They say that location is everything. And in the case of Mia Nha Trang, location certainly makes this elegant, upscale resort stand out from its contemporaries. Set in a bay with a backdrop of soaring cliffs and a road winding its way above, there is something special about this little slice of paradise.

The backpacker trail in Southeast Asia has legendary stop-off points at every step. Opened three years ago, the leafy, Easy Tiger hostel in Phong Nha has already etched itself a place in folklore.

Nestled away in Yen Bai province, 170km from Hanoi, on the banks of the quiet Thac Ba Lake, is La Vie Vu Linh. It’s an eco-lodge, built according to local traditional techniques in the midst of the Red Dzao minority Ngoi Tu Village. It promotes eco-tourism in harmony with the local population and the environment.

When Ben and Bich Mitchell first opened Phong Nha Farmstay in December 2010, the local consensus was that they had a screw loose.

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Needing two flights to reach a destination for a short holiday is never a comfortable experience, yet Sofitel Luang Prabang was worth much more than that effort.

Photo by Julie Vola

I often find myself wishing I could live in a hotel, but I suppose if five-star service and soft pillows became your day-to-day, it wouldn’t be as special. So I settle for those rare staycations, when you just need a break from it all and someone to take care of everything for you, even down to the q-tips and the hand towels. I check into a nice hotel on a Saturday night, bask in the rain shower, order wine to the room, and prance around in a big white robe. It’s more relaxing than a vacation, really, because you don’t even have to travel.

Photo by Trung Del

La Veranda smells like lemongrass. It feels like the home of French aristocrats in 19th-century Vietnam. Fitting, as this Accor-managed, four-star resort on a private strip of Phu Quoc’s Duong Dung Beach was built 12 years ago by a French-Indochine family with four generations of history in Southeast Asia. The resort’s 70 rooms face west onto the Gulf of Thailand, which translates into idyllic tropical sunsets.

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