We (2 adults and 2 children - 5 & 3 yo) are travelling from Australia to Vietnam in October 2011. We are going to stay in Ho Chi Min City for 3 nights, and then we were thinking Nha Trang or Hoi An for 7 - 8 nights. Which would be the better location for a family? and will the weather be ok in October?
Also, would it be best to organise our holiday through a travel agent, or do it my self on the internet?
Would Air Asia be ok to travel with, or would we be better flying Singapore Airline.
Any advice on any of the above would be greatly appreciated.
#1 danolou has been a member since 28/2/2011. Posts: 3
I don't think Nha Trang and Hoi An are in any way comparable, and I wouldn't suggest that they are an either/or option.
Hoi An is a beautiful heritage town that just shouldn't be missed. I would suggest that you stay for a minimum of 5 days, and a full week would be great. Aside from the main town itself, you can do things like hire bicycles and ride around the countryside (although not sure what you can do about seats for kids - maybe someone else can offer info.) There are also great beaches nearby (5 km or so away from Hoi An) and you can travel up towards Danang to Marble Mountain, etc for a day trip.
Nha Trang was probably my least favourite place in Vietnam mainly because it really didn't offer up anything too interesting and I got tired of all the pressure from people to buy sunglasses, etc. (Admittedly you are going to get that elsewhere in Vietnam, but it was nearly the final straw for me!) The beach is nice, but I didn't think it was anything particularly special. (Maybe I'm spoiled with NZ beaches, and my expectations are high!)
On the other hand, there is a fantastic waterpark in Nha Trang (VinPearl) that would be fantastic for kids (including the big adult kids). We had an awesome fun-filled day there and it felt like an escape from the tourist trail for a day. Nothing particularly Vietnamese about it - but it was fun!
Air Asia are fine to travel with. I would suggest that you organise it yourself - but travelling with kids, I guess it also depends on how 'intrepid' you feel.
Consider splitting your time between the two. But if you only pick one, I think Hoi An provides the better choice.
Thanks for that, if I do decide to organise myself, is it easy to find transport to our hotels from the airport? or should I organise transfers before I get there?
#3 danolou has been a member since 28/2/2011. Posts: 3
HCMC: Transport is easy from the airport to district 1 (where most hotels are located), always take a metered taxi- Mai Linh or Vinasun. It shouldn't cost more than 120k dong ($6 USD) to get where you need to go. Just be sure to have your hotel address written down to show the cab driver.
#4 angelaschonberg has been a member since 11/2/2011. Posts: 6
If you plan to book your HCMC accom ahead of time, I would suggest that you make it easy on yourself (esp with kids) and arrange for them to pick you up. It would be just one less thing to worry about.
You could consider doing the same if you were to fly into Danang (nearest airport to Hoi An). Not sure where the closet airport is to Nha Trang, so if coming from Hoi An, you would mostly likely take a bus (10-12 hour I think on the overnighter - try to get the back row so that you and the kids can take over the whole 5 seats in the back.) Once you bus into Nha Trang, it will be very easy/cheap/quick to get a taxi to your hotel.
BTW - there are some good accom reviews on this site. For Hoi-An, go here: https://www.travelfish.org/accommodation/vietnam/central_vietnam/quang_nam/hoi_an/all
Likewise, you will find them for the other cities too. I have generally found them to be pretty reliable.
My husband & I travelled to Vietnam in January with our teenage children. We stayed in all the places you mentioned & all were absolutely wonderful for different reasons. Our favourite, however, was Hoi An . I think it would be a better place with younger children. It is much more layed back & relaxed than Nha Trang. We stayed at a hotel called the Hai Au. Not expensive & the staff are unbelievable - they will dote on your children. There is plenty to do in & around Hoi An & we found it altogether 'friendlier'.
Nha Trang is a lot more touristy. We stayed out of the tourist area & enjoyed that more than when we ventured into town. If you are on a budget check out The Tide Hotel.
It all comes back to what you are looking for in a holiday.
