Emtalks | Beauty, Fashion, Travel, Fitness and Lifestyle Blog


Friday, 11 April 2014

Travel Update 4: Paradise at Emeralda Resort: Ninh Binh/Van Long

Hello everyone! So I feel like this may be my final travel update (boo) as I'm back from my travels now and even though I have so so much to talk about and so many memories, I don't want to bore you all too much. I'm sorry I haven't posted for a few days, I'm really badly jet-lagged and don't feel too well but I'm glad I can finally post this! Here is how I spent my final days in Vietnam, we decided to do something relaxing at the end of our trip after running around so much at the start. We really wanted to visit a famous place called Sapa to do some trekking but unfortunately it was just too far away and we didn't have time so instead, we decided to visit Ninh Binh to do some similar activities. When it came round to it, we literally just completely relaxed instead of doing many activities because the hotel was so amazing and we were so exhausted. Nevertheless, we still had the most unbelievable, relaxing time and I'm excited to share this update with you...

We made the mistake of getting a bus from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, we kind of wanted to be 'real' travellers for a few hours and instead of living in luxury, we decided to take the $5 bus from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. If the bus simply took us from A-B (should have taken 2 hours) it would have been absolutely fine but the bus was a nightmare (Ocean Tours - don't book with them!) We were picked up late from our hotel, shoved onto an over-crowded bus and our luggage couldn't even fit, the driver was shouting, it was just not okay. Basically the whole journey took 6 hours and we really just wanted to get to our hotel! We had to laugh though and soon realised why we don't do buses. The 'tour guide' on the bus basically forced us to have a look around the local old town first and refused to take us to our hotel but actually, it was lovely to look around...

Apparently Ninh Binh is like Halong Bay but the land version, if you read my Halong Bay travel post then you'll probably see similarities in the hills and mountains, but I would never trade Halong Bay for a day trip to Ninh Binh, it's still beautiful but it's worth seeing both Ninh Binh and Halong Bay, you can't go to Northern Vietnam and not do Halong Bay - it's a natural wonder of the world! 

I did really want to ride this though... HOW CUTE.

As with everywhere in Vietnam, the street sellers tried to sell you everything and I was tempted to buy something because I felt sorry for them.

After 6 hours, we eventually checked in at our hotel, Emeralda resort. We instantly felt relaxed, calm and excited to just breathe and swim!


We were taken by golf cart to our private bungalow, in the bananna garden - I love the names of the parts of the hotel.

Our bed was like two double beds put together and the room was absolutely huge although it's difficult to show this on photographs

The bath was perfect, you may have seen me instagram it, it honestly felt like the best bath I've ever had. so relaxing. 

The outdoor shower was pretty epic too.

Me and Jack didn't fight over who was using the bathroom because luckily we each had a sink.

It was so big, it felt like we were in different bathrooms when actually we were stood next to each other!

Everything about the resort was very eco friendly and wooden, I liked that a lot. It was a very different but inspiring take on 'modern' interior. 

Our garden was like a gorgeous rain forest - although it wasn't raining. Beautiful roses and plants everywhere. My Mum would have loved it and I've told her she must visit Emeralda, it's the perfect haven.

The dressing table was soon turned into my make up emporium much to Jack's annoyance - no room for Jack in the inn! 

We locked up, grabbed the keys and went to explore... (everything is wooden and so pretty!) 

Fresh fruit was growing right on our doorstep

We walked through gorgeous flowers to find the most dreamy pool and spa.

We decided that we should probably eat and to my delight, there was pasta on the menu!

Unfortunately it was white pasta, as most of you know I gave up white pasta to improve my beach body (read about my fitness and gym routine here) but it was nice as a treat to indulge on some major carbs.

We were so used to running around and seeing sights that the prospect of simply 'chilling' on a sun lounger and absorbing the sun felt weird. We did it anyway and it was heavenly to just relax for a bit. Emeralda reminds me of Champneys but a much better, hotter and more eco-friendly version. 

Pool rules?

Splash, what rules! 

After drying off, it was time to relax and read some of my favourite magazines. I'd already read Glamour and Company magazine! I turn into a magazine fiend whilst on holiday.  

Jack got down to reading his book and I did some instagramming (emshelx). 

I lounged in my gorgeous playsuit from Shine Boutiques.

Then we decided to take a walk around the resort.

How adorable are these kids huts?

Roses everywhere, I love flowers so much - I actually wrote about my favourite flowers before my travels here.

The bungalows were gorgeous.

I loved the cobbled paths too. Sandals: Primark - love them and can't believe they're only from Primark.

We arrived home as the sun went in...

I could happily live here permanently ^ 

I filled up the tub before getting ready for dinner.

On our first night, we ate at the organic restaurant and ate from the set menu, I'm not really a fan of set menus but we went with it anyway and it was delicious...

The brown rice was surprisingly nice

The duck was to die for

And the cocktails were on another level.

We kissed goodbye to the restaurant and went to sleep early as we had an early morning cycling trip planned.

Skirt: Asos - old but similar here, here and here.  Top: Asos, similar here.

