Tag: #wanderlustluxurytravel

Hanoi Eat and Drinks Diary Part One

Hanoi Eat and Drinks Diary Part One

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Hanoi. Such a beautiful city.

Exploding with life and culture and chaos, all encompassed in beautiful French Architecture, traditional simple Vietnamese lifestyle and the freshest of fresh cuisine.

The first and most important decision when travelling is the hotel choice. This can be a make or break for your chosen time in any given city.

Without a doubt, the best hotel in Hanoi is The Sofitel Metropole. Hands down.

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The Hotel Metropole Hanoi is an award-winning French colonial-style hotel lying in the heart of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake and the magnificent Opera House.

Boasting a classical white façade, green shutters, original wrought iron detail, wood paneling and a lush courtyard lawn, the hotel is one of the region’s few remaining hotels of its era.

Located steps from the Opera House in Hanoï’s French Quarter, this legendary property brings guests into intimate contact with the opulence of another era.

Surround yourself in heritage as you stroll stately corridors and explore a dramatic past. Behind its classical white façade green shutters original wrought iron details and stately wood paneling reside over a century of stories.

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Some of the most famous people in the world have chosen to stay here. The hotel has seen a myriad of prominent visitors throughout its reign, including famous actors such as Charlie Chaplin, who one of the property’s suites is named after. Chaplin celebrated the most special of moments at the hotel, notably, his honeymoon in 1936.

Other frequent guests include revered world dignitaries and famed celebrities. It was at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi that the first motion picture showing occurred within the region, and it is the locale where Somerset Maugham wrote The Gentleman in the Palour, and where Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American.

Can you believe this….what a discovery…forty years after the bombs stopped falling on Hanoi, and less than one year after a chance discovery of an air raid shelter in its back garden, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has opened the excavated bunker as the anchor attraction in a new Path of History tour.

You can go deep underground and explore the air raid shelter built during the war.  It has been said that the guests were ushered underground during the raids and then after wards ally led back to the dining room or bar to continue socialising…How surreal.

 

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Watch my FB live video as I tour the grounds of the Sofitel.


Next stop..the full tourist day.

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If you are prepared to battle the chaotic traffic, the heat and the crowded streets, then start walking to see the amazing Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum the large memorial in Hanoi. It is located in the center of Ba Dinh Square, which is the place where Vietminh leader Ho Chi Minh, Chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam from 1951 until his death in 1969, read the Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

The structure is 21.6 meters (70.9 feet) high and 41.2 meters (135.2 feet) wide. Flanking the mausoleum are two platforms with seven steps for parade viewing. The plaza in front of the mausoleum is divided into 240 green squares separated by pathways. The gardens surrounding the mausoleum have nearly 250 different species of plants and flowers, all from different regions of Vietnam.

The embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh is preserved in the cooled, central hall of the mausoleum, which is protected by a military honor guard. The body lies in a glass case with dim lights. The mausoleum is closed occasionally while work is done to restore and preserve the body but is normally open daily from 09:00 to 11:00 to the public. Lines of visitors, including visiting foreign dignitaries, pay their respects at the mausoleum every day.

After a quick look, and a moment of silence , we hailed a taxi, negotiated a fair price ($12) and arranged for the driver to take us and see more iconic monuments before taking us back to the hotel.

The high level of humidity, the midday sun, cranky kids plus my white shorts and the now streaky spray tan streaming down my legs…was the dominating factor in this decision.  Luckily for us our driver was super knowledgeable on all historical events and monuments in Hanoi. Big bonus. Plus aircon. Double bonus.

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‘Binhs Taxi Luxury Tour’ then headed over to the beautiful Hanoi Opera House.

One of the few places in Hanoi to catch a symphony, this century-old French colonial building is a major city landmark. While the interior could use some sprucing up, this imposing Opera House is still on the list of top things to see in Hanoi, given its architectural beauty, historical significance and repertoire of internationally celebrated musicians.

Completed in 1911 after 10 years of work, in its heyday this popular Hanoi attraction served as a center for high-end entertainment, theater and classical music. Frequented by French colonial officials and their wives and largely unvisited by the Vietnamese, the Hanoi Opera House was a monument of European culture. For most of the French era, artists who performed at the Opera House were almost exclusively European, but in the 1940s Vietnamese could rent what they called ‘the Western theatre’ to hold special performances and concerts, especially to raise money for charitable causes such as victims of floods.

Just outside the Opera House is a very modern and cool coffee house. The perfect spot to sit and enjoy the iced traditional Vietnamese Coffee. As mentioned in previous posts, this was fast becoming new new obsession.

Next.. Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple.

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Hanoi tourists and locals alike head to Hoan Kiem Lake when seeking a place to get away from the noise of the city. Peaceful and quiet, the lake surrounds Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the centre on a small island.

The temple attracts many visitors and was built in commemoration of the 13th century military leader Tran Hung Dao who was renowned for his bravery in the battle against the Yuan Dynasty. Stunning, eerie and very commanding of respect. Beautiful temple.

