Napalm bombings, and Agent Orange – sights that sear the mind. My son didn’t fare well, he chose to sit outside through most parts, my daughter was silent but intrigued and I sobbed through the whole experience.

War Museum, Ho Chi Minh City

I met a local Vietnamese-Australian man, Linh Le, who is the owner of Luxperia, a bespoke travel company that specialises in tailoring travel packages to suit the individual. He was very helpful with our travel arrangements, including a fantastic tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels and a magnificent stay at Mia Saigon.

Cu Chi Tunnels

We took a speedboat tour down the Mekong River to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, which illustrated how Viet Kong conducted warfare from beneath the earth’s surface during the Vietnam War. It was incredible, eye-opening, and worthwhile.

Mia Saigon

We spent two delightful nights in the Presidential Suite at the superb Mia Saigon, a refined boutique hotel situated on the Saigon River. This was a luxurious treat to complete our wonderful trip through Vietnam.









Situated on the Saigon riverbank, Mia Saigon is a majestic boutique resort my two children and I recently had the opportunity to explore while visiting Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. This stunning hotel is a standout – a favourite of which I’ve had the privilege to be a guest, internationally. It offers an unsurpassed experience of luxury and refinement.

It is an elegant hotel, oozing luxury, and timeless class. Embodying early 20th Century Art Deco, the quintessential French Indochine architecture, fine décor and ambiance is a step back in time to colonial opulence, while also providing modern commodities.

Mia Saigon Ho Chi Minh City

We were escorted by the hotel’s private speedboat down the Saigon River where we embarked on Mia’s private jetty and into the luxurious estate of leafy green tropical foliage, two sparkling swimming pools, and stately alabaster façade overlooking the river.

The real treat was spending two nights in the magnificent Presidential Suite. This was an unequivocal luxury.

Entering the 5-Star suite, we were greeted with delectable high tea treats, fruits, and fresh flowers, and in the kitchen, we were presented with an array of complimentary savoury and sweet snacks and soft drinks, and top-shelf alcoholic beverages available for purchase. There was also a Nespresso coffee machine and milk frother.

Our Presidential Suite was expansive – 138 square metres, which encompassed a fully-serviced kitchen with a large eight-seating dining area, a refined lounge area with luxuriant sofas and a stylish bathroom, and a separate toilet.

There was a Bose Bluetooth speaker system and two 55” widescreen LCD TVs with cable TV as well as a 32” TV in the bathroom for relaxing viewing from the claw-footed bath.

The bedroom was decadent, including a writing bureau, King Sized bed, and river views.

It led to a dressing area, with robe and lavish bathrobes, and into the huge, stately marble bathroom, complete with a bath, separate shower, double sinks, a separate toilet, and Molton Brown bathroom amenities.

Our eighth-story residence had a huge private balcony that offered ample space for relaxation with a sofa, chairs, tables, and ambient lighting, from which to absorb the magical sunset views of the Saigon River and the hotel’s sparkling swimming pools and lush grounds.

The hotel’s restaurant, Kitchen by the River, set on the water’s edge, offered an open kitchen experience mixed with romantic outdoor dining. It serves an eclectic menu of fresh Western and Vietnamese a la carte cuisine, and a fresh, delicious breakfast buffet.

The rooftop Muse Bar is an exquisite setting of extensive river and city views over specialised cocktails and tapas.

The Mia Saigon offers a very serene and exclusive experience yet is situated in the trendy Thu Duc city region flowing with arts, culture, and swanky restaurants and bars. By taxi or boat, it is also a short distance to the bustling downtown highlights of Ho Chi Minh City to visit markets and historical landmarks such as the Palace, War Museum, and Cathedral.

My children and I recently had the pleasure of staying at the luxurious Residences at the Intercontinental Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We were met with a personalised greeting amid fresh fruit, sweets, and delicacies upon entering the magnificent, opulent suite. This IHG resort is modern and sleek – a favourite for discerning travellers as it is regarded as one of the city’s finest hotels.

Treats prepared in our apartment at Residences Intercontinental Saigon

The Intercontinental Saigon has two aspects – the regular hotel and the Residences, which are popular for medium to long-term residents as well as short-term stays. The Residences are ideal for families due to their spaciousness and self-contained facilities.

The Residences include luxury privileges such as private access, 24-room service, a laundry service, a private pool and fitness centre, and very spacious, self-serviced rooms.

We stayed in a two-bedroom suite, which was a massive 129-square-metre luxury apartment. It had a spacious living area, a fully self-contained kitchen and a separate laundry cavity, two bathrooms, and two massive bedrooms with large twin beds and the king suite included a lavish ensuite bathroom with a standalone bath, separate shower, and separate toilet.

