An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas, Vietnam

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An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 1

Featuring luxurious villas with private pools, An Lam Ninh Van Bay offers peaceful stays in rolling green landscapes overlooking Ninh Van Bay. It features an infinity pool, full spa facilities and fine dining.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 2

Opening out to stunning sea views, tastefully furnished villas feature a flat-screen cable TV, iPod dock and coffee machine. Other comforts include semi-outdoor bath areas and rain showers.

Guests can start the day with a lesson at the yoga platform before exercising at the gym. For convenience, the hotel provides free Wi-Fi, business and tour services.

Featuring an outdoor terrace, the restaurant serves seafood specialties and Vietnamese dishes. In-villa dining with a private chef can be arranged.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 5

An Lam Ninh Van Bay is 16.1 km from Nha Trang’s city center. The property offers airport shuttle service.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 6

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 7

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 8

*****

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Uttaradit Province, #Thailand

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Nan_river_Uttaradit_province
The Nan River – The district Tha Pla was originally part of Nan Province until it was reassigned in 1923 to Uttaradit Province.

Uttaradit 1

A province in the North of Thailand bordering Laos, Uttaradit has a long history dating back to pre-historic times. The site of the “modern” town, then called Bang Pho Tha It, was located on the right bank of the Nan River during the Dvaravati or Lavo periods, prior to Lanna and Sukhothai, when it flourished as a commercial port until King Rama V elevated its status into a province and re-named it Uttaradit, literally “the Port of the North.”

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Uttaradit, which literally means “the Port of the North” has a long history of commercial importance. Today, the city is a naturally beautiful town and the province contains Queen Sirikit Dam, a 250 km² artificial lake, as well as the world’s largest teak tree, which has stood for roughly 1500 years.

Uttaradit 2

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Hot and heavy in ‘Haad Rin’ #Thailand

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Haad Rin 3

Don’t let the vast stretch of powdery beach and turquoise water fool you. Haad Rin is a self-contained village dedicated to partying. Glorious, glorious partying.

Party animals, lost souls, displaced hippies and plain ol’ tourists have been making their way to Haad Rin since the mid 1980’s when Khun Sutti Kuasurkul, then owner of Paradise Bungalows, organized a bonfire party on the beach to celebrate one backpacker’s departure.

He set in motion a sub-culture that would become world famous, be debated in Thai government and give small colorful buckets a whole new meaning.

Now, 50,000 or more revelers descend on Haad Rin each month. Even with countless bucket stands, fire shows and beach bars the party epicenter is still Paradise Bungalows. How quaint.

With renovated beachfront rooms, a spacious pool and a highly Instagrammable monument dedicated to the original Full Moon Party, Paradise Bungalows is your party HQ. Set up shop here and you won’t need to leave Haad Rin for at least a week – to sleep off that Full Moon hangover of course.

For a quieter Haad Rin experience (yes, it’s possible) stay at Seaview Sunrise Resort. This understated resort on the north end of Haad Rin is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle. It’s perfect for travelers looking for comfortable rooms and an authentic, friendly backpacker experience. Lounge on triangle pillows at the restaurant and you’ll be swapping stories and making friends over a khao phad kung and bottle of Singha beer in no time.

Haad Rin 2

Wherever you are, the party’s not far away. At sunset join the crowds of revelers at Cactus. This well-known venue is a chilled out restaurant and beach bar by day, and an absolutely cray beach club by night. Neon face paint optional, buckets or beers required.

Wake up in Haad Rin (around noon we’re guessing) and head to Nira’s Home Bakery for a healthy brunch of eggs and ham, banana pancakes or a home style chicken salad baguette. You’re sure to run into your new friends from last night, if you recognize them.

It’s true that Haad Rin is filled with spots catering to tourists. The upside of this is the authentic international restaurants. We recommend Mama Schnitzel for a giant schnitzel sandwich before heading out for night #2.

But beyond the parties, there’s another reason that Haad Rin is so popular: it’s a gleaming turquoise bay with clear waters and wide sandy shores. Each morning the beach returns to its pristine state, thanks to local cleanup efforts.

LEO Beer led the way on this with their recent 60 minute Beach Cleanup on Haad Rin. Before the Full Moon Party began, LEO organized volunteers to comb the beach, pick up trash and spread awareness about keeping the environment clean.