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We jumped out here to take a walk around the lake. You will see all sorts of local customs. From the stunning Red Bridge, food stalls, and the locals enjoying lunch or practising Thai Chi.

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Before much of city wakes up and the constant hum of motorbikes kicks in, there is a peaceful “spiritual” side to Hanoi that many visitors miss. As the fruit sellers set up their wares and the children head to school in their crisp white uniforms, Tai Chi occurs daily in most of Hanoi Park’s. Its beautiful to watch. And a much needed little time out in this hustling city.

And then…..massage time. An absolute joy to have a full body massage to ease the stress of the very touristy day and unwind. Then it’s back to hotel for a cocktail by the pool and a swim and prepare for dinner.

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The City View Cafe, is an Asian bar and casual dining restaurant. It is the perfect place to sit outdoors and look down to the crazy city below. Its intoxicating. The view across the Lake is stunning and simply looking down and watching the cars, bike, buses and people all jostling to get somewhere is an amazing sight from above.

Great food, better cocktails and the ambience is priceless.

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A full exciting and wonderful day in Hanoi.

And that is how Hanoi Day one went down…… Sx

Detox and Design Tour -Phuket Cleanse Thailand- November 2016

Detox and Design Tour -Phuket Cleanse Thailand- November 2016

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Summer in coming.

That reality often sparks Summer body panic in most of us. It’s now that we scramble to get motivated and shed the winter layer that ever so quietly creeps on. Get ready for less clothing, warmer days, and if you’re like me, the agony of the annual swim wear purchase.

Well, what if I could tell not to panic. Stay calm, and it will all be fine.

I can. And it starts right here with Wanderlust Luxury Travel, in conjunction with Phuket Cleanse, and our ‘Design and Detox’ Tour to Thailand.

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Phuket Cleanse is the world’s most exciting health retreat!  I know for a fact, because I was a guest there earlier this year and really changed my whole attitude to health and fitness. It was amazing.

The Phuket Cleanse package is all inclusive, and this November, it also includes the never done before Design Element, at no additional charge.

You package includes absolutely everything – accommodation, food, cleansing protocols, fitness classes, detox master classes, transportation, excursions, laundry, 4 evening massages per week, and complimentary airport pickup.

Once you have flown into Phuket you need not spend another cent whilst you are there.
It is very flexible and you can arrive at any time of the day or night, on any day of the week, for the duration that suits your travel plans.

In November, the Interior Design team from White Chalk Design,  will be heading over to Phuket Cleanse to consult on the upcoming renovation and makeover of the current villa and retreat facilities. So we have decided to incorporate a “Design” element into the amazing current cleanse and fitness program. Design and Detox is born!

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The Design Element  

You can join us as we shop for the furniture, art and accessories in the local stores and shopping districts.

Learn the art of creating a beautiful functioning bathroom, whilst staying on budget.

How to choose the right tiles, cabinetry materials and fixtures for wet areas.

What is the best paint colour in dark rooms versus lighter rooms.

How to arrange furniture, hang art, and when to use special feature lighting and other bespoke pieces.

Come with us and learn the skills to enable you to design and manage your own renovation at home. Watch and learn as we do site and spatial plans, then arrange concept sheets and imagery for the re-design of the villas.  We can then bring 3D colour concepts to life in the construction phase.

The Design Element is scheduled during  various times in the day, so it won’t interfere with your training, yoga and fitness programs. You will be able to join in on all activities, at your own pace.

It will be very relaxed, informative and most of all, lots of fun.

 

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The Health and Fitness Element 

Experience the Raw Food Lifestyle!

Your chefs in the Phuket Cleanse Raw Food Laboratory will create for you mind blowing dishes that will stimulate your every taste bud. What’s more exciting is they will teach you how to do the same in your raw food cooking classes. You will indulge in a menu that will get your body into peak operating condition.

Each day the kitchen creates the most beautiful raw food cuisine – unique masterpieces some say. They rarely make the same thing twice unless it is a guest favourite. The raw food menu is second to none. It is comprised of fresh organic vegetable and fruit juices along with raw foods that naturally detoxify and assist in restoring the optimal function of the digestive system. We will work with you to tailor your nutritional program to fit your goals.

Click here for more info on the detox and raw food  :

Raw Food Link

 

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Fitness Goals 

Your fitness program is designed to allow you to play in your body every which way and
discover the workouts that make your body sing.

At Phuket Cleanse you create your own personal fitness program from any of the one-hour daily group exercise classes. There are many to choose from:  you can attend workouts from a diverse range of cardio, strength, and flexibility classes. Beach classes, hiking, boxing, TRX, HIIT, kettlebell, running, stretch classes, core strength ..the list goes on and on. And the variety is huge.

Plus..the timetable runs all day. From sunrise until sunset and then into the night. Plus…there are nutritionists, personal trainers, life coaches, wellness coaches, onsite supplements and vitamins, O2 therapy, infrared saunas, massage therapy, cooking classes, ice baths, bikes plus a beautiful pool and relaxation area.