We organised everything ourselves online & everything went smoothly (including airport transfers - it saves the hassles that can occur with taxis in VN). Mind you my husband is super organised & we did a lot of research before booking anything.
Whatever you do you will love Vietnam. We had started planning our next trip while still there & will be returning in January. It's addictive!
#6 joannemahoney has been a member since 16/6/2011. Posts: 7
"Whatever you do you will love Vietnam."
Joanne I'm glad you had a grea time and that it worked for you, but I've met a lot of people who have gone to Vietnam (including Vietnamese expats) and they hate it. It has a low return rate for tourists as well. I don't want to be a downer here with this family prepping to go, but understand that a lot of people who visit Vietnam don't leave with a favorable impression. The return rates are substantially lower than Thailand, Cambodia or Laos.
I understand what you are saying MADMAC. Most people I met who have been loved Vietnam & like me would return in a heart beat. The few ones I've met who did not feel the same way were on organised tours where they were rushed from place to place, ripped off & given sub-standard food. As I said in my post, my husband & I did a lot of research before we left & were well aware of the tourist traps, rip offs, etc ... While there I also met many people who had chosen to return to Vietnam & live!
We are very relaxed people who travel, with our children, to experience other cultures, warts & all. We found the Vietnamese people to be the highlight of the trip. They are warm, welcoming & very family orientated. That's why we avoided the major tourist area in Nha Trang as it is set up purely for westerners to have a western style holiday. We wandered through local markets etc... & had a great time. By the why we only know enough of the language to say Hello, thank you & no thank you.
Anyway, its all about what you want & expect from a holiday.
BTW ... good to hear Cambodia has a good return rate we will be going there on our way home from VN in January.
#8 joannemahoney has been a member since 16/6/2011. Posts: 7
The actual rate of return is around 5%. Thailand, in comparison, has a 50% return rate. In fact there was a post here on Travelfish about that very subject. Most actually site the Vietnamese themselves as the reason they don't return. Generally they are perceived to be very pushy and very aggressive people. This is also true where I live, which has a large number of Vietnamese people living here (although I personally like them). Like I said, I'm glad you had a good time, but most people are not into the place very place for reasons that have a lot to do with Vietnam itself.
As I have said it depends on what you want out of a holiday. You may not have liked Vietnam, but many people do. It seems you have had a bad experience & that's a shame. But I think if you go to a country like Vietnam, or any developing country, you have to do your research & go in with open eyes. I don't know how anyone could compare it to Thailand! Sorry, no comparison!
#10 joannemahoney has been a member since 16/6/2011. Posts: 7
Don't get me wrong - I've never been to Vietnam. But I live in a city with a large proportion of Vietnamese people. Of course they are expats, so by definition they (or their parents) left for a reason. So they may be jaded. But my neighbors who go annually to visit relatives don't speak of it well. And I've known six Europeans who went there and did not like it. As I said, statistically it has a low return rate, which is an indicator of how a place is regarded by those who go there. I'm not comparing it to Thailand, I am comparing the return rates to Thailand. 5% of the people who go to Vietnam for vacation go back. 50% of the people who go to Thailand for vacation go back. You can draw your own conclusions about why that may be.
I have just joined as I to am looking at a family trip to Vietnam in 2012 with my husband and 6 and 7 yo.I am also from Australia.
I will be keeping an eye out for family discussions and would love a report back when you get home!
I am leaning towards Hoi An and Halong Bay but after reading about all of the rip offs I am freaking out about whether or not to just organise it all through a TA here???
I will keep researching!
#12 mb20fan has been a member since 10/7/2011. Posts: 1
Just make sure you do your research & are aware of the rip offs. You need to remember, people in Vietnam are poor so most are just trying to feed their families. Also, keep in mind the exchange rate! Often when you think you've been ripped off a huge amount, it doesn't turn out to be that much in the end. We did most of our planning & booking before we left & had no problems with transport etc...
We did not travel to Halong, but will be going when we return in January (without our kids). We have not booked yet, but are looking at several options, as this is one place where you apparently need to be very careful. as many cruise companies do not deliver what they advertise!
