Let’s go to Vietnam

For my summer vacations, I decided to return to Vietnam, an Asian country that I love very much and whose cultural appeal is indisputable. A trip that also provided the opportunity to discover some beautiful hotels and enjoy some fine dining experiences.

And since we at Travelguys love convoluted itineraries, this was also an opportunity for me to discover….Oslo!

The destination

I was open to all possibilities…as long as it was in Asia. And as you’ll see below, it was a question of opportunity based on the prices I was able to track down.

So it’ll be Vietnam with a good fare from Oslo…., giving me the chance to discover the Norwegian capital on the way.

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Ho-Chi-Minh’s mausoleum in Hanoi

Flights

As we often tell you, you need to be flexible about your destination to get the best prices. As it happens, I started planning this trip in April (for September), and for once I wasn’t in a hurry, which gave me a bit more leeway to get organized.

As usual, I set off with a broad idea of my destination, Asia, thinking that if I find an excellent price for a city I can always add a medium-haul flight to another destination. And then I vary the starting cities to see what happens.

At the time I found flights to Singapore from Paris at 3,500 euros, a price which drops to 2,200 if you fly from Gothenburg, for example.

At that moment I heard about a market fare on Turkish Airlines departing from Oslo at 1700 euros. Very interesting, but at this price I’m in a booking class that only allows me to credit my loyalty program at a rate of 100%, which doesn’t allow me to keep my status. If I want a 150% credit rate, the bill rises to 2900, which is too expensive. And changing the starting city doesn’t change a thing.

By dint of tinkering I’ll find a fare of 2200€ with the outward journey at 150% and the return at 100%, which is a good compromise. On the other hand, at this rate I’ll still be a few miles short, so I’ll have to improvise an extended weekend in Chicago in the meantime.

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Turkish Airlines A350 business class cabin

To get to Oslo, I’ll be flying with SAS, in SAS Plus (premium economy as the airline doesn’t have a medium-haul business class) and adding the “bio” option, which gives me a bonus of miles without increasing the price of the ticket too much. And as a Diamond member of the Scandinavian airline’s frequent flyer program, I’m entitled to a 25% bonus when I fly with them, which settles the issue of keeping my status.

As I already know the country, I won’t be making an exhaustive visit: just Saigon and Hanoi for the cultural side and Phu Quoc for relaxation.

I’ll be taking my domestic flights in Vietnam on Vietnam Airlines, but not without having hesitated to try out Bamboo Airways. It will have to wait for another time.

All this gives us the following routing…

Formalities

For some time now, it has not even been necessary to obtain an e-visa to enter Vietnam for nationals of certain countries, including France. A simple stamp at the airport on arrival, with no forms to fill in, allows you to stay in the country for 45 days.

Hotels

As a member of the Marriott loyalty program, I have a choice of hotels in Saigon. Having already tried the Méridien Saigon (excellent) and the Sheraton Saigon (nice but old-fashioned), I’ll opt for the Renaissance Saigon.

Less choice for hotels in Hanoi, where I’ll take the JW Marriott Hanoi, the only alternative being the catastrophic Sheraton Hanoi. If this JW hadn’t opened since my last stay, I’d probably have gone to the competition, because returning to the infamous Sheraton was out of the question.

In Phu Quoc, I’ll have a choice between a Sheraton and a JW Marriott, and I’ll try both.

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JW Marriott Phu Quoc

For the Norwegian part of the trip, I’ll be staying at the Radisson Blu at Oslo airport on the outward journey to simplify things, and on the return journey I’ll be spending 2 days in the city to do a bit of sightseeing, staying at the Radisson Blu Plaza next to the main railway station.

Restaurants

It’s amazing how many gourmet restaurants you can find in Vietnam. I’ll book a few restaurants before I leave to make sure there’s room, and leave a few evenings free to improvise on the fly.

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Tasting menu at Anan in Saigon, 1 Michelin star restaurant

Bottom line

All of which results in the following program of upcoming articles.

#TypePost
1Travel diaryPreparing for vacations in Vietnam
2FlightParis-Stockholm – SAS – SAS Plus (A320Neo)
3LoungeSAS Gold lounge – Stockholm
4FlightStockholm-Oslo – SAS – SAS Plus (A320Neo)
5HotelRadisson Blu Airport Hotel – Oslo Gardermoen
6LoungeSAS Gold lounge international zone – Oslo
7FlightOslo-Istanbul – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A321Neo)
8LoungeTurkish Airlines Miles&Smile Lounge international zone – Istanbul
9FlightIstanbul-Saigon – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A350)
10HotelRenaissance Riverside Hotel – Saigon
11RestaurantAnan – Saigon
12RestaurantHoa Tuc – Saigon
13Travel diarySaigon city tour
14LoungeVietnam Airlines Lotus lounge (domestic) – Saigon
15LoungeLe Saigonnais lounge (domestic) – Saigon
16FlightSaigon-Hanoi- Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A350)
17HotelJW Marriott Hotel – Hanoi
18RestaurantGia – Hanoi
19RestaurantTung Dining – Hanoi
20Travel diaryCity tour of Hanoi
21LoungeVietnam Airlines Lotus Lounge (domestic) – Hanoi
22LoungeSong Hong Lounge (domestic) – Hanoi
23FlightHanoi-Phu Quoc – Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A320Neo)
24HotelSheraton Long Beach Resort – Phu Quoc
25Hotel JW Marriott Emerald Bay – Phu Quoc
26LoungeHoa Sim Business lounge – Phu Quoc
27FlightPhu Quoc-Saigon – Vietnam Airlines – Business Class (A320)
28LoungeLe Saigonnais lounge (international zone) – Saigon
28FlightSaigon-Istanbul – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A350)
30LoungeIGA Lounge (zone internationale) – Istanbul
31LoungeTurkish Airlines business lounge – Istanbul
31FlightIstanbul-Oslo – Turkish Airlines – Business Class (A321Neo)
32HotelRadisson Blu Plaza Hotel – Oslo
33RestaurantKatla – Oslo
34Travel diaryCity tour of Oslo
35FlightOslo-Copenhagen – SAS – Business Class (A320)
36FlightCopenhagen-Paris – SAS – Business Class (A320Neo)
37Travel diaryDebriefing of my vacation in Vietnam

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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