With Hoi An’s close proximity to some of Vietnam’s best beaches and countryside plus its mostly traffic-free centre, the central coastal town is a deservedly popular choice for family vacations.
When to go
Seasonally the best time to visit is the dry season, March through to the beginning of June, and September (July and August sees temperatures climb into the humid 40s). Not only is this the best time for guaranteed sunshine and calm seas, it’s also considered low season so there are some pretty hefty hotel discounts. For those who aren’t too bothered about the beach and don’t mind a bit of rain, December through to February is a good bet as you avoid the relentless rain and occasional typhoons of October and November.
What to do
Of all the beaches around Hoi An, An Bang is the easiest with kids. From the old town, it’s a flat five kilometres on a bicycle or a five-minute, $5 taxi ride. The An Bang restaurants are family-friendly, with even a few Western restaurants, and have a grassy area separated from the beach where little ones can run around safely, as well as shaded loungers on the sand. An Bang also boasts shallow water and few or no waves during the hottest months, making it ideal for all ages. As for keeping the kids occupied on the beach, boogie boards, rubber rings, balls, buckets and spades are available to borrow or hire from most places. Out of the sun, Soul Kitchen has a pool table as well as board games and books, along with shady nooks perfect for little naps. (Remember back in the day when you had those? We mean for the kids…)
For older kids there is Castaway, a local family-run business teaching kids aged eight and up how to safely handle a basket boat and local fishing techniques.
Further afield, a snorkelling or camping trip over on the Cham Islands is definitely worth putting on your list, with lots of shallow little rocky coves scattered with blue starfish and brightly coloured fish to explore.
Bike is best for exploring the surrounding areas and most bike hire places will provide a child seat if requested in advance – there are plenty of guided tours if you prefer (although it’s hard to get lost if you have a good map). Mr Happy from Coconut Tours offers some of the best family friendly routes, incorporating a bit of vegetable farming and cooking at his grandmother’s home in Tra Que, while Jack Tran’s eco tours throw in a buffalo ride and coracle boat tour of the river.
For those who prefer the DIY route, Thanh Ha pottery village offers the kids a chance to man the potters wheel and knock out their very own souvenir. For big adventures the Marble Mountain caves are heaps of fun – you can even abseil into Hell’s Cave with Hoi An Motorbike adventures, which has some great half- and full-day tours where kids ride pillion with an experienced guide and are kitted out with proper helmets and wet weather gear.
The old town isn’t massively buggy friendly or particularly fun for kids unless they are the sort to enjoy a bit of hardcore shopping, museum and temple visiting. If you are determined to pack a bit of culture and history into their travels, mixing it up a bit by taking a cyclo or river boat tour injects a bit of fun while eliminating the fear of being mown down by a moped.
Dining options are easy: restaurant food hygiene is standardised and monitored thanks to this being a tourist town. Dingo Deli on Cua Dai Road is a great stop if you are looking for a popular playground (they also run various evening classes) and if tummy troubles do strike, they have a menu of home cooked comfort food available online that they will deliver directly to your hotel or guesthouse.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 2nd March, 2014.