Finally! Myself and my husband and our twins are heading off for a family holiday to Vietnam this December. We first started planning this trip a couple of years ago… but then Mum was ill and Paul was away working… and then we moved house… and … life…
But at last, we will be heading off on our Vietnam family holiday, and we are so ready for it! This article might help you if you are planning to Vietnam with kids. It has all the essentials you need to know when you start researching where to visit, good times to go etc etc
They say that planning and looking forward to a holiday is a huge part of its pleasure. I certainly find that.
So these are the notes we made and the research we did as we started to plan our holiday. There’s a lot of great information too from Facebook friends and followers of the Hello Sydney Kids Facebook page. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed!
Contents of this post
- Why Visit Vietnam With Kids
- When To Visit Vietnam With Kids
- Vietnam Must See – The Essential Things To Do
- Vietnam Family Tours
- Vietnam Family Holidays: Reader Reports
Why Visit Vietnam With Kids
- It’s a relatively secure country with few perils for tourists
- Children are loved and respected in Vietnam
- It’s not an expensive destination
- It’s rich in culture, beauty, history, has great beaches, people and food
When To Visit Vietnam With Kids
The northern autumn, winter and spring are the best times to visit Vietnam. From September to April the weather is cooler in the northern areas and there is less rain in the south.
This suits us Australians as our kids are on school holidays in October, December, January and March/April.
Of course, Vietnam is a diverse country, being over 1000km long, so there is great regional variety in climate.
Vietnam Must See – The Essential Things To Do
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are huge bustling cities and we’d like to see some of the attractions. But I think that we’d love to spend more of our time in the smaller, historic city of Hoi An, which means ‘Peaceful Meeting Place.”
Chu Chi Tunnels: I think my children are old enough to manage a trip to visit the tunnels, chilling though I’d find them
Water puppet show: sounds a magical experience for any age
The Mekong Delta: we’d love the floating markets and visiting villages, there’s good cycling here too, we read
Halong Bay: it looks stunning, we would love to stay and find quiet places without too many tourists (we did go! Check out our halong Bay With Kids post here.
Ninh Binh: a boat trip through the caves sounds so interesting and scenic too
Beaches: we love being at the beach so are poring over this article about the Top 10 Beaches in Vietnam.
Snorkelling: a family delight, so I’m investigating trips you can take off Nha Trang and also the Cham Islands on Hoi An
Train trip: I’d love us all to go on an overnight train journey – maybe taking the cushy soft sleeper option though
Vietnam Family Tours
I like doing tours and having a local guide when exploring a new country. My ideal combination is to do half of the time on our own and half of the time with a guide. We have taken a reader’s advice (see below) and found a Vietnamese tour company to use, Vietnam Paradise Travel.
This company offers many Vietnam family tours and holidays and are used to dealing with families. We have found them super responsive to our many requests.
Family tours go at a slower pace and have shorter journeys each day. There’s plenty of time built-in for playing at the beach and an emphasis on family-friendly sightseeing.
Vietnam Family Holidays: Reader Reports
I asked friends and Facebook followers for advice and was bowled over with the responses, people do love Vietnam.
Hey Seana, I’ve been a couple of times with kids, once on a family tour with Fin when he was still shorter than me. It was great – highly recommend, all the kids adored our guide and there was a good mix of kid-friendly activities (not too many temples).
But actually his favourite moment was probably getting a motorbike taxi home one night in Hanoi.
Deb Dickson-Smith of Dive Planit
I asked over on the Facebook page whether anyone could give recommendations and advice for holidays Vietnam with kids, and got so many fab replies.
Over to you guys, here’s the readers’ guide to Vietnam family holidays.
Babies and Toddlers in Vietnam
Nicole Mansfield: We’ve taken our kids a couple of times. The first time when our youngest was a pudgy 4 month old and our eldest was 2 with orange ringlets- they were instant celebrities! We all love Vietnam!
We’d travelled through Vietnam before having kids (did a tour with Intrepid Travel) so we had done a lot of the ‘touristy’ things.
When our daughter was 2 1/2 and our son was 4 months old, we took them to Hoi An, staying at the Hoi An Hotel, to Da Nang, staying at the Furama and to Ho Chi Minh City, staying at the Rex Hotel. The hotels have pools and are well located.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the Hoi An Hotel – the connecting rooms were completely different to the ones they had on the website.
We took a Maclaren stroller and an Ergo. Ergos are great, but not when it’s 30 degrees and super high humidity….
My son was a super pudgy baby and my two year old daughter had orange ringlets so they were constantly touched, followed, photographed etc. My husband took my son to a coffee house in Da Nang and didn’t see him again until it was time to leave. We were followed around a shopping centre in Da Nang. None of that bothered us, but it can be a little wearing. My daughter got a little over it.
