Where to go on vacation in the winter, if you want to the sea, the sun and warm weather? The choice is pretty big. For example: Thailand, India, UAE, Cuba, Vietnam. Another resort in the tropical region appeared recently. This is the island of Hainan (China).
It is said that China compensates for their tour operators part of the cost of tourists transportation from Russia. This has led to the fact that the tour from St. Petersburg to the island of Hainan (Chinese resort island) can be purchased at a price much cheaper than the cost of a regular flight.
I do not know if there is such in other countries. What is a Fortune tour in Russia? This is when you do not know exactly what hotel you will live in. For example, a tour of the system "Fortune 3*" means that you will stay in a three-star hotel, but in which specifically you will find out only upon arrival to the place. You can smile luck (fortune) and it can be like a very good hotel in a good place, or maybe in a different way. Tours on the "Fortune" system usually cost a little less than tours to a particular hotel.
Tour to China, the island of Hainan to the hotel Infinity Ocean Beach Resort was bought in early December. The flight was scheduled for December 22. Chinese Tour Operator, "Pearl River". (Not all tour dealers work with this tour operator. In the Internet there is information that the tour operator does not always give guarantees that the client will get what he expects.) But the day before the departure it turned out that China does not take the plane. There is no information about the reasons. The tour to China was replaced at the last moment by a tour to Vietnam. Fortune is either "not fortune", time will tell.
The flight from St. Petersburg to Vietnam lasts approximately 11 hours. We flew on an airplane airline Pegas Fly. Aircraft Boeing 767-300, made in the budget version and it seems that it is quite old. The chairs are very close together to accommodate more passengers. Knees rests on the back of the seat in front. The inconvenience was compensated to some extent by friendly staff.
Golden Peak resort & SPA
Golden Peak Resort & SPA is located in Cam Ranh, about 20-25 kilometers south of the popular city of Nha Trang and about 10 to 15 kilometers north of the center of Cam Ranh. The hotel is quite good and is located next to the excellent Bai Dai beach. The hotel has its disadvantages that you need to know if you're going to go to this hotel.
Near the hotel there are no food stores, where you can buy food (drinking water).
There is no cafe where you can eat near the hotel.
Cam Ranh can be reached only by taxi from the hotel to.
A free bus runs once a day from the hotel in Nha Trang, (you need to register in advance at the hotel reception).
In winter, the beach can be very uncomfortable (wind, strong waves and sometimes rain).
There are no interesting events; there is nothing to do here, especially young people.
Swandor Resorts Cam Ranh
The neighboring Swandor Resorts Cam Ranh hotel is much better. The hotel offers accommodation both on the All Inclusive system and half board. The hotel has a litle shop, pharmacy and playgrounds for children. There are buses from the hotel in Nha Trang (the ticket price is about $ 5 for a return ticket.)
In the photo, the site of the Bai Dai beach is close to the Swandor Resorts Cam Ranh and the Golden Peak hotels in December 2017. Close to the beach is the construction of good hotels held, and soon the area will be landscaped. Garbage on the beach (after the storm) is cleaned only on the sites near the hotels.
In Vietnam and China, we were offered hotel rooms with a glass wall between the bedroom and the bathroom. I've never met anyone like that before. Probably, this is the romantic interior in Southeast Asia. The transparent wall has an opaque curtain or blinds (can be closed).
Why do we need tourists? For money. All countries that seek to attract more tourists are eager to make money for them. Some people understand this too literally and are approaching the task of extracting money from tourists too straightforwardly. Sometimes prices may be higher for tourists, sometimes tourists are cheated, sometimes things and money steal from tourists. Do not relax while on vacation. Carefully study the prices, recalculate the change, without departing from the cash register. It is very important for tourists in Vietnam.
Be careful. One more time. Only during our holiday in Vietnam, according to unconfirmed reports, three tourists drowned. People went swimming in the sea after the storm, when the waves were strong. One of them was drunk. The sea does not like a frivolous attitude toward oneself. The South China Sea may not have the same character as the sea, lake or river in your home.
Everyone knows that getting a sunburn on the first day means ruining a whole holiday. The sun in the tropics is much stronger than in the north, even in winter and even if it is not visible. Sometimes it's enough for one hour in the sun in the daytime to get burnt. This is of course your business, but it is better not to go out in the sun from 11 to 15 and always use protective ointments. By the way, the usual travel insurance, as a rule, does not apply to sunburn and heat strokes.
