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Next big honeymoon spot: Vietnam's Con Dao Islands

Friday, July 1, 2011
Vietnam has become a highly desirable destination and Kelly Landry has found a place that she reckons will be the next big thing for romantics and honeymooners.

Con Dao is a 16-island archipelago within Ba Ria Vung Tau province in south-east Vietnam. It has crystal-clear blue-green water, soft golden beaches, bays, lush mangroves and coral reefs to explore.

It's easy to reach. Many airlines fly into Ho Chi Minh City and transfer fights take around 45 minutes.

Once a major prison settlement with a brutal history, it was known as the Alcatraz of Indochina. It is now a paradise, protected as a national and marine park. There are no structures over two storeys, it hasn't been overrun by tourism and has loads of charm.

The average temperature is 27°C, sea conditions are calm and swimming, snorkelling and diving can be enjoyed year-round. Thick evergreens provide shade.

To enjoy all that, you can't go past Six Senses Con Dao, the first five-star resort in the islands. Fifty villas sit on a long stretch of sandy beach with the dramatic Elephant Head Mountain as a backdrop. It was built with the minimum ecological footprint. Building materials are natural and from sustainable sources, local where possible. Teak from Vietnam's interior has been used in more than 1000 carved panels.

Each of the seven room choices has a private infinity pool with unobstructed views of the South China Sea. Choose from single level to duplex villas with one, three and four bedrooms.

The softly curved pool beside the beach has enormous wild mahogany trees for shade and light meals are served there.

By the Beach, the main restaurant, is where chef Richard Lee adds his own twist to traditional Vietnamese recipes using local seafood, fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Vietnamese by the Market is the heart of Six Senses with authentic delicacies over charcoal or in wood-fired ovens. Noodles, rice, soups, rolls and wraps are made to order and are based on traditional street food. If you want to learn the skills, they have daily, two-hour cooking classes.

Deli'cious is for snacks and light lunches. Cheeses, cold meats, fresh salads, organic vegetables and herbs, baguettes filled with chutneys and jams, fabulous breads, pastries, biscuits and cakes are available all day long. Eat there or take your choice away.

In-villa dining is available from 7am until midnight and picnics and barbecues can be arranged for you.

To work off some possible extra kilos, take out a kayak, surfboard or boogie board or head out on a Hobie catamaran. Ogle 1300 species of sea life, including rare dugongs, sea turtles and beautiful coral reefs. They have full instructions in your very own pool for beginner snorkelers and divers.

Hire a boat and discover nearby islands, diving sites, throw in a line and take a picnic to the secluded beaches of Bai Dat Doc and Dam Trau. Turtle and Bird islands are well worth a visit.

Hiking and trekking through mangroves and forests take you to diverse flora and fauna, including indigenous monkeys and black squirrels.

Between May and September you will be treated to turtle nesting time. They nest on Hon Bay Canh Beach and baby tortoise hatchlings bravely make their way to sea.

Watch dawn break over Hon Bay Canh and set over Love Mountain. Drinks are served on the beach every evening. It's a good opportunity to meet fellow guests.

If you can tear yourself away, there's a town 5km away. Cycle in and visit the markets, historical sites and meet the friendly locals.

Location

Con Dao, a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam.

Cost

Travel Indochina six-night Six Senses Con Dao package starts at $1137 per person twin share. It includes three free nights with six nights' accommodation in an ocean-front villa with private infinity pool and breakfast. The offer is available until July 31, 2011, unless sold out prior for travel until September 30, 2011.

Prices correct at July 2, 2011.

For further information

Travel Indochina
Ph: 1300 138 755
www.travelindochina.com.au

Six Senses Con Dao
Dat Doc Beach
Con Dao District
Ba Ria — Vung Tau Province
Vietnam
Ph: +84 64 3831 222
Fax: +84 64 3831 456
www.sixsenses.com
reservations-condao@sixsenses.com

Vietnam Tourism
www.vietnamtourism.com

Visa: Australian passport holders must have a valid passport and a visa is required.

Electricity: 220V at 50Hz. Three plugs are used throughout Vietnam: two flat blades, two round pins and two parallel flat pins with ground pin.

Time zone: GMT +7.

Currency: The dong.

International dialling code: +84.

It is recommended travellers to Vietnam see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.

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