We went back to Saigon when they were two and four and again stayed at the Rex.
Dinner at the Ben Thanh markets in great. Get there 15 mins before they open to watch them being set up, the kids loved it! Ask at your hotel for timings.
Jo Mack: We had a short holiday there in May this year, staying in Ho Chi Minh & Hoi An. Loved the motorbike tour we did in Ho Chi Minh and the Marble Mountain near Hoi An.
The Hai Van Pass was stunning. Vietnam Airlines were fantastic & the people over there were lovely – they couldn’t keep their hands off my blonde 6 year old son!
Hoi Ann With Young Children
Rachel Brittliff : We took two kids , six months and three and a half years old to Hoi An for a week. Vietnam is easy for travelling with kids because as a culture Vietnamese people seem very receptive to just including kids in every part of life.
We stayed at the Hoi An Trails Resort and Spa. It is at the slightly more expensive end of the market but certainly affordable for most families. We really loved it there.
They had bikes with child seats and it was an easy ride to the world heritage listed old town. I would not ride a bike in any of the major cities but it was so close to the old town that it was fine to ride there. Once inside the old town there are no cars allowed so it is very safe.
Backpacking in Vietnam With Our 7 Year Old
Jess Porter: We took our 7 year old for a three week backpacking journey all around Vietnam in January. We started at Ho Chi Minh City, flew to Hanoi, overnight bus to Sapa, cruised around Halong Bay, overnight train to Hue, then bus to Hoi Ann.
Definite must visits are: Chu Chi tunnels, visit Lo Cai village in Sapa and the ancient tombs in Hue. Overnight train was fun, give the overnight bus a miss (absolutely awful). Water puppet show in Hanoi is fantastic. We found the food absolutely awesome everywhere.
The only thing that our son didn’t enjoy was the congestion of motorbikes which often end up riding on footpaths. We ended our trip relaxing around the pool at Anantara Resort Hoi An. Overall it was a sensational holiday!
We organised the trip ourselves. I had been to Vietnam exactly 12 years before. So I basically did the same trip, just added on a few extra places. We did use the Lonely Planet as a guide, and Expedia was a fantastic help.
We booked everything accommodation, trips over there, as it’s heaps cheaper.
There’s so much more of Vietnam I want to see, I love the beautiful Vietnamese people. I can’t wait to go back again!
Alina Pall: I went to Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang with my 9 month old baby over last Christmas period. We loved Vietnam and would like to go again !
Three Weeks In Vietnam With Our 8 Year Old
Susan: We went to Vietnam last year with our then eight year old and had a wonderful time. Vietnam is so diverse and really can be done on any budget. I would say we had an average budget with splashes of luxury. We went for about three weeks.
My best tip: research a reliable Vietnam based travel agent who will tailor a trip to your needs and give awesome local suggestions along the way. All communication and payment was done via email/internet with nil hassles.
We had some idea what we wanted but found all the guides/accommodation/activities they suggested were great. Also, on comparison to Australian travel agents they seemed very competitive on price.
We went in July. This was great as it was their low season so crowds were low and prices cheaper. However- it was EXTREMELY HOT and HUMID! I wouldn’t suggest this time of year if your kids struggle with the heat. We did struggle at times particularly the further south we travelled.
We started our trip in Hanoi. A must do here is the famous water puppet show- very cheap and our daughter laughed and still talks about it. The theatre is also air conditioned which is a bonus:) It’s a small theatre with tiered seating so any seat would be fine.
Another must is a cyclo ride- lots of fun as you dash around the old quarter.
We stayed at a motel called La Siesta. It was right in the middle of the old quarter. Lovely well priced hotel with the best service ever. Beautiful buffet breakfast with eastern and western options so well suited to kids tastes.
Our daughter is quite an adventurous eater so had no problems in Vietnam. However, most places do cater well for western tastes all over Vietnam. Also we found every place we stayed offered good buffet breakfasts.
Another must do is a night walking food tour of the old quarter. You get an insight into their local delicacies. We had a personal guide organised for our time in Hanoi. The guide was lovely and able to customise our experience to suit our needs and daughters food preferences.
As this was our first stop in Vietnam I have to mention that our daughter was quite overwhelmed initially. The heat, crowds, noises, smells, constant honking of traffic etc was quite a lot to take in! Even crossing the road in Vietnam was quite a challenge. Having the local guide certainly put her mind a ease:)
I think you only really need a couple of days in Hanoi.
We then made our way to Halong Bay, a few hours drive from Hanoi. The drive was a little boring for our daughter so make sure the kids have a iPad or something to entertain them.
