There is much to enjoy in Vietnam with your family – the enchanting water puppet perfomance, laid-back beach resorts and islands, exotic food, friendly local communities and of course the local transport.
Gifted with an abundance of flavorful food, fascinating culture, unspoiled beautiful places, and warm-hearted friendly people, Vietnam has more than earned its rep. The country spans vertically, not horizontally and naturally divides into three regions: north, central, and south; there is a great range of climatic and cultural variation so each region offers a distinct experience. To really see Vietnam, you should visit all three regions. Starting in the north (or south) and making your way down (or up), there is an excellent balance of culture and nature, chaos and tranquillity, allowing families to plan the perfect, personalised itinerary. Now, you have no excuse to stay in just one city, each city in Vietnam has something special and unique.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, this is a peaceful and graceful city with more than 1,000 years of history. Bringing your kids to Hanoi is a precious opportunity for the whole family to discover the history, the culture with friendly people in this vibrant city. Here you can find some of Vietnam’s best art galleries, there is a ridiculously quaint colonial center to explore, parklands and lakes abound.
Hanoi is a great place to introduce the country
In the center of Hanoi is the legendary Hoan Kiem Lake, ideal for strolling or watching street performers with lots of great places for families to eat around the lake.
The labyrinthine Old Quarter has so many little laneways and alleys that is a maze of color, sounds and scents. Perfect for a walking tour. Look at the displays in front of the stores and stalls, sample street food and find tiny little alleyways to explore, children will love it. Alternatively, hire a cyclo and relax as your rider takes you on a tour.
A traditional Vietnamese water puppet show would be a great cultural experience for the kids. The art of puppetry originated in the rice fields in the north of the country around Hanoi. Puppetry is believed to be passed through the generations from father to son. Nowaday, water puppetry is common outside of Hanoi so you are also able to see a show in Ho Chi Minh City.
Traditional Vietnamese water puppet show
The Museum of Ethnology is great for all ages. It gives an excellent overview of all the minority groups in Vietnam. Beautiful costumes and well preserved artifacts.
There are also many kid centres or indoor play area for kids. Besides, parents can take their children to Bat Trang Pottery Village to discover techniques of making famous pottery and ceramic wares and create their own ceramic products.
Halong Bay is a scene of true beauty. Covered in deep green waters and surrounded by outstanding rock formations filled with hidden caves and a blanket of lush foliage over them. This stunning area is subject to boat cruises and cave tours which would be a great family experience. It gives a family a chance to bond in the tranquility of these hynotising waters.
Exploring Halong Bay with family
Halong Bay provides just the right mixture of relaxation and outdoor activity to break up a trip around the country or even as a family holiday destination in itself. What makes Halong Bay so memorable are the numerous limestone islands that just outside of the water making all sorts of stunning silhouettes against the skyline. Book a cruise and then just take a few days to sit back and soak up the stunning limestone island formations all around the “Bay of Descending Dragon” while the kids hiking, exploring caves and swiming in the calm water. There are communities of fishermen who live on floating villages in the middle of ocean that you can also visit. This is an insightful way to interact with the locals and let the kids experience a different culture.
Hoi An provides a family with relaxation with lovely ancient town, pristine beaches and awesome food. There’s a wide range of activities for all the family such as biking, cooking classes, strolling around the night market or relaxing on the beach.
Streets in Hoi An ancient town are safe for walking
Winding through the pedestrian-friendly streets observing the comings and goings of daily Life in the bustling marketplace, and checking out the spectacular architecture will keep you occupied the ancient town of Hoi An for hours. (Hoi An old town is a car-free zone.) One of the not to be missed sights in Hoi An is the Japanese Covered Bridge. It was built in the 1590s by a Japanese community, and is guard by a pair of statues of monkeys and another of dogs. Why monkeys and dogs? An old tale says it is because they began building in the year of the monkey and finished in the year of the dog. A boat along the Thu Bon river is a chance for kids to see river life and fishermen at work.
It’s also worth returning into the old town in the evenings to witness the spectacle as the noisy locals gather in the streets to play games and get together to unwind. With sparkling lights and colorful lanterns, the vibe is lively.