On the Internet, there is often information that Vietnamese do not like tourists (foreigners, Europeans). A few days stay in the country on a tour is not enough to find it out. But the impression is that these have reason. During these few days we were tried to cheat in the shop and cheated on the bus. Going on holiday in Vietnam you need to understand that not everyone is happy to see us here. We are strangers here. Many Vietnamese behave quite friendly, but there are those who consider us only as a source of money or would simply prefer that we stay at home. Be careful.
There is practically nothing to do at the Golden Peak resort & SPA hotel. If there was good weather, you could sunbathe and swim. But it is also not enough for a good holiday. A strong wind was on the coast in the first two days of our vacation. A free bus delivers tourists to Nha Trang once a day, but the number of seats on the bus is limited.
The wind was only on the waterfront in Nha Trang. On other streets of the city the wind was not felt. Buses run along the embankment. We used bus routes №2 and №4. The ticket costs 7000 dong. The ticket is bought on the bus for cash. By bus number 2, you can reach the Long Shan pagoda. There is also one of the city's attractions - a Buddha statue. A little further is the shopping center Lotte Mart. There you can buy food, prepared food, souvenirs, coffee. You can pay by credit card.
Bus number 4 passes near the tower of Po Nagar (one of the attractions). Both bus routes are laid near the market of Cho Dam (we did not like the market).
There are many cafes on the streets nearest to the quay, small shops and a shopping center.
The embankment is a good place for walking, but only if there is no strong wind from the sea (and this December the wind was). It's pretty nice and you can find good places to take pictures.
Prices for some guided tours in Nha Trang. It will be better to get acquainted with the prices on the guided tours before meeting with your hotel guide.
- Dalat, 1 day - from 15 to 40 dollars.
- Fishing at sea plus snorkeling (swimming with a mask and fins, but without scuba) - 35 dollars.
- The trip to Saigon is 1 day 70 dollars and 2 days 120 dollars.
One day in Nha Trang we spent without rain, the next day the rain was almost all day, then increasing, then almost disappearing. December is not the best time to travel to Nha Trang. But, the rainy season in Vietnam is still better than the “rainy season” in St. Petersburg.
Is it worth to go on vacation in Nha Trang in December? My personal opinion. If you have the opportunity to travel at this time somewhere to another place (where the weather is better), then it is better to choose another place for vacation. It could be for example Thailand, Goa, UAE, Egypt. If you have the opportunity to come to Nha Trang at other times of the year, then it is better to do so. If there is no choice, you can spend time with pleasure here in December, but you should not expect good weather always.
Do not believe the forecasts at 100%. Weather forecasts are often mistaken. According to the weather forecast, we are now in heavy rain, in fact, the sun is shining. Tourists were warned that a typhoon was approaching Vietnam yesterday on Russian television. In fact, the wind died down the day before yesterday. The wind was really strong (this happens in St. Petersburg on the embankment too). But the wind was only on the waterfront, the wind was not felt on the streets inside the city. Promised rain heavy rain throughout the day often turns into a weak and short-term in reality. This is often true for many southern countries.
Today is the first quiet and sunny day for our vacation. a strong wind The first was two days at sea. It rained most of the day yesterday. This morning is quite sunny. The day began with breakfast on the terrace overlooking the sea. Then the inhabitants of the hotels went to the beach. The waves are quite large, red flags are on display, but you can swim near the shore. Water sometimes remains rather dirty after a storm. December is not the best time for a beach holiday in Nha Trang and its suburbs.
Tour operator Pearl River - buy or not?
International tourist company "Zhemchuzhnaya Reka" accepts tourists from Russia and the Baltic countries on the island of Hainan since 1998. In China, the company's offices are located in Sanya City (Hainan Province) and Guangzhou City.
What personally I have a complaint to the tour operator:
We bought a tour to Hainan Island (China). We were offered to replace the tour with Vietnam. I do not know whether this is an advantage or not. We would be interested in China and Vietnam too.
Hotel Infiniti Ocean Beach in China was replaced by the Golden Peak Resort in Vietnam. Formally, the replacement is equivalent, but in practice the conditions of the holiday have deteriorated significantly.
Departure on vacation was postponed to a later date, and an earlier return. The duration of our vacation was reduced by about one day, and the price remained the same.
We had to return to St. Petersburg by a direct flight, but returned via Moscow, with a transfer at Sheremetyevo Airport. This increased the duration of our flight by 6 hours. But the most sad is not even that. Nobody told us that we are flying through Sheremetyevo. No one informed the flight number and the time of departure from Sheremetyevo to St. Petersburg. This is absolutely unacceptable.
A few words in the protection of the Pearl River. We wanted to go on vacation, and we did it. We chose the tour at the lowest price in the market and realized that there were some risks. Some failures are possible for all who are engaged in any business. Only those who do nothing are not mistaken.
