We are planning a trip to Vietnam the first week of October 2012. We will have 8 full days in the country. My husband and I will have our three children (ages 9, 7 and 5) as well as my parents (healthy). Right now I am trying to decide which part of the country to focus on. It will either be the North Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay, ??) or South Vietnam (HCMC, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc, ??)
I would like to know which region would be most kid friendly? They can only see so many museums, etc. I would like to minimize LONG travel via train / bus. Maybe 1 plane ride within country. A little beach time mixed with city (culture, food, short hikes, boat rides, etc..).
I have read through the blogs and got tons of info already. But would be very interested in thoughts on travel with younger kids and which region to focus on / or specific MUST do with kids. Thanks so much!
#1 jlaubrey has been a member since 28/5/2012. Posts: 2
I don't have kids so am not speaking with experience. However, if you happen to go to Nha Trang , the kids would have a ball at the excellent water park at Vin Pearl. You take a cable car across the harbour to get to it, and there are plenty of water rides as well as a few theme park rides. I think it's popular with the Vietnamese on the weekend, but if you go during the week it's virtually empty.
I'm not suggesting that you make a special trip to Nha Trang for this, but rather it's just an activity to keep in mind if you DO go there. Generally speaking, Nha Trang wasn't one of my favourite places in Vietnam, but we did have fun at Vin Pearl for a day of escapism.
It will either be the North Vietnam ( Hanoi , Halong Bay, ??) or South Vietnam (HCMC, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc, ??)
My suggestion of VN's itinerary base on your thoughts & timeline as below:
Halong Bay(01 night on board or hotel)
Hoian(02 nights or 03 nights would be better for kids)
hochiminh city(02 nights)
With your timeline I think you should do those highlight of Vietnam.You can either start from Hanoi and out from hochiminh or vice Versa.All those mentioned places are OK with your kids,they will love hoian and may be you can do day trip to Mekong Delta where your kids can do some boat rides,walk,cycle through lush green orchard garden in Mekong delta. If time permits you can even do a homestay at some places there such as Mekong Lodge.
Enjoy your planning & let me know if you should need some more advise
#3 haitranxuan has been a member since 18/7/2011. Posts: 5
Jlaubrey, you should focus on one part of the country only. Planning is just easy but traveling is not just as easy as we supposed! Transportation is slow and chaotic. Your kids should have sometime to relax during the tour. If they are kind of active kids, the south of Vietnam seems to be better places with more activities such as Nha Trang or Saigon or Mekong Delta. The south is also more children friendly than the North, I think!
#4 susannna has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 22
Personally I'd be thinking south-central to central Vietnam. Maybe Nha Trang (beach, water park) or Mui Ne (beach, sand dunes) then up to Hoi An (more beach, charming old town, good day trips). Hoi An is my all around favorite place in the country that I've been, and you could fly from nearby Da Nang back to where ever you're leaving the country from.
Hue also would be good -- I imagine kids would enjoy running around the big palaces, memorial tombs and such, all of which are spread over huge areas with tons of ponds and pagodas and such.
With kids I'd limit your time in the big cities. Most of the sights there are museums, temples, small cultural streets and such -- not great places for kids to run around and have fun. I feel like Hanoi and Ha Long Bay might be kind of boring for kids.
Eight days is very little time; personally I'd keep it to no more than 2 destinations.
Don't mean to sound negative, but I consider Nha Trang to be a dump at best. With only 8 days, I would concentrate on the best of Vietnam. 85% of travelers to VN love Hoi An , and I would direct you there for a wonderful smallish, historic town with very little, if any, traffic, wonderful food, shopping, accommodation and a beautiful beach to boot. In town/beach travel by rental push bike - you'll fall in love with Hoi An (fly into Danang airport). The other place you should see is Hanoi - most interesting and exotic city in SE Asia!!! That would fill up 8 days nicely - you don't want to crowd that week with anything more. I would do 4.5 days in Hoi An and 3.5 in Hanoi if it was my first trip.
Now I see that your trip is for October, the month of typhoons on the Central Coast. This could be a problem for Hoi An/Danang. You should simply be flexible enough to travel elsewhere should a storm be warned for that timespan. I would have an alternate in the Sapa , NW Highlands should there be weather concerns on the coast - Sapa is a rugged small town with beautiful vistas of rice terraces and the local minorities in colorful, full time costume (overnight train from Hanoi).
Daawgon - agreed on Nha Trang ! Its not somewhere that I would recommend given all the other more interesting alternatives. But if you are there, Vin Pearl would be great for kids.
It wasn't until I posted that I realised that they were only there for 8 days... in which case I doubt Nha Trang would be on the itinerary.
Thanks so much for everyone's comments! Yes, I do realize that during the first week of October we could still run into some weather (i.e. rain!). However, a lot of the books I've read have said that October is a great time to come (not too hot and humid in south). In any event, that is the only week we can do it as we have holiday here in China (we are American, currently living in China).
I really like Daawgon's itinerary... Agree that Nha Trang is out - too touristy / nightlife. Not what we are looking for at this time.
The other itinerary I'm seriously considering is:
Fly into HCMC (1-2 days there - CuChi Tunnels; War museum (although, is this too graphic for young kids?)
Mekong Delta (2 days)
Phan Thiet Beach (4 days) - - this is close to Mui Ne / sand dunes / Ta Cu mountain)
Thoughts? Skip Mekong Delta?
#9 jlaubrey has been a member since 28/5/2012. Posts: 2
October is still rainy season in the South, not a good time for Phu Quoc or Con Dao islands. It is the rainy and typhoon season for much of central Vietnam (more rainy days than sunny days in Nha Trang, and you can very much have VinPearl to yourself). On the other hand, the weather should be good for the North and with only about a week, you will hardly have enough time for that region of Vietnam, why wasting time flying to HMC city for Danang. The water puppet show and the Old Quarter of Hanoi should be of interst for everyone in the family. Halong bay is more than just taking a cruise. Add Cat Ba island to Halong trip, plus other outdoors activities, then you can have hiking, kayaking, time on the beach, exploring caves..., not just taking in the scenery from a cruise boat deck. Then Hoa Lu, a kind of Halong on land. And then Sapa... You will barely have enough time for all these. Hope you enjoy Vietnam, the northern part on this trip and the rest of the country on future trips.
#10 Tle4a2mi has been a member since 4/6/2012. Posts: 1
It now seems that it is much better to spend your time in the north of Vietnam! We spent one night on a cruise in Halong Bay and one night at a resort in Cat Ba island but the Cat Ba island was not interesting. There was nothing there except a small beach with many guys camping. I would suggest to visit Sapa if possible as it is much better!
#11 susannna has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 22