The next morning we rented the bikes from the hotel and cycled up the road, we discovered Van Long, a beautiful area with a cycling track which goes on for miles. 

It was boiling hot so we stopped for a self-timed photo. It almost looks fake because the background is so perfect.

We got back on the bikes after a long cycle and decided to head back.

Shorts: Hollister - very similar here, here and here.  Top: H&M years ago but similar here.

I jumped in the pool in my Triangl Underwear - I prefer to use it as a bikini. 

After building up an appetite, it was time to eat. This duck sandwich was dreamy.

Heading back to the bungalow after a scorching day we jumped in the outdoor shower.

I mix and matched my Triangl bikinis this time.

Night-time arrived and I went to our garden to photograph my outfit.
Sorry about the tan lines - I fell asleep in the sun! School boy error! 

Skirt: C/O Motel, Top, Zara, old season sorry but I found a similar one here.

And my gorgeous shoes are C/O Sole Society. How cute.

First we headed to the wine bar for some beverages...

I beat Jack at pool. Love my skirt just wish it fit me a little bit better, it's very big for me even in a size XS.

I braided my hair

and it was dinner time again

After dinner we went for a dip in the luxurious heated indoor pool

and then it was time for sleep.

The next morning wasn't as hot so I lounged in this big cosy chair in my Triangl Bikini and Ray bans, the ones I'm wearing can be bought here but I found identical ones on ASOS for just £12.00 here if you're not bothered about them being Ray Ban! 

We got dressed and headed back to Hanoi for our final final day! 

Top: ASOS, Skirt, C/O Motel, Bag, Zara, Bandeau, Forever 21.

We kissed goodbye to the beautiful Emeralda Resort and whilst we planned to do a full day excursion on one of our days there, we decided to simply relax and cycle around and swim instead, because we'd had such a hectic few weeks - we just needed relaxation and Emeralda really was the perfect place to relax. I would highly recommend visiting Emeralda, it's truly beautiful, relaxing and everything you need after too much noise in Hanoi! We got a taxi back to Hanoi this time rather than having to contend with a horrendous bus and we were 'home' in Hanoi within 2 hours.

Once in Hanoi, we decided to spend our day shopping - I bought a gorgeous silk dressing gown (eek) and then, we booked in to eat at Tripadvisors top rated restaurant in Hanoi, The Gourmet Corner. 

We tried to book in to eat here at the start of our stay but for some reason the restaurant reserved us a seat without a window, which defeats the whole objective of having amazing, sky high city views. I was so angry so we left the restaurant and had to eat elsewhere. However, we didn't want to give up on The Gourmet Corner as it's so highly ranked and so well priced so we gave it another go and I'm so glad we did as it was fabulous. 

It's hard to show on photographs the view due to the glass, but as you can see, it's beautiful. 

These are the best spring rolls I've ever eaten, seriously.

My main was delicious and really reminded me of the food I ate in Sukhothai. 

Jack's meal came inside a bamboo stick which was pretty quirky!

We ended the night with drinks at a secret roof top bar that we found.

and in the morning, woke up and said goodbye to the hustle and bustle of Vietnam. 

We truly did have an incredible time in Vietnam, it would have been amazing if we had more time - unfortunately real life gets in the way though and we couldn't travel for as long as we wanted, but we will go back and do Singapore, Thailand, Sapa and more next time, hopefully Australia too, not forgetting Southern Vietnam. Seeing just the North of Vietnam has inspired me to go back and do the South this time too, so watch this space. 

A massive thank you to Jack for accompanying me and a massive thank you to Malaysia Airlines for making the flights to Vietnam a reality, without MAS, I wouldn’t have been able to go on this incredible adventure and see such a wonderful culture and country. It makes me so upset re-reading the posts as I do just want to go back right now. 

A few quick and easy tips for you if you're planning on travelling to Vietnam:

- Some sellers do tend to make prices up out of nowhere, be careful and always barter because you will get ripped off as you're a tourist. 

- If you jump in a taxi, make sure you agree a price before you ride, the hotels told us that some of the metres are rigged so that you end up paying much more than you should do. 

- Keep hold of your bags as apparently there are a few pick pockets around, but that's just like any busy city. 

- You HAVE to eat their deep fried spring rolls. 

- Halong Bay is a must visit! 

- Premium economy is a super cosy way to fly, if you can, try get a seat next to the window because you’ll get your own little compartment to store your hand luggage next to you, this was a great touch for me because it meant I didn’t have to keep bothering the person next to me to get my bag for me. 

- I would highly recommend the golden lounges when doing a long haul flight, we literally spent our whole time in them and I’m not actually sure I’d have got through the 5 hour wait between Kuala Lumpur and Heathrow without the lounge. The lounges give you meals, drinks, wifi, television – everything you want really, there is even a shower. We would have felt extremely grotty without the lounge and would have spent a lot of money on food and drinks. 

Have you visited Vietnam? Have you enjoyed my travel updates? Do you like the look of Emeralda? 

I hope you liked my travel posts, you can read all my other travel posts here if you missed them! 