Click here for all of the fitness programs available :

Fitness Link

 

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Yoga Time

Bikram Hot Yoga. Haha and Yin Yoga. Aerial Yoga. Power and Astanga Yoga. Partner and Acro Yoga. Beach Yoga. Sunrise and Sunset Yoga.

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Whatever your yoga style, you can experience it all here. Or, it is the perfect time to try something new. I loved aerial yoga when I was at Phuket Cleanse earlier in the year. It was really incredible. And something that I am so glad that I learned to do.

Click here for the Yoga schedule :

Yoga Link

 

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Mind 

When you meditate in the group meditation, you will experience of ‘quantum coherence’. When a group meditates together, they achieve a group synchronized brainwave state, a potent state for prayer, sending love, and doing manifestation work.

Click here for the mind series inclusions :

Mind Link

 

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The Program 

Head into Summer feeling amazing, in both mind and body.

Learn some important interior design skills .

Cleanse and feel alive again.

Make new friends.

Go to the local markets and enjoy the festivities.

Spend the day on a nearby island, via a traditional Thai fishing boat and then do some snorkelling, swimming, a beach massage or just lie in the sun and breathe it all in.

Hike up to Big Buddha, high on the hill and take in the amazing views over Phuket.

Swim in the pool and then doze in the hammock.

Stand Up Paddle Board in the ocean.

Wander down to end of the street for a mani – pedi, or more massage and beauty treatment options. (Cost not included, but very reasonably priced.)

Watch the sunrise over the water as you do your yoga mediation. Or sleep in…. The daily activity level is entirely up to you. Go hard, or go slow…your choice.

Click here to see the full Phuket Cleanse Program :

Program Link

 

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If you think this might be something you would like to do. Please send me an email and we can book you in.

The Dates

November 15th – November 22. You can choose to join 5 or 7 nights …or more.

The Price

5 days 1 person USD 2,000
5 days 2 people sharing a room USD 3,000 (USD 1,500 each)
7 day 1 person USD 2,660
7 days 2 people sharing a room USD 4,060 (USD 2,030 each)

To convert to AUD, we use –  AUD Convertor

 

Booking

Please email:  serena@whitechalkdesign.com.au to discuss booking your stay, plus anything  you want to know about this tour. We can answer your queries and send you a FAQ sheet.

Also jump onto the Phuket Cleanse site, and get a detailed view as to what it is all about.

If booking with Phuket Cleanse direct, please make sure you mention  you are wishing to book in for the ‘Design and Dextox’ tour.

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Looking forward to seeing you in November!!

 

..Sx

 

 

Vietnam Luxury Tour 2017

Vietnam Luxury Tour 2017

 

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Wanderlust Luxury Travel

Vietnam 2017

Tour Active –  10 Nights / 11 days

Tour Active plus Recharge – 14 Nights / 15 Days

Tour Price Active Only – 10 Nights : $ 5950 per person Twin Share. $ 7950 single

Tour Price Active plus Recharge – 14 Nights : $ 6950 per person Twin Share. $ 8950 single

 

Tour Style: Luxury
Tour Dates: May 2017 FINAL DATE TO BE CONFIRMED

 

Price Includes the following:

Ho Chi Minh (3 nights)

Luxury Boutique 5 Star Fully Escorted

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3 Nights’ luxury accomodation at the iconic 4.5 Star Caravelle Saigon in a Deluxe room located in the centre of the fashion, entertainment district. Free Wifi. Breakfast daily.

Saigon Street Food Night Tour on Bikes or taxi option.
Cu Chi Tunnel Tour via Speedboat along the Saigon River – Includes Lunch Ben Thanh Night Market
Day Spa Half day
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office and Saigon Cathedral of Notre Dame tour. Arrival and Departure group transport
The Wanderlust Luxury Travel Welcome Pack
Traditional Vietnamese Dinner at Nha Hang Ngon
VIP entry to Glow Rooftop Skybar

 

Hanoi (2 nights)

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Economy Flight from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi
Arrival Transfer to hotel
2 nights’ luxury accomodation at the famous 5 star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. Deluxe room. Includes WiFi. Breakfast Daily.
Tour the Old Quarter, Lake Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh Square, Vietnam Women’s Museum, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Water Puppet Theatre Show
Dinner at the Vietnamese Rooftop restaurant overlooking Lake Hoan Kiem.

 

Sapa Mountain Village (3 nights)          

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Limousine Transfer from Hanoi to Sapa (approx 5 hours)
2 Nights accomodation at 4 star Victoria Sapa Hotel. Free WiFi. Includes Breakfast & Lunch daily.
Guided tour to Lao Chai, Ta Van Village, Cat Cat, Sin Chai Waterfall
Traditional Vietnamese Market Tour.
Local Dinner
Overnight Train to Hanoi

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Transfer from Hanoi Train Station to Halong Bay
2 Night cruise on the luxury Paradise Cruise on Halong Bay and surrounding areas
Luxury cabin with Ensuite
Welcome Cocktail
Halong Bay Seafood Lunch
Cruise past Hoa Cuong Fishing Village, Soi Sim Beach, Coconut Three Islands
Tour Luon Cave area in a traditional bamboo rowing boat.
Site Seeing includes – Lan Ha Bay, Cua Van Floating village, Tien Ong Cave, Titov Island.     Vietnamese Dinners.
Sunrise Tai Chi Session on the deck
Visit Sung Sot Cave, hike up the 600 steps to the most impressive cave in Halong Bay.
Breakfast included.
Cooking Class.
On Board Spa Treatment.