The main bathroom was down the hall. Storage was plentiful. The décor was modern and sleek with up-to-the-minute mod cons, including a large TV and excellent sound system. The apartment felt very private and offered towering views over the bustling Ho Chi Minh City. Some rooms offered river or cathedral views.

Set in the bustling business centre or District 1, the location was ideal. We had a 7-minute taxi ride to the War Museum, which is a confronting but highly informative depiction of the Vietnam War. The Cathedral and Reunification Palace are also within close proximity.

Basilico Italian Restaurant

The hotel houses three restaurants. Basilico is an Italian restaurant that serves an extensive menu of authentic, Italian food (the fettuccine con fungi e pancetta was delectable). Yu Chu is the hotel’s signature Chinese restaurant which serves Cantonese and Peking cuisine and buffet dim sum. Market 39 is the hotel’s buffet restaurant. The breakfast buffet could satisfy any palate with pancakes, waffles and omelettes created on demand, fresh fruit and a multitude of fresh juices, and a delicious variety of Asian and Western hot dishes.

The Intercontinental Saigon Hotel can meet travellers’ needs and budgets through a variety of accommodation options including the Classic range, Club Intercontinental rooms, and the Suites Collection. While the suites are extremely luxurious, all of the room types are immaculate, spacious, modern, tastefully decorated, and very suitable for families.

The Intercontinental Saigon is a favourite choice for all types of travellers due to its style, luxury, elegant style, excellent location and top-notch facilities. It has two pools – one for the general hotel and an exclusive pool for the Residences. There are multiple function rooms, meeting spaces, a library, a media room and a Club Lounge that offers exclusive access to a genteel space with complimentary tea, coffee, juices soft drinks, afternoon tea, and alcoholic beverages and canapes during Cocktail Hour.

Intercontinental Saigon Club Lounge
Intercontinental Saigon Club Lounge

There is also a fitness centre and spa which offers facials, body scrubs and massages.

While traveling with my children in Vietnam recently, I was fortunate to meet Linh Le, the fun and knowledgeable owner of Luxperia, a bespoke travel company that tailors holiday experiences to the needs of the individual.

Principal of Luxperia, Linh Le, with Kate Durack, Offspring Magazine at Villa Royale Antiques & Tea Room, Saigon.

Linh is a Vietnamese-Australian man who was raised in Canberra and has been living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for 12 years. As such, he is a rich source of local travel information who also possesses a deep understanding of what appeals to Australian tourists. His intimate knowledge of travel opportunities in Vietnam, as well cultural understanding, make him a valuable resource for local travel.

Linh’s travel company, Luxperia, creates customised travel packages to suit a range of interests and travel styles such as art, culture, culinary, entertainment, adventure, and relaxation, covering everything from tours and experiences to accommodation and transportation. They will tailor travel arrangements according to travellers’ budgets from standard to high-end luxury.

Linh has many contacts in the travel industry and his friendly, affable approach makes him so easy to communicate with when trying to work out the most suitable places to visit in Vietnam and other travel destinations including Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, and Japan.

Army tank from Vietnam War at Cu Chi Tunnels

Linh and his team’s local expertise was very helpful, enriching our travel experience in Saigon. They arranged for a fabulous guided tour of the famous Cu Chi Tunnels – the fascinating underground tunnel system created during the Vietnam War by Viet Kong. This tour was so educational and interesting for my children and me and definitely a worthwhile experience for anyone visiting Ho Chi Minh City.

Cu Chi Tunnels

We arrived by speed boat which provided breakfast and a scenic tour along the Mekong River, during which we viewed the range of housing from elite mansions through to riverside shanty homes. Leaving the arrangements in the capable hands of Luxperia also meant we arrived early in the day for our private tour, compared with later in the day when it was swarming with people later in the day. When we finished the tour, we enjoyed a delicious hot Vietnamese lunch.

Another advantage of having Linh’s team involved with our travel plans was the personalised and VIP “fast pass” airport service which was seamless and stress-free. We were collected from our hotel by a private driver who took us to the international airport where we were met by a concierge who escorted us through check-in and a fast-track immigration process.

A real delight of our travel in Vietnam, also arranged by Linh, was our stay in the Presidential Suite at the exclusive boutique resort, Mia Saigon – a luxurious embodiment of olde worlde glamour.

