Fifteen years ago, Vietnam’s emerald chequerboard of lush paddy fields, meandering bays and city rivers crammed with floating markets used to be best suited to backpackers. These days, however, it is the luxury traveler who is being wooed with new boutique hotels, experiences and tours- the journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay, for example, can now be completed by helicopter, offering a bird’s eye view of some 3,000 islands threaded with karst cliffs.
Along with Cambodia, Vietnam has been earmarked as one of the top travel destinations for the luxury traveler in 2010. The twin Asian countries have always been as hospitable as their other neighbours, Thailand and Malaysia, but in recent years they have galvanized their goal of becoming developed countries with a key focus on tourism.
Vietnam’s recent announcement that it is investing in Cambodia’s domestic companies to the tune of around $6 billion suggests that money will be put towards the improvement of roads, helping to make it more accessible for tourists. Vietnam’s own foray into the luxury market has been gathering pace in the past few years. Once associated with designer knock-offs, night markets and haggling, Vietnam’s economic reforms have created a nouveau-riche class that can afford the polished Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana boutiques in Ho Chi Minh city.
One of the key catalysts for Vietnam and Cambodia joining the other. Asian giants in luxury tourism is the strident improvement to their infrastructure. “Roads are much better now in the provinces of Vietnam and Cambodia"
Luxury hotels combined with a more authentic experiences are what set these countries apart
both countries, meaning overland travel is more comfortable, “says Jean Jacques, general manager of Luxury Travel, “ while domestic flights within and between Vietnam and Cambodia are safe and more reliable then ever.”
Caroline Phillips, Asia manager at Tailormade Explore, agrees. “There have been vast improvements in the transport and hotel infrastructure, while enterprising locals have introduced many ways to see thire destination,”she says. “ Now there are luxury junk cruises around the incredible karst scenery of Halong Bay, tribal homestays and trekking in the North and Central Highland, cycling holidays along the Mekong Delta and cookery schools in Hanoi and Hoi An. Combine these with beautiful landscapes, beaches, popular cuisine and a tropical climate, and it’s a winning formula.” For more information on luxe travel, visit us at www.vietnamluxe.com to prepare your holiday of a lifetime