Vietnam Travel Author & Expert, Samantha Coomber Interviewed

By: Norm Goldman

Vietnam Tourism Guide
by Vietnam travel author & expert, Samantha Coomber. Samantha has written the first edition of Insight Pocket City Guidebook to Hanoi and Northern Vietnam and her articles have appeared in National Geographic Traveler. 

1) Most Romantic Venues in Vietnam
For a romantic getaway / honeymoon in Vietnam:

  • The luxurious, high-end Evason Hideaway at Ana Mandara, (near Nha Trang). It's in a tropical, lush sanctuary on deserted Ninh Van Bay and you have your own private villa with pool.
  • Hoi An Riverside Resort,
    A stunning French-Vietnamese boutique hotel in Balinese-style gardens along a river in the ancient port town of Hoi An, is perfect, and they can arrange honeymoon packages and traditional riverside wedding ceremonies.
  • Chartering a luxury, traditional Chinese Junk boat around mystical and stunning Halong Bay, Northern Vietnam, is wonderful for a romantic getaway, wedding reception, or even a sunset on deck wedding ceremony with a difference!
  • For wedding receptions, MoonRiver Retreat
    Situated in a village along the Red River, 7km from Hanoi, with exquisitely decorated, traditional Northern Vietnamese guestrooms and restaurant. Evening wedding receptions can be held at the old riverside courtyard, adorned with Buddha statues, exotic blooms, candles and silk lanterns hanging from fragrant trees.

2) Vietnam Tourism #2
How easy or difficult is it to travel to and get around Vietnam? How safe is it?

There are more and more international flights flying into Vietnam now even direct flights from the US. Traveling around Vietnam, generally speaking, is safe and cheap, but transportation infrastructure is not as developed as say, Malaysia or Bali.

When I was backpacking around Vietnam, most of the time I used public transport, local ferries, minivans, prehistoric local buses, 24-hour train journeys from one end of the country to the other on the very uncomfortable Reunification Express, and hiring locals to drive me around on their motorbikes.

There are open-tour buses geared to foreigners especially backpackers - that run up and down country between the main tourist hubs, and are easy to book through travelers cafes. I traveled alone for 15 months in total and as a solo female found it extraordinary safe, experiencing hardly any bother and this spurred me on to travel and conduct my travels in a way I would NEVER do elsewhere.

Vietnam is definitely the safest country I have ever traveled / lived in but this may be due to the fact that the Socialist Government severely penalizes anyone harming a foreigner.

3) Vietnam Tourism #3
Challenges or obstacles while traveling around Vietnam and how did you overcome these challenges? 

Like any developing nation, traveling around Vietnam can sometimes be frustrating and you have to allow for being hassled and ripped off occasionally, in hotels and with transportation. This comes with the territory, as Vietnam is a poor country and naturally, locals will try it on. Of course, if you are on an organized tour group, you are not going to experience this so much. And Vietnamese driving skills are probably the worst I have ever encountered, so that's something to bear in mind, as there are many road accidents here and traveling long distances can sometimes test the patience of a saint.

For me, it's just been a privilege, stimulating and exciting, traveling around Vietnam and South-east Asia over the years and then writing about it. Although it's been a selfish catharsis, I hope in some ways that my articles and books published on Vietnam has helped promote the country's tourism possibilities and make people understand better how Vietnam has dramatically changed from the war years. It has certainly been interesting cataloging Vietnam's rapid development, especially witnessing the rise of sophisticated, luxury resorts, spas and restaurants, etc.

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