Vietnam. A Tapestry of Timeless Tradition


Journey with us to the enigmatic land of Vietnam, where a mesmerising medley of cultural, natural, and contemporary experiences awaits the intrepid traveller. Once clouded by the tumult of war, this captivating country has since revealed a trove of multifaceted charms that have reshaped my perception and left an indelible mark on my heart.

From the lush terraced rice paddies to mysterious forests and serpentine rivers, Vietnam’s natural splendour is nothing short of breathtaking. The nation’s rich cultural tapestry, a seamless fusion of Asian and French influences, is beautifully woven into the very fabric of daily life, from its unique architecture to exquisite cuisine.

One such influence of the French colonial era is Vietnam’s thriving coffee culture. When the French arrived in the 19th century, they brought with them a passion for bold, dark roasts and a penchant for pairing them with creamy condensed milk to temper the bitterness. The Vietnamese embraced this novel pairing, and it has since become a beloved fixture in their coffee rituals.


Vietnamese coffee is celebrated worldwide for its exceptional taste and intoxicating aroma, owed in large part to the robusta beans cultivated in the highlands. These beans have a bold, rich flavour profile, with hints of caramel and nuts, which is further enhanced by roasting in butter or oil, which lends the coffee a silky, creamy texture. The traditional brewing method using a phin filter allows the coffee to slowly drip and meld with sweetened condensed milk, producing a velvety concoction. For a truly unique experience, indulge in a Hanoi-originated delight, “cà phê trứng” or egg coffee, where whipped egg yolks and condensed milk are blended with strong coffee, creating a rich, frothy and utterly delicious beverage.

Modern Vietnam is a country reborn, with pulsating metropolises like Ho Chi Minh City offering a fusion of traditional and contemporary charms. Culinary adventurers will find themselves in a gastronomic paradise as they explore Vietnam’s flavorful cuisine, marked by its fresh ingredients, bold flavours and regional specialities. Influenced by Chinese, French, and Indian gastronomies and shaped by the diverse bounty of the nation’s landscape, Vietnamese cuisine offers iconic dishes such as pho, banh mi, and banh xeo, alongside lesser-known but equally delicious delights like bun cha and ca kho to.

Once a nation scarred by conflict, Vietnam has blossomed into a peaceful and inviting oasis, eager to share its rich heritage and singular experiences with those who venture into its enchanting embrace. Whether you seek serenity, exhilaration, or cultural immersion, Vietnam promises a journey you won’t soon forget, and might leave you longing for more.


Welcome to the vibrant heart of Vietnam: Hanoi. A city where ancient traditions and modern flair merge into an exhilarating symphony of life, Hanoi is an exquisite destination for the discerning traveller seeking a unique, luxury experience.

As you step into the bustling streets of Hanoi, you’ll be greeted by a seemingly chaotic dance of honking horns, bustling traffic, and entire families gracefully sharing a single motorbike. Yet as you allow yourself to become attuned to the rhythm of the city, you’ll begin to understand the intricate choreography at play, with each participant moving in harmonious accord.

Beautiful Entrance At The Temple Of Literature (Van Mieu) Hanoi

Beyond the lively cityscape, Hanoi is an oasis of natural wonder. Lush vegetation blankets the city, as trees and plants burst forth from walls, roofs, and balconies, veiling entire buildings in a jungle-like embrace. Wander through the city’s picturesque parks and beside tranquil lakes – such as the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake – and you’ll understand why Hanoi is a beloved destination for both locals and visitors alike.

For the culturally curious, Hanoi is steeped in history waiting to be uncovered. The haunting Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” offers a poignant glimpse into Vietnam’s turbulent past. Our expert guide illustrated the resilience of the Vietnamese people, underlined by their enduring philosophy of “đi lên”, which means to move forward and embrace progress.

Delve further into Vietnam’s rich heritage with a visit to the Temple of Literature, the country’s first university, established during the Ly Dynasty in 1070. This magnificent complex of courtyards, pavilions, and ancient buildings is a testament to the nation’s reverence for education and traditional values. You’ll be transported to a peaceful world of beauty and wisdom as you explore the temple’s exquisite architecture and serene gardens.


