Vietnam is quickly becoming a hot spot for tourism in Southeast Asia and for a good reason. Not to be biased, but both my husband and I have seen the most amazing sceneries, eaten the most delicious dishes and met the most beautiful people throughout the country. Not to mention, prices are great! Hotels and guest houses start at $15 to $20 a night for a double room, even cheaper at some locations. Food can be as low as a dollar for a meal with noodle and ice tea. It’s like frugal people’s paradise!
We do not always stick to the minimum budget. And of course no way for our first anniversary. We didn’t want to break our bank, especially when the payment plan was set in motion. However, a bit of luxury is what we need to mark our first year together as a married couple.
Unlike Saigon, where it is easy to pick a weekend trip destination throughout the year, things are not that easy in Hanoi. First, the cold weather makes it unwise to go to any beach destinations like Halong Bay. So half of our choices were quick to be tossed out of the window. Since the beaches are out, the mountain area is in. Here are our top picks for a quick weekend get away from Hanoi:
1. Weekend getaway destination from Hanoi: Tam Dao
Tam Dao is a great little town about 2 hours from Hanoi. It’s a quaint little town with not many things to do, but famous for the cool atmosphere all year round. Perfect for cuddling! There are some waterfalls, and hiking routes. Originally set up as a resort town for the French government back in colonial time, the town features a romantic French look here and there. It would be fun enough just to take a stroll along the streets and take pictures together.
Tam Dao fell short on our list though, because the main accommodation is budget guest houses and tiny hotels. These are great for budget, but falls a little short on the romantic/luxurous requirement. Plus we have been to Tam Dao before, so we were looking for somewhere new. Nevertheless, if you only have a couple days, it is still one of the cool location to visit.
2. Weekend getaway destination from Hanoi: Sapa
Sapa is mostly know for trekking tour and has one of the most amazing sceneries in the country. Pictures of its rice fields can be found on every big travel magazines in the world. The town is heavily commercialized, which means food and accommodation are greatly available. The authenticity of the tribal lives and natural sceneries, however, are still mostly untouched when you travel further into remote villages.
As mentioned above, Sapa offers a great range of accommodation and activities. We also had one of the best barbecue meals there. It’s a little further away from Hanoi. You would have to take a train for 10 hours, then another hour on a bus to reach the destination. Last time we were there, we stayed at the Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa. The place is slightly on the higher end, so prices can be stiff, but the service, location and hotel ground is impeccable.
3. Weekend getaway destination from Hanoi: Mai Chau
Unlike other places, Mai Chau is new to both of us. Often, the destination is only new to my husband, and I would know the place inside out by visiting it many times already. Now it seems like he has caught up with me in the travelling department! I have show him almost every place I have been to in Vietnam, and we can see something new together. A great way to mark off an important event for us as a married couple.
Mai Chau is nowhere as developed as the other two tourist towns. Which means, services and accommodation choices are limited. However, the life here is still very simple, very authentic.
We managed to score a deal with our travel agent to book at a newly opened resort called Mai Chau Ecolodge. The place offers panorama view of the valley right from our bedroom! By choosing Mai Chau as our destination, we saved on flight costs, and were able to splurge on accommodation instead. It also allows us a more relaxing experience without the hustle and bustle of an airport.
Next post will feature some more pictures of Mai Chau and why we would definitely recommend it as a romantic getaway.
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