South Vietnam – Sea, Spa and Soul

by Nigel D’Sa / Photos by Vincent Sung

The Cities and Resorts that Make the South Stand-out

Fusion resort Nha Trang

The southern coast of Vietnam with its secluded bays and pristine islands are among the top beach and culture destinations in Asia. Starting at the country’s midpoint with stately Da Nang and the cultural glory of Hoi An, we worked our way south to the golden beaches of Nha Trang, and then southwest to fabled Phu Quoc island.  Along this sensuous meandering coastline, the diverse characters of Vietnam come alive in vivid color while new innovative spa resorts raise the bar in luxury and wellness. 

For the best hotel rates in Vietnam, follow this link

Fusion resort Nha Trang

Da Nang – Hoi An

Situated at Vietnam’s halfway point and sporting a busy international airport, Da Nang is Vietnam’s coastal hub and a great place to start a journey.  Once a French colonial port, it is now the country’s fourth largest city and a major urban and economic powerhouse.  But don’t let that scare you – the city boasts some of the most beautiful beaches, and is in close proximity to the stunning Marble Mountains and the historical centers of Hoi An and My Son. 

Running through the city center is the picturesque Han River along which there are daily cruises. At night the illuminated bridges add special charm to the city, the longest and most famous being Dragon Bridge. Designed in the shape of a dragon, it changes colors and blows fire and water.  Nearby on the west side of the Han is the elegant café and dining district of Hai Chau. 

The main beach in Da Nang is My Khe, nicknamed ‘China Beach’ by American soldiers who enjoyed its long stretch of white sand and brisk surf.  Nearby are a plethora of seafood restaurants, surf shops, hotels and tourist activities to discover. Further down is Bac My An Beach, where many of Da Nang’s five-star resorts and spas begin and Non Nuoc Beach, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia.

Fusion Maia Da Nang

The pool at Fusion Maia Da Nang

Nestled between Bac My An and Non Nuoc is Fusion Maia Da Nang, a unique beachfront wellness retreat with private pool villas.  The first resort in Asia to offer an ‘all-spa inclusive’ service for all guests, Fusion puts the emphasis on wellness and the balance of mind, body, and soul at its luxurious and sublime Maia Spa.  The Signature therapies take a holistic approach that incorporates Reiki energy, crystals, warm coconut oil with light body brush techniques, along with aromatherapy, Himalayan heart stone, and homemade scrubs and body wraps using premium natural ingredients.  Maia Spa includes a nearby swimming pool, outdoor yoga, and tai chi deck, beauty salons, steam and sauna rooms, a wellness studio and lounge, and even a waterfall with a heated pool.  It’s a truly standout experience whether you are a first-timer or a veteran of spa regimes.  All guests are guaranteed a minimum of 2 spa treatments per day included in their standard room rate. Another highlight of Fusion is the buffet breakfast which offers an array of foods that, depending on your inclinations, can be decadent or detoxing.  If you need your beauty sleep and miss it, don’t worry – another innovative concept at Fusion is the ‘breakfast anywhere, anytime’ service. 

From Fusion resort it’s well worth catching a taxi to the nearby ‘Marble Mountains’ a cluster of five marble and limestone hills impressively laid out with pagodas, temples, stunning views, and deep caverns adorned with a variety of Buddhist sculptures and strange lighting. The resort also offers daily shuttle service to and from the ancient town of Hoi An.

For the best hotel rates in Vietnam, follow this link

Hoi An 

One of the must-see places in Vietnam, Hoi An is a gorgeously well-preserved port city with a rich history reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese shrines and temples, authentic Chinese shop houses, cut through with a winding river, and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge.  The old town is rife with tourism but never loses its timeless charm. There are a fresh food market, many boutique arts, and fashion shops, and by evening the streets and riverside are lit up by strings of colorful lanterns that deck the air with romance. A walk down pub street after dinner will soon have you chatting with other travelers as you sip from a glass of pastis, a fine way to round off your day.