The imposing Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is another essential stop on your Hanoi sojourn. This grand edifice on Ba Dinh Square, flanked by stately government buildings, houses the embalmed remains of the revered Communist leader. While some may find the concept of visiting mausoleums of embalmed Communist leaders a curious choice, it is undeniably a key part of the country’s history and identity.

Finally, lose yourself in the enchanting labyrinth of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where narrow streets and alleys beckon you with the aromas of authentic Vietnamese cuisine and the inviting warmth of traditional shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Hanoi is a city that caters to every taste and desire. Whether your passion lies in history, culture, nature, or simply basking in the electrifying energy of a thriving metropolis, Hanoi promises an unforgettable luxury experience that will leave you longing for more.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

In the vibrant heart of Hanoi’s French Quarter, the charming Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel invites you on a journey through time. With its storied past dating back to 1901, the Metropole has hosted a star-studded cast of characters from Charlie Chaplin to Jane Fonda, making it a veritable landmark of historic indulgence and elegance.

Upon my arrival after a long-haul flight, I was graciously welcomed and after a rejuvenating drink, shown to my room. It was a seamless blend of classic French style and modern comforts, serving as a sanctuary from the bustling city.

Fighting off jet lag, I found solace at the hotel’s serene poolside retreat nestled amid lush greenery. As I sipped a slightly more intoxicating beverage and dipped into the refreshing water, I felt invigorated, eager to explore further.


Le Beaulieu, the hotel’s prestigious restaurant, offered a sumptuous lunch menu featuring French classics with Vietnamese flair. The tantalising flavours and elegant ambience transported me to another era.

Later, I ventured to Angelina, the hotel’s stylish cocktail bar, where I indulged in a collection of creative concoctions inspired by the hotel’s legendary guests. Whether it was a Hemingway Daiquiri or a Marilyn Monroe Martini, each sip was a tribute to the glamorous past.

As dusk settled, I retreated to the intimate Bamboo Bar for a signature Charlie Chaplin cocktail, a fitting homage to the famous actor who once graced these halls. The warm, inviting atmosphere offered the perfect respite, while skilled mixologists served up classic and contemporary creations alike.

I did not manage to find time in my busy schedule, yet I highly recommend making time to enjoy Afternoon tea at Le Club Bar’s conservatory. It’s a timeless experience. Surrounded by elegant decor, it provides guests the opportunity to savour fragrant teas and delicate treats, all the while admiring the hotel’s picturesque courtyard.

A tour of the hotel’s renowned wartime bunker offered a glimpse into Hanoi’s complex past. Constructed in the 1960s as a safe haven for guests and staff during the Vietnam War, the bunker now stands as a testament to the Metropole’s enduring legacy and dedication to preserving history. Jane Fonda’s infamous visit to Hanoi and her tour of this very bunker further cement the hotel’s historical significance.

My stay at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel was an experience I won’t soon forget. With its rich heritage, luxurious amenities, and unparalleled service, it’s an ideal destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in Hanoi’s captivating charm. From idyllic poolside lounging to delectable French-Vietnamese fare, tantalising cocktails to indulgent lunches, the Metropole offers a wealth of experiences to charm and inspire.

Cam Rahn

Cam Ranh is an alluring a resort town nestled along Vietnam’s picturesque coastline. As a rising destination, this serene sanctuary beckons those in search of a tranquil retreat, brimming with unspoiled natural beauty, and authentic charm.

The radiant beaches of Cam Ranh are truly a sight to behold, presenting an array of sun-drenched activities to satisfy every type of traveller. Indulge in a day of sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling, or scuba diving, and lose yourself in the crystalline embrace of Cam Ranh’s shimmering waters.

Cam Ranh Bay, Khanh Hoa province, Binh Ba Island

As you venture beyond the shore, Cam Ranh unveils its rich tapestry of cultural landmarks and historical treasures. Marvel at the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers, a testament to the 7th-century heritage, or gaze upon the Nha Trang Cathedral, an exquisite embodiment of French Gothic architecture.

Embrace the allure of Cam Ranh, an idyllic haven that promises a relaxing experience, enveloped in breathtaking natural splendour.

