Family-Friendly Trip to Vietnam

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Advisor - Stephanie Thompson
Curated By

Stephanie Thompson

  • International Travel

  • Vietnam

  • City Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Luxury Travel

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Foodie

  • Kid-Friendly

  • Local Culture

people in the street lined with trees and buildings
Curator’s statement

If you have children and have been dreaming about taking them to Asia for the first time, look no further than Vietnam. I think Vietnam has it all: stunning beauty, fascinating history, off the charts food, beautiful beaches and stunning resorts. And it is extremely family friendly. There are so many fun things to do in Vietnam with kids, the people are friendly, love children and many hotels cater to families. Vietnam is about the size of California and you can easily see highlights in 8-12 days or take the slow road and spend a month. I think Vietnam has something for everyone and will be a place that stays with you forever.

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Where to stay in Vietnam

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Things to do in Vietnam

railroad track lined by colorful buildings during daytime

Things to do in Hanoi

My son and I absolutely loved Hanoi. With its wide boulevards and old world picturesque charm, it will steal your heart. It’s a great city for wandering because most of the main sights are all within the same area. Start with a walk to Hoan Kiem Lake. Tip: If you go early enough you might see hundreds of Vietnamese who gather at dawn each morning to do tai chi exercises.

Next visit the Old Quarter, a network of tiny streets dedicated to specific crafts like shoemaking, silversmith, masonry and more. Don’t miss the train street, a quiet corner of the Old Quarter that comes to life several times a day when racing trains rattle along narrow tracks between houses - kids will love it! Tip: The Old Quarter is very lively and jam packed with vendors, motorcycles and many people. I’d recommend hiring a cyclo driver so you can sit back, relax and let them take you on a magic ride.

After a bite to eat, you can either head back to rest in your hotel or go onward. These are our top favorite things to do in Hanoi:

Visit the Museum of Ethnology, a wonderful interactive museum showcasing the history and culture of 54 ethnic tribes. Tip: Allow around 2-3 hours. Make sure to visit the outdoor space where you can walk insides many different house models of ethnic tribes.

Take a motorbike tour (either during the day or at night). It’s a super fun way to see the city as you ride on the back while the expert driver take control. Take in a water puppet show, a fun experience that will transport you back to the 11th century when it started in the rice fields. Indulge in a food tour or cooking class. Visit Cong Vien Nghia Do Park - hands down the best park in Hanoi!  This park has a beautiful lake, walking trails, an incredible and clean play area and is secured by a tall fence. The play area has fake grass, loads of different play equipment and even a zipline. Plan to spend the day here, it's just that much fun.

Spend the night on a Junk Boat in Halong Bay. Ha Long Bay is one the most stunning places on the planet, a UNESCO World Heritage Sight consisting of hundreds of limestone peaks. It’s a few hours drive from Hanoi and can be done in a day trip. But I’d recommend staying a night or two on an iconic junk boat. You get the chance to relax on the deck on the boat, kayak among the stunning limestone peaks and eat the most delicious meals.

Things to do in Hoi An

A short flight from Hanoi, Hoi An is our favorite city in Vietnam. It’s charming and quaint and not nearly as bustling as the big cities. Beautiful beaches, culture, shopping and kid-friendly excursions are just a few reasons to make a stop in Hoi An. It is also know for tailors and this is the place to get custom clothes made. Make this the top of your list if it’s something of interest because it take a few days and at least one or two fittings.

Hoi An is probably most famous for its Old Town. Closed to cars, you will enjoy hours of strolling the ancient streets, markets and storefronts. It’s also magical at night, lit up by hundreds of lanterns. Make sure to stop by the Japanese covered bridge.

The stunning beaches are the perfect place to rest and recharge by sitting on lounge chairs sipping fresh fruit smoothies or taking some ocean swims. For some culture, try a farm and fish tour which includes everything from visiting a local farm to learn how rice is cultivated to riding a water buffalo. And if you haven’t done a food tour yet, try one in Hoi An. It's a foodie town!

Things to do in Con Dao

I would also suggest Vietnam’s most secluded paradise Island of Con Dao, a 45-minute direct flight from Ho Chi Minh City. It was one of the highlights of our trip and we still talk about this incredible resort. In addition to stunning private beaches and your own infinity pool at Six Senses, there are also complimentary activities including daily morning yoga, sustainability walks within the organic gardens, visiting the turtle incubation center, feeding the chickens and goat and riding around in your complimentary golf cart There’s really no better way to rest, recharge and connect.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

To end your Vietnam adventure with a bang, nothing beats HCMC. It’s the largest and most chaotic city and also the most modern with tall glass skyscrapers, trendy shopping malls, rooftop bars and a variety of international restaurants.

This is the perfect city to take a motorbike tour, if you haven’t yet (or even if you have) It is not only an efficient way to tour the city but your kids will not stop talking about how much fun they had. Suoi Tien Theme Park is the most famous theme park, and offers a fun day out for kids of all ages. For older kids who enjoy history, visiting the CuCi Tunnels is fascinating. I’d recommend hiring a guide or doing a small group tour. The War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace are also interesting for older kids. We loved the AO Show show, a bit like Cirque Du Soleil with Vietnamese culture.

Places to eat & drink in Vietnam

bowl of soup next to pink smoothie on black table

Places to eat & drink in Hanoi

Au Lac House: Located in a beautifully restored 1930’s French-era villa, Au Lac House is the place to go for a special occasion. Quiet and elegant, though not extremely expensive, it’s also fun for kids, who can feel as if they’ve stepped back in time

Cam Chi Street: This little food alley at the southwest end of the Old Quarter has dozens of tiny rice and noodle shops where you can eat like a local.

Highway 4: Kids will enjoy the climb up two flights of steep stairs to the covered rooftop dining area, where you sit on the floor with traditional low-to-the-ground tables.

Places to eat & drink in Hoi An

Cargo: Especially at sunset. The seafood is spectacular. Book roof top tables overlooking the river.

Morning Glory: One of the best meals of my life. I’d suggest eating family style and trying as many dishes as possible.

Don't miss trying banh mi, which are specialty sandwiches on fresh baguettes. Anthony Bourdain made Banh Mi Phuong famous. It's more of a food cart with a few tables in the back and there are often lines out the door but it's worth the wait and great to pick for lunch on to go.

Also make sure to try Cau Lau, a Hoi An specialty of noodles with pork and Banh Xeo, a Vietnamese style pancake filled with meat or shrimp.

Places to eat & drink in Ho Chi Minh City

Banh Mi Bay Ho because you will be craving banh mi at home! This was the banh mi stall recommended in the Vietnam episode of Street Food on Netflix. Every episode does a deep dive into the featured city’s local cuisine so I'm always confident that we can rely on their recommendations.

Pho Le: Most delicious Pho I've ever had.

Nam Giao: A tiny alley café off Le Thanh Ton Street to sample the banh beo (steamed rice-flower cakes) and tiny shrimp dumplings of Central Vietnam, shrimp rolls and noodles.

Advisor - Stephanie Thompson

Travel Advisor

Stephanie Thompson

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