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Vietnam - Danang & Hoi An

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Holiday-makers and travel enthusiasts!

There is probably no more challenging, (and at the same time satisfying) task in life than planning your next big holiday. Whether you are single and looking for a great adventure, a couple wanting a romantic getaway or a family group looking to meet multi-generational needs, the choices are limitless - and sometimes plain impossible!

As Head of Product for Travelscene American Express, I have the luxury of regularly talking to travel suppliers and destination specialists to find that "perfect holiday". Now I am not saying that this makes my decision making any easier, but being able to talk to somebody who has actually travelled to these destinations or properties sure does help me to ensure the investment I make on my next holiday is one that I won't regret - but more importantly is one that my family will enjoy.

Thankfully for you, this same advice is readily available from all of our Travelscene American Express Members across Australia! Remember - "without a travel agent, you are on your own!" The objective of my blogs, is to tell a story about my travels, and hopefully provide some inspiration for your next dream holiday!

Happy planning, and more importantly - Happy travelling!


TRAVEL DESTINATION #1: DANANG, VIETNAM


Damian Borg

Head of Product, Travelscene American Express

FLYING TIME: Sydney-Ho Chi Minh City (8hr 55m) - Flying Vietnam Airlines Ho Chi Minh City - Danang (1hr 15m)

DESTINATION REVIEW:

Last year I decided to introduce the family to South East Asia, and Vietnam. Some may say an unusual destination to travel to with 3 young children (Twin 9 year old girls and a 6 year old boy) as different cultures, language and cuisine can be a challenge for the little ones! A short visit to Ho Chi Minh earlier in 2011 triggered a strong urge to experience more of this amazing country and my search for a family, beach side holiday initially drew me to Vietnam's East Cost and fourth largest city, Da Nang.

Da Nang marks the halfway point between the capital in the north, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. Apart from some shopping highlights and historical sites, the main reason for most travellers staying here is its proximity to the well known China Beach, Lang Co Beach, Hoi An and My Son.

WHERE I STAYED: FUSION MAIA RESORT, DA NANG:

FUSION MAIA RESORT, DA NANGThe choice of hotels and resorts in this part of the world is plentiful, so my decision ultimately came down to a recommendation from our South East Asia specialist supplier, Travel Indochina. Located right on one of the world's most beautiful beaches, China Beach, the Fusion Concept is simple and unique, providing guests with a harmonious combination of "healthy living and indulging luxuries". This is a 5-Star Resort like no other, providing a choice of magnificently appointed accommodation, all with their very own private plunge pool and courtyard garden. If world class accommodation and location is not enough to entice you, then perhaps the inclusion of all Maia Spa services will! Yes, this is an all inclusive resort with a difference. For the duration of your stay, adults are entitled to 2 FREE spa treatments per day (per adult) at the Maia Spa, the largest of its kind in Vietnam. After a full day of beach, sun, shopping and eating, the Maia Spa is a very welcome sight for tired and weary bones!

ACCOMMODATION:

FUSION MAIA RESORT, DA NANGYou have a choice of 3 room categories at Fusion Maia, but regardless of your ultimate decision, either the Pool, Spa or Beach Villas will satisfy! Every villa comes with its own private plunge pool, courtyard garden and modern appliances - including your very own iPad with included wi-fi access! The villa's are large, and we found the 2 bedroom more than spacious for a family of 5 (with a roll away bed though)!

FOOD:

FUSION MAIA RESORT FOODThere are 2 restaurant options available at Fusion Maia, both offering a fantastic variety of local and western food at VERY reasonable prices for a high end resort. The menu here is amazing, and the food was absolutely authentic. Our kids were very happy with their choices also! If eating in-house is not your thing, there is a plethora of quality restaurants in the local area serving great, cheap food to satisfy any taste bud! The seafood is particularly good - but ask concierge or hotel staff to make a recommendation. Important to note that breakfast is included in your room rate, and you have the luxury of choosing to enjoy breakfast anywhere and at any time - by the pool, in your room or even at the Fusion Lounge in Hoi An!

WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

kidWhilst the resort does not specifically cater for children's activities, our children were never bored. The combination of games room, resort pool, beach and frequent day trips in to Hoi An and local villages not only kept the kids entertained for 8 days, but also provided them with a unique cultural experience which they couldn't wait to tell their school friends upon returning to Australia! Add to this the friendly and helpful staff, and it was certainly a holiday which delivered on all levels for us!

MUST DO'S:

1. Jack Tran's Hoi An Eco-tours (Fishing Village Tour)


2. Tailored Clothes and Shoes shopping in Hoi An


3. Make sure you find time to fit in all of your INCLUDED spa treatments!


4. Breakfast at the Fusion Lounge in Hoi An


TRAVEL TIPS:

I obtained my visa from My Vietnam Visa. The process was very simple and certainly less expensive than alternative methods. However, ensure you download and pre-complete the arrival forms before you land, otherwise you will fins yourself spending a considerable time in the customs lounge doing this!

Be sure to leave yourself at least 2 hours connection time if transiting through Ho Chi Minh City. Customs procedures are not as fast as many other countries and will slow you up

The domestic airport is right next door, however still a 15 minute walk away and with luggage can take longer.

As you are making a domestic transfer, you will not be allowed to carry on any liquids. So if you have purchased duty free alcohol or perfumes/aftershave, make sure you put them in your checked luggage!

Whilst the local curreny is the Vietnamese Dong, US Dollars are widely accepted (in fact, I paid for the majoriity of things in USD! I travelled with a US$ Mastercard Cash Passport which was a convenient form of payment.

SUMMARY: Da Nang has been on the holiday map for a long time, and thankfully has not been over-run with tourists like most other Asian Beach destinations. I enjoyed everything about this holiday, the people, the food, the sights and importantly the value for money (the Aussie dollar goes a very long way!).

Its proximately to Hoi An provided us with the opportunity to venture in to the ancient town for our shopping 'fix', which is a must for tailored clothes, shoes and souvenirs. But it was great to know that we were able to get back to the privacy and seclusion of our resort and away from the tourist crowds after a long day of haggling!

I could not fault Fusion Maia nor the all inclusive Spa concept. We all enjoy a bit of pampering when we go on holidays - but to have it included is a perfect value add. Given food and eating in general is very affordable in Vietnam, included spa treatments is certainly better value than the usual included meals!

WANT TO KNOW MORE OR BOOK?

TRAVELSCENE AMERICAN EXPRESS can help you plan and book your next Vietnam Holiday, and this amazing Fusion Maia property which is available through Travel Indochina!

Call 13TRAVEL (13 87 28) to speak to your local Travelscene American Express Member or visit http://www.travelscene.net.au/

(Source from www.travelscene.net.au by Damian Borg)

Tags: activities, adventure, culture, destination, eco tourism, eco trip, ecotour, experience, fishing, food, garden, Hoi An, local, Quang Nam, rice, romantic, sea, seafood, tourism, tourist, travel, Viet Nam, village.