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Transfer from Ha Long Bay to Hanoi Airport.
Economy flight to Hoi An
3 Nights luxury accomodation at 5 star Sunrise Premium Beach Resort Hoi An. Deluxe Room with breakfast daily.
Fully escorted tailor experience at Yaly for custom clothing.
Walk the streets Behind the Canals.
Visit Japanese Bridge
Fishing Boat tour along the river.
Walk Hoi An Ancient town
Sunrise Yoga
Optional Cooking Class
Transfer To Danang Airport

 

Itinerary Details

Day One

Upon arrival into Ho Chi Minh International Airport, you will be met by your transfer at the airport after baggage and customs/immigration clearance.
Serena will be at the hotel to meet you and ensure that check-in is smooth!
The day or night is yours to settle in, refresh with your spa voucher and acclimatise to the Vietnamese heat.

This evening join everyone for Welcome drink in the bar.

Day Two

After breakfast we take our walking history tour of Ho Chi Minh City.
Located right in the heart of the city, The Central Post Office is one of the oldest buildings in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built around 1886 – 1891, based on the design of Gustave Eiffel – a famous French architect and has become a significant symbol of the city, just like its opposite neighbour Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral, which we will also visit. Diamond Plaza is also located in this district, so a well deserved spot of shopping here is a welcome break from the heat and architectural history tour.

After the walking tour we can head back to hotel to freshen up, relax by the pool or check into the spa for a treatment.

At Sunset it is time to head over to the famous chaotic Ben Thanh Markets, to sample a variety of local produce, ‘designer’ labels and footwear.

After the markets and a traditional light dinner we can enjoy a cocktail at Glow Rooftop Bar.

Meals Included : Breakfast / Dinner

Day Three

After breakfast we take an early history tour to Cu Chi Tunnels via speedboat along the famous Saigon River.
During the Vietnam War, Communist guerrilla troops dug tens of thousands of miles of tunnels, including an extensive network running underneath the Cu Chi district northwest of Saigon. You can choose to crawl through the tunnels or follow the guide above ground. A traditional lunch on a floating pontoon on the river is provided before we head back to Ho Chi Minh on the luxury speedboat.

The afternoon is yours to relax by the pool, or take time out to use you day spa voucher.

At sunset we are collected either by Vespa (if you’re game) or taxi and taken to the back streets of Saigon for our Saigon Steer Food Tour.

A quick, fun and very tasty overview of Ho Chi Minh City’s best street food.
Get a glimpse of local life as you sample a range of dishes in a little neighbourhood that’s been serving cheap and cheerful street food for nearly 30 years.

During the tour, you’ll try everyday Vietnamese dishes, some with a little taste of France, some with a little taste of China. There’s even a little taste of Korea! We finish our eating adventures with Vietnamese dessert-in-a-glass.
This tour is designed to give you the confidence to go out and try street food on your own once you’re released back into the wilds of Ho Chi Minh City.

Meals Included : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day Four

After breakfast we will be collected via luxury transfer and taken to the Ho Chi Minh Airport for our flight to Hanoi.
Luxury transfer from Hanoi Airport to our hotel.
Once settled in at the iconic 5 star Sofitel Legend Metropole, the afternoon is yours to relax by the pool or stroll the tree lined French Inspired streets and get acquainted with beautiful Hanoi.

Tonight we shall be inspired by a traditional sunset Water Puppet Theatre show.
The folkloric water puppet guilds and villages were established and respectfully remained and preserved until now.
The Vietnamese folkloric water puppetry includes: land puppetry and water puppetry.

After the theatre show we shall dine at one of Hanoi’s famous roof top Vietnamese Restaurants, overlooking beautiful Lake Hoan Kiem.

Meals Included : Breakfast, Dinner.

Day Five

After breakfast we head out and take our guided tour to the famous Hi Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Womens Museum, walk around the Lake, and absorb the culture of the famous Hanoi Opera House in the Old Quarter.
Sampling the famous Vietnamese iced Coffee is a ‘must do’

Lunch today is casual and pulling up a stool with a local street vendor and dining on the traditional Vietnamese baguette, Banh Mi. The tasty crunchy roll with fresh herbs and meats is a refreshing treat.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to shop, or relax by the pool.

Dinner / Drinks tonight are your choice to do as you please.

Meals Included : Breakfast, Lunch

Day Six

After breakfast, we head off to stunning mountain village of Sapa. (Luxury Coach)
The Queen of the Mountains, Sapa regally overlooking a beautiful valley, lofty mountains towering over the town on all sides. Welcome to the destination in northwest Vietnam, gateway to another world of mysterious minority cultures and luscious landscapes.

