Traveling Vietnam with Kids: Activities, Dining and Safety

Travelling to Vietnam with Kids

Embarking on a family vacation to Vietnam can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience for both parents and children. From the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the serene natural landscapes of Halong Bay and Sapa, Vietnam offers a diverse array of destinations that cater to the interests and needs of travelers of all ages. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best places to visit in Vietnam with kids, the must-do family-friendly activities, accommodation and dining options, as well as important health and safety considerations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Best Destinations in Vietnam for Families

Hanoi

Hanoi, the vibrant capital of Vietnam, is a city that seamlessly blends its rich historical heritage with a modern, dynamic atmosphere. For families, Hanoi offers a captivating mix of cultural attractions, lively street life, and family-friendly activities.

One of the must-visit sights in Hanoi is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where visitors can witness the embalmed body of the revered Vietnamese leader. While the mausoleum itself may not be suitable for young children, the surrounding gardens and the nearby Ho Chi Minh Museum provide an engaging introduction to Vietnamese history and culture.

Just a short distance from the mausoleum, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is another historical site that offers a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past. Families can explore the ancient royal quarters, admire the stunning architecture, and even participate in interactive activities that bring the citadel’s history to life.

For a change of pace, the Hoan Kiem Lake and the charming Old Quarter are great places to immerse in the vibrant local life. Stroll through the winding streets, browse the colorful markets, and stop for a refreshing Vietnamese iced coffee or a delicious local snack.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking natural wonders of Vietnam. Families can embark on a serene cruise through the emerald-green waters, surrounded by the iconic limestone karst formations that rise majestically from the sea.

Many cruise operators offer family-friendly packages, with activities such as kayaking, swimming, and visiting floating villages. Children can also enjoy exploring hidden caves, spotting wildlife, and even learning about the local culture and traditions. The peaceful, scenic setting of Halong Bay makes it an ideal destination for families seeking a relaxing and awe-inspiring experience.

Sapa

Nestled in the northern mountains of Vietnam, Sapa is a charming town that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural immersion. Families can explore the lush, terraced rice fields, hike through the verdant hills, and visit the vibrant local markets.

One of the main attractions in Sapa is the opportunity to interact with the diverse ethnic minority groups, such as the Hmong, Dao, and Giay people. Families can participate in homestay programs, learning about the traditional way of life, observing artisanal crafts, and even joining in on cultural activities like weaving or cooking classes.

The cooler climate of Sapa also provides a refreshing respite from the heat, making it an ideal destination for families seeking a more active and outdoor-focused experience in Vietnam.

Ninh Binh

Known as the “Ha Long Bay on Land,” Ninh Binh is a picturesque region that seamlessly combines stunning natural landscapes with historic sites and cultural attractions. Families can explore the serene, river-carved landscapes by boat, traversing the tranquil waterways and admiring the towering limestone cliffs.

One of the must-visit destinations in Ninh Binh is the Tam Coc-Bich Dong, where families can glide through the otherworldly scenery, which is often compared to the iconic Guilin region of China. Additionally, the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex offers a similar boat tour experience, with the added bonus of visiting ancient temples and grottos.

For a glimpse into the region’s history, the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, the former seat of the first Vietnamese dynasties, is a fascinating site to explore. Families can wander through the ancient ruins, learn about the country’s rich past, and even participate in cultural activities like traditional music performances.

Ho Chi Minh City

The bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a vibrant and dynamic destination that offers a unique blend of modern and historical attractions for families.

One of the must-see sights in Ho Chi Minh City is the Cu Chi Tunnels, an intricate underground network that was used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Families can learn about the ingenuity and determination of the Vietnamese people by exploring these fascinating tunnels and gaining a deeper understanding of the country’s tumultuous history.

Another family-friendly attraction in Ho Chi Minh City is the Reunification Palace, a striking example of 1960s architecture and a symbol of the end of the Vietnam War. Families can tour the palace, learn about its historical significance, and even explore the underground command bunkers.

For a more lighthearted experience, the city’s parks and gardens, such as the Tao Dan Park and the Botanical Gardens, provide ample opportunities for children to play, explore, and connect with nature.

Hoi An

The charming town of Hoi An, located on the central coast of Vietnam, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that captivates visitors with its well-preserved historic buildings, vibrant markets, and picturesque riverside setting.

