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Paul went to Vietnam last month….

I was very lucky recently to enjoy a visit to Vietnam to see how the country has changed since my last visit. My trip started at Gatwick on the direct service to Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines who offer a 3 class service – Economy, Premium & Business and I must say I was impressed with the efficiency  in the Economy Cabin so can only presume that Premium and Business are even better.

The first port of Call was Hanoi, the Northern capital situated just 140 kilometres from the Chinese border and you can certainly see the Chinese influence in everyday life in the busy city which never seems to sleep. It is vibrant colourful and a totally safe city to start your adventure. Other than the history there is great shopping & fantastic food all at extremely cheap prices.

From Hanoi there are various extensions to be done – try the Hill tribe areas of Sapa. This is an overnight train adventure and offers good hiking and visits to the local hill tribes (less commercialised than in Thailand). Alternatively you could cruise around Halong Bay situated 3.5 hours by road from Hanoi this area can offer a variety of cruises from day excursions or I would recommend a 1or 2 night cruise if you have any interest in this area. The cruise takes you through a myriad of limestone islets to enjoy swimming- canoeing – local fishing communities in tranquil waters.

I then headed off down to the Beach resorts of Danang and  Hoi Ann, both offer a total contrast  in style but both have great beaches and a variety excursions available – perfect for a beach break with good restaurants and shopping.

You could also include Ho chi Minch City. Yet another city that never sleeps, giving you history and a place where it seems everyone owns a motorcycle!  There’s lots to see here, especially the popular excursions to Chu Chi Tunnels to discover how they coped with the American invasion. Also, cruising on the Mekong Delta for day trips or up to 7 night cruises.

WP_20141111_08_44_10_Pro (2)If you are visiting Vietnam then I would recommend you combine it with Cambodia and Laos. If any of this takes your fancy then give me  call and let me put the trip together for you. You’ll be surprised at the fantastic  value for money this area is!.

 

 

Jackie recently spent 3 weeks in New Zealand with 3 nights in Sydney on the way home and had a wonderful time.

She was based in Christchurch but travelled most of the South IIMG_2381 IMG_2436 IMG_2384sland and saw most of the ‘must see places’. She travelled through Arthurs Pass over to the west coast and stayed in the Glacier town Franz Josef which she thought was lovely. It had an Alpine village feel to it which attracted mostly the younger age group – gap year travellers/back packers. She was pleasantly surprised with the town and would definitely recommend a stay there.

They then travelled back through the centre of the island passing more amazing scenery and stayed at Lake Wanaka before going to historic Arrowtown & Queenstown the following day. Arrowtown is charming and quirky, a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. The heart of its history is Buckingham Street, a procession of small town heritage buildings that stretches into a tree-lined avenue of tiny miner’s cottages.  The buildings in this lovely precinct house shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants – many classy, most individual, not one from an international chain.

It is a wonderful place to browse, enjoying the dining, the shopping, and soaking up Arrowtown’s lively heritage.

Queenstown is the ‘Adventure Capital of New Zealand’ and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Queenstown is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by beautiful mountains including The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak, Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill. Named because it was ‘fit for Queen Victoria’ it is a four season alpine and lake resort experiencing hot summers and crisp, clear winters. It is popular with thrill-seekers for activities such as bungy jumping, jet boating, white water rafting, canyoning and parapenting.

Even though this is the fourth time she has been to the country she had never visited the Nelson/Abel Tasmin National Park area and is delighted that she got to spend a long weekend there this time as she loved it! It is such a pretty place with supposedly the most sunshine that it is definitely on her ‘Must See’ list now. They spent a day in the Park where they took a boat from Kaiteriteri to one of the beaches and arranged for it to pick them up later further down the coast where they walked to after a lazy lunch. Alternatively, you can arrange to kayak between the beaches rather than walk (she wished she’d done that!).

During their time they also visited Akaroa, saw Whales at Kaikoura and of course the city of Christchurch which is slowly but surely recovering after the earthquake.

 

If you’d like to talk about a trip to New Zealand, feel free to call in.

xmas partyThe team enjoyed their Christmas Party at Rudding Park last week.

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