Sunday, 25 January 2015
In recent years, Vietnam has established itself as a popular holiday destination in the Far East. Mark explores the sights and sounds.
Vietnam is a destination that combines incredible scenery and a varied history with vibrant cities, great food and exceptionally friendly people. This is a country of contrasts, and none more apparent than that of its two main cities, the elegant and charming capital Hanoi and the vibrant southern powerhouse Saigon. Both are well worth a few days to explore, and Vietnam's geography makes it easy to start your journey in one and finish in the other.
Hanoi's French influence is apparent in its elegant buildings and tree-lined avenues – the Old Quarter is a fascinating place to wander through. The pretty Hoan Kiem Lake is a good place from which to get your bearings, with the photogenic Rising Sun Bridge crossing the water. Close by, Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum is most popular with Vietnamese visitors, who come to see Uncle Ho's final resting place, while his nearby former home gives you an insight into the life of the country's most famous leader of recent times.
Saigon – or Ho Chi Minh City – is very different to Hanoi, where the climate is steamier and the pace of life is far more frenetic. Modern Saigon congregates at the designer boutiques close to the Opera House, while the more traditional side heads to Ben Thanh market for groceries, clothes and plenty more. The Reunification Palace is one of Saigon's most striking buildings and is now a museum, preserved pretty much as it was when the Americans left in 1975, while buildings such as the post office and Notre Dame Cathedral show the city's French influence. The fascinating War Remnants Museum is quite possibly the most moving museum you're likely to visit, one that really brings home the effects of war. Make sure you have time to take a trip out of the city to see the Cu Chi tunnels, a mind-boggling series of over 250km of tunnels that criss-crossed the region at the height of the Vietnam War.
Central Vietnam is home to some of the country's most beautiful scenery and interesting towns, with the gems of Hue and Hoi An being linked by the beautiful Hai Van Pass. The former capital of Hue is home to numerous tombs of emperors, several beautiful pagodas and the remains of the Citadel. Hoi An is perhaps the most interesting of the two, with its restored wooden buildings and long history of seafarers giving it a charm that's hard to resist. A half-day walking tour of the World Heritage-listed Old Town will take in the key sites, including the famed Japanese Covered Bridge and the Fujian Chinese Assembly Hall.
With over 1,000 miles of stunning coastline, Vietnam is also home to some beautiful beaches, from the diving paradise and nightlife of Nha Trang and the restaurants and bars of Mui Ne, to more peaceful spots such as Ninh Van Bay or the relaxed Quy Nhon, famed for its seafood. Both Hoi An and Hue have beaches close by, making them great options for a holiday that combines sightseeing with beach time.
Vietnam is a charming and fascinating country, one that's steeped in history and packed with interest, and a trip there will leave you planning your return before you've even left.
Sunday, 11 January 2015
We get asked this abit and it can be a bit annoying when you have to pay a full adult price for a package holiday for your child. However there tends to be a reason!
If you are looking at a packaged holidays flying with a scheduled airline like British Airways or Thai Airways for say 2 adults and a child and the child is aged 11 and under then you tend to find that the airline will offer a child discount. Most hotels and resorts charge per room and not per person and will let a child share the same room as the adults, for free. So when the package is put together you will get 2 adult prices and 1 child price.
However if say only 1 adult and 1 child is travelling then the airlines should still offer a child reduction, but the cost of the room would still be divided by 2 so in this instance the child price will be higher than 2 adult and 1 child sharing.
If you holiday is based on a charter flight, say something like Thomas Cook or Thomson airlines then they tend to offer child prices to 12 years old and under when sharing with 2 adults, pretty much the same as above. However when it comes to just 1 adult and 1 child then they tend to charge 2 adult prices for the holiday package. This is because the flight price is always pretty much the same for adults and children, it's that the child price is largely derived from the saving on the accommodation when sharing with 2 full paying people.
Though as will everything in life there are exceptions to the above rules, like Virgin Airlines for instance will offer a child discount on some flights upto 18. Also some tour operators who put the packages together will negotiate specials family packages with the airlines and hotels to get you the best price.
The upshot is, if you go to a Travel Agent they will have access to all this information and should be able to get you the best possible package price for your family holiday.
Oh and always check that the holiday you are about to book is fully financial protected, it's you hard earned money after all!
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