Vietnam has a growing number of exceptional beach resorts, with refined aesthetics, polished service and delicious food. However, it is important to remember that many of these properties front the South China Sea, so although the sand may be white and fine, the beaches tend to be wide and long, and the waves can be quite sizable. Our five favorite Vietnam resorts are all located in what was once South Vietnam. There, the climate is tropical, with a dry season extending from October to May. Daytime temperatures are in the high 80s year-round.
Located 30 minutes south of the city of Danang, this lavish resort of 100 beachfront and pool villas is set amid tropical gardens, overlooking spectacular Ha My Beach. Although quite a large property, its generous layout and traditional temple-inspired architecture make it feel surprisingly intimate. The interior design is restrained, with mostly neutral tones enlivened by splashes of colored silk. Pool Villas feature private courtyard entrances, plunge pools and personal butlers, while their spacious baths provide eggshell-lacquered tubs and extend into private tropical gardens with outdoor rainfall showers.
Dining options include Cafe Nam Hai for Western and Indian cuisine and beachfront Lá Sen, where the menu features “contemporary interpretations of Vietnamese classics,” including exceptional seafood dishes. (Those enamored of Vietnamese food may wish to attend the resort’s cooking school.) A lavish spa offers eight floating treatment pavilions and three tiers of infinity pools. The hotel operates a regular shuttle service to the pretty neighboring town of Hoi An, a well-preserved trading port dating to the 15th century, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The serene, temple-inspired architecture; the extensive manicured grounds; the superlative spa.
This is a self-contained property, and its immediate surroundings are uninspiring.
There is a regular shuttle service to the pretty neighboring town of Hoi An, a well-preserved trading port that is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Although this one-of-kind resort is located on a peninsula, it can be reached only by a 20-minute speedboat transfer from Nha Trang and consequently feels as though it were on a private island. The 59 villas overlook a tranquil horseshoe bay and a lovely crescent beach, some from atop natural rock formations. All of the accommodations are more than 1,600 square feet and include private plunge pools and garden terraces or sundecks. The especially romantic Water Pool Villas perch directly over the sea and have steps down into the water for swimming and snorkeling. Beachfront Pool Villas offer baths with handcrafted wooden tubs, floor-to-ceiling glass panels and outdoor showers.
An open-air dining pavilion serves excellent fusion cuisine as well as Vietnamese and international dishes. The fish, lobsters and king prawns are caught locally, while the fruit and vegetables come from Dalat, the “city of eternal spring,” located at nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, a three-hour drive away in the Central Highlands. An open-air spa beside a waterfall offers a menu of specialty treatments, plus yoga and tai chi. Other activities include hiking, sailing, sea kayaking and scuba diving. This is a secluded and otherworldly resort that is ideal for couples.
The exquisite natural location; the exceptionally romantic Water Pool Villas.
The steep hillside terrain makes the resort unsuitable for older people or those with mobility issues.
Twice a week there are outdoor movie screenings on the beach.
This remote resort has a spectacularly wild and beautiful setting on the coast of Nui Chua National Park. (The closest airport is Cam Ranh, an hour and a half’s drive away.) Designed by Malaysia-based Belgian architect Jean-Michel Gathy, who has worked on many other Aman properties, the hotel’s main pavilion is a high-ceilinged contemporary building with open walls and a gabled roof inspired by the local architecture. Set on a hilltop, it is reached by a long flight of covered granite stairs and houses the resort’s main restaurant, library and bar. An open-air terrace commands panoramic views over the serene waters of Vinh Hy Bay. The 36 open-plan pavilions, villas and four- and five-bedroom residences are sited among thick vegetation for complete privacy. Each Ocean Pool Villa features cathedral ceilings, granite and teak floors, and picture windows on all sides. An exterior door from the large bath leads to a timber deck with a private pool.
The Beach Club is open for lunch and drinks, while the main pavilion restaurant serves from breakfast to dinner. Both menus feature dishes from around the globe, plus Vietnamese specialties such as braised abalone with shiitake mushrooms, crab fried with tamarind sauce, and grilled beef in bamboo. The resort includes two spectacular infinity pools, as well as a private beach with an expanse of pale sand. In the sumptuous spa, many of the treatments use traditional Vietnamese ingredients such as aromatic herbs, rice and coffee. Complimentary yoga classes are offered daily, and Pilates and other guided workouts are also available. The opening of Amanoi in 2013 confirmed Vietnam’s emergence as a major luxury travel destination. The many devotees of Aman Resorts are now able to construct a tour of Southeast Asia with stays at Amanoi, Amanpuri in Thailand, Amantaka in Laos and Amansara in Cambodia.
The secluded location; the panoramic views of Vinh Hy Bay; the dramatic minimalist design; the stylish Beach Club; the superb spa.
The location is remote, so you will be obliged to eat at the resort throughout your stay; fortunately the food is very good.
The best weather is from January to August. Because of its isolation, the hotel is not a good base from which to tour. For local excursions, the Cham temples near Phan Rang are worth a visit.
A four-hour drive east of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), this peaceful 90-room beachfront property is located on the outskirts of the fishing port of Mui Ne and is surrounded by exquisite gardens. A variety of lodgings includes comfortable and attractively furnished Pool Villas with high-ceilinged open-air living rooms and plunge pools; indoor-outdoor baths feature showers and large soaking tubs in private gardens.
Both Vietnamese and Western food is served in L’Anmien Restaurant, which overlooks a lagoon, and at seafood-oriented Thung, on the beachfront. (Mui Ne is well-known as the source of small, succulent scallops.) Amenities include a well-run spa with five treatment rooms. Cooking classes and a range of water sports are available. Ultimately, however, this property is distinguished by its charming and attentive service. Peaceful, relaxed and friendly, Anantara Mui Ne offers excellent value for the money compared with beachside resort hotels of a similar type elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
The exquisite landscaped gardens; the exceptionally charming and attentive staff; the lively nearby fishing port of Mui Ne.
The four-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City.
The resort can organize dune buggy trips to explore the nearby coastline.
The 16-island Con Dao archipelago, two-thirds of which is protected by a national park, lies a 45-minute flight south of Ho Chi Minh City. The largest of the islands, Con Son, is a place of lush mountain ridges and wave-scalloped beaches, as well as being the location of the Six Senses Con Dao. This outstanding beach resort, designed by Paris-based Reda Amalou, is patterned after a Vietnamese fishing village, with a “market square” and chophouses of salt-stained gray wood with recycled carved doors and windows. Its 50 villas overlook a mile-long white-sand beach framed by green mountains, dense forests and glades of bamboo. All the accommodations offer private infinity pools, large picture windows, terraces with daybeds and butler service. Two-, three- and four-bedroom villas have private lap pools.
An exceptional open-air restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese dishes such as irresistible nem (fried spring rolls), pho (herb-brightened rice-noodle soup with beef or chicken), and crispy Saigon omelets filled with bean sprouts, shrimp and fresh herbs. At dinner, a splendid variety of both Vietnamese and Mediterranean-style dishes is available. Amenities include a spa with seven indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, a yoga and meditation pavilion, and a hammam. The scuba diving in the waters around Con Son is exceptional. This self-contained property will appeal chiefly to those in search of a remote castaway atmosphere.
The castaway atmosphere; the pristine natural surroundings; the magnificent mile-long white-sand beach; the exceptional scuba diving.
The service can be unrefined and rather slow.
History buffs may wish to visit the old prison in the town of Con Son; the island was a penal colony during the French colonial period and an internment camp during the Vietnam War.