Upon arrival, we will check in to The Victoria Hotel, high in the mountains and then you can enjoy a spa treatment of your choice, to refresh you from our journey.

Dinner tonight is down in the local town square.
A colourful town, full of history, you will be enchanted with the culture, the people and the vibrancy.
After dinner its back to hotel to wind down and prepare for tomorrow.

Meals Included : Breakfast, Dinner.

Day Seven

After breakfast we will be collected for our guided tour of the local villages, waterfalls and markets.
A full day of hiking Ta Phin Village, meeting the local villagers, seeing the homestay accomodation, and exploring this amazing town and nearby areas.

You will be captivated with lush rice terraces, the amazing views and the gentle villagers who live off the land. A truly spectacular day.

The afternoon and evening is yours to rest and relax.

Meals Included : Breakfast

Day Eight

After a breakfast in town, we will be taken to the local markets to partake in the culture that keeps this town buzzing. Produce, local handicrafts and fabrics aplenty. You will be tempted to buy the most amazing cloths and bags. The colour, smell and chaos will cement how amazing this part of the world is.

After lunch, we will drive to the nearby water falls and marvel at the beauty of the waterfall and nearby caves.

This evening we head back to the main town for dinner and then we board our overnight train. The Victoria Express, back to Hanoi.

Meals Included : Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner.

Day Nine / Ten

After an early arrival into Hanoi, we will then be met by our transfer coach and driven to Halong Bay, to board a traditional Indochine vessel for our Halong Bay cruise.
Designed in the style of a traditional Vietnamese junk, it features a spa and sauna. A large sun terrace is available onboard. Free WiFi is available.

The Paradise Luxury Classic is the only ship in Halong Bay to offer royal banquets- don the robes of a dignitary and feast on a menu of delectable Vietnamese cuisine fit for a king. Relax on the sundeck, furnished with comfortable outdoor bed.
Between mealtimes and excursions take part in onboard activities, including cooking demonstrations and an introduction to Vietnam’s fascinating tea and cafe culture.

• Halong Bay Seafood Lunch
• Cruise past Hoa Cuong Fishing Village, Soi Sim Beach, Coconut Three Islands
• Tour Luon Cave area in a traditional bamboo rowing boat.
• Site Seeing includes – Lan Ha Bay, Cua Van Floating village, Tien Ong Cave, Titov Island. •Vietnamese Dinners.
• Sunrise Tai Chi Session on the deck
• Visit Sung Sot Cave, hike up the 600 steps to the most impressive cave in Halong Bay.
• Breakfast included.
• Cooking Class.
• On Board Spa Treatment.

Day Eleven The Relax Package Commences

Today we travel back to the Hanoi Airport, via luxury transfer and board our flight to Hoi An.
** Or if you are leaving us here you can board your next flight to your onward destination.

Upon arrival into Hoi An, we will be transferred via coach to the Luxury 5 star Sunrise Premium Beach Resort, located right on the beach in Hoi An.
The evening is yours to unwind and swim in the large pool or at the beautiful beach. Dinner tonight is located at the poolside bistro.

Day Twelve

Breakfast at your leisure.
Relax by the pool. Lie on the sunbeds at the beach.
Today is all about unwinding and relaxing.
Got for a bike ride to the surrounding beaches, walk across the road from the hotel and have relaxing massage. Do a workout in the state of the art gym. The day is all yours to do as little or a much as you like.

At sunset we will head into Old Hoi An, to wander the streets, and admire the beautiful old town which seemingly has been frozen in time.
A bustling fishing village, it has old world charm and character of the French and Asian influence.

If you would like to visit our recommend tailor Yaly and have garments made, tonight is the night to do so.
We will dine locally in Old Hoi An tonight.

Meals Included : Breakfast, Dinner.

Day Thirteen

Sunrise Yoga
Breakfast
Rest day

Day Fourteen

The morning is yours to do as you wish.
Late afternoon we will take traditional fishing boat along the river to Old Hoi An. We will go and collect any custom made clothes.
Walk over the famous Japanese Bridge, light a river candle and make a wish, then onto a local restaurant for our farewell dinner.
Then its back to hotel to pack and prepare for departure tomorrow.

Meals Included : Breakfast, Dinner.

Day Fifteen

Check out, say our goodbyes and begin the journey home or if you’re continuing on..to your next destination.

 

Not included in tour

International Airfares; Items of a personal nature; phone calls; passport; laundry; tips except for meals/beauty services included in the itinerary (beverage tips separate); personal transport; vaccinations; excess baggage; travel insurance.
Meals not specifically mentioned in the itinerary; beverages unless specifically described. Optional excursions or activities that may be offered but not included in the tour price.

Hanoi Eat and Drinks Diary Part One

Hanoi Eat and Drinks Diary Part One

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Hanoi. Such a beautiful city.

