A feast for the senses and for the eyes, the warmth and colour of Vietnam makes the longer flight worthwhile. A firm favourite for many years within South East Asia, Vietnam is an ideal choice for both newcomers to this part of the world or those who are familiar with Asia. Being such a long thin country, this does mean that it covers various weather patterns with the consequence being that it is very much an all-year round destination as there will always be a part of the country enjoying good weather. However of course, in our winter months back in the UK it does make an ideal choice for an exotic and intriguing adventure or escape as temperatures are guaranteed to be a great deal warmer than back home!
Whether you hanker for a bustling street market, a healthy dose of ancient and modern culture or simply to relax on one of the many idyllic tropical beaches you will not be disappointed. Below are just a handful of highlights to make up a fascinating insight into Vietnam:
Begin in gracious Hanoi, the heart of old colonial Vietnam with its French-inspired architecture and lively Old Quarter, full of colourful sights, smells and sounds. From here fly south to Hoi An, a vibrant coastal town known for its temples, traditional fishing industry and silk production. Perhaps take a cooking class or have a beautiful new outfit tailored for you in 24 hours. In Hoi An it’s possible to stay nearby on the beach or in the town itself within easy walking distance of the centre, however if you are travelling during our winter months I would recommend staying in the town as the South of the country enjoys the warmest weather at this time of year.
Fly on to Saigon where you’ll find a number of very worthwhile and indeed world-famous sights such as the War Remnants Museum and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Nearby you can easily visit the Cu Chi Tunnels (a series of underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War to escape American shelling) and the colourful Cao Dai Temple in an easy day trip. I would also recommend a cruise on the Mekong Delta whether for a day trip or overnight. Your visit would be incomplete without spending time on one of the country’s idyllic beaches and a direct flight links Saigon with the Con Dao Archipelago. Here you will find Six Senses Con Dao; a luxurious, all-villa resort offering five-star service, private plunge pools and superb food surrounded by emerald, forested hills and set on an endless white sand beach within a beautiful protected marine park.
I have extensive knowledge throughout Southeast Asia and have access to some of the best ground handlers and guides, so whether you want to relax on a sun-drenched beach, experience the country’s cultural life, learn how to make your own pho (beef noodle soup) or do a bit of all of those things do get in touch to start planning your dream holiday.
Often overlooked as a destination, The Philippines boasts some of Asia’s most spectacular beaches and coastlines. Combine that with wonderfully friendly people and a fantastic selection of beautiful hotels and in my opinion you have the perfect winter sun destination.
Being a diving enthusiast, the incredible diversity of dive sites in The Philippines is an obvious draw: from the world class Apo reef through to the Second World War Japanese shipwrecks of Coron it really is a divers paradise. Aside from the diving though, islands such as Palawan are hard to beat in terms of their beauty and sheer idyllic setting. In the North of Palawan you will find a small collection of high quality properties owned by El Nido resorts, all within easy reach of El Nido town and all with their own unique style but each offering wonderful comfort with many of their rooms being overwater. If it is something much more exclusive that you’re after then you would be hard pushed to find a more spectacular private island resort than Amanpulo, which is again located close to Palawan.
Many people look straight to the tiny island of Boracay when travelling to the Philippines; with its picture perfect white sand beaches you can see why and here there is a wide choice of great hotels but if you are looking for something a little more peaceful then I can highly recommend the small island of Panglao which is attached to Bohol (an island famous for their ‘chocolate hills’ – so called by an American who thought these perfectly rounded hills looked like Hershey’s chocolate drops!).
Finally, if you are keen for more land-based activities then travelling up into North Luzon will be for you, where you can find the incredible Banaue rice terraces and the mighty Mayon volcano. Our Winter months are a perfect time of year to travel to the Philippines and with direct flights now available from London to Manila with Philippines Airlines, now is a perfect time to go so please do get in touch if I have sparked your interest in this wonderful country.
Few countries are able to conjure up such diverse scenery and variety as New Zealand. Being on the other side of the world, our Winter is perfectly in time with their Summer making it an ideal time of year to travel. I may be slightly biased as one of my sister’s has lived in New Zealand for over 12 years, however I really do think that there is nowhere else in the world quite like New Zealand.
You certainly don’t have to be an extreme sports enthusiast to travel here, although for those that are then you will be spoilt for choice throughout the country but especially around Queenstown in the South Island which is of course home to the world famous bungy jumper AJ Hackett. If you have any interest whatsoever in food and wine then you can comfortably relax in the reassurance that you won’t be disappointed with what the kiwis have on offer. Likewise, the incredible diversity of scenery will leave you open-mouthed; from the high mountains of the Southern Alps, right down to the depths of the Fjords and from the vibrant cities to the peaceful and verdant countryside.
Being a relatively small country, makes New Zealand a perfect self-drive destination and I believe that this also gives you so much more freedom to explore, especially in a country with so much space! As far as accommodation is concerned, there is now a world-class selection of luxury lodges to choose from throughout the country where you will be guaranteed to eat well, sleep well and drink well. If you’re looking for something more low-key, there is also a great range of charming B&Bs, or if you’re feeling that bit more adventurous how about hiring a motorhome and really getting off the beaten track? Sadly it isn’t quite possible to park up absolutely anywhere any longer (this used to be possible until fairly recently), around every corner is a new and awe-inspiring view so you will never be disappointed with your overnight spots, wherever they may be.
There is still good availability to be found throughout our winter months in New Zealand, so if you think this part of the world appeals then please do get in touch to discuss your potential trip with me in more detail. Please feel free to email or call me at any time.