A cold, rainy London Christmas, or a sunny Vietnamese one? This year, we opted for the latter and had an amazing time, made all the more special by being able to share it with friends and family. In this part of the blog, we’ll be in Ho Tram. The next part will focus on Ho Chi Minh.
Date Visited: Overall stay from 14th to 26th December 2022 for me. Cara stayed slightly longer.
Locations: Vietnam – Ho Tram and Ho Chi Minh
Getting There: London Gatwick to Ho Chi Minh City via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. A 14-hour flight with a 2 hour layover in the nice Istanbul airport.
Cost: Return flights for me were £1,000 as I booked a bit late, usually about £800 if booked in advance. Accommodation varied but averaged about £120 per night with a buffet breakfast included. Food, drinks and transportation extra, but as it’s South-East Asia, it’s cheap compared to the UK.
Fun, sun and food in Ho Tram
Cara’s last visit to Vietnam was back in 2018, with mine pre-dating Cara’s birth! So it was great to be able to spend Christmas together, along with some friends and family. We started off in Ho Tram, about 2 hours from Ho Chi Minh city along with coast near Vung Tau. What a way to start the holiday. The vast complex of The Grand Ho Tram Strip, consisting of two hotels, a casino, cinema, games zone, lots of restaurants and pools and a beach. We stayed at the cheaper Holiday Inn for a few nights, with spacious rooms and great sea views.
Food options are plenty, but the highlight is the buffet breakfast at the Lemongrass restaurant. Friendly staff, especially to the kids, it offers a selection of Vietnamese and western cuisine where you can fill up and stay full till dinner! For the odd top up of lunch, we went to the cafe near the lobby.
Activities wise, we spent most of the time chilling by the pool and beach. There’s a few pools to choose from, including a couple of kid-friendly ones. One downside was that the inflatables by the pool require hiring. Given it was off-season and pretty quiet at the resort, it would have been nice if these were free. Nevertheless, they weren’t too pricey per hour (c.£6). We visited the games arcade a couple of times and each evening, there’s a nice light show at the main fountain.
If you want to leave the resort for a day out, we recommend visiting the Minera Hot Springs in nearby Binh Chau, about a 20 minute transfer by car from the hotel. We spent an entire day there jumping from one pool to another. This included soaking on baths of tea, flowers, coffee and wine. Our favourite was the Japanese onsen section where you can pretend you’re being slow-cooked for dinner. If the hot spring is too slow-paced for you, there’s also a water park about a 5 minute drive from the hotel.
After a few nights stay at the Holiday Inn, we mixed things up and switched hotels to the Melia Ho Tram down the road. A more fancy, upmarket yet affordable resort. We chose a standard hotel room but if you want to splash out, there are private villas available. Cara’s highlight were all the golf buggy transfers around the complex. Similar to the Holiday Inn, there’s an abundance of food and pools to select from. The hotel also offers more activities for the kids, including movie nights with free popcorn and marshmallow toasting on the beach each evening. Make sure you slap on some mosquito repellent before heading out!
As part of the buggy service, there are regular transfers to the Hamptons Pier. There’s a couple of restaurants, including a nice seafood one, and random shops dotted around. It still appears to be a work in progress with many empty shops (maybe due to the pandemic lockdowns), so perhaps we were a few years too early. It’s a couple of hours visit at most, before taking the buggy back to the resort.
After a relaxing week in Ho Tram, with our bellies already full, it was time to pack our bags again and head in to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh city.
ABC Dad Tips:
- Pack mosquito repellent and bite relief cream as there’s a high chance that you’ll be bitten once the sun goes down.
- If you don’t want to rent the hotel’s floaties, you can bring and inflate your own to use. Pool sinkers and balls will also help boost the fun at the pools.
- It goes without saying, but even during winter, you’ll need sunscreen.