So despite Haad Rin’s reputation for Full Moon madness, this beach has more to offer than just buckets and neon face paint. With a strong community spirit and a beautiful landscape to preserve, we hope Haad Rin stays the way it is for a long time to come.

Haad Rin 1

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Wora Bura Resort, Hua Hin #Thailand

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Wora Bura Resort 1

Wora Bura has spacious rooms with LCD TVs, a large free-form pool with a hot tub, and 5 restaurants and bars. It is 77 m from Hua Hin’s beaches along the Siam Gulf.

Wora Bura Resort 2

A 5-minute walk from Cicada Night Market, Wora Bura Hua Hin Resort & Spa include low-rise buildings of Thai-Colonial style surrounding the outdoor pool and garden.

Wora Bura Resort 3

Guests have a selection of luxurious rooms and villas that feature spectacular views of the outdoor landscape from private balconies.

Wora Bura Resort 4

Guests can enjoy relaxing at the resort’s Wora Spa, which offers an extensive spa menu, and children can play at the kid’s club. Shuttle bus transportation heading to Hua Hin town are provided.

Wora Bura Resort 5

The resort’s Rak Talay Restaurant has fine dining on an open-air terrace that offers panoramic views of the Hua-Hin Bay. Chonlamark, the pool bar has light lunch menus and refreshments.

Wora Bura Resort 6

Khao Takiab is a great choice for travelers interested in Seafood, Seaside and Restaurants.

*****
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How to make the most out of a weekend in Ho Chi Minh City, #Vietnam

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How to make the most out of a weekend in Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon NotreDame Basilica

WHILE HANOI in the north is very proud of being Vietnam’s Capital, Ho Chi Minh City in the South is more than happy to be recognized as the unofficial capital of hedonism.

Nestled along Saigon River, the city that was once known as Prey Nokor, an important Khmer sea port before becoming Saigon, was renamed Ho Chi Minh after the revolution hero in 1976.

As full of energy as of contradictions, Ho Chi Minh City is a heady blend of French colonialism, American engagement and local orientations. Here you can slurp a bowl of pho noodles at a street stall before rubbing shoulders with beautiful Vietnamese party-animals at a rooftop bar or drink in the timeless beauty of the French colonial buildings before exploring Saigon’s coffee culture.

The independence war with the French and the Vietnam War have given birth to many well-known characters – both fictional and real. You can slip into the shoes of Nick Ut, the legendary AP photojournalist, and hit the streets with a camera or be Thomas Fowler, the British journalist in Graham Greene’s “The Quiet American” and plot your romance at the Hotel Continental. You can even become an undercover CIA agent and uncloak the city’s suspicious barbershop scene, where sexy ladies entice male customers with promises of a haircut.

In short, Ho Chi Minh City promises the visitor a sensational weekend. It has something for everyone. Here are our suggestions for a great break.

Ho Chi Minh City 3

FRIDAY

WRAP AND ROLL: NOON

Hidden along a small path off Mac Buoi Street, Quan An doesn’t look like the sort of place you’d want to spend your lunchtime assuming you can even find it behind the cluster of motorbikes, shoe-shine stalls and street hawkers. But once you’ve passed through the wooden gate, you will fall in love with its traditional beauty. The restaurant is noted for its exquisite presentation of traditional Vietnamese food, most of it served “wrap and roll” style. Try the roasted pork roll up with sticky rice, steamed snail stuffed with meat, clam soup, grilled shrimp on sugarcane and the spring rolls. The food is fresh and delicious.

FOUR WHEELS BAD, TWO WHEELS GOOD: 2PM

Billed as the capital of motorcycles, Ho Chi Minh City has more than four million bikes and another 1,500 are added each year. The Vietnamese believe they can carry everything and go everywhere on their mopeds. The bike is of course the fastest mode of travel around traffic-clogged Ho Chi Minh City and ideal for visitors wanting to get a sense of the place. Buffalo Tours can arrange both short and long rides around the city on a vintage scooter, allowing you to visit the sights and stop off for street food in between. Visit http://www.BuffaloTours.com.

INTO THE MADDING CROWD: 5PM

Nguyen Hue Street in District 1 is a pedestrian strip and a pleasant respite from Ho Chi Minh’s traffic. Off limits to both motorbikes and hawkers, it’s popular with kids on skateboards and Vietnamese of every age who enjoy the “dancing” fountains that perform a mini show every hour. At one end is the elegant colonial building of Ho Chi Minh City Hall and at the other, the river.