One of the highlights for families in Hoi An is the opportunity to participate in a traditional lantern-making workshop. Children can learn about the cultural significance of these beautiful, handcrafted lanterns and even create their own unique designs.

Another family-friendly activity in Hoi An is exploring the town’s ancient streets and markets by bicycle or on foot. Families can discover the colorful shop houses, sample local delicacies, and interact with the friendly local artisans and vendors.

For a more relaxed experience, families can spend time at the stunning An Bang Beach, just a short distance from the town center. Here, they can enjoy swimming, building sandcastles, or simply soaking up the sun and the laid-back coastal atmosphere.

Hue

The former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue, is a city rich in history, culture, and architectural grandeur. Families visiting Hue can explore the iconic Citadel, a sprawling complex that was once the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, and learn about the region’s imperial past.

Within the Citadel, the Forbidden Purple City, which was once off-limits to commoners, offers a unique insight into the lives of the former Vietnamese emperors. Families can wander through the intricate temples, pavilions, and gardens, and even participate in cultural performances or reenactments.

Another family-friendly attraction in Hue is the Thien Mu Pagoda, a beautiful and historic Buddhist temple that overlooks the Perfume River. Families can take a leisurely boat ride along the river and visit the pagoda, where they can learn about the local religious traditions and customs.

For a more immersive cultural experience, families can explore the Dong Ba Market, a bustling hub of local commerce, where they can sample authentic Vietnamese street food, browse handicrafts, and interact with the friendly vendors.

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta, a vast and vibrant region in southern Vietnam, offers a unique opportunity for families to experience the rural and agricultural heart of the country.

One of the main attractions in the Mekong Delta is the opportunity to explore the intricate network of waterways and floating markets. Families can take a boat tour and witness the lively trading of fruits, vegetables, and other local produce, as well as observe the daily lives of the Delta’s residents.

Another family-friendly activity in the Mekong Delta is visiting the traditional villages and interacting with the local communities. Families can learn about the region’s agricultural practices, observe the production of artisanal crafts, and even participate in hands-on activities, such as coconut candy-making or rice paper rolling.

The Mekong Delta’s lush, verdant landscapes also provide ample opportunities for families to explore by bicycle or on foot, allowing them to immerse themselves in the tranquil, rural atmosphere of this unique region.

Phu Quoc Island

Located off the southern coast of Vietnam, Phu Quoc Island is a hidden gem that offers families a perfect blend of stunning beaches, vibrant marine life, and a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.

One of the primary draws of Phu Quoc for families is its pristine, white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Children can enjoy swimming, building sandcastles, and exploring the tide pools, while parents can relax and soak up the sun.

In addition to the beaches, Phu Quoc is home to the Phu Quoc National Park, a lush, mountainous region that is ideal for hiking and wildlife spotting. Families can embark on guided tours to discover the park’s diverse flora and fauna, including the endangered Phu Quoc langur.

For a unique cultural experience, families can visit the island’s pearl farms, where they can learn about the intricate process of pearl cultivation and even have the opportunity to purchase high-quality pearls as souvenirs.

Family-Friendly Activities in Vietnam

Vietnam offers a wealth of engaging and exciting activities that are perfect for families with children. From exploring historic sites to immersing in the local culture, there is something to captivate every member of the family.

One popular family-friendly activity in Vietnam is visiting interactive museums, such as the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi or the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. These museums provide engaging and educational experiences, allowing children to learn about the country’s history, culture, and social traditions through hands-on exhibits and interactive displays.

Another great way for families to connect with the local culture is by participating in traditional workshops or classes. For example, families can join a lantern-making workshop in Hoi An, where they can learn the intricate art of crafting these beautiful and symbolic lanterns. Cooking classes are also a fantastic way for families to delve into the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine and learn traditional recipes together.

Outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and boat tours, are another excellent option for families visiting Vietnam. The country’s diverse landscapes, from the towering karst formations of Halong Bay to the verdant rice terraces of Sapa, provide ample opportunities for families to explore and appreciate the natural wonders.

For families seeking a more immersive cultural experience, homestay programs in rural villages offer a unique opportunity to live with local families, learn about their daily lives, and participate in traditional activities. These experiences not only provide valuable cultural insights but also foster meaningful connections between travelers and the host communities.

Accommodation Options for Families in Vietnam

Vietnam offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit the needs and budgets of families traveling with children. From cozy homestays to luxury resorts, there is something to cater to every family’s preferences.

