The backpacker trail in Southeast Asia has legendary stop-off points at every step. Opened three years ago, the leafy, Easy Tiger hostel in Phong Nha has already etched itself a place in folklore.

Nestled away in Yen Bai province, 170km from Hanoi, on the banks of the quiet Thac Ba Lake, is La Vie Vu Linh. It’s an eco-lodge, built according to local traditional techniques in the midst of the Red Dzao minority Ngoi Tu Village. It promotes eco-tourism in harmony with the local population and the environment.

When Ben and Bich Mitchell first opened Phong Nha Farmstay in December 2010, the local consensus was that they had a screw loose.

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Needing two flights to reach a destination for a short holiday is never a comfortable experience, yet Sofitel Luang Prabang was worth much more than that effort.

Photo by Julie Vola

I often find myself wishing I could live in a hotel, but I suppose if five-star service and soft pillows became your day-to-day, it wouldn’t be as special. So I settle for those rare staycations, when you just need a break from it all and someone to take care of everything for you, even down to the q-tips and the hand towels. I check into a nice hotel on a Saturday night, bask in the rain shower, order wine to the room, and prance around in a big white robe. It’s more relaxing than a vacation, really, because you don’t even have to travel.

Photo by Trung Del

La Veranda smells like lemongrass. It feels like the home of French aristocrats in 19th-century Vietnam. Fitting, as this Accor-managed, four-star resort on a private strip of Phu Quoc’s Duong Dung Beach was built 12 years ago by a French-Indochine family with four generations of history in Southeast Asia. The resort’s 70 rooms face west onto the Gulf of Thailand, which translates into idyllic tropical sunsets.

Mia Nha Trang. Photo by Nick Ross

Everyone loves a beach holiday; cocktails and beer by the pool, swimming in the sea, sunbathing on the sand, freshly cooked seafood on the terrace. People love it so much that they fly thousands of miles for the pleasure. Yet for those of us who live in Vietnam, it’s right on our doorstep.

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