After a restful night aboard the Victoria Express, we arrive at Lao Cai Station as night fades into day. We are welcomed by our driver and start the one-hour journey to Sapa as the sun comes up. Even though it’s early, it’s a lovely way to start a relaxing weekend getaway in this former hill station.
Surrounded by mountains, rivers and rice fields, and located 22km by road from the centre of Phong Nha, Chay Lap Farmstay has the benefit of location; it’s next to the entrance of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, 3km away from Dark Cave, 4km away from Mooc Stream and just 6km away from Paradise Cave.
With so many good accommodation options and places to see within a short distance of Ho Chi Minh City, it can be difficult deciding on where to go. Perennial favourites like Phu Quoc, Dalat and Hoi An are a quick hop away by plane. Vung Tau is a short drive these days or 80 minutes by boat. Likewise, it doesn’t take long to get to the Mekong Delta cities of Ben Tre and Can Tho further south.
In a country with 3,444 km of shoreline, a beach would have to be pretty special to stand out, right? So what’s so special about Nha Trang? OK, tick the boxes. Six kilometres of fine white sand set against a backdrop of forested hills. Clear turquoise water. Excellent swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Catamarans, diving equipment, surf boards, paddle boards, kayaks, para-sails, and wind kites up for hire. Massages and beauty treatments available at the wave of a hand. Food and cold beer on demand. Seafood galore — what’s not to like?