Exploding with life and culture and chaos, all encompassed in beautiful French Architecture, traditional simple Vietnamese lifestyle and the freshest of fresh cuisine.

The first and most important decision when travelling is the hotel choice. This can be a make or break for your chosen time in any given city.

Without a doubt, the best hotel in Hanoi is The Sofitel Metropole. Hands down.

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The Hotel Metropole Hanoi is an award-winning French colonial-style hotel lying in the heart of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake and the magnificent Opera House.

Boasting a classical white façade, green shutters, original wrought iron detail, wood paneling and a lush courtyard lawn, the hotel is one of the region’s few remaining hotels of its era.

Located steps from the Opera House in Hanoï’s French Quarter, this legendary property brings guests into intimate contact with the opulence of another era.

Surround yourself in heritage as you stroll stately corridors and explore a dramatic past. Behind its classical white façade green shutters original wrought iron details and stately wood paneling reside over a century of stories.

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Some of the most famous people in the world have chosen to stay here. The hotel has seen a myriad of prominent visitors throughout its reign, including famous actors such as Charlie Chaplin, who one of the property’s suites is named after. Chaplin celebrated the most special of moments at the hotel, notably, his honeymoon in 1936.

Other frequent guests include revered world dignitaries and famed celebrities. It was at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi that the first motion picture showing occurred within the region, and it is the locale where Somerset Maugham wrote The Gentleman in the Palour, and where Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American.

Can you believe this….what a discovery…forty years after the bombs stopped falling on Hanoi, and less than one year after a chance discovery of an air raid shelter in its back garden, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has opened the excavated bunker as the anchor attraction in a new Path of History tour.

You can go deep underground and explore the air raid shelter built during the war.  It has been said that the guests were ushered underground during the raids and then after wards ally led back to the dining room or bar to continue socialising…How surreal.

 

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Watch my FB live video as I tour the grounds of the Sofitel.

Next stop..the full tourist day.

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If you are prepared to battle the chaotic traffic, the heat and the crowded streets, then start walking to see the amazing Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum the large memorial in Hanoi. It is located in the center of Ba Dinh Square, which is the place where Vietminh leader Ho Chi Minh, Chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam from 1951 until his death in 1969, read the Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

The structure is 21.6 meters (70.9 feet) high and 41.2 meters (135.2 feet) wide. Flanking the mausoleum are two platforms with seven steps for parade viewing. The plaza in front of the mausoleum is divided into 240 green squares separated by pathways. The gardens surrounding the mausoleum have nearly 250 different species of plants and flowers, all from different regions of Vietnam.

The embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh is preserved in the cooled, central hall of the mausoleum, which is protected by a military honor guard. The body lies in a glass case with dim lights. The mausoleum is closed occasionally while work is done to restore and preserve the body but is normally open daily from 09:00 to 11:00 to the public. Lines of visitors, including visiting foreign dignitaries, pay their respects at the mausoleum every day.

After a quick look, and a moment of silence , we hailed a taxi, negotiated a fair price ($12) and arranged for the driver to take us and see more iconic monuments before taking us back to the hotel.

The high level of humidity, the midday sun, cranky kids plus my white shorts and the now streaky spray tan streaming down my legs…was the dominating factor in this decision.  Luckily for us our driver was super knowledgeable on all historical events and monuments in Hanoi. Big bonus. Plus aircon. Double bonus.

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‘Binhs Taxi Luxury Tour’ then headed over to the beautiful Hanoi Opera House.

One of the few places in Hanoi to catch a symphony, this century-old French colonial building is a major city landmark. While the interior could use some sprucing up, this imposing Opera House is still on the list of top things to see in Hanoi, given its architectural beauty, historical significance and repertoire of internationally celebrated musicians.

Completed in 1911 after 10 years of work, in its heyday this popular Hanoi attraction served as a center for high-end entertainment, theater and classical music. Frequented by French colonial officials and their wives and largely unvisited by the Vietnamese, the Hanoi Opera House was a monument of European culture. For most of the French era, artists who performed at the Opera House were almost exclusively European, but in the 1940s Vietnamese could rent what they called ‘the Western theatre’ to hold special performances and concerts, especially to raise money for charitable causes such as victims of floods.

Just outside the Opera House is a very modern and cool coffee house. The perfect spot to sit and enjoy the iced traditional Vietnamese Coffee. As mentioned in previous posts, this was fast becoming new new obsession.

Next.. Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple.

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Hanoi tourists and locals alike head to Hoan Kiem Lake when seeking a place to get away from the noise of the city. Peaceful and quiet, the lake surrounds Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the centre on a small island.

The temple attracts many visitors and was built in commemoration of the 13th century military leader Tran Hung Dao who was renowned for his bravery in the battle against the Yuan Dynasty. Stunning, eerie and very commanding of respect. Beautiful temple.

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We jumped out here to take a walk around the lake. You will see all sorts of local customs. From the stunning Red Bridge, food stalls, and the locals enjoying lunch or practising Thai Chi.

