Are you happiest near the sea? Toes in the sand, water so clear you can see the coral beneath, and watery horizons stretching for miles? Whether your perfect days are spent in the water or sipping sundowners on the beach, your next holiday should be in Vietnam or Cambodia.
Phu Quoc, Vietnam
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the epic journey from Hanoi in northern Vietnam, to Ho Chi Minh City in the south covers Vietnam’s top highlights. After all, there’s the capital’s French colonial architecture; the otherworldly islets of Halong Bay; Hoi An’s pretty streets; Hue’s imperial tombs; and the best street food in Saigon. But even after all this, it would be an oversight to skip the teardrop-shaped island of Phu Quoc.
This small island boasts thick forests, golden beaches and the clearest waters. Take a boat from Phu Quoc port to the An Thoi archipelago to see the beautiful coral and busy marine life that live around the island. Phu Quoc remained under the tourism radar until relatively recently, but freshly paved roads and a shiny international airport hint at more expansion to come. Get there before the charter flights do!
Con Dao Islands
Island life in Vietnam doesn’t stop at Phu Quoc. This chain of 15 tiny islands (the largest, Con Son, just 20km at its widest point) are also just a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City. Like Phu Quoc there are tropical forests, white sand beaches, and sun-warmed sea with plenty of scuba diving opportunities.
The Con Dao islands have something else as well though: turtles! The islands are a protected national park with turtles laying their eggs between April – September. During the laying season, visitors can witness their arrival, and lucky ones may even assist in the release of the hatchlings.
Islands off Sihanoukville
Sadly, these days Sihanoukville’s reputation as a laidback hideout for beach bums seems firmly in the past. Much of the town is now layered with casinos, but don’t rule it out completely – just a short boat ride from the town, blissful islands await.
Koh Chaloh, Bamboo Island and Koh Ta Kiev
Take an island hopping day trip to Koh Chaloh, Bamboo Island and Koh Ta Kiev for a taste of the island life. Go snorkelling around the colourful coral, eat the freshest seafood from the barbecue and indulge in some downtime on the beaches.
The jewel in the crown has to be Koh Rong, a place so picturesque it has long been used by TV and film companies. Its sweeping powder white beaches and turquoise ocean are so beautiful you might find it hard to shut your eyes for that palm-fringed siesta.
Koh Rong Samloem
Just when you thought nothing could be better Koh Rong, along comes Koh Rong Samloem. While similar to its big brother, Koh Rong Samloem is somehow even more idyllic. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
Koh Krabey (part of Koh Rong), Cambodia
For something really special, treat yourself to a stay on Koh Krabey. This 30-acre private paradise is home to the Koh Krabey Six Senses Resort; an idyllic hideaway with private pool villas, two restaurants, a sunset bar and floor to ceiling windows with panoramic views of lush jungle and the ocean beyond. Go diving, take a yoga class, catch some rays, sip icy cocktails and have a spa treatment (or five).
Rabbit Island, Cambodia
The fishing town of Kep, on Cambodia’s south coast, is a laidback place to dine on the very best seafood and see busy local life at the crab market, but it doesn’t really have a beach to speak of.
No worries, just twenty minutes from the town by boat awaits Koh Tonsay, or Rabbit Island (so named for its shape). Only two square kilometres, it’s easy to explore on foot and is home to plenty of small, secluded beaches.
Cham Island, Vietnam
Most holidays in Vietnam include a trip to Hoi An. For good reason, this UNESCO town, with its romantic ochre streets, talented tailors and café culture, often ends up everyone’s favourite. Fortunately, it’s also the jumping off point to visit the Cham Island Biosphere Reserve. Take a speedboat form the mainland to the fishing village of Bai Lan where you can swim, snorkel, eat your body weight in seafood and rub shoulders with the locals. You can travel as a day trip or stay at one of the small homestays on the islands.
Longing to nap in a hammock, see colourful coral and paddle in the blue? Get in touch to make those island hopping dreams come true.