Hotels and Resorts

Many hotels and resorts in Vietnam cater specifically to families, offering amenities such as interconnecting rooms, family suites, and dedicated children’s facilities. These properties often provide kid-friendly activities, such as swimming pools, playgrounds, and supervised children’s clubs, ensuring that both parents and children can enjoy their stay.

Some popular family-friendly hotel and resort options in Vietnam include the Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, the Ana Mandara Villas in Nha Trang, and the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort.

Serviced Apartments

Serviced apartments are an excellent choice for families, as they provide more space and the convenience of a home-like environment. These accommodations typically include separate living areas, fully equipped kitchens, and sometimes even laundry facilities, making it easier for families to maintain their daily routines and cater to the needs of their children.

Examples of serviced apartment options in Vietnam include the Somerset Grand Hanoi and the Ascott Hai Phong City Centre.

Homestays

Immersing in the local culture through a homestay experience can be a truly enriching and memorable activity for families. By staying with a Vietnamese host family, families can learn about the traditional way of life, observe cultural practices, and even participate in household chores or activities.

Homestay accommodations range from basic, rustic dwellings to more comfortable, family-friendly options, depending on the location and the host family’s resources. Some popular homestay destinations in Vietnam include Sapa, the Mekong Delta, and certain rural areas around Hanoi and Hoi An.

Camping and Glamping

For families seeking a more adventurous and outdoor-focused experience, camping or glamping (glamorous camping) can be a thrilling option. Several companies in Vietnam offer family-friendly camping and glamping experiences, often in stunning natural settings like Halong Bay or the central highlands.

These accommodations typically provide tents or pre-set up glamping units, as well as access to basic amenities and activities, making it easier for families to enjoy the great outdoors without sacrificing comfort and convenience.

Dining Options for Families

Vietnam is renowned for its diverse and delectable cuisine, which can be equally enjoyed by both parents and children. From traditional street food to family-friendly restaurants, there are numerous dining options available for families visiting the country.

Child-friendly Restaurants

Many restaurants in Vietnam cater specifically to families, offering kid-friendly menus, high chairs, and even designated play areas. These establishments often feature a mix of Vietnamese and international dishes, ensuring that there are options to satisfy the palates of both adults and children.

Some popular family-friendly restaurant chains in Vietnam include Oi Vietnam,wich, and Au Lac Do Brazil, which have locations in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Trying Local Street Food with Kids

Sampling the vibrant street food scene is a quintessential part of the Vietnamese culinary experience. While the variety of unfamiliar dishes may initially seem daunting for families with children, there are many child-friendly street food options that can be enjoyed safely.

Some street food favorites that are suitable for kids include banh mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwiches), pho (noodle soup), and fresh fruit smoothies. When trying street food, it’s important to ensure that the food is freshly prepared, cooked thoroughly, and sourced from reputable vendors.

Cooking Classes for Families

For families interested in delving deeper into Vietnamese cuisine, participating in a cooking class can be a rewarding and educational experience. Many cooking schools and tour operators offer classes specifically designed for families, where parents and children can learn to prepare traditional Vietnamese dishes together.

These classes not only teach valuable culinary skills but also provide insight into the cultural and historical significance of the local cuisine. Some popular cooking class destinations for families include Hoi An, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Transportation Tips for Families

Navigating the transportation system in Vietnam can be a unique and exciting experience for families, but it’s important to plan ahead and consider the needs of children.

Using Public Transportation with Kids

Vietnam’s public transportation network, which includes buses, trains, and the metro system in major cities, can be a convenient and cost-effective way for families to get around. However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential challenges, such as crowded vehicles, limited personal space, and the language barrier.

When using public transportation, it’s recommended to opt for less crowded off-peak hours, and to keep a close eye on young children at all times. Families may also want to consider downloading a translation app or learning a few key Vietnamese phrases to make the experience smoother.

Renting a Car for More Flexibility

For families seeking greater flexibility and independence, renting a car can be a valuable option. This allows families to explore at their own pace, stop whenever they wish, and accommodate the needs of children more easily.

When renting a car in Vietnam, it’s crucial to ensure that the vehicle is equipped with appropriate safety features, such as child car seats and seatbelts. Families should also be prepared to navigate the often-chaotic traffic conditions and familiarize themselves with local driving rules and regulations.

Taking Domestic Flights for Long Distances

For longer journeys within Vietnam, flying can be a more efficient and comfortable option, especially for families with young children. Domestic airlines like Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Bamboo Airways offer regular flights between major cities, providing a faster and more convenient way to travel.

