I'M TRAVELLING WITH MY HUSBAND AND 21-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA IN DECEMBER FOR A MEKONG CRUISE. THE CRUISE FINISHES AT ANGKOR ON THE 15TH WHERE WE WILL STAY FOR TWO NIGHTS BUT ARE UNSURE WHERE ELSE IN VIETNAM WE SHOULD GO. WE WANT TO STAY FOR CHRISTMAS BUT NOT IN A BUSY CITY. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
H. RUDD, MENAI
You've got a week between Angkor and Christmas and what you might do is head for Cambodia's coastal town of Kep, a former French resort that is slowly returning to life. Kep is a classic of the laid-back, unimproved version of tourism. The bay is a flashing sheet of turquoise, the jungle steals into the town's back streets, many of the best beaches are occupied by fishermen's ramshackle huts and its sleepy, time-washed charm is beyond question. Swim, explore the reef, hire a bike and pedal along the coast road, watch the sunset, feast on fresh crab on the beach, get up the next day and do it all over again. Maybe take a trip out to Rabbit Island, and stay in a bungalow for a few dollars a day. You can get to the Vietnamese resort island of Phu Quoc easily from Kep, possibly stay for a couple of nights, and fly from there to Ho Chi Minh City.
From there you could head to Dalat for Christmas. The former French hill station is a couple of hours drive from Ho Chi Minh City, it's quite a bit cooler, much quieter and more refreshing. Dalat has some fine hotels that evoke memories of its time as a French colonial resort. It is also a wedding and honeymoon hotspot: love is definitely in the air. Few travellers would find any reason to spend more than two or three days in Dalat but it's a fine place to escape the heat and humidity of southern Vietnam, and a good choice for Christmas.