Ham Tien, Vietnam

Photo: Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas
Photo: Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Vietnam is your new-favorite Southeast Asian country. You’ve spent the last 10 days exploring the Hạ Long Bay islands, the Hội An canals, the Củ Chi tunnels, and the Mekong Delta. It’s been a fascinating trip in a beautiful country. But after so much running around, you’re exhausted. With only a few days until your departure, you need some downtime. Maybe a little beach time, as well.

Ham Tien, just north of Phan Thiết, is a resort town with a laid-back vibe. It became a popular beach destination after a 1995 solar eclipse. Kiteboarders and windsurfers stayed to take advantage of the steady, dry season winds. Motorbikes cruise down Nguyen Dinh Chieu, the main road. Street carts sell pork belly buns and rotisserie crocodile. While relaxing resorts grabbed up the best spots along the long, coconut-palm-lined beach.

The Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa is one of those resorts, and relaxing is an understatement. It sits around a shallow lagoon full of greenish water and even greener plants. Your villa feels like a tropical oasis. The spacious bedroom has dark wood, white linens, and pops of blue and orange. The patio leads to sun loungers and your own little pool. While the main, slate gray pool and the beach are only steps away.

Photo: Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas
Photo: Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

Spend the morning around the water. Float in your villa’s pool and read in the shade. Move to the main pool to swim laps. When it gets hot, fresh fruit kabobs and iced coffee will be delivered poolside. From the beach, watch the surfers finish their morning rides as the kiteboarders start to assemble their gear. Colorful, billowing kites soon start blowing down the beach. Though it looks terrifying, you consider signing up for a beginner’s class tomorrow.

In the afternoon, see what’s beyond the beach. Walk around the harbor in Mũi Né, a fishing village with bamboo fishing boats in a rainbow of colors. Buy steamed crabs to eat by the water and jars of nước mắm fish sauce to bring home. Go to Doi Cat, the red and white sand dunes, where kids will try to sell you plastic sheets to slide down the hill. Hike through ankle-deep water at the Fairy Stream. It looks like a mini Grand Canyon, with a bamboo forest and huge boulders lining the path. A small, cool waterfall is your reward after the 20-minute hike. Then return to the resort in time for your spa appointment. You have a synchronized, four-hand massage and a dragon fruit body polish scheduled in the wood-and-stone treatment rooms.

By now, the kiteboarders and the windsurfers have packed up for the day. The waves are calming down as the sun starts to lower toward the horizon. You can smell salt-steamed crabs, grilled cobia, and some sort of vanilla sauce drifting from Thung, the waterfront restaurant. You’re relaxed once again—how could you not be after two masseuses worked on your tense muscles—and ready for a lemongrass mojito on the beach. There’s no rush. You’re savoring every last moment of your Vietnam trip.

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