When booking domestic flights, families should research airline policies regarding baggage allowances, child discounts, and in-flight amenities to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience.

Health and Safety Considerations

Ensuring the health and safety of your family is of paramount importance when traveling to Vietnam. By being aware of the necessary precautions and taking proactive measures, families can have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Vaccinations Required for Traveling to Vietnam

Before embarking on your trip to Vietnam, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a travel medicine clinic to determine the recommended vaccinations. Common vaccinations for travel to Vietnam include those for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR).

It’s also important to consider any routine childhood vaccinations that may need to be updated, as well as any additional requirements for traveling with children, such as the polio vaccine.

Staying Safe During Outdoor Activities

Many of the family-friendly activities in Vietnam, such as trekking in Sapa or exploring the Mekong Delta, involve outdoor adventures that require extra attention to safety. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, families should take precautions such as wearing appropriate footwear, carrying sufficient water and snacks, and being mindful of weather conditions.

It’s also advisable to research and follow local guidelines and regulations for activities like boating or cycling, especially when children are involved. Supervision and communication are key to preventing accidents and ensuring that everyone stays safe while enjoying the natural beauty of Vietnam.

Dealing with Food and Water Safety Concerns

One common concern for families traveling in Vietnam is the risk of food and waterborne illnesses. To minimize the chances of falling ill, it’s important to be cautious about what you eat and drink, especially in street markets and rural areas.

When dining out, opt for freshly cooked and hot meals, and avoid raw or undercooked foods. Stick to bottled water or beverages that are sealed, and use hand sanitizer or wipes before eating. It may also be helpful to pack some over-the-counter medications for common traveler’s ailments like stomach upset or headaches.

Cultural Etiquette for Families

Respecting Vietnamese customs and traditions is essential when visiting the country with your family. By teaching your children about local etiquette and behavior expectations, you can foster cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Teaching Kids about Vietnamese Customs and Traditions

Before your trip, take the time to educate your children about Vietnamese customs and traditions, such as bowing as a sign of respect, removing shoes before entering homes, and addressing elders with appropriate titles. Encourage them to learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases like “xin chào” (hello) and “cảm ơn” (thank you) to show politeness and cultural awareness.

By instilling these cultural insights early on, children can develop a sense of empathy and curiosity towards different ways of life, enriching their travel experience and promoting meaningful interactions with locals.

Dress Code Recommendations for Visiting Temples and Pagodas

When visiting religious sites like temples and pagodas in Vietnam, it’s important to dress modestly and respectfully. Both adults and children should wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees out of reverence for the sacred space.

To adhere to the dress code, consider packing lightweight and breathable clothing that can be layered for versatility. Bringing along a scarf or shawl to cover exposed skin when necessary is also a practical and respectful gesture when visiting religious landmarks.

Packing Essentials for Traveling with Kids

Packing strategically can make a significant difference in the comfort and convenience of your family’s trip to Vietnam. By including essential items for both practicality and comfort, you can ensure that your children have everything they need for a smooth and enjoyable journey.

Sunscreen and Insect Repellent

Vietnam’s tropical climate means that sunscreen and insect repellent are crucial items to protect your family from sunburn and bug bites. Opt for child-safe formulas with high SPF for sunscreen, and choose insect repellents that are effective against mosquitoes and other pests.

It’s a good idea to apply sunscreen regularly throughout the day, especially if you’re spending time outdoors, and to reapply insect repellent as needed to prevent discomfort and potential health risks.

Comfortable Walking Shoes for Exploring

Given the amount of walking and exploring involved in many family-friendly activities in Vietnam, comfortable shoes are a must-have for children and adults alike. Choose sturdy and supportive footwear that can withstand long hours of sightseeing and accommodate various terrains.

For added convenience, consider packing a pair of lightweight and collapsible shoes that are easy to carry in a day bag for spontaneous adventures or unexpected detours. Having comfortable shoes can help prevent fatigue and blisters, allowing your family to focus on enjoying the sights and sounds of Vietnam.

Lightweight Clothing for the Hot and Humid Weather

Vietnam’s climate is characterized by high temperatures and humidity, particularly during the summer months. To stay cool and comfortable, pack lightweight and breathable clothing that dries quickly and offers sun protection.