VIETNAMESE FUSION: 7PM

Easy walking distance from Nguyen Hue Street, Quan Bui restaurant is where local hipsters and expats dine. This stylish restaurant, with black and white prints on the walls and an impressive collection of pottery, serves delicious Vietnamese contemporary and fusion food prepared with organic and MSG-free ingredients. We particularly liked the seafood salad with pomelo and the fish dishes. Quan Bui also has a vegetarian menu. Visit http://Quan-Bui.com.

SATURDAY

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM: 9AM

Get up early and explore Ho Chi Minh’s food market, especially if it’s within walking distance of your hotel. Like most Southeast Asian markets, it’s bustling, atmospheric and noisy. Do be careful who and what you photograph though – I narrowly avoided getting whacked on the head while trying capture a lady fish vendor smacking a bloody snakefish. After admiring the fare, head to Nhu Lan – the roadside restaurant opposite Bitexco Financial Tower – and tuck into a breakfast of bhan mi – a Vietnamese baguette – washed down with sweet local coffee.

FRENCH CONNECTION: 10AM

When the French seized control of Saigon in the 19th century, they built the Rue Catinat and named it after a French warship. The two-kilometre-strip, now known as Dong Khoi Street, is home to a number of French colonial buildings, among them Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, Gia Long Palace, the Municipal Theatre and the Hotel Continental. The street is also well known to Americans of a certain age as it was here, on April 29, 1975, one day before the fall of Saigon, that Dutch photographer Hubert van Es captured the very last scenes of the Vietnam War when the Americans ran to the rooftop of 22 Ly Tu Trong Street for the final evacuation. Forty years later, the building is still standing though it’s off limits to tourists.

COFFEE: 2PM

The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the 19th Century and the former tea drinkers took to it like ducks to water. So much so that the city is now famous for its coffee culture. Among the places to enjoy your java juice is The Workshop on Ngo Duc Ke Street. Located in an old building with a beautiful staircase, the café offers a view of the French colonial buildings through its glass wall.

WATER PUPPETS: 5PM

The water puppet is unique to Vietnamese show business, and this cute performance tells how the Vietnamese deal with water issues. Originating in the sodden rice paddies of the Red River Delta in North Vietnam, the most popular place to see a water puppet show in Ho Chi Minh is at The Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theatre. The show depicts the culture, traditions and folklore of Vietnamese life.

CLASSIC FRENCH ONION SOUP: 7PM

Opium, money and onion soup are interwoven on the corner of Hai Ba Trung street, home to an opium refinery back in colonial days. The colonial building is still here but the opium has long given way to hearty French cuisine at The Refinery restaurant. This fashionable bistro & wine bar is a favourite hangout with expats and its onion soup and free-range duck confit with rosemary apples and potato mash are the most popular dishes. The restaurant is opposite Park Hyatt Saigon.

TOP IT UP: 9PM UNTIL LATE

Ho Chi Minh City is more beautiful from the top when night falls. Journalists and CIA agents used to hang out on the rooftop of Rex Hotel during the Vietnam War and the Rex bar is still there, though probably more for the war junkie than the average tourist. Today Ho Chi Minh’s hipsters go Chill Sky Bar on top of AB Tower to flash their cash. The view is breathtaking. The city glows in the dark, as you repaint Ho Chi Minh’s skyline with vodka.

Ho Chi Minh City 2

SUNDAY

HO CHI MINH’S ART SCENE: 10AM

A number of heritage building have been converted into museums and it is here that you can learn about the city in times of war and peace. The Fine Arts Museum, on Pho Duc Chinh Street, has an impressive collection of art works – old and new – varying from Funan-era sculptures of Vishnu to modern paintings. Galerie Quynh Contemporary Art on Dong Khoi Street has a small collection of modern art that helps you explore the landscape of Vietnam’s art scene.

GAME OF BARGAINS: 2PM

Established in 1912 in true French colonial style, Ben Thanh Market is the “mother” of the city’s trading places. Slippers, iconic straw hats, meat, clothing, coffee beans and scorpion cocktails are among the goodies for sale. The vendors are energetic and the prices are higher than elsewhere so bargain vigorously.

Source: The Nation

*****
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