Mia Saigon

Luxperia will create a tailored itinerary depending on a traveler’s interests, desires, and budget, and can be involved in a small part of a travel experience or an entire tour could include:

  • A sample itinerary for a family traveling to Vietnam could include:
    Day 1 Cu Chi tunnels tour by Speedboat
    Day 2 Saigon City tour – The Reunification Palace, The Opera House, Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Ngoc Hoang Temple.
    Day 3 Cruising the Tan Phong islet by a local rowboat. Lunch is served on board. Visit Cao Dai temple at Sa Dec and explore local markets.
  • Day 4: Visit the famous Cai Rang Floating Market
    Day 5: Da Nang. Visit the Golden Bridge, sightseeing Flower Garden, visit a former French wine cellar, Mythology Garden and Sakyamuni Buddha.
    Day 7: Hoi An. Visit the majestic Kwan Temple, Phuc Kien Chinese Assembly Hall, Tan Ky Old House, Japanese Cover Bridge, and the Historic and Cultural Museum. Traditional music performance and a visit to Hoi An’s handicraft workshop.

  • Day 8: Wooden boat tour to Cam Thanh water coconut village, learning about the daily life of Vietnamese fishermen, their families, and their community.
    Day 9: Phong Nha. Visit UNESCO-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Tour Elephant Cave, swim into Ma Da Crystal Lake, and visit Tra Ang Cave.

  • Day 10: Halong Bay cruise. Visit World Natural Heritage site Bo Nau Cave and Sung Sot cave and Titov Island.
    Day 11: Sapa. Visit Silver Waterfall, Heaven Gate and Tram Ton Pass, the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. Visit a lush farm in O Quy Ho where different kinds of vegetables, flowers, fruit trees, and medicinal plants are grown.
    Day 12: Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a historic Buddhist temple One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, and a Hanoi Street Food Tour.

Villa Royale Antiques & Tea Room

Villa Royale Antiques & Tea Room, Saigon

Linh and his partner, David, have also created Villa Royale Antiques & Tea Room – a gorgeous High Tea establishment in the trendy ex-pat area of District 2 in Ho Chi Minh City.

The range of fine teas is remarkable and David has extensive knowledge on the health benefits of various teas. These teas can be paired with delicious homemade cakes, slices, and pies, including Red Velvet cake, decadent chocolate, lemon meringue pie, and cheesecake.

The setting is worth a visit in itself. Olde Worlde colonial furniture, ambient lighting, and atmospheric music complement the precious antiques and collectibles, which have been sourced from around the globe, and are available to purchase.

I had the privilege of visiting Azerai La Residence in Hue, Vietnam with my two children. The hotel is a majestic, colonial resort set on the iconic Perfume River, named by the scent of flowers falling into the water from local orchards.

Azerai is specially located on the French side of the Perfume River opposite the ancient Vietnamese palace which housed the last emperor. A tour of this ancient citadel was informative and worthwhile and easily accessible from the hotel.

The Imperial city of Hue
The Imperial city of Hue

The original art deco mansion was built in the 1930s and was home to the French Governor of Indochina. It was a popular centre for political and social events before being converted into a resort.

Azerai is a stately, charming residence insinuating royalty, and has been accommodated by many dignitaries including the Princess of Sweden and the Japanese emperor and his wife.

Entering the majestic driveway set the tone for early last century opulence.

High ceilings, native timber wooden floors, ambient lighting, colonial furniture and regal décor created an experience of stepping back in time to aristocratic lavishness.

There were many regions to explore – a lounge area providing complimentary all-day tea, coffee, juices, cakes and fresh fruits; a bar area; a gallery featuring paintings of each Vietnamese emperor; and a classy restaurant that served delicious meals, including a buffet breakfast of fresh pastries, fruits, and international and local cuisine.

The hotel grounds are expansive, encompassing 2.5 hectares of natural vegetation surrounding manicured, tropical gardens.

Overlooking the Perfume River, the saltwater swimming pool was magnificent and the deepest in Vietnam, offering red sunsets through the riverside palm trees.

The hotel was expanded in 2005 to include two additional wings housing 122 rooms and suites.

We stayed in a Deluxe River View room which featured a large private balcony overlooking the lush grounds, swimming pool and river.

It was spacious and the tasteful art deco furnishings were in keeping with the exquisiteness of the hotel. The main bedroom area comprised twin beds, a large TV and adequate wardrobe space including luxurious robes and slippers. There was a separate sitting area with a coffee machine, high-quality teas, fresh fruits and a minibar. A single bed was provided for my son in place of the couch.

The hotel felt very serene and private, a peaceful sanctuary away from the active city, yet was in close proximity to the lively nightlife and local tourist attractions.

The former, imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue is a special place to visit, rich with Vietnamese history and French influence. The French colonial architecture throughout the city provided a romantic backdrop to modern, bustling contemporary living.

The restaurants were amazing, offering a fusion of Vietnamese and French cuisine.

The city has a thriving artistic community, with museums, historical tours and artisans showcasing their music and wares at evening markets. There were great opportunities to purchase original paintings, crafts and jewellery. The street food at the markets was sensational! Everything was on offer from frog legs to prawn and chicken kebabs freshly cooked on demand before our eyes, as well as the infamous Vietnamese rolled ice cream.

