Taking to the skies

Easier and quicker access to the beauty of Halong Bay in Vietnam

Yesterday was the maiden long-haul direct flight from Vietnam (Hanoi) to London Gatwick, with Vietnam Airlines, opening up the route for the first time and reducing flying times to around 12 hours, cutting several hours off the journey – until now only possible via regional hubs such as Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Last year, 90,000 Britons visited Vietnam (up 28% the previous year), exploring beautiful Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta by boat, heading to the hills of Sapa, relaxing on one of the country’s many beaches and discovering the myriad of treats awaiting them in Vietnam’s vibrant cities. Now Vietnam Airlines have begun twice-weekly services between Hanoi and Gatwick and the same number between Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and Gatwick.

The Hanoi-Gatwick flights will operate on Mondays and Thursday and will leave Vietnam at 2345, arriving in the UK at 0620 the following day. The return flight will depart from Gatwick at midday and land at 0640 the day after.

The Ho Chi Minh-Gatwick service will take off from the former Saigon at 2345 on Tuesdays and Fridays and land at Gatwick at 0620 the following day, with the return flight leaving at 1200 and arriving in Vietnam at 0720 the next day.

The national flag carrier of Vietnam, and member of the SkyTeam alliance, Vietnam Airlines has a domestic network of 20 cities and flies to 26 destinations in Europe, the United States, Australia and Asia. There are plans to increase capacity of the direct flights to London to seven weekly flights by 2015.

With quicker and easier access to Vietnam from the UK, Cambodia will also expect to benefit from the increased number of visitors to the region. So it’s timely that Cambodia Angkor Air are opening up new flights between Siem Reap and the coastal city of Sihanoukville with three flights a week, each way, beginning on 14 December. The flight will take around 70 minutes. The ATR72 aircraft will depart from Siem Reap (REP) at 1410 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and return from Sihanoukville (KOS) to the gateway to the Temples of Angkor at 1550.

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