Same place, new year. We enjoyed our 2022 Christmas holiday in Ho Tram so much that we decided to do it again. This time, with more family! Our family is fortunate enough to be able to escape the winter and enjoy the tropical SE Asian weather and food for Christmas. 

Date Visited: Overall stay in Vietnam from 15th December 2023 to 3rd January 2024

Locations: Vietnam – Ho Tram, Phu Quoc and Ho Chi Minh

Getting There: London Gatwick to Ho Chi Minh City via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. A 14-hour flight with an unfortunate long layover, albeit at the expansive Istanbul airport. 

Cost: Return flights for were roughly £1,200 per person this year, booking made in March 2023. Accommodation varied depending on location. It was a mix of standard hotel rooms, serviced apartments and resort villas. Average prices varied between £200 to £450 per night, sleeping between 3 to 6 people, and made up the bulk of the overall holiday cost. Food and drinks were relatively cheap, especially while dining out. 

Tricky start

After arriving at Gatwick Airport nice and early for our evening flight, we were told it was overbooked and due to our late check-in, were placed on stand-by. Unfortunately after watching everyone else board the plane, we were told the flight was full and unable to make the flight. The positives were that we’d be compensated for the inconvenience and put up in a nice hotel until the new flight the next day. Although it meant missing out on one-day that we had planned in Vung Tau, it also meant we had time to try Salt Bae’s new burger restaurant inside Istanbul Airport. Surprisingly it wasn’t too expensive considering airport prices and in comparison to his normal restaurants. Cara said the fillet steak was the best she’s had. I had the burger combo which was juicy and the fries were flavourful.  

Another positive was that we needed to book a one-night stay in Ho Chi Minh once we landed, so we decided to try the tallest one in Vietnam, The Landmark 81. The lift system to get up was intriguing, but once there the views were fabulous and the room was tidy and spacious. If you’re sharing with those not so close to you, there is a window between the bathroom and the bed, so winding the blind down would be recommended! 

The breakfast buffet included with the stay was exceptional. I’m not sure if it’s because it was the first proper meal we ate since arrival, but it was fantastic. We were the first ones there at sunrise, and the amount of selection available to guests was great, matched by the quality of the food. We finished breakfast early to ensure we had enough time for a morning swim before our transfer to Ho Tram. 

Sunny side up!

A two and a half hour drive from Ho Chi Minh to Ho Tram is still tricky with kids and traffic. Hopefully with the new airport, highway and train system being developed, transfers will be quicker and smoother in the future. The good news was that we knew we were heading to The Melia again to enjoy the food and pool. Not much else to add to last year’s Ho Tram post as The Melia is still a great resort. Lovely service and tasty food options. The pool is great and spacious. Cara enjoyed the pool more this year since she’s more confident with her swimming abilities now. One morning we walked around the resort and stumbled across its little farm and fish pond area. You can buy some food to feed its chickens, goats and bunnies. 

Unfortunately the surrounding areas of the hotel remain quite empty. We only drove past the Hamptons Pier this year and most of the lights were out. Local taxi driver confirmed it was still quiet, so we opted to dine at the local Mỹ Lệ 2 seafood restaurant. This turned out to be a great option with fresh (and cheap) seafood. Movie nights and other activities (spa, tennis, gym) are still available at the hotel. However, the majority of our time this year was spent with family, either by the pool, eating, or chilling in the hotel rooms. 

After spending a few days in Ho Tram to acclimatise, it was back to Ho Chi Minh domestic airport. Our next stop, Phu Quoc

ABC Dad Tips:
  1. Same a last year – pack the sunscreen and mozzie repellent. 
  2. Also, pack some cold and flu tablets. A lot of us ended up being ill for a couple of days with the flu due to the extreme temperature changes of being outside in the heat to the cold indoor air-conditioning.
  3. Maximise the inclusive breakfast, have a light lunch, then enjoy a nice dinner without feeling too bloated or heavy! Pace yourself!