When I was asked to complete a wellbeing questionnaire a day before setting off on my holiday, I put a big cross over an angry-looking face, indicating the maximum five out of five for my stress levels.
It was 11pm on a Saturday, and I had just finished painting my bathroom – an arduous task I’d been putting off for weeks. I had to be up at 6am to leave for the airport and I hadn’t even thought about packing yet.
Fast-forward 24 hours and if I had to take the test again, I’d be circling the smiley face at the opposite end of the scale.
I’m sitting, mojito-in-hand, watching dusk descend over Vietnam’s east coast, and I couldn’t be calmer.
Almost as soon as I arrived at the Fusion Maia Danang, I was whisked off to the spa for the two daily treatments that are included for every guest as part of the resort’s spa-inclusive holistic health approach.
After the 11-hour flight from London to Hanoi (and connecting 60-minute zip south to Da Nang) a bamboo roll massage – where a warm bamboo stick is used to work lemongrass scented oil into aching muscles – was exactly what I needed.
Next up was the best manicure I’ve ever had, a thoroughly attentive hour-long session that went way beyond the usual hurried file and polish I get back home.
The spacious, white-walled spa spans two floors and is run by a team of very attentive women.
It never feels overcrowded, even though the vast majority of guests take advantage of their full allocation of spa treats, sampling everything from facials and body wraps, to Reiki healing and a selection of massages for different purposes.
Early on day two, I opt for the stretch release massage.
I notice that my therapist has more muscles than the rest of her colleagues and it soon becomes clear why: for the next hour I’m stretched and pummelled (delightfully) into oblivion. The treatment culminates with a spine-cracking twist which is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
It feels glorious, and is the perfect preparation for my next activity.
In a studio overlooking the beachfront in central Da Nang – mercifully cooler than the sticky 30-degree heat outside – I take part in an aerial yoga class.
At first, my fellow beginners and I are a bit shy about the mantras we’re required to chant with zeal, but we soon get into the swing of things, clinging to wide lengths of stretchy silk suspended from the ceiling, using the ropes to support ever more taxing poses until we’re hanging upside down like bats.
It’s exhilarating, and my aching limbs the next day prove that it wasn’t just the silk that did the stretching.
That afternoon I head in the other direction along the coast to Hoi An.
The town, which is a Unesco World Heritage site, was a crucial location for Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese traders in the 16th century, and the architecture reflects the melting-pot history – bright yellow and blue European-style houses sit alongside red-roofed temples from which the smell of incense wafts.
I take a stroll through the centre of town, which is designated for cyclists and pedestrians only, and across the famous Japanese Covered Bridge, then try my hand at bartering for some lacquered bowls and an ornamental tea set from one of the many stalls that line the streets.
Bargains struck, I make my way through the market where the hardcore haggling takes place.
The smells of exotic fruits like lychee, bitter melon, rambutan and overpowering durian (so stinky it’s banned on public transport) mingle with raw meat and fish and blasts of coriander and mint.
With the sun set and my appetite suitably piqued, I head over to a busy two-floored restaurant owned by local hero and former street food seller Miss Vy.
I’m served the best Goi Cuon – prawn summer rolls – I’ve ever tasted. These cold rice paper-wrapped beauties are fresh, soft, crunchy and flavoursome all at once – I could have happily devoured three platefuls myself.
But instead, I tuck into a deliciously salty smoked aubergine and pork hotpot before calling it a night.
Normally, getting up at 5am while on holiday is something I avoid at all costs, but I decide to make an exception when one of the Fusionistas (the resort’s in-house team) tells me a sunrise yoga class is not to be missed.
She’s absolutely right. Standing inside the candlelit ‘energy circle’ drawn in the sand and watching the sun rise over the sea is a truly breathtaking way to start the day.
And by 7am, it’s too hot to even think about exercise, so I’m delighted to find a table set with all kinds of tantalising juices, infusions and smoothies.
At the main restaurant’s sizeable buffet, you’ll find little pots of trendy chia seed pudding, ‘sprinkles’ of antioxidant rich matcha and a tall jugs of vegetable juices – but also row upon row of cheeses, pates and pastries for when you want to indulge.
Later that afternoon, I’m ready for a nap, having climbed 90 steps – each about half a foot high – to reach the seven-tiered pagoda at the top of the nearby Marble Mountains.
These five tree-topped peaks conceal cool, dark caves where water drips from stalactites and shafts of light shine through the fog of incense lit around Buddha statues.
Outside, in the shade of the pagoda, my guide leads me in a session of Tai Chi.
Despite the heat and humidity, performing a series of slow, gentle movements is both relaxing and refreshing.
As I settle down for the flight back to Heathrow, I don’t feel the usual pangs of guilt that come at the end of a holiday, that involve too many mojitos and not enough exercise.
Vietnam may be a long way to go to recharge the proverbial batteries, but when the result is total mind and body rejuvenation, it’s worth it.
- Katie Wright was a guest of Kuoni (01306 747008; www.kuoni.co.uk) that offers a seven-night holiday in Vietnam, from £1,746 per person, based on two sharing, including five nights with breakfast at the 5-star Fusion Maia Danang in a one bedroom pool villa and two nights on room-only at the 4.5-star Melia Hanoi, in a deluxe room, including flights with Vietnam Airlines from Heathrow, internal flights and private road transfers in resort.