The hotel staff was amazing and very helpful. They arranged for a locum doctor to visit my room to inspect a wound and remove stitches I encountered while traveling.

I was also accompanied by the hotel accountant to the local bank where she helped translate and arrange funds transfer after I’d lost my credit card.

Azerai La Residence is a unique representation of the richness of the colonial and imperial history of Hue.





Hoi An was one of my favourite destinations in Vietnam and Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa, was a tropical oasis, offering luxury, peace and an authentic Vietnamese feel.

Hoi An is a fascinating ancient city, abundant with culture, the arts and shopping, including renowned tailor-made clothing options, which are quick, affordable and items made to measure. The nightly markets are vibrant and abuzz with activity.

In keeping with traditional Vietnamese architecture and style, this boutique hotel has a personalised signature, while maintaining high standards of luxury and modern commodities.

Victoria Hoi An is set perfectly between the ocean and a lagoon. The peaceful waterfront energy flows through the whole establishment.

Traditional natural elements construct the architecture with native timber, local vegetation and a stream flowing through the property, from the lobby to the pool area.

The spa facilities are excellent. There is free access to a bath steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and gym. Pampering services are also available.

We stayed in a Junior Suite Ocean View. Our room was exquisite with the ocean at our doorstep. We could hear the waves rolling onto the rocks at night and enjoy an un-spoilt sunset from the comfort of our own private balcony. It was private, serene and so peaceful.

We were greeted by a special ice-cold drink of lemongrass, ginger and dragonfruit.

Our accommodation was so spacious – a large living space with a couch, large TV, beds and another room with a traditional tea setting. There was an outdoor shower contained within our premises and the bathroom was glorious – a large bathtub and separate vanity area. The toilet was separate.

The swimming pool was magnificent, ocean set and surrounded by palm trees. There was bar and poolside service so readily available and the margarita was delicious. I liked the intimacy of this hotel. I met new people from all over the world and my kids made new friends in the pool.

The hotel also had a private beach.

The buffet breakfast was lovely, with a wide array of cheeses, cured meats, fruits, pastries, cereals and hot Vietnamese and Western dishes.

A twice-daily free bus shuttle to Hoi An city centre was provided as well as private tours to local natural and historical attractions such as Marble Mountain and pagodas.

It provided bicycles free for guest use to peddle into the city centre and options to tour the countryside and locally-grown produce on a motorbike sidecar.

The hotel also offered recreational watersports opportunities including sailing, surfing, windsurfing, kayaking and boat excursions.

The staff was exceptional. I made the mistake of losing my credit card in the neighbouring city of Danang and fortunately, a lovely man found it and tracked me down to return it. The hotel staff liaised with him and a local driver, providing a much-appreciated translation conduit, taking care of arrangements to have it delivered to me.


My children and I recently stayed at the Novotel in Nha Trang, which is a top pick for gorgeous ocean views and beach access. It offers prime residence in the hub of the energetic tourist resort.


Nha Trang is a 6.5-hour car ride from Ho Chi Minh City, however, we enjoyed a short one-hour plane flight which was inexpensive at just under $100 per head.

Situated in the heart of the city, the Novotel is fantastically located, downtown within short walking distance of evening markets, restaurants and bars. It is also conveniently located to museums, pagodas, scuba diving and golf.

Novotel Nha Trang has its own private beach, with glorious views of islands and sweeping white sands, lined with palm trees. Nha Trang beach was voted one of the 29 best bays in the world. The hotel offers island tours including boat rides to the Disneyland-like amusement park on Vinpearl Island.

The beach was a favourite hangout with bars and restaurants down on the sand. The water was magnificent – clean and warm with decent waves for swimming. The hotel provides free beach loungers.

We stayed in a family room that was comfortable and clean, with a King Size bed and bunks. The bathroom was spacious and included a shower and bath. There were fresh fruits, delicious cakes, and cute towel animal creations awaiting our arrival.

Delicious fruit and sweets awaiting our arrival.

We had a private balcony that offered impressive views of the majestic coastline, which lit up at nighttime.

The hotel’s room service offered an appetising menu and the freshly-cooked food was delivered quickly. All-round, the housekeeping was excellent.

Also with ocean views, was a clean, sparkling outdoor swimming pool with bar service.

The buffet breakfast was extensive with a range of international cuisine from exotic Vietnamese street food to sushi and traditional Western fare. Fresh fruits, juices and pastries were plentiful.

The hotel also included a classy spa as well as a gym and fitness centre.

The staff was lovely and informative about local services, which was helpful given English speaking was limited elsewhere.