Having scrolled through multiple videos and posts on the Bamboo Basket Boat Ride in Hoi An, canoeing in the shimmering waters of Ha Long Bay and the bustling streets filled with charming colonial architecture and markets of Old Quarter in Hanoi, Vietnam has undoubtedly become one of the hottest destinations on my travel bucket list. While I hope to visit all these spots someday, I took a short detour from the regular and visited a rather untapped locale. Do a quick Google search on the Grand Ho Tram Strip and the phrase ‘Vegas of Asia’ pops up. That’s what lured me in. A two-and-a-half-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City brings me to Vietnam’s entertainment destination, which stretches across 2.2 km along the coastline of the East Sea. I was ready to experience its many offerings.
As I enter my suite at InterContinental Grand Ho Tram Strip—one of three 5-star properties at the entertainment complex—I switch on the button that operates the mechanised curtains. Slowly drawing open from the middle and gliding across both sides, the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows makes my jaw drop. At one end, I see the expansive golf course and at the other, the varying shades of blue in the East Sea. I’m immediately at ease.
After taking in the space, I explore the rest of the room which comes with a kitchen area, a gorgeous bathroom featuring a bathtub and rain shower, and a cosy room offering the same ocean and golf views. The InterContinental Grand Ho Tram is the ultimate escape for those seeking a peaceful and comfortable stay. Before I checked in here, I spent one night at the Holiday Inn Resort Ho Tram Beach, another hotel that lies in the same complex. Being a water baby, the cool blue colour palette along with the breathtaking ocean view from my Cabana-style room made me like this space a tad bit more.
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If you want to take the level of luxury a notch higher, you can also choose to stay in a pool villa at the newly launched Ixora Ho Tram by Fusion, which has opened its doors at The Grand Ho Tram.
A Round Of Golf
The view of the endless greens from InterContinental is courtesy of The Bluffs, an 18-hole championship golf course designed by The Great White Shark aka the legendary golfer Greg Norman himself. Positioned as #1 in Vietnam, The Bluffs Grand Ho Tram Strip offers a unique golfing experience among the dunes of southern Vietnam and dramatic ocean views for golfers of all levels.
Following a fulfilling lunch at the Infinity restaurant at the golf club, we hop onto the cart to go on a tour of the expansive golf course. And of course, we stop by to try our hand at the sport. It’s not as easy as it looks. As a beginner, I struggled initially, but once I got a hang of it, I enjoyed it. It’s tough to follow your fitness regimen when you’re on vacation but swinging the golf stick multiple times–in continuous attempts to strike the golf ball–sorted my arm workout for the day.
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All that golfing left me knackered. So coming back to a hot stone massage at The Grand Spa in InterContinental was a blessing. Muscle by muscle, the massage therapist eased every knot in my body which released all the tension and sent me into a deep slumber. The next day, I experienced the signature 90-minute mud scrub therapy at the Holiday Inn’s Lotus Spa, which left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The Vegas of Asia ensures you’re occupied and entertained with multiple activities. While adults can try their luck at the gaming house, kids can spend time in the arcade zone. And if you’re looking to spend quality time with the family, watch the latest films at the cinema house called Beta Ho Tram or test your vocal cords and tune in to the Jukebox Karaoke.
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Shopping enthusiasts can check out the stylish silhouettes at The Grand Boutique whereas aqua lovers can dip into the infinity pool that faces the sea, get adventurous with surfing or kayaking, or simply take a stroll on the beach.
The highlight for me? Witnessing the Angel’s Fighting Championship 25 live at the Grand Ho Tram Strip. Being a beginner in MMA, it was very interesting to watch 5 bouts of the top MMA fighters exchanging heavy punches and high kicks. Moments of bloodshed made me uncomfortable in between but the sudden blows that no one saw coming piqued everyone’s interest in the game. Brazilian Robson de Olivera Soares emerged as the winner after he knocked out Philipino Rene Catalan Jr in the main card at the AFC 25. The whole atmosphere filled with intensity and cheer and the added bonus of sipping on sparkling wine made it a memorable moment for sure.
Boasting of 15 restaurants and bars, The Grand Ho Tram spoils you for choice. Chef Dung Tran ensured we were well fed.
In the mood for Cantonese? Ju Bao Xuan prepares exquisite delicacies presented with a contemporary flair. The Oven-roasted Peking Duck and Sweet Black Sesame Rice dumplings with Crushed Peanuts were the standouts for me. The Grand Bistro is a formal yet relaxed dining space with fusion food – I enjoyed the Fried Duck And Foie Gras Spring Rolls and Roasted Chilean Seabass. Being a seafood lover, Khoi BBQ was my favourite restaurant. Letting go of all dining etiquette, I used my hands to break into the lip-smacking lobsters and crabs and devoured my meal unabashedly.
Fuel Sports Bar is a great spot to grab a drink (my favourite pick is the whisky-based Ghost Rider) and unwind with friends against a backdrop of live music or even enjoy a game of pool. But if you’re looking for a hardcore party scene, you cannot miss out on Roxy’s, the nightclub that drops the sickest beats for you to let your hair down and dance the night away.
You can’t leave Vietnam without tasting some of its traditional delights. Two restaurants Lemongrass and Ginger gave me the taste of classic Vietnamese food during breakfast and lunch. While I loved biting into the Vietnamese spring rolls and banh mi sandwich, sipping on Vietnamese coffee, and of course, digging into the very comforting bowl of Pho (which I learned is a great hangover cure), there are two dishes that won over my heart (and belly)–the Bún bò Huế (Vietnamese rice noodle dish with sliced beef and pork) and Morning Glory (a leafy veggie tossed with garlic and served as a salad).
With pristine blue waters and an accessible beach, a sprawling golf course, five swimming pools and multiple culinary offerings, among many other engaging activities that’ll make you forget all your worries and woes, the Grand Ho Tram Strip brings luxury, comfort, entertainment and relaxation all under one roof. In fact, you won’t be surprised if you don’t feel the need to leave the property.