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"Should we take our kids to Vietnam?" is a question we get asked a lot! The answer is YES. We took our kids to Vietnam aged 10 and 11 and it remains one of the best family holidays we've ever had. The Vietnamese are friendly, love kids and are endlessly generous, travelling their country is nothing but a delight. Vietnam is beautiful, diverse and vibrant with controlled chaos on the streets, exciting markets, history, villages, culture, beaches and traditions. Vietnam has been welcoming tourists for many years and has varied accommodation choices including home stays, flaoting villages, hotels or resorts. Its a foodies dream with the added bonus of being relatively cheap and cheerful once there. It really is best to move around Vietnam and have a bit of time to really take in everything on offer in this country. Transport options include long distance bus, train, taxi, car, pushbike or for the really adventurous hiring a few motorbikes and drivers.
The cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are both captivating: the capital Hanoi is the focus for arts in Vietnam and as you stroll through the city streets you might end up making incense, learning calligraphy, testing your skills in a cooking class or playing a game of feather kick. Each street sells a different product so one minute you'll be in lantern street where they sell nothing but lanterns and the next might be medicianal medicine street, or jewellery street, its very cool to just stroll along and take in all the colour and amazing products. Going to a water puppet show at the world-famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi is a must do, you and the kids will love it. Its a tradition that dates back to the 11th century from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would stand in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing over the water.
Around 3 to 4 hours drive from Hanoi is stunning Halong Bay. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1994, Halong Bay's Towering limestone pillars and tiny islets surrounded by emerald waters are picture postcard perfect. If you've been researching Vietnam at all you are sure to have seen many a pic of Halong Bay and unsurprisingly it is northern Vietnam's number tourism hub. You can head out on a Vietnamese boat (called Junk boats) and stay overnight onboard and kayak through caves and swim in the beautiful waters. We decided to get dropped off by our boat on an island named Cat Ba and stay an additional couple of nights. We booked into a small hotel and explored the island, we did some great hiking, and had some relaxing time on the beaches, in the markets and strolling the waterfront.
There are now several beach resort destinations in Vietnam including the very popular China Beach in Danang, Lang Co, Nha Trang, Mui Ne or even the island of Phu Quoc to the South. Resorts offer brilliant facilities and you can take a few days or a few weeks out of your travelling itinerary to relax and unwind. Kids activities or child minding are available, plus the usual resort facilities such as pools, pool bars, restaurants, sports and banana lounges :)
Rural Vietnam is entirely different. Just a short distance from the cities, water buffalo wallow in green rice paddies and elegant women wearing traditional conical headwear cycle along dusty paths. Children dressed in sparkling white uniforms laugh and play as they walk to school. They smile and say hello as you pass by. The countryside near Dalat and the towns along the Mekong Delta are much quieter and you can get back to nature, go hiking or ride push bikes through the rice fields. On the river you can buy your supplies from the floating market boats or in the small villages visit factories to learn the skills of the Vietnamese people. Homestays are available in these regions and you'll live, eat and play like a local
Ho Chi Minh city, still often referred to as Saigon is the largest city in Southern Vietnam. It is the business hub and with a strong war history there is some great educational sightseeing to be done. The Cu Chi Tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Learning about and crawling through the tunnel systems they fought in is very fascinating. There is a theme park and water park in Ho Chi Minh city to full disclosure we haven't actually been there, I've heard it is very good though if you have a spare day. The street traffic of Ho Chi Minh is actually spectacular to watch as the motorbikes, cars and bikes weave so amazingly well. Its a crazy sight so many an hour can be spent at a street stall or restaurant just watching. You'll never know how they manage to get so much stuff on one bike, we saw windows, bird cages, families of 6, whole restaurants with cookers and chairs all on the back of a motorbike.. its fascinating. Crossing the road is a scary adventure .. stick together and just walk.... they will go around you! There is a large french influence in Ho chi Minh so the baquettes are super tasty ... a must have and cheap too.
Life in urban Vietnam is conducted on the streets. In bia hois (beer house) men drink ice-cold beer and nibble on boiled quails eggs. Travellers, men, women and kids are welcome to join the fun, just sit on the street corner and watch life as it is in Vietnam. Odours from makeshift steer food stalls (the one you saw on the motorbike earlier) fill your nostrils. My favourite food is pho, a noodle soup with meat or vegetables. Hawkers sell you anything from hammocks to hair ties and the streets are alive with activity.
Vietnam's remarkable geography spans from the lush Mekong Delta in the south to the remote Sapa valleys. A trip to Sapa in the far North will reveal a completely different experience and culture than the Southern Regions. We took the train to Sapa trekked along the terraced paddocks passing buffalo and farm animals as we walked. We stayed overnight with a local family in a home stay amongst the rice paddies, they cooked us a meal and we ate with their whole family. Sapa remains my favourite region and experience in Vietnam.
Weather: Because of its geography, the climate in Vietnam varies greatly from north to south. Tropical monsoons occur from October to April in the north and south and from May to September in the centre, this is when most of the country's rain falls. It is almost totally dry throughout the rest of the year. It can get exceptionally hot, however, all year round, but the north has a cooler time between October and April. It is best to travel between the shifting of seasons. Temperatures around the country often reach 40C in the height of the hot and rainy season (May to September), but the northern highlands and Hanoi can often seem chilly in the winter.
Money: The currency is the Vietnam Dong but US dollar is also widely accepted. ATM's are widely available however often not working so don't deplete your cash supplies.
Visas: Visas are required for Australians to visit Vietnam.
health: The usual rules apply like drink bottled water, wash your hands regularly. Carry a hand sanitiser and use it. Eat fresh food preferably cooked in front of you. speak to your travel doctor regarding any vaccinations you might need.
Group Family tours or private family tours are available and are a good option if you want to experience all of Vietnam in a limited time frame. Or we can put together an itinerary specifically for your family speak to our travel team to have them tailor a Vietnam holiday just for you. Phone 1300 296 543 or message us via Facebook or enquire online
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