Debriefing my vacation in Vietnam

My vacation in Vietnam was an opportunity to revisit sites I’d visited in the past, and to take a closer look at the country’s gastronomic scene. In addition, there are two great hotel discoveries. One regret, however: the weather wasn’t always on my side.

You’ll find at the bottom of the page a summary of the articles about this vacation in Vietnam.

The destination

Vietnam is a country on the rise as far as tourism is concerned, and deservedly so. Although this trip was essentially focused on Hanoi and Saigon, I’ve had the chance to visit the country in greater depth in the past, and its cultural richness is extremely interesting. What’s more, at very affordable prices.

However, the timing, in September, was perhaps not the best. The weather was quite rainy in Saigon, very rainy in Phu Quoc and very sunny in Hanoi.

But you should know thatbetween the north and south of the country, the climate has absolutely different and that you have to aim just right for good weather in both Hanoi and Saigon, and that while temperatures in the south are more or less constant, it can be very cool in the north at the start of the year.

If you were to go there, I’d recommend April.

For the relaxation part of this vacation I used to go to Nha Trang and on the advice of a friend I decided to try Phu Quoc this year. The place made a very good impression on me, but the rain and the gloom did not lend themselves well to a seaside holiday.

A word about Oslo, which I discovered and visited along the way. A typical Scandinavian city, but a little less rich than the other capitals of the region, even if the Munch Museum and the National Museum alone justify the trip. Then again, maybe it’s because of the dreariness and temperatures, which were in stark contrast to what I experienced in Vietnam, but I found it sadder than Copenhagen, Gothenburg or even Stockholm.

Airlines

Most of the trip was made on Turkish Airlines, which once again justified its title of best European airline.

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Turkish Airlines business class on A350

However, the airline’s customer service is not up to par: following a long delay, I was eligible for compensation under the EU261 regulation. As I write this article, more than 3 months later, I’m still claiming. No problem for the airline to admit that it has to pay, but everything is done to pay as late as possible at the end of a more than laborious process that I had to repeat several times.

For domestic flights, I chose Vietnam Airlines, and good luck to me, as Bamboo Airways, which I was keen to try out, was on the verge of bankruptcy at the time of my trip, with many flights cancelled.

The airline offers a quality service that varies greatly according to the route taken. So between Saigon and Hanoi, the flagship route for domestic flights, you’ll have an A350 with a long-haul cabin and a full service with a choice of hot dishes.

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Vietnam Airlines Business Class on A350

Between Hanoi and Phu Quoc, with a roughly equivalent flight time, we find A321s but with a much lighter, even frugal service, and a more normal cabin with a 2-2 business class configuration with reclining seats.

As for Phu-Quoc Saigon…the service will be almost non-existent for a one-hour flight.

Finally, I took SAS to Oslo, which was my point of departure, for an unsurprising result. A simple but decent service in SAS Plus (premium economy) between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, and virtually non-existent on intra-Scandinavian flights. No nasty surprises, but nothing to marvel at either, light years ahead of their excellent long-haul product.

A quick word about airport lounges, which I found really average in Vietnam.

Hotels

There was a little bit of everything, but I’ll single out two properties that deserve a place in Travelguys’ best of: the JW Marriott in Hanoi and Phu Quoc.

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The indoor pool at the JW Marriott Hanoi

In both cases, excellent staff, perfect treatment of Elite loyalty program customers and beautiful hotels.

Otherwise, the first is a city hotel (albeit out of the way) with resort-style facilities, and the second is a beautiful resort based on a very original idea, as you can read in the article about it.

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My suite at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc

For the rest, I found the Renaissance Saigon solid but dusty and the Sheraton Phu Quoc very cold and sad.

I also enjoyed the Radisson Blu at Oslo Gardermoen airport, perfectly located. As for the Radisson Blu Plaza in Oslo, I found it a little dated, but the view it offers, especially from its gym, makes up for it.

Catering

Whether you’re looking for Vietnamese, international or fusion cuisine, Vietnam is full of excellent restaurants at all price levels. And I found the gastronomic scene much richer and more qualitative than expected.

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Dinner at Anan Saigon

If I had to choose two, it would be Anan Saigon and TUNG Dining in Hanoi.

Anan is a Michelin-starred restaurant offering creative, modernized Vietnamese cuisine of the highest quality in a very convivial setting.

As for TUNG Dining, although it’s not Michelin-starred, it’s not far off the mark, offering a rather original experience from a Vietnamese chef who has long worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Finland and Denmark. An encounter between Asia and Scandinavia with the best effect.

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Dinner at TUNG Dining in Hanoi

And to finish off, I’ll be dining at Katla in Oslo…an opportunity to confirm that Scandinavian food is always very good and quite creative, even if the bill is rarely sweet.

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Dinner at Katla in Oslo

Bottom line

An almost-perfect stay, lacking only a few rays of sunshine in Phu Quoc.

The articles about this vacation in Vietnam

#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 – SAS Plus (A320)
36FlightCopenhagen-Paris – SAS – SAS Plus (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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