8. Bai Tram Hideaway Resort
Properly peaceful hideaway Bai Tram is a place of such rare beauty you just can’t believe you haven’t heard of it before. The hotel has been here for five years yet remains neatly under the radar. Maybe that’s because getting to it is a bit of a mission. A sandy, bumpy track (more bump than track) leads past shacks with tin roofs aflame with bougainvillaea; past a wide mouth of blue water and a rickety bamboo bridge; past shrimp farms and velvet-eyed cows. The road ascends to the entrance, where you climb out of the car to take in the view: a 100-hectare sweep of creamy white sand and green bush encircled by hills, remote and stunning.
In the valley behind the beach there’s a rice paddy filled with shining water, and a lotus pond in the depths of which a French merchant – the 18th-century occupant of the ruin that pokes through the tree line – found real, actual treasure (it’s that sort of place). There are only seven villas (thatched palm, adobe walls) plus a spa and lobby. And that’s it. The low-rise buildings lie in the crook of a cliff at the eastern end of the beach. The rest is natural, wild beauty, tamed only in part by the gravel paths that wind past dry stream beds. Supper, in the restaurant/lobby/bar space where wicker chairs sit next to a ornamental pools, is fresh and local: shrimp and lotus salad, fish wrapped in banana leaf, all eaten beneath a black-silk sky pricked with stars.