21 May

An Lam Saigon River Vietnam

Hello again travelers! Hope you’ve enjoyed my Vietnam trip through the French colonial city of Hanoi, to the cascading mountains of Halong Bay, and to the breathtaking beaches of Nha Trang. To end our trip we flew to Ho Chi Minh City to the oasis retreat An Lam of Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels. After whizzing around the bustling city we were amazed to discover this hidden jungle retreat filled with oversized palms, plunge pools, and a captivating views of the Saigon river.

An Lam Saigon Hotel Vietnam

An Lam Saigon River Vietnam

An Lam Saigon River Vietnam

A sunset cocktail and watching the river slowly roll by was just the right speed for us.

An Lam Saigon Hotel Vietnam

An Lam Saigon River Vietnam

My favorite dish at the hotel was a spicy mango and shrimp salad paired with a crisp white wine. Perfection!

An Lam Saigon Hotel Vietnam

Now that’s what I call a pool lounge! And in case that pool wasn’t enough each room came equipped with it’s own plunge pool. Decisions, decisions.

An Lam Saigon Hotel Vietnam

An Lam Saigon Hotel Vietnam

An Lam Saigon River Vietnam

We had grand plans to tour the Mekong Delta, but there was some confusion and our trip was canceled, so the hotel arranged for us to go on a sunset boat ride along the Saigon River. It was amazing to see all the large and small boats carrying fruit or dried palm leaves. And, to see hundreds of motorcylists crossing the river from one side to the other. Certainly a different way to get a feel for this part of the city.

An Lam Saigon River Vietnam

An Lam Saigon Hotel Vietnam

An Lam Saigon River Vietnam

All this guy really want to do was play in the pool. We didn’t mind. By this leg of our trip we were all feeling a bit homesick. It’s that part of your trip when you know the end is near but you’re still trying to hold on to those fleeting vacation moments. To snap out of it we took a taxi into town. It was so urban with pubs and cafes everywhere. You got the sense that this is very young and hip city. I started to feel like it would’ve been really nice to of stayed a bit closer to all the action. A couple of our favorite eateries: Country Kitchen or Cái quán qué, Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, and Pizza 4P’s. You can also check out this New York Times article for more on what to do while in Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon Vietnam

Saigon Vietnam

To wrap up this trip we have to give a great deal of thanks and gratitude to Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels and Cathay Pacific for making this possible for our family. Here at 100 Layer Cake we strive to bring you the best in inspiration, and at times, it comes with amazing perks to share our travel experiences. We hope it inspires you to take a trip of our own whether it’s a honeymoon, babymoon, or a family adventure. Sometimes you just need to get away. We know! To help make that possible Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels and Cathay Pacific are running a very nice giveaway at this very hotel. You can pop over to see all the details.

Photo: Scott Clark Photo / Accommodations: Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels / Flight accommodations: Cathay Pacific

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21 May

Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Hello travelers! After a wonderful cultural trip through Hanoi & Halong Bay, we jetsetted to Nha Trang. Just an hour drive and 20 minute boat ride from the airport we arrived at the stunningly beautiful Six Senses Resort in Ninh Van Bay. The service is insane here. From the moment you get off the plane to when you arrive at the resort you are warmly greeted by a staff member. They quickly appointed us to our own private butler, um what? Yes, that’s correct. A lovely man to take care of our every need. We felt very spoiled. At last the relaxing beach retreat we were dreaming of. We had no idea how beautiful the beaches would be and boy were we amazed!

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Resort Ninh Van Bay

Vaulted seating overlooking the water, check! Perfect for sipping cocktails and enjoying the sunset.

Six Sense Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Sense Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Six Senses Resort Ninh Van Bay

A breakfast buffet fit for a king. There were so many options like traditional Vietnamese cuisine, a decedent pastry display, waffle bar, the cutest yogurt and granola station, and the freshest juices. Clearly there was no reason to leave this little piece of paradise.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Sense Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Six Senses Resort Ninh Van Bay

Each guest is provided with their own beach bungalow, jungle retreat, or cliffside accommodations. With a mix of honeymooners and families from all over the country you always felt secluded or able to commingle with travelers at your leisure. To get around they provided bikes for each bungalow. A nice way to slow down and take in the jungle and water surrounding you.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Sense Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

While our son enjoyed the activities at the sub club, which he loved, we ventured out paddle boarding, snorkeling, and island hopping. We really needed this moment to reconnect our marriage and be adventurous. It was like we were having a mini “The Bachelor” moment. Cheesy, I know, but we were in paradise, being treated like royalty, and feeling so in love. This moment will stay with me forever!

Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Six Sense Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

We had lunch on a floating fishing farm. The farmers were so nice letting us play with their catch and treating us to a delicious spread.

Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Six Senses Resort Ninh Van Bay

Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Above, do you see that tiny house on the cliff? We were told that people live in huts 3-6 months out to of the year in search for the swallows nest. It’s a fine delicacy amongst easterners, and known as the caviar of the east. The homes are built in a particular way so as not to disturb the land. It was so impressive to see this type of living condition and what people will endure for such a prize. The bird is never harmed and they’re very sensitive to only take a few, only after the bird has made several. It’s a very delicate process.

Ninh Van Bay Vietnam

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Resort Ninh Van Bay

What an adventure we’ve had thus far, and it’s not over just yet. Join us later this morning while we eat our way through the last leg of our trip in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam tour.

Photo: Scott Clark Photo / Accommodations: Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels / Flight accommodations: Cathay Pacific

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Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam

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20 May

Hanoi Vietnam

Jillian here. Today I’m so, so very excited to share our amazing travels to Vietnam. I’ve longed to visit this beautiful place ever since hearing travel stories from family and friends, and because I had the opportunity to team up with Cathay Pacific Airways for their #LifeWellTravelled campaign, it was everything I hoped: Eye-opening, gracious, breathtaking, and delicious. Oh so delicious!

We enlisted the help of a travel agent, our trusted partners at Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels, and as mentioned, Cathay Pacific Airways. This was by far our biggest trip as a family, so working on the ultimate itinerary was super important. Together they created the perfect balance of comfort, spontaneity, and discovery. #LifeWellTravelled is not just about being able to travel often, but making each adventure the best it can be. Looking at these pictures, I still can’t believe we did it. Okay, enough talk… let’s go travel, shall we?

Cathay Pacific airport lounge

First stop: Hong Kong. We traveled via Cathay Pacific in their updated premium economy class. I’d never been on a 14 hour flight. It’s a doozy, so the premium economy offers bigger seats, more leg room, business class dining, and you can arrange lounge access. We didn’t feel like we were just killing time until we reached our destination, but actually enjoying the journey. Above is what we feasted on as soon as we arrived in The Cabin Lounge in Hong Kong. It was so nice to try the local fare right off the plane. Even if was at 6am!

Vietnam Hanio

Two hours later we arrived in Hanoi where we drove straight to our hotel, the Sofitel Legend Metropole, a gorgeous colonial hotel right in the center of town. We felt like we were in the Paris of Vietnam. Actually, to our amazement, Gustave Eiffel designed a main bridge in Hanoi. Just a little fun fact for you. Once we got settled we walked leisurely around the Old Quarter soaking up the new surroundings. The sounds of honking street bikes, the smells, and the language were intoxicating.

Sofitel Metropole Hotel Hanio

Vietnam Hanio

Hanoi Vietnam

Phó all day, every day!

Sofitel Metropole Hotel Hanio

Vietnam Hanio

Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi Vietnam

A tourist must is to take a rickshaw ride around the old quarter. It’s so thrilling. We still laugh at some of the video footage from this experience. A couple of yummy food spots to check out: the perfect Banh Mi, French colonial restaurant, best sticky rice; you can check out this link for more foodie options in Hanoi.

Vietnam Hanio

Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi Vietnam

Vietnam Hanio

Hanoi Vietnam

Our favorite cultural attractions: Museum of Ethnology, Temple of Literature, Water Puppet Theatre, and I recommend seeing the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and house.

Halong Bay Vietnam

Our next stop was Halong bay. The running joke was, how long to Halong? Ha! It was a very long 3+ hour drive from Hanoi, but SO worth it. Breathtakingly beautiful, right? We boarded a Bhaya Cruise for one night. For a little more luxury you can also take a Paradise Luxury Cruise. It was so nice to get out on the water, sip a glass of wine, and watch in wonder at all the large rocks we pass by. Very relaxing! While we only chose to stay one night, you can take longer cruises amongst less boat traffic.

Halong Bay Vietnam

Halong Bay Vietnam

Vietnam Halong Bay

Halong Bay Vietnam

Halong Bay Vietnam

Halong Bay Vietnam

Halong Bay Vietnam

vietnam-7

Halong Bay Vietnam

It was exciting to think of this trip with the idea of #LifeWellTravelled in mind. It’s about soaking up every second of the adventure with locals, fellow travelers, and those there to assist you. When traveling to far away places I love engaging in conversation with those I meet, curious about where they’re from, where they’ve been, and where to next. You’re part of this unique group of explorers. Well explorers, our next stop is Nha Trang, the southern coast of Vietnam. A beautiful fishing culture. Pop by tomorrow for more of our adventures in Vietnam.

Photography: Scott Clark Photo / Flight accommodations: Cathay Pacific Airways

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