At the end of a holiday, it’s always nice to book some time for a bit of R&R, to savour the final moments of serenity and relaxation. At the end of our Vietnam trip, we did just this: booked two nights at the Emeralda Resort & Spa in Ninh Binh, about two hours south of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.
Ninh Binh itself is a small, typical Vietnamese city, but pulling into the Emeralda Resort & Spa will take your breath away. Lined with palm trees and local flowers, the main drive leads to a stunning reception centre, with classic Vietnamese architecture. The resort has as sprawling property, and the entire design reflects that of a traditional northern Vietnamese Tonkin village, with clusters of bungalows and gardens throughout.
The resort has 176 villa accommodations, ranging from superior to deluxe to duplex. The clusters can have their own small pools, or guests can venture to the main central pools (both indoor and outdoor). Rooms are beautiful, with a traditional, rustic charm in gorgeous wooden ceiling beams, free-standing bathtubs, wooden furnishings and outdoor showers. The bed was by far the most luxurious and comfortable of our entire holiday.
Other Emeralda amenities include two restaurants, a wine bar, fitness centre, mini-golf, full-service spa and daily tai chi, yoga and meditation classes. The breakfast buffet – which is included in the price of a room – is superb, with French pastries, yoghurts, fresh tropical fruits, western and Vietnamese fare.
The resort is located on the edge of the Van Long Nature Reserve, a tropical forest with calm waterways running throughout. One of the highlights of our visit was renting bikes from the Emeralda and biking along the nature reserve. For about $4 US, a local rower will also take you around by boat to the reserve’s grotto. We even lucked out and saw two clans of endangered monkeys in the surrounding limestone islands!
Emeralda also organizes a wide variety of excursions for guests, to make the most of seeing the surrounding scenery. Half and full day trips can be easily booked with the reception staff, or a private driver can even custom-cater to where you’d like to visit: the Tam Coc rice fields and waterways, Cuc Phong National Park for wildlife watching, Van Trinh cave, Kenh Ga floating village, Phat Diem stone cathedral, Bai Dinh pagoda, or Trang An eco-tourism complex. In all excursions, an English-speaking guide will accompany you for the day, to explain the history and highlights of the area.
Text: Lydia Parafianowicz