Peter's Post: Golf in Vietnam
PLUS: Best Greek islands for under-30s, and the cheapest way to visit New Zealand and Japan in one trip
We are planning to visit Hua Hin, Thailand, in September and would like to visit Vietnam for a week as well. Can you suggest the best way to get there? We would prefer a place with a golf course nearby. - Cathy Kamstra
You can travel to Vietnam by plane or bus. The journey from Thailand to Vietnam by bus is long and tiring and you have to deal with the border crossings, so air travel is the only real option. There are no direct flights from Hua Hin to Vietnam, so you would have to travel by road to Bangkok (around 200km) and then by air to Vietnam. Transport from your hotel in Hua Hin to Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok will not be a problem. You can go by bus, shuttle van, taxi or limousine. You can book that when you are in Hua Hin, where the prices are very competitive.
There are a number of choices for a beach and golf holiday in Vietnam, but I recommend the Danang area. To get there, you would fly to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and then take a one-hour flight to Danang. The area is home to a number of coastal resorts including the famous China Beach, the picturesque old town of Hoi An, the historical city of Hue and two excellent golf courses. The Montgomerie Links alongside Ha My beach was designed by Colin Montgomerie. It was voted the best course in Vietnam in 2010 and 2011.
Another award-winning course is the magnificent Ocean Dunes, designed by Greg Norman. Golf Magazine USA voted it one of the top 15 golf courses to open in the world in 2010. Affordable hotels in Danang include the two-star Mango Hotel (R166 for a double room with breakfast), the three-star Song Thu Hotel (R247) and the luxury four-star Mercure Danang (R726). All prices from www.booking.com.
The swinging greeks
I went to Ibiza last summer and want to take friends, all aged under 30, to another island in early July. I am trying to decide between Mykonos and Ios in Greece. Which do you recommend for good nightlife? Any information on cheap transport and accommodation would be appreciated. - Tom Blake
Both are great party islands, but Ios is the more affordable of the two. It attracts thousands of young travellers every year and is geared towards this market. Mykonos is more upmarket, but you can spend a night or two there as there are ferries between the two islands. There is no airport on Ios, which is only accessible by ferry. Most people fly to Athens and then take a ferry from the port of Piraeus to the island. The trip takes five to seven hours and costs around à35 (about R366) each way in economy class. If you fly to Santorini, the ferry trip to Ios will only take one hour and cost à17.50 each way. The main town on the island is Chora, which transforms from an idyllic village into a wild party zone at night. The best beach on the island is Mylopotas, which also has plenty of bars and restaurants, so you can decide where you want to base yourself. There is usually plenty of accommodation available in all price brackets, although prices soar in July and August. Most young travellers don't book accommodation in advance - rather see what you are getting and negotiate a rate. The www.loveiosgreece.com website has plenty of interesting tips about Ios. You can book ferry tickets on this site, as well as the popular www.greeka.com.
Friends in far-off places
We are pensioners and are looking for the easiest and most economical way of visiting relatives in Hokkaido, Japan; Queensland, Australia; and North Island, New Zealand. Would it better to fly to a central point such as Singapore and travel from there, or would it be better to break it into two trips from South Africa, one to Japan and one to New Zealand and Australia? - Marj Martin
You need to find a good travel agent to help you, as your routing may well depend on what specials are available at the time you want to fly. Under normal circumstances, it would be better to use Singapore, Bangkok or Hong Kong as a hub and make two separate return trips from the hub - one to Japan and the other to Australia and New Zealand.
Using one airline (in this case Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways or Cathay Pacific) is usually better value than using different carriers. However, you would need to book domestic flights in Japan, Australia and New Zealand on local airlines. A good agent should be able to find the most cost-effective flights for you. For example, if there are particularly good prices on Qantas to Australia and New Zealand, you could make your hub in Sydney. Then you could take side trips to New Zealand and Japan on Qantas from there.