Travelling by plane, train and speedboat through Vietnam, also taking in Singapore and Malaysia’s mesmerising landscapes and cuisine, adds up to the trip of a lifetime for London food writer Anna Barnett and husband Thom
Words by Anna Barnett
Our honeymoon journey – ultimate destination Vietnam – began in high style. Landing in Singapore we spent our first night at Raffles, the so-called ‘old lady of Singapore’. This picture-perfect colonial sugar lump of a building surrounded by an ever-growing skyline is the perfect way to start any special trip. Stunning service and interiors, history and luxury are all here.
Rooms are enormous, while the pool is the most amazing oasis within the city. Our timing was perfect as we had the chance to experience its Sunday northern Indian buffet. The incredible food draws a crowd that almost rivals that in the legendary Long Bar, original home of the Singapore Sling. Even the briefest stay in this unique city-state should include a visit to the Gardens by the Bay to see its incredible Cloud Forest.
“Raffles, Singapore is the perfect place to begin our epic journey – ultimate destination Vietnam”
We departed Singapore as we’d arrived – in style – joining fellow train enthusiasts on board the Belmond Eastern & Oriental Express (E&O is a sister to the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express) for a two-day journey through Malaysia and Thailand to Bangkok. We had high expectations of both this stately Belmond train and the magical landscapes we would travel through, and the reality exceeded them all. Food and service are second to none and add up to a truly unique and timeless experience. From watching the sun rising across the rice fields of Malaysia, to stops for river tours and local excursions, we were more than seduced by everything about this incredible travel experience.
“We had high expectations of our journey and this stately Belmond train exceeded every one of them”
After an all-too-brief stay at the The Cabochon in Bangkok – a lovely boutique hotel and highly recommended – we journeyed on to Vietnam and the Amanoi, an Aman resort in Ninh Thuan province about an hour south of Nha Trang. Secluded, and located among mountains that drop down to the East Sea, its numerous infinity pools and secluded private beach left us entranced and with an overwhelming sense of having landed in a place of perfect refinement. Design symmetry and neutral interiors are all completely in tune with the lush surroundings of the protected Nui Chua National Park. The enormous high-tented ceiling of the main pavilion is replicated throughout all 39 private villas. Ours had the most stunning private infinity pool looking out to the central lake. At Amanoi nothing is too big an ask, and this adds to the aura of complete luxury. The food is exceptional – local and with a big emphasis on fresh fish. We would return in a heartbeat.
The final stop on our epic tour was Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. So remote is this eco resort that we had to take a private speedboat from just outside Nha Trang. We were transported to the most incredible stretch of beach, with private villas tucked away amid lush greenery and dense forest backdrop. Our villa had incredible views out to the ocean. Six Senses is very private, and with a strong focus on sustainability. In between cycling from spot to spot to take in the landscape, we made time for a cookery class in the organic gardens and loved learning how to make Vietnamese hotpot, summer rolls and congee. We managed a glimpse of day-to-day life here with a riverboat tour and trip to the local market. But our favourite spot was a vantage point below Dining By The Rocks restaurant, where we could sit and simply gaze over a panoramic expanse of coastline and out to the ocean.