Alma Resort Cam Ranh: The Ultimate Beachfront Luxury Experience in Vietnam

Nestled on the shores of the South China Sea, Alma Resort Cam Ranh boasts a prime location with stunning views. The resort is a mere 10-minute drive from Cam Ranh International Airport and provides a complimentary shuttle service to the charming city of Nha Trang, renowned for its beautiful beaches, vibrant markets, and cultural attractions.

To bask in the sun on the pristine shores of Vietnam’s Cam Ranh peninsula is to surround yourself with breathtaking scenery; a chance to indulge in unparalleled extravagance. Welcome to Alma Resort, a five-star beachfront haven that appeals to travellers of all ages seeking a memorable experience.

As soon as we set foot on this tropical paradise, the warm and gracious staff at Alma Resort made us feel right at home. The resort has been thoughtfully designed to cater to families, couples, and solo adventurers – with a diverse array of activities and facilities to suit all tastes and ages.

Choose from a lavish range of accommodation, featuring opulent villas, stylish suites, and chic apartments. Each dwelling is designed for comfort, boasting modern furnishings, and the usual suspects, such as air conditioning and complimentary Wi-Fi to keep the kids entertained. The sumptuous villas come with private pools and gardens, perfect for families or friends seeking an intimate retreat.

Epicurean delights await at the myriad of dining venues. Feast on international and Vietnamese delicacies at the resort’s main restaurant, Alma Garden, or revel in a romantic dinner by the sea at the beachside Atlantis, where fresh seafood is the order of the day.

Alma Resort Cam Ranh offers a veritable realm of pleasure and leisure to immerse oneself into. Dive into the expansive pool complex, featuring water slides and a lazy river that families with kids will adore. Stay active with the state-of-the-art fitness centre, tennis courts, and water sports offerings such as snorkelling, kayaking, and windsurfing. To unwind, surrender to the blissful treatments at the spa, where massages, facials, and body scrubs await.

Younger guests will find endless fun at the kids’ club and dedicated play area, where they can socialise and play in a safe environment while parents enjoy some well-deserved time off.

Alma Resort Cam Ranh is a strong destination that promises a memorable experience for all visitors. Its exceptional staff, idyllic surroundings, and modern facilities make it a great option for families and couples alike.

Ho Chi Minh 

Engross yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Ho Chi Minh City, the pulsating heart of Vietnam that effortlessly weaves together a symphony of modern marvels and historical treasures. Embark on an enchanting walking tour through this bustling metropolis, guided by the expert hand of a Luxperia DMC guide.

Our journey commences in the lively Ho Chi Minh Square, surrounded by government buildings, including the stately City Hall and the People’s Committee Building. A leisurely stroll brings us to the exquisite Ho Chi Minh City Opera House, an architectural gem inspired by Paris’s iconic Opera Garnier and adorned with French colonial flourishes. The Opera House continues to dazzle audiences with mesmerising performances to this day.

Our next stop is the elegant Saigon Central Post Office, a relic of the French colonial era. Here, I select postcards destined for loved ones back home, knowing full well that my tales of adventure will have been shared long before the cards arrive. The tour then takes us to the awe-inspiring Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, a breathtaking testament to French colonial artistry.

For a truly immersive experience, hop aboard a cyclo and plunge headfirst into the city’s exhilarating traffic. This thrilling “trust the process” adventure invites you to place your life in the capable hands of a charming cyclo driver.

Our odyssey concludes at the poignant Burning Monk Memorial, an enduring symbol of the sacrifices made by those who fought for freedom and democracy during Vietnam’s tumultuous past.

Afterwards, a well-earned respite is needed, as we savour the rich flavours of Vietnamese coffee at Cheo Leo, the city’s oldest coffee shop. This quaint establishment, run by three sisters, celebrates the art of traditional coffee brewing using a clay pot and a cloth strainer.

Our final destination is the workshop of the venerable Mr. Trinh Ngoc, a master shoemaker who has honed his craft for over four decades. Born and raised in Bac Lieu Province in the Mekong Delta, Mr Ngoc left his hometown at the age of 16 to move to Cambodia. There, he learned the art of making leather shoes and quickly became a skilled artisan. Ngoc’s talent even caught the attention of Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk, as well as American and French diplomats.

We ascend the narrow staircase of his three-story home, arriving at his studio located on the top floor. I am instantly captivated by the meticulously organised yet chaotic studio. It is a relatively small and dark space, with dust-speckled beams of light filtering through the windows. Ceiling-high storage racks stacked with wooden shoe lasts tailored to Mr Ngoc’s clients cover one side, and endless rolls of hides adorn the other.

