We asked Mr Dang Bao Hieu, Chairman & President of Focus Travel, some insider information on Indochina.
What do you love most about your country?
Vietnam is a beautiful country with great tourism potentials. I love everything about my country. It is less commercialized and more raw in appeal. It is now making its way up to the bucket lists. And there is fair reason for it too!
From urban metropolises like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to more quaint and charming cities like Hoi An, it offers so much. Cuisine is world renowned, Vietnamese coffee is spectacular, landscape is unmissable, the country is rich with history and culture.
Last but not least – the Vietnamese people. They are very generous, optimistic, industrious, thoughtful and kind. Once you travel to Vietnam, you should take your time to learn about them.
Must do in Indochina:
Do an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Visit Old Quarters in Hanoi, have a bowl of “Pho” for breakfast and then a cup of egg-coffee.
Visit floating market in Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Experience an authentic homestay in one of Vietnam’s hilltribe villages
Visit Ancient town of Hoi An and take the eco tour
Watch sunrise over Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Visit Pub Street and enjoy the nightlife in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Witness Alms-giving Ceremony and explore the magical town of Luang Prabang, Laos
Visit Kuang Si waterfall in Luang Prabang, Laos
Best kept secrets
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is probably the Vietnam’s best kept secret. Here lies the world’s biggest caves earning its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Duong Lam Ancient Village – a local village in Son Tay Town, where around 1,000 traditional Vietnamese houses made from laterite, mud, soil, and rice husks are dotted amongst the landscape. Just around 55km northwest of Hanoi, this local village dates back to the 17th century and is the perfect place to escape from the high-octane chaos of the Vietnamese capital.
Fansipan Mountain – the peak of Indochina. Just nine kilometres southwest of Sapa Village, it’s a great spot for both hiking enthusiasts and travellers looking to experience the hospitality of the colourful Giay, Hmong and Red Dao hill tribes.
Take a river cruise trip on the Mekong River from Vietnam to Cambodia
Banteay Chhmar: Banteay Chhmar is Cambodia’s best kept secret. It’s a huge but hidden temple complex around two hours from Siem Reap, shrouded in both jungle and mystery. There are no hotels, just home stays, no Western restaurants and not a wisp of Wifi. It’s the temple that time forgot.
Kratie – home of fresh water dolphins: The rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins make their home in the Mekong River, just north of Kratie. With only around fifteen to twenty remaining, they are worth a visit. Whether you are just on a trip seeing the river towns along the Mekong or taking a full circuit trip around the east and northeast, Kratie is a nice place to spend a night or two.
Khon Phapheng Falls: Located in Don Khuang, Khon Phapheng is the largest, and by far the most awesome waterfall anywhere along the Mekong. Khon Phapheng is pure, unrestrained aggression as millions of liters of water crash over the rocks every second.
Nong Kiaow: Surrounded by towering limestone mountains with twisting river views, Nong Kiaow is like a rural daydream. It’s the perfect place to take some time out during a hectic South-East Asia itinerary. On the banks of the Nam Ou River, deep in the countryside of Northern Laos, it’s an entrancing, sleepy little spot. It’s great for relaxed river tubing, minus the raucous party scene of Vang Vieng.
Some Extraordinary Hotels:
Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi
Lotte Hotel, Hanoi
JW Marriot, Hanoi
Park Hyatt, Ho Chi Minh City
Four Seasons The Nam Hai, Hoi An
L’Alya Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang
Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra, Siem Reap
Park Hyatt Siem Reap
Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang
Pullman Luang Prabang
Sofitel Luang Prabang
La Siesta Hanoi
Delicacy Hotel & Spa, Hanoi
Allegro Hoi An
Lynnaya Urban River Resort & Spa, Cambodia
Shinta Mani Angkor, Siem Reap
The Luang Say Residence, Luang Prabang
Satri House, Luang Prabang