Ask Joan

A honeymoon in Portugal, exploring Vietnam and room for six in Belfast

We are going on a two-week honeymoon in Portugal at the end of July. We chose Portugal for its Atlantic coast and great seafood. We like sun and sea and also want to explore an old town or two. We have heard mixed reports about pousadas: would you have any advice about those? We thought we might spend the first few nights in luxury and then move to an alternative like glamping. – M&B

Aer Lingus and Ryanair have lots of flights to Faro in the summer. If you are hiring a car, book early as it is a busy time for rentals.

The pousadas are usually beautiful buildings, mainly in historic and traditional places, refurbished but not overly so. They don’t generally attract families, so are a peaceful option for your first few days in Portugal. There are three in the Algarve and the prices are very good.

Glamping sounds nice: I looked at the options you sent, but inland in Portugal is very hot in August and no air conditioning combined with bugs might make it a honeymoon to remember for the wrong reasons.


Self-catering may be better, rented through someone like I suggest the Costa Vicentina Nature Reserve, at the end of the Algarve, for a less touristy part of Portugal.

Two B&B options to consider are: Casa da Dina just inland at Odemira ( and, near Portimao, Rio Arade manor house ( Both places will give you a comfortable and homely welcome.

We are three 26-year-old guys who
want to spend two weeks in Vietnam in August or September. We need to hatch a definite plan with a view to booking annual leave. I would really appreciate your suggestions in terms of where to go, what to see, how to organise it and in what order to do it. – PH, Dublin.

One way to see the highlights of Vietnam is to take a group tour. Taking into account your age, I think you might find that a Contiki trip would suit.

There are 10- and 12-day tours to Vietnam visiting highlights such as Ho Chi Minh city, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Hue and Halong Bay.

The tour also includes a boat trip, visits to places of historical and cultural interest and an overnight cruise on the Mekong. Prices are from €899-€1,009pps, and include internal flights, accommodation and most meals (01-7753803,

Best value flights from Dublin are with to Ho Chi Minh City and back from Hanoi from €813 including taxes.

You could also just book flights to Ho Chi Minh City with Air France for around €680, and travel around.

Hostels and food are cheap and it is easy enough to travel around.

My sister, her husband and four girls (aged three to 13) are coming from New Zealand in August for the Gathering. While they will mainly be in Dublin, they would like to see Titanic Belfast and Giant's Causeway. Could you suggest where they could stay for one or two nights, preferably in a family room? – APL, Dublin

Finding accommodation for six is not so easy, but I have two suggestions that may suit and should not break the bank. They could rent a room for six in a hostel, which would cost around €120 a night and includes breakfast. Most hostels are well located for exploring the city (see

Or try Cityhub apartments on Victoria Place, in the city centre, which is ideal for getting around on foot. A two-bedroom apartment will cost around £158 (about €186), check

As well as Titanic Belfast they may also enjoy the W5 science museum, bowling at the Odyssey Centre, Belfast Zoo and St George’s Market.

The Giant’s Causeway is about 80 minutes from the city, see also

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