After a restful night aboard the Victoria Express, we arrive at Lao Cai Station as night fades into day. We are welcomed by our driver and start the one-hour journey to Sapa as the sun comes up. Even though it’s early, it’s a lovely way to start a relaxing weekend getaway in this former hill station.

Surrounded by mountains, rivers and rice fields, and located 22km by road from the centre of Phong Nha, Chay Lap Farmstay has the benefit of location; it’s next to the entrance of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, 3km away from Dark Cave, 4km away from Mooc Stream and just 6km away from Paradise Cave.

With so many good accommodation options and places to see within a short distance of Ho Chi Minh City, it can be difficult deciding on where to go. Perennial favourites like Phu Quoc, Dalat and Hoi An are a quick hop away by plane. Vung Tau is a short drive these days or 80 minutes by boat. Likewise, it doesn’t take long to get to the Mekong Delta cities of Ben Tre and Can Tho further south.

Little Cat Ba opened three-and-a-half years ago, aiming to provide idyllic island accommodation to guests who appreciate something more quaint, with a personal touch.

Unlocking ourselves from the daily grind is a luxury for most, but Loic and Van Anh Diels, the hosts at Heron House, hold the key.

They say that location is everything. And in the case of Mia Nha Trang, location certainly makes this elegant, upscale resort stand out from its contemporaries. Set in a bay with a backdrop of soaring cliffs and a road winding its way above, there is something special about this little slice of paradise.

The backpacker trail in Southeast Asia has legendary stop-off points at every step. Opened three years ago, the leafy, Easy Tiger hostel in Phong Nha has already etched itself a place in folklore.

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