You decide for yourself whether to buy tours from this tour operator, or not.
Cam Ranh Airport
Most tourists arrive in Nha Trang via Cam Ranh Airport. Cam Ranh International Airport (Vietnam) is located about 27 kilometers south of Nyachang city center and about 10 kilometers north of the city of Cam Ranh. (The distance is measured in a straight line.) This is a civilian airport since 2004. Currently, the construction of the second runway is underway. The construction of a new terminal is planned.
You can get from Cam Ran Airport to Nha Trang by bus or by taxi.
You can easily find the point of sale of bus tickets at the exit from the airport. The ticket costs approximately 50 000 - 55 000 dong from a person (about 2 euro).
Perhaps you prefer a taxi? Someone does not like to travel by public transport. Travelers with children and (or) with a lot of luggage also often choose a taxi. You will find taxi drivers as soon as you leave the airport building (more precisely, taxi drivers will find you).
There is one more option. You can order a transfer (taxi, minibus) even before departure, via the Internet. It is unlikely to be cheaper, but there are tourists who prefer this method. The driver will meet you at the arrival area.
A useful option. At the airport there is a currency exchange office where you can exchange the remaining dongs for dollars.
Tickets for a plane to Vietnam you will find here.
My impressions of the trip to Vietnam
Warmly. It is very pleasant to find myself in a warm summer during the winter. Rains in Nyachang in December are much more pleasant than cold rains in St. Petersburg at any time of the year.
It's light. Northern latitudes are known for their white nights in the summer. But not often think of the dark days of winter. In December in St. Petersburg dawns around 10 am, and already about 04 pm begins to get dark. At this time, the duration of daylight hours in Vietnam is about 12 hours.
Life of cities in south-east Asia. Garbage on the streets. Chaotic traffic, noise and hooters scooters and cars. Parked motor scooters occupied the sidewalks, and pedestrians had to go out on the roadway. Crossing streets is not an easy task, until you get used. Keep in mind that scooters can go not only on the right, but also on the left side of the street. The main thing is that drivers should clearly understand what you are going to do and where you will go.
The language barrier. According to first impressions, even Vietnamese working with tourists are still poorly able to speak English. But many of them know a few words in Russian.
Holiday in Vietnam
How to spend a vacation in Nha Trang? There are two ways. The simplest thing is to buy a package tour. The price of the tour usually includes: round-trip flight, transfer from the airport to the hotel and back, hotel accommodation, selected meals at the hotel (no meals, breakfasts, half-board or all inclusive), medical insurance.
The most courageous and experienced travelers can organize their trip themselves: buy airplane tickets, book a hotel room, buy insurance.
How much does an inexpensive hotel in Nha Trang cost?
A room in an inexpensive hotel in the center of Nha Trang could be booked for January today at a price of 500 rubles per day. It will be a very simple hotel with a low level of comfort. But, nothing prevents you to choose a better hotel, in accordance with your habits and income level.
Useful links for those planning to leave for Vietnam:
For example, tours to one of the inexpensive hotels in the city of Nha Trang with a flight from Moscow. (Golden Lotus Hotel, two stars.)
Hainan is an island in the southeast of China. There are resorts, which are popular among China residents and residents of Russia on this island. The island is washed by the South China Sea.
The island is located approximately in the same latitudes as Hawaii, Goa, Cuba, and slightly south of the UAE and the Canary Islands. This is the most southerly major island of China. The island is separated from the mainland by a strait about 25 kilometers wide. The distance from the island to Vietnam is about 250 kilometers.
The length of the island from the south-west to the northeast is approximately 280 kilometers. The length from the north-west to the south-east is about 170 kilometers.
Hainan was a place where the emperor disliked people was exiled in the past. These days, those people who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the environment of large cities go to the island. This is also a popular place for residents of the northern regions of China. The best time to travel to Hainan Island is from October to March. The Island administrative center Haikou and Sanya City are the most famous cities on the island.
The climate is subequatorial. The average annual air temperature on the island is + 24 ° C, the water temperature + 26 ° C. Clear and sunny weather is on the island for more than 300 days a year. The greatest amount of rain falls in the summer period (from April to October). December, January and February are the coldest months.
The most famous city on the island is Sanya. Near the city there are several bays (Sanyavan, Xiaodonghai, Dadonghai, Yalongwan, Haitangwan), on the shore of which there are good beaches.
The main (only?) attraction of the city is a Buddhist statue of Guanyin, with a height of 108 meters. It was built in 2005.
Sanya Phoenix International Airport (SYX) is located on the Hainan Island about 15 kilometers northwest of Sanya city center. In 2015, the airport served more than 16 million passengers.