Halong Bay was great and our daughter really enjoyed this part of the trip. We stayed on a fairly upmarket junk for the night called the Dragon Legend. The price includes all meals and activities and had a small pool on the upper deck which our daughter made good use of.
We really enjoyed canoeing around the bay and swimming at one of the many beaches. We did the one night cruise but regret not doing the two night cruise as we really enjoyed it, plus the round trip from Hanoi is about 6 hours.
I have done Halong Bay before as a single person many years ago. At the time I was on a budget and went for a budget style junk. The prices of these tours vary dramatically but you also certainly get what you pay for. I would not feel safe taking a child on some of them. Definitely splurge on this part of the trip for a much nicer and safer experience.
We then flew to Hoi An. Hoi An is a definite must on any itinerary. We stayed at the beautiful Palm Garden Resort which is right on the beach about 10 mins out of town. It was great to relax at the resort and hit the pool and beach.
Hoi An is a beautiful little town great for shopping, eating, and getting clothes tailor made (our daughter really enjoyed this experience) It is also beautiful at night with all the colourful lanterns.
One activity which we did in Hoi An was a buffalo cart tour. This was a private tour of the countryside on a buffalo cart followed by a personal BBQ in the middle of a rice padi with a foot massage each while you wait for your lunch to cook. Lots of fun!
We then made our way to Nha Trang, Vietnam’s version of the Gold Coast. We stayed in luxury here at the Evason Ana Mandara, the only resort right on the beach in Nha Trang. We were so spoilt here that we didn’t want to leave the resort.
The town itself was nothing special but we chose it as it does have a lot of kid friendly things to do such as water parks, aquariums and Vin Pearl amusement park. Due to the heat and the beautiful resort we didn’t do any of it!
If you do not stay at the same resort I recommend a visit to their in house restaurant Anas Beach house. It is not cheap for Vietnam but reasonable compared to Australia. It is right on the beach, gorgeous at night, and the food was divine.
This was our daughter’s favourite meal on our trip, we dined their twice. The kids menu comes out as a jigsaw puzzle and you pick the puzzle pieces that you want 🙂
We then flew to Ho Chi Minh City and had a couple of days there. We did a city tour which are generally all the same and only take about half a day.
One place we enjoyed was the War museum. We enjoyed looking at all the various aircraft and tanks etc on display. However, be aware that some of the photos in the exhibition can be quite confronting for children. I successfully steered my daughter away from most of this without her realising.
We stayed at the Liberty Central Citypoint which was well priced, central and had a nice little rooftop pool. We also did a trip out to the Cu Chi tunnels which takes half a day.
We all found this interesting and was a good discussion opener for our daughter sparking an interest in history. I’m not sure whether younger children would get much out of the experience though.
The highlight of our visit to Ho Chi Minh City was a night food tour via Vespa. It was like a progressive dinner travelling between stops on the back of a Vespa. So much fun and a great way to see the city at night.
We were a little hesitant to do this due to safety reasons but it was a slow and safe ride and I watched as the other Vespas on our ride surrounded the one my daughter was travelling on and protected her as we turned corners/entered busy intersections etc.
This tour was a real thrill for my daughter who was also hesitant at first but within a few minutes was having the time of her life. I think the company was called Vespa Adventures.
We then did an overnight trip to the Mekong Delta. I’m not sure if I would recommend this. There were some highlights but the length of time taken to get there and back is not ideal for kids. We did enjoy a bike ride around one of the Mekong’s little island villages and visited some local handicraft makers which was nice. A glimpse into the more traditional Vietnam.
That’s were our Vietnam adventure ended.
Vietnam offers a bit of everything. As you can see our daughter experienced a bit of culture but still also enjoyed a more traditional resort style holiday.
Vietnamese people love kids and she was treated like royalty everywhere we went. She explored exotic food (even tried frogs legs in Saigon) but nearly always had the back up of western-style food.
TIP- We extended our holiday for a few extra days to include Siem Reap Cambodia- a real highlight of our holiday!
Reading all this stuff and dreaming of escaping for weeks at a time is a marvellous mental holiday before the trip itself.
We are doing a 14 day tour so will be back just before Christmas. But I have the feeling we might come home thinking that we’ve just scratched the surface of Vietnam.
Have you visited Vietnam with children?
Can you share some top Vietnam family travel tips?
We have booked our Vietnam family tour with Vietnam Paradise Travel, who have offered a media rate to us. If you contact Vietnam Paradise Travel, let them know you heard of them via Hello Sydney Kids and do ask for a preferred discount – it never hurts to ask!
PS: As I haven’t been to Vietnam yet all these photos were taken by others. I used my favourite free photo library and exchange, Pixabay, to source these shots. Thanks Pixabay.