Da Nang is a good port of entry. There are brilliant beaches, delicious food and luxury resorts for the ultimate family holiday destination with kids.
The main attraction might be the beautiful My Khe Beach (also known as China Beach) and Cua Dai Beach. These enormous beaches stretch from Hoi An to Danang. It’s safest to swim around where the lifeguards are.
Beautiful beach of Da Nang
Scattered along the sands and out to sea are the picturesque traditional Vietnamese fishing boats and in the hotter months the sands are packed in the late afternoon with locals cooling off after work – a lively and fun sight. Along the main road next to the beach at sunset, roadside stalls set up selling snack and beers which is an amusing way to interact with the locals in the early evening.
About 42 km west of Da Nang, Ba Na Hills is a stunning mountain retreat, perfect place for families with a replica European castle, and a spectacular underground amusement park carved into the mountain featuring many types of rides, Ba Na is perfect place for families.
Another place is Marble Mountains. The “mountains” are actually a series of five limestone hills with the following names: Fire, Water, Earth, Metal, and Wood. It’s worth devoting a couple of hours to walking slowly up Thuy Son (Water Mountain), the only one of the five you can climb. If you have the time and the kids are interested, it is worth engaging a tour guide to talk you through the history and significance of the several caves. But if your kids prefer to just run and explore, this is equally as fun.
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam, an excellent entry point with a mixture of historical sites, cheap shopping, glorious food and chill-out on-the-water activities. Most restaurant and café is fine and most dishes typically have a non-spicy option upon request.
Public playground in Saigon
For history buffs, there are several war-related tourist destinations, some of which are still interesting for kids. To dive yet deeper into the American War (that's how Vietnamese call the Vietnam War), the must visit site would be the Cu Chi Tunnels, a system of underground tunnels. The soliders used the tunnels to hide, communicate and sometime live in during the war in Vietnam. The Cu Chi Tunnels tour is really an interesting and educational journey, something the whole family will enjoy. Following up on what you can learn at the Cu Chi Tunnels, the War Remnants museum displays weapons, tanks and pictures from the war.
Kids can easily get in the tunnels via one of the concealed entrances
For shopaholics, there is a treasure trove of little boutiques and art galleries. And for those who just want to relax, a couple of days on the Mekong is ideal plus there are plenty of public parks where the kids can run. While the war attractions are fascinating for adults, Suoi Tien Amusement Park or Dam Sen Water Park are great for the whole family to cool down and have fun with numerous exciting games.
Ho Chi Minh City, like the rest of Vietnam, has large motorcycle population. A great way to get an authentic sense of life in Vietnam today is to take a Vespa tour, where you are zoomed through the countryside on the back of a scooter driven by a guide who will stop to introduce you to local families.
For having fun you can visit Suoi Tien Amusement Park, with swimming pool and dinosaur garden or Dam Sen Water Park.
Mekong Delta has been developed into a network of canals ranging in size from those big enough to fit a small row boat, all the way up to multi lane canals, used to ship produce. Life in this area of the delta moves at a slow pace, but that is not to say that there is not a great amount of visual activity, there is. A boat trip along the narrow canals is a must and for your children is sure to delight. Mekong Delta brings visitors an ordinary picturesque scenery filled with coconut palms, fruit gardens and paddy fields.
Waterworld of Mekong Delta
Most tours to the delta include a stop on an island or riverbank garden. These are usually good places for children to run around – sometimes tours also include a visit to a small produce farm of rice noodles or coconut candies.
Its complicated history, rich traditions, healthy cuisine and friendly people – who tell fascinating and often dramatic stories of life in Vietnam, from past to present – make for a highly cultural trip. Cycling, kayaking, hiking and snorkelling will keep energetic teenagers entertained, and there is an excellent balance of culture and nature, chaos and tranquillity, allowing families to plan the perfect, personalised itinerary. Not only does Vietnam have all of this to offer and more, but what makes it so special is the people you will meet along your journey. The Vietnamese people are so welcoming, friendly and hospitable and they are really the highlight of anyone’s visit to Vietnam. With so much to share and do together, experience the culture, flavours, and highlights of a Vietnamese adventure your family will always remember.
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