Opt for natural fabrics like cotton or linen that allow air circulation and help wick away sweat, keeping your family feeling fresh throughout the day. Loose-fitting tops and bottoms in light colors can also help reflect heat and minimize discomfort in the tropical climate.

Entertainment and Education for Kids

Engaging children in interactive and educational activities can enhance their travel experience in Vietnam and create lasting memories. From visiting museums to participating in hands-on workshops, there are plenty of opportunities for children to learn and have fun during their time in the country.

Visiting Interactive Museums in Vietnam

Vietnam boasts a variety of museums and cultural centers that cater to visitors of all ages, offering immersive exhibits and interactive displays. Taking your children to museums like the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi or the Ho Chi Minh City Museum can provide valuable insights into the country’s history, art, and heritage.

Many museums also feature kid-friendly programming, such as scavenger hunts, storytelling sessions, and craft workshops, making learning about Vietnamese culture engaging and entertaining for young travelers.

Joining a Traditional Lantern-making Workshop in Hoi An

Hoi An, known for its charming lantern-lit streets and vibrant craft scene, offers families the opportunity to partake in traditional lantern-making workshops. These hands-on experiences allow children to unleash their creativity, learn about local craftsmanship, and create their own colorful lanterns to take home as souvenirs.

Guided by skilled artisans, families can enjoy the process of assembling and decorating lanterns using intricate designs and bright hues. The workshop not only fosters artistic expression but also encourages cultural appreciation and skill development in a fun and interactive setting.

Connecting with Local Communities

Immersing your family in the local community can provide a deeper understanding of Vietnamese culture and lifestyle, fostering meaningful connections and enriching your travel experience.

Participating in a Homestay Program

Staying with a local family through a homestay program is a fantastic way to experience authentic Vietnamese hospitality and daily life. Families can engage in shared meals, cultural exchanges, and community activities, gaining firsthand insights into traditional customs and values.

Homestays often include comfortable accommodations, home-cooked meals, and the chance to interact with host families, creating a warm and welcoming environment for children to learn and adapt to a new cultural setting. During your stay, take the opportunity to bond with your hosts, explore the surrounding area, and appreciate the warmth of Vietnamese hospitality.

Volunteering Opportunities for Families in Vietnam

Engaging in volunteer work as a family can be a meaningful and rewarding experience, allowing you to give back to the local community and make a positive impact during your travels. Several organizations in Vietnam offer volunteer programs tailored to families, ranging from environmental conservation projects to educational initiatives.

By participating in volunteer activities together, children can develop empathy, social responsibility, and cross-cultural awareness, while parents can contribute their skills and time towards meaningful causes. Whether it’s planting trees, teaching English, or assisting in community development projects, volunteering as a family can create lasting memories and forge connections with the Vietnamese people.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Vietnam a suitable destination for family vacations?

A: Yes, Vietnam offers a wide range of family-friendly activities, attractions, and amenities that cater to travelers of all ages. From cultural experiences to outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Vietnam.

Q: What are some must-visit destinations in Vietnam for families?

A: Some top destinations in Vietnam for families include Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, and the Mekong Delta, each offering unique experiences and opportunities for exploration.

Q: Are there specific health and safety considerations to keep in mind when traveling with kids in Vietnam?

A: Families should ensure that their vaccinations are up to date, practice food and water safety, and take precautions during outdoor activities to stay healthy and safe while traveling in Vietnam.

Q: How can families best immerse themselves in Vietnamese culture during their trip?

A: Families can connect with local communities through homestay programs, volunteer opportunities, and cultural workshops, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of Vietnamese customs and traditions.

Q: What entertainment options are available for kids in Vietnam?

A: Children can participate in interactive museum visits, traditional craft workshops, and outdoor activities like lantern-making in Hoi An, providing both entertainment and educational experiences during their stay in Vietnam.

Conclusion

Traveling to Vietnam with your family offers a wealth of opportunities for cultural discovery, outdoor adventure, and meaningful connections with local communities. By planning ahead, packing wisely, and embracing the spirit of exploration, you can create unforgettable memories and experiences for your loved ones in this diverse and captivating destination. Whether you’re wandering through bustling markets, cruising along tranquil waterways, or savoring delicious street food, Vietnam promises a family vacation filled with excitement, learning, and bonding moments that will last a lifetime. Embrace the beauty of Vietnam, immerse yourself in its rich heritage, and embark on a journey of discovery that will leave your family inspired and enchanted by the wonders of this enchanting country.

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