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The Dock of the Bay

The Dock of the Bay

On the other side of the bay is Nha Trang, its nighttime lights illuminating the sea. In front of it is one of two pools, this one an infinity version. A little way off is a saltwater pool, like a lagoon surrounded by sand. And beyond is a beach and tiny bay, with crabs scuttling among the rocks.

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Calling the Bluffs

Ho Tram Strip

After the overly public departure of MGM from Vietnam, what is in store for Ho Tram Strip, the massive coastal development 45 minutes north of Vung Tau? Nick Ross visits the resort formerly known as the MGM Grand and discovers a taste of Las Vegas on the coastline of Vietnam

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Eco Stays in Vietnam

While “green” is so often used as a marketing buzz word, Pascale Herry, from Buffalo Tours Agency, says that those claiming to be “eco” should meet some criteria, which includes a lodge being located at least 1,000 metres from a village so as not to interfere with local life.

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Ho Chi Minh City - International

Caravelle Hotel 

$$$$

19 Lam Son Square, Q1

www.caravellehotel.com

The only hotel in Vietnam to make the Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels. Facilities include the popular ninth–floor Saigon Saigon bar, Nineteen and Reflections restaurants, Club Vegas for a flutter, a swimming pool seven floors up and Qi salon and spa.

 

Duxton Hotel 

$$$

63 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 3822 2999

www.duxtonhotels.com

Right in the middle of town, the Duxton deserves its luxury appellation with all the features the tired business executive needs including pool, gym, spa, bar and fine dining. The rooms and suites are luxurious. Famous for its day–long rotating–menu buffets.

 

Equatorial 

$$$

242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5 ,Tel: 3839 7777

www.equatorial.com/hcm

Only a ten-minute drive from downtown Saigon, this big and businesslike property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting and function rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. Also has some of the biggest banquet facilities in the city and an on-site casino.

 

InterContinental Asiana Saigon

$$$$

39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3520 9999

www.intercontinental.com/saigon

Luxury accommodation with a stylish club lounge boasting panoramic views, as well as the finest meeting and banquet facilities in town — all designed with the savvy traveller in mind. The 21–storey tower includes 305 elegantly appointed rooms, including 18 suites and a Presidential Suite. Also has a separate tower with serviced apartments.

 

Legend Hotel 

$$$$

2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3823 3333

www.legendsaigon.com

You’ll notice the difference when you first enter the lobby here – the architect was in serious atrium mode when he drew up the design. There’s no shortage of space in the rooms, either, and a fine selection of dining, from buffets (the atrium again), to Chinese, Japanese and western.

 

New World Hotel 

$$$$

76 Le Lai, Q1

Tel: 3822 8888 

www.newworldsaigon.com

Its list of former guests ranges from U.S. presidents – two Bushes, one Clinton – to Korean teeny bop sensation Bi Rain. If Knut the polar bear came to town, he’d probably stay here. It’s an ongoing event as well as a hotel. Fends off newer, glitzier competitors to hold its place as one of the best luxury stops in town.

 

Park Hyatt 

$$$$

2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: 3824 1234 

www.saigon.park.hyatt.com

Fabulous–looking hotel in a prime location, with an attractive lobby bar and all the attention to detail you would expect from the Hyatt. But wait, there’s more. The Square One restaurant has garnered an excellent reputation as has the ground floor Italian-themed Opera, and Xuan Spa by the landscaped pool is unbeatable.

 

Renaissance Riverside 

$$$$

8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3822 0033 

www.renaissance–saigon.com

If you’ve never swum in a pool 21 floors up, you could rectify that at this luxury hotel by the Saigon River. As you would expect from a Marriott property, there’s plenty more here to appreciate – the full range of fitness, spa and business facilities plus Kabin, one of the best–regarded Chinese restaurants in the city.

 

Rex Hotel 

$$$$

141 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 3829 2185

www.rexhotelvietnam.com

Brimming with history and still possessing a certain fading charm, the Rex is now mainly populated by tour groups, while for the independent traveller it has been comprehensively overtaken in value terms. But its open–air fifth–floor bar is still one of the must–do experiences of the city, and there is now a great gym and spa area on the sixth floor as well. A recent renovation and the addition of the new wing has seen the entry of the top-end designer brands to the shopping arcade of this now five-star property.

 

Sheraton 

$$$$

88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3827 2828 

www.sheraton.com/saigon

Sheraton has bagged one of the best locations in town and made the most of it, with its usual mix of luxurious rooms and first–class facilities topped by an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor. The conference and business facilities are unmatched – the enormous ballroom is just one of 17 meeting venues.

 

Sofitel Saigon Plaza 

$$$$

17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3824 1555

www.sofitel.com

The Sofitel Saigon Plaza is the ultimate in French lifestyle, comfort and convenience. This 20–story building in downtown Saigon caters to upscale business and leisure travellers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon.  

 

Windsor Plaza 

$$$

18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: 3833 6688

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www.windsorplazahotel.com

Definitely the hotel with the most – its own shopping hub (including a bank), the city’s second biggest discotheque, several restaurants, a sauna, health club and business facilities, and superb panoramic views over the city when you take time off from all the other activities and make it back to your room.

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The Charms of Ho Tram

Ho Tram Sanctuary on the southeast coast of Vietnam

Covered from head to toe in a thin, slimy layer of eucalyptus oil and mangrove swamp mud, I feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator. Luckily, my fellow comrades and I are not playing cat and mouse with an extraterrestrial man hunter. Instead, we’re drying ourselves in the sun and laughing at the ridiculousness of our appearance while at the Binh Chau hot springs in Ho Tram, Ba Ria province.

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