For many, a perfect honeymoon checks a few key boxes, including but not limited to idyllic and sunny sandy beaches, a romantic resort with fluffy king-size bed, and mouthwatering cuisine and cocktails. For those newlyweds open to somewhere a bit more off-the-beaten-path, the assumption is you may have to compromise on some of that. But in Central Vietnam that is not so, in fact it’s an area that excels in all those areas, plus many more.
The city of Da Nang (Vietnam’s fourth largest, at one million people) and the colorful UNESCO World Heritage Site town of Hoi An (the one city not damaged by the Vietnam War) are part of an up-and-coming stretch of picturesque beach and sparkling cerulean sea, which is oftentimes made all the more dramatic by the presence of mountains butting up to the sand.
The expansive beaches at Banyan Tree Lang Co are evidence of that phenomenon and provide a perfect backdrop for sunbathing or, if you’re strong swimmers, playing in the surf. It’s a resort with a definite sense of place, and even more so privacy—check-in is done inside the individual villas with personal pools, some with views of the sun rising over the peaks from bed. Guests can hop on bicycles to ride over canals decorated with colored lanterns and explore the lush, jungly landscape—all these elements conspire to create a dreamy atmosphere. (It and its neighboring sister resort Angsana Lang Co also have prime venues for a proposal or wedding, by the way.)
Down the coast a bit, closer to Hoi An, the new Four Seasons The Nam Hai provides perhaps the most exotic and luxurious ideal, with its 100 completely private villas (some with private pools) designed in such a way that you seem to always be reclining or lounging horizontally—in the heavenly bed, on multiple daybeds, or inside the grand built-in bathtub that conveniently sits within colorful drapes inside the main part of the room. If there’s a place made for romance it’s here, and with three massive pools overlooking the ocean, 4,500 coconut-bearing palm trees, and a kilometer-long private beach of creamy colored sand, it’s outside, too. Alongside water sports and yoga, this region also has opportunities for wandering through lotus flower fields, hiking and perusing ruins of temples and other carved, impressive stone structures built from the 4th to 7th centuries at My Son, which means beautiful mountains.
Like all great honeymoon spots, there are plentiful opportunities to laze and sip cocktails and do next to nothing with your honey, alongside ways to get active, too, if you’re not too taxed from the wedding. If a couple signs up for one thing it should be The Nam Hai Cooking Academy (another worthwhile, easy activity is making your own personalized triangular nón lá aka leaf hats, which yes, the locals really do wear). The half-day experience changes every day—so if cooking’s your passion you may want to go more than once—and involves walks around organic gardens to learn about the local ingredients and could even include a bareback water buffalo ride in a verdant field, wearing a nón lá! Either way, guests cook a range of local dishes basically guaranteed to be delicious.
It’s a given that foodies, especially, should be drawn to this part of the world. Many know Vietnamese eats are fantastic—pho, banh mi—but in Hoi An it’s far better (each part of the long, skinny country has distinctive signatures when to comes to food). Influenced by French cuisine during the more than 60 years it was a colony of the iconic foodie country, and 1,000 of Chinese rule, the dishes in this district fuse French knowhow with Chinese staples such as noodles, pork, shrimp and Vietnam’s signature freshness (almost everything you eat here will be covered in just-picked, vibrant herbs and greens). A must-eat in town is Miss Ly—plan a few hours of strolling down quaint, ancient streets lit with colored silk lanterns, a signature of Hoi An—and go hungry, because the best plan is to order as many tasty, traditional dishes as possible to share (tip: ask nicely to order half portions).
Other top eateries include Vees Market and Morning Glory, where it’s possible to try such dishes as the noodle soup dish cao lau for breakfast (the Vietnamese believe eating hot food in the morning is good for the stomach) and white rose dumplings, a hallmark of Hoi An that is not found in any other city. The Nam Hai’s Lá Sen is an elegant option for these famed dishes (and, like the hotel as a whole, the sweetest, most accommodating staff), too, and when it comes to casual eats, Phuong Bakery is the place for the best banh mi, with varying types for about $1 per baguette sandwich.
And after all the eating is done, there’s nothing else to do but submit to some TLC. The Heart of the Earth Spa may be the most zen, peaceful place on the planet, and its treatment villas set around a lotus pond are where massage magic happens. Couples can truly indulge and book treatments that may include flower baths, foot scrubs using local salt, tuning forks and crystal singing bowls for maximum relaxation. In the evenings it’s also the place to take part in a nightly ceremony in which guests write “love letters” to the earth, an apt act during a trip that’s the ultimate celebration of love.