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Before much of city wakes up and the constant hum of motorbikes kicks in, there is a peaceful “spiritual” side to Hanoi that many visitors miss. As the fruit sellers set up their wares and the children head to school in their crisp white uniforms, Tai Chi occurs daily in most of Hanoi Park’s. Its beautiful to watch. And a much needed little time out in this hustling city.

And then…..massage time. An absolute joy to have a full body massage to ease the stress of the very touristy day and unwind. Then it’s back to hotel for a cocktail by the pool and a swim and prepare for dinner.

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The City View Cafe, is an Asian bar and casual dining restaurant. It is the perfect place to sit outdoors and look down to the crazy city below. Its intoxicating. The view across the Lake is stunning and simply looking down and watching the cars, bike, buses and people all jostling to get somewhere is an amazing sight from above.

Great food, better cocktails and the ambience is priceless.

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A full exciting and wonderful day in Hanoi.

And that is how Hanoi Day one went down…… Sx

We are off to Hawaii. Come with us.

We are off to Hawaii. Come with us.

 

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The Wanderlust Luxury Travel  – Hawaii 2017 – is now taking bookings.

Wanderlust Luxury Travel is a bespoke luxury travel group, created specifically for the solo woman traveller.

If you’re keen to travel but not keen to go alone…and equally don’t want to be just a number on a crowded tour bus..then this is perfect for you!
Wanderlust Luxury Travel is a 5 star personalised tour company for women only, travelling to amazing destinations worldwide.
Think; shopping, fine dining, fashion, interior design and architecture, roof top bars plus health and fitness.

Its a total balance tour for girls who want to do it all.
Small groups limited to 8-10 women.
And your host? None other than yours truly!

Jump in quickly so you don’t miss this special promotional price.

See Below and email all enquires to info@whitechalkdesign.com.au

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Wanderlust Luxury Travel Hawaii 2017

Tour Details

Tour Price: $5500 per person Twin Share. Single person supplement $1500
Partial ocean View Balcony Room
(city view option is offered at a reduced price. )

Tour Style: Luxury Boutique 5 Star Fully Escorted
Tour Dates: March 2017 FINAL DATE TO BE CONFIRMED (7 night / 8 days )

Price Includes:

 

7 Nights’ luxury accomodation at the iconic 5 star Moana Surfrider located right on Waikiki Beach. Partial Ocean View. Free Wifi. Breakfast daily.

Moana Surfrider Historical Tour
Aqua Aerobics Daily
Hula Lessons, Lei Making, Ukulele Lessons.

Arrival and Departure group transport
The Wanderlust Luxury Travel Welcome Pack (includes a day spa voucher and discount shopping vouchers )

Breakfast Daily

Pre-dinner welcome cocktail

Welcome dinner at Moana Surfrider including wine

Surf Lesson on Waikiki Beach

The North Shore Hawaiian Food Tour (full day)

Fully guided tours of Iolani Palace and the stunning architecture at The Shangri-La retreat formerly owned by heiress Doris Duke.

Fully escorted tour through the famous Waikele outlet shopping malls and Ala Moana Shopping Centre plus the furniture / homewares district (includes discount booklet)

Half day snorkelling and picnic brunch at stunning Hanauma Bay

A traditional sunset Luau Dinner

Waikiki  Beach Sunrise / Sunset Yoga Daily

Skybar Cocktail Night VIP status
Sunset Champagne Catamaran Cruise from Waikiki Beach

Brunch & Morning walk up to the Diamond Head State Monument and Lighthouse Saturday farmers market (if available)

Stand UP Paddle Board lesson and Scuba Diving (additional cost)

Life Coach / Wellness Session available  (additional cost)

 

Itinerary Details

Day One

Upon arrival into Honolulu International Airport, you will be met by your transfer at the airport after baggage and customs/immigration clearance.
Serena will be at the hotel to meet you and ensure that check-in is smooth!
The day is yours to settle in, refresh with your spa voucher and acclimatise to the beautiful Hawaiian pace.

This evening a drink in the bar before our welcome dinner at The Moana Surfrider. Meals Included : Dinner (wine included)

Day Two

Shopping Day – Today we head to the amazing Waikele Outlet Shopping Mall for bargains on all designer clothing & footwear.
Saks 5th Ave, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Guess, Nine West plus many, many more designer labels. You’ll need strong arms to carry out all of your amazing purchases…

The afternoon is yours to relax on the beach or by the pool. Dinner and drinks tonight at Dukes on the beach (optional)

Meals Included : Breakfast

Day Three

After breakfast we will be collected for our Hawaii Food Tour. This is a full day tour to the North Shore and is a showcase of scenic wonders, amazing food (garlic shrimp, genuine Hawaiian food, roadside grinds, decadent and rich pastries, & more!), You’ll even have time for a personal shopping break in a historic coffee and chocolate plantation!

This a full day so drinks and dinner once we return to the hotel is optional.                      Meals Included : Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Four

Sunrise Beach Yoga followed by breakfast.