Lots of love, Em x

Don't forget to follow me on bloglovin!

Twitter | Facebook | Youtube | Bloglovin | Pinterest | Shop | Instagram: emshelx


  1. Great post! Always love reading travel posts! Vietnam looks like a beaut!

    - Keyta x

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! I've never had Vietnam on my places of 'must go to' before but it definitely is now :) thanks Em!

    Sam xx

    1. I didn't either to be honest but I'm so glad I went! xxx

  3. A beautiful post hun really enjoyed looking through your pics. This is one of the places we're going to bext year so sat here right now way to excited. Eek #hurryup2015 ha xx

    1. Aw thank you so much Hannah! eeeeek amazing!!!! you're gonna love it!

  4. This is the first of your travel posts I have read and the photographs are beautiful! The landscape there looks beyond incredible, hope you had a great time! xx

    Hannas’ UK Beauty | Lifestyle blog @ hannatalks

  5. Ah can't believe this is your last update, I've loved reading them. I went to Vietnam a few years back and all of these photos make me feel so nostalgic and it makes me realise that there is so much more to see! Looks and sounds like you've had an incredible time though. Thanks for sharing all of it with us, Em! :)


    1. Boo I know, I so want to keep writing travelly stuff! Don't worry though because I've got loads of travel things coming up this Summer - Paris in June, London for a bit of tourism rather than meetings and then hopefully America, Canada and some more South East Asia adventures eek! So I'm really happy that you liked these thank you!!! xxx

  6. OMG!!!I'm sooo jelaous!!!! This is AMAZING!

    Firmoo Giveaway

  7. Amazing selection of photos. You guys definitely made the most of your stay Xx

  8. These are soooo beautiful and gorgeous photos - it's like "looking through a window" right into the place - where the magic happen!:) I looove the pool area and the food looks also great! Your photos are just another unique holiday memory!

    NIKA Bittner

  9. your photos are stunning! reminds me of my bali holiday last year

    This Girl Loves Chic


    1. Ah I really want to go to Bali! xxx

  10. All your Vietnam travel posts are making me want to go back! I visited Hanoi and Hoi Nan last Easter and the food was just amazing. Definitely have to travel to South East Asia again soon - and visit Halong Bay on your recommendation.

    Tamsin xx | A Certain Adventure

    1. Aha, it's so perfect isn't it! Eek I want to do all of South East Asia! xx

  11. Em your hair in these pics is amazing- looks so healthy and thick, I know the sun is supposed to dry your hair out but I'd say you've definitely come off trumps here, nice work!! Hurry up summer in Englandddddddd.

    Katie xxx www.frankiesweekend.com

    1. Aw thank you so much, that's so kind!!! I just left it natural so hopefulllyyy it's growing eek! xx

  12. Looks like you had an amazing time, what a beautiful place!
    Come check out my blog :) emilyviennabeauty xx

  13. Sooooo jealous, it looked like you had a truly amazing time!! Me and my boyfriend are doing abit of travelling next year and this is one of the places I want to visit so I've got a bit of inspiration!


    Hannah x

    1. Eek I really did! Yayyy glad its helped with inspiration!!! x

  14. Ahh what amazing pictures! It looks like you had such a great time!

    1. Thank you so much! x I really did!

  15. I noticed the other day that you'd tweeted about being in Vietnam! I travelled to Thailand for a month & noticed it when I was there so was dying to see your posts about it :) I really wanted to go to Vietnam too but we didn't have the time! I'm already saving up to go back, it looks absolutely amazing judging by your pictures! Glad you enjoyed it, bet you have the travel bug like me now! :)

    elisse x

    1. Eeek! Yep, it was truly amazingggg! I'm gonna do Thailand next, I feel like I have to! Eeek everyone loves Thailand so I must visit, and yep, I really do have the travel bug oops! x

  16. All of these pictures are beautiful ! Everything looks like a dream ! I wanna be on holiday.

  17. Such a gorgeous place and fantastic holiday! I am in love with the room you stayed in - everything is just so beautiful and those tiny finishing touches including the key fob and tiny bottles of bath/shower products are simply precious. x

    1. Eek thank you it was amaazing, yep i couldnt agree more, the little touches are amazing xx

  18. Amazing photos Em! You look beautiful and the place you stayed looks absolutely dreamy! I'm very jealous! xxxxxxx

  19. Vietnam looks such a lovely place, the scenery is incredible! I love your photos, there amazing! I really want to travelling now :) haha xx

  20. I've absolutely loved reading these travel posts. Vietnam looks gorgeous. The scenery, the food, the hotels - all getting me in the mood for the summer! xx

    1. Ah thank you so much - so glad you've liked them eeek! xx

  21. I've read all your travel posts and they are all amazing! I got a bit sad reading this, and I wasnt even the one ending my trip! Haha, I've always wanted visit Vietnam, and Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia... the list is endless! Thank you for these inspiring and really well written posts! I've also written some travel posts over on my blog http://elledujour-uk.blogspot.com/ if you would like to have a look, feel free!

    Elle xx


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