Holiday travel, by Abigail Bates of Altham’s Travel, Todmorden: Hanoi rocks...the Far East is opening up

Abigail Bates, of Altham's Travel, Todmorden
Abigail Bates, of Altham's Travel, Todmorden

In June 2014, I joined specialist tour operator Travel Indochina on one of their Fam Trips to Vietnam and Laos.

I travelled with nine other travel agents from all over the UK, all of us first timers to these two fascinating countries and think it’s safe to say these destinations are increasing in popularity with the introduction of direct flights and new hotels.

First stop on our ten day trip was the capital Hanoi with its old town and French Quarter home to all manner of hustle and bustle plus the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ the former central prison where former presidential candidate John McCain was held as a prisoner of war for six years.

Next stop on our trip was the beautiful and mysterious Halong Bay - it’s a four hour drive from Hanoi but well worth it and I would highly recommend a overnight cruise to really appreciate the areas majesty and activities on offer. After our overnight on Halong Bay we had a four hour drive back to Hanoi for our flight to Danang.

On our journey back to Hanoi we had an impromptu tour of a small village a fascinating insight into the local way of life.

Once we arrived in Hanoi we caught a Vietnam Airlines flight to Danang which took just over an hour.

Danang is home to the famous ‘China Beach’ made famous during the Vietnam War. It is now popular with tourists looking for beautiful beachfront hotels some of which with inclusive spa treatments. Nearby Hoi An is a gem a UNESCO World Heritage town full of history and beautiful architecture which has been influenced by the French, Chinese and Japanese over the years. Hoi An is a must see on any trip to Vietnam.

Last stop of our trip was Luang Prubang in Laos. We flew from Danang via Hanoi in just over two hours. Luang Prubang another UNESCO World Heritage town on our trip and it was easy to see why just as beautiful as Vietnam but a more relaxed pace of life.

This for me was one of my trip highlights we watched the early morning Tak Bat rituals of the local monks receiving alms in the streets and also visited the stunning Kuang Si Falls, a 45 minute drive through the beautiful countryside. Once you arrive you can hike to the top or swim in one of the many pools.

It was such an amazing trip made even more interesting by our knowlegeable tour leader and our local guides used by Travel Indochina.