For those who are keen for a rest day, today is perfect to soak up the sunshine, swim or book in for massage, learn to surf or try stand up paddle boarding. If you’re feeling more energetic hit the stores right across the street from our hotel. Sephora, H&M, Kate Spade, plus Luxury Row; Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci…

Tonight we set sail and watch the beautiful sunset over Waikiki Beach for our Sunset Holokai Catamaran Cruise.
Get soaking wet on the nets or kick back and relax on the comfortable main deck. All drinks included on this 1.5 hour tour.

Dinner at a local nearby Taqueria is optional.

Meals Included : Breakfast, Sunset Drinks.

Day Five

After breakfast we head out and take our guided tour to the Shangri-La Museum and the Iolani Palace.

One of Hawai‘i’s most architecturally significant houses, Shangri La was a retreat and sanctuary for a woman, Doris Duke, who greatly valued her privacy. In the late 1930s, Doris Duke built her Honolulu home, Shangri La, on five acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head.
Shangri La incorporates architectural features from the Islamic world and houses Duke’s extensive collection of Islamic art, which she assembled for nearly 60 years.
In her will, Duke set in motion plans to open Shangri La to the public as a place for the study of Islamic art and culture.

Iolani Palace, the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy, is a marvel of opulence, innovation and political intrigue. Meticulously restored to its former grandeur, this National Historic Landmark in downtown Honolulu tells of a time when their Majesties, King Kalakaua, who built the palace in 1882, and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, walked its celebrated halls.
We will immerse ourselves in Hawaii’s royal heritage.

Tonight we head to the Skybar as VIP guests. High above the streets of Waikiki we can sip cocktails and unwind from our full day of sightseeing.
Dinner Optional.

Meals Included : Breakfast

 

Day Six

An early start for our day at glorious Hanauma Bay. Snorkel the pristine waters at one of the most popular natural attractions in the world. You’ll spot schools of colourful fish and perhaps even dolphins and turtles. The safe inner reef is perfect for beginners, while the more challenging outer reef will thrill advanced snorkelers on Hanauma Bay.

We will arrange delicious picnic hampers for lunch and provide all of your snorkelling equipment.

After the bay, we will head back to the hotel to relax by the beach or pool, or you can head to Ala Moana Shopping centre to top up your shopping. It is the largest out door mall in the Northern Hemisphere. So prepare to shop!

Dinner Tonight is a traditional Polynesian Luau at a nearby beachside location. Watch the sunset over Waikiki Beach and shake your hips to the rhythmic sounds of the the traditional island drums.

Meals Included : Breakfast/ Brunch / Dinner

Day Seven

After breakfast we will head to the Diamond Head State Monument. A short hike to the top of the mountain and you can see all the way across to downtown Honolulu and the beautiful stretch of Waikiki Beach. Stunning views and a great way to start the day.
For those who wish to go to the Farmers Market we can visit on our way back to the hotel.

Once back to the hotel, the remainder of the day is all yours to enjoy. More shopping, more reading, more swimming, more anything……

A farewell drink tonight at The Mai Tai bar on the beach followed by a light dinner (optional) and then it is back to the hotel to pack and confirm departure details for the next days’s checkout.

Meals Included : Breakfast

** Please note if you would like to book a session with our life coach whilst in Hawaii this is to be billed separately and booked prior to departure.

We require the minimum number of 6 guests to proceed with the tour.

Not included in tour

Airfares; Items of a personal nature; phone calls; passport; laundry; tips except for meals/beauty services included in the itinerary (beverage tips separate); personal transport; vaccinations; excess baggage; travel insurance. Meals not specifically mentioned in the itinerary; beverages unless specifically described. Optional excursions or activities that may be offered but not included in the tour price.

Thank you and we look forward to you joining us on this amazing tour… Sx

 

Wanderlust Diary | India

Wanderlust Diary | India

 

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So..This is how the story goes….My girlfriend texts me one day about 6 weeks ago..”Do You Want To go to A Trade Fair in India..In 3 weeks…?”…I text back immediately… “YES”

 

So without any questions about why we should or shouldn’t go to India, we went! We were off to the most incredible, amazing, stimulating, sensory overloaded country you can ever, ever imagine…

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The flight from Melbourne to Singapore was a regular flight. It was confronting arriving at the Dehli Airport..the noise, the crowds, the smells. A truly unique experience, and one I am unlike to forget.

We had arranged a driver to collect us from the airport, which I believe is always the most convenient way to go when arriving in a foreign country. Especially India.

I had reservations at The Imperial Hotel…Mainly selected for its central location, but also due to the impressive architectural detail, marble overload and an old world aesthetic. All wrapped up in 5 Star Luxury.

It was breathtaking..It was Old School India at its best….traditional but so chic and classic..Exactly where I wanted to stay….

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The Valet Attendants…Look at the Amazing Uniforms and Detail..So Proper, So Elegant..So India!!!…

And…I have so much more to Share….We haven’t even talked about the trade fair yet!!… Or The Taj Mahal..Or the Bollywood Wedding…..!!!

Intoxicating India Part 1…….Stay Tuned for Part 2 Next week……Sx