As Mr. Ngoc regales us with tales of his life and demonstrates intricate stitching techniques on his latest footwear creation, it is evident that shoemaking is more than a profession – it is his life’s passion. The dedication of this consummate artisan is both humbling and inspiring, a reminder that true craftsmanship is still alive and well in our modern world.

The Reverie

Step into the extravagant world of The Reverie Saigon, a palatial haven nestled in the pulsating heart of Ho Chi Minh City. With 286 sumptuous guest accommodations offering unparalleled views of the city skyline, the Saigon River and beyond, this lavish sanctuary promises an experience of pure indulgence, featuring world-class dining, a sublime spa and a cutting-edge fitness centre.

At The Reverie Saigon, the spotlight shines on exquisite Italian craftsmanship, culminating in a mesmerising blend of opulent furniture, dramatic wall coverings, and intricate detailing. The magnificent lobby displays a custom-made five-metre long purple ostrich-skin sofa and side chair by Colombo Stile, a colossal gold and malachite clock by Florentine luxury brand Baldi Home Jewels, and enchanting floor to ceiling floral panels crafted from pearlescent tiles by Sicis. Beneath the dazzling, egg-shaped crystal lights from VGnewtrend, the entrance glimmers with abstract paintings from the Visionnaire Design Gallery that grace the initial floors. The interiors evoke an intoxicating fusion of Versailles, Vegas, and Versace through their lustrous lacquer, mirrored, mosaic, and mother-of-pearl finishes. The breathtakingly beautiful lifts feature thinly sliced quartz backlit with a warm, amber glow. It is, simply put, the ultimate lavish stay.

Embark on a culinary journey at The Reverie Saigon’s diverse dining venues, where every meal promises an unforgettable gastronomic experience. Start your day with a European-inspired breakfast at Café Cardinal and don’t miss the divine steamed custard buns. Savour exquisite Cantonese cuisine and the city’s finest dim sum at The Royal Pavilion, or enjoy a casual lunch or dinner with international flair and signature cocktails at The Long @ Times Square.

The newest addition to The Reverie Saigon’s impressive culinary lineup is Da Vittorio Saigon. It is the first Southeast Asian venture of the celebrated Italian restaurant group Da Vittorio. Step into a realm of elegance and sophistication, where contemporary décor meets warm lighting, and plush seating. The menu is a testament to the richness of Italian cuisine, presenting classic dishes with a contemporary flair. The Egg “à la Egg” and Superior Oscietra Caviar is a must-try, boasting a harmonious fusion of flavours and textures that epitomise luxury.

For an unparalleled dining experience, immerse yourself in the “In The Tradition of Vittorio” Tasting Menu, featuring an array of handcrafted pasta, succulent meats, and delicate desserts. Expertly prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients and authentic Italian flavours, each dish is accompanied by exceptional service and insights into Da Vittorio’s storied history.

After a day of exploration, we retreat to the enchanting Reverie Spa, a serene sanctuary adorned with elegant décor that soothes the senses. Indulge in a range of rejuvenating treatments, including massages, facials, and body scrubs designed to relax and revitalise your spirit. The Five Elements Treatment, inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, is a standout offering that harmonises the body’s energies and promotes overall wellness. With a personalised foot bath, body scrub, and massage, surrender to the blissful embrace of The Reverie Saigon’s lavish oasis.

Bamboo Airways

Bamboo Airways’ Boeing 787-9 business class offers a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience. The spacious and modern cabin features lie-flat seats, ample legroom, and in-flight entertainment systems. The attentive and friendly cabin crew provide top-notch service, offering a range of food and beverage options throughout the flight. The airline’s commitment to sustainability is also reflected in the use of eco-friendly materials and practices on board.

Florean Smout

When she's not designing luxury travel itineraries for her exclusive clientele, you might find her relaxing at home in the Dutch Lowlands. In addition to pursuing her appetite for culinary and cultural experiences, a full-time job we're told, Florean splits her time between The Review's Travel and Style teams. As Assistant Global Travel Editor, Florean helps shape The Review's annual travel coverage.

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