For the best hotel rates in Vietnam – Hoi An, follow this link

Nha Trang

An hour south of Da Nang by airplane, Nha Trang is Vietnam’s premier beach destination with wide stretches of soft golden sand along one of the world’s most beautiful bays.  It’s also a city developed with tourism in mind and the central beachfront neighborhood has all the infrastructure you’d expect, from designer shopping centers to first class clubs and restaurants.  While this is somewhat at the expense of local flavors and traditions, there is still a lot to discover as you venture past the beachfront promenades and luxury hotels. Walk just a few blocks in and you will begin to see many local eateries with fresh seafood specialties, outdoor markets, marvelous pagodas, innumerable cafes, and local art, weaving, and wood carving workshops. 

A Vespa tour is highly recommended to see all the city and its picturesque countryside villages have to offer.  Don’t miss the Long Son Pagoda, a Buddhist temple which sits high atop a hill with great views of the city and sea below.  Nightlife in Nha Trang can run wild, especially at the central beach venue Sailing Club. It really gets going after midnight with live fire shows, an indoor and outdoor dance area, and dazzling clientele from around the world. For a more laid back evening, there are both stylish and cozy rooftop bars

While the beaches along central Nha Trang are known for their extravagant nightlife – waves of young Russian and Chinese tourists descend seasonally to party it up – those looking to get away from it all, needn’t worry.  Between Cam Ranh International Airport which services Nha Trang city, is a 50 km route spotted here and there with gloriously secluded beach resorts.  Among them, we found a resort that belonged to another time and place – truly a connoisseur’s best-kept secret. 

For the best hotel rates in Vietnam – Nha Trang, follow this link

Forgive us for sharing:

The Anam

We were more than pleasantly surprised by our sojourn at luxury beach resort The Anam – from entering the lobby to exploring the grounds we felt transported back in time to a bygone era of high craftsmanship, distinctive colonial designs, beautiful Moroccan-style tiling and exquisite attention to detail. Even the expansive golf-green lawns are painstakingly maintained and a pleasure to stroll on. The beach offers a lovely long stretch of golden sand with straw-made parasols and handsome wood beach recliners.

The staff was also very welcoming, highly trained and helpful. We were impressed by the working level of English many of the local attendants possessed. The German resident manager Norbert was very informative and gave us a charming tour of the grounds and of the offerings at Lang Viet Restaurant – the resort’s Vietnamese cuisine specialist which provides a culinary journey with regional dishes from north to south. Try the sweet and sour catfish and pineapple soup with a side of signature spring rolls. Simply mouthwatering.

Our 3bdr villa on two floors had terraces overlooking the private pool and a sloping stretch of green grass. The bathrooms were spacious and supplied with thoughtful quality amenities. Our favorite evening hangout quickly became the beach house sports bar with its sunset happy hour. Breakfast at The Indochine was an ample feast with premium selections of just about everything you might desire, along with fresh juices, fruits, salads, and cheeses.  The restaurant also serves a gourmet selection of Asian cuisines for dinner.

Indeed, fine food was an ongoing theme for us. At The Colonial, The Anam’s European restaurant, we had a discreetly customized dinner after chatting with the head chef the day before. The ambiance and service were refined to perfection. We enjoyed a marvelous evening with live piano, and an excellent wine pairing introduced by the head waitress. Saigon bar next door provided premium cocktails and rare spirits accompanied by live music as well. 

Overall The Anam was a vacation within a vacation. I can’t speak more highly of the ambiance and quality, the carefully selected art and furnishings, and the beautiful landscaping! With a variety of rooms and villas available, 3 massive pools, a blue lagoon, and even a 3D movie theater with daily screenings, of one thing I am certain:  it won’t be long before I return.  

For the best hotel rates in Vietnam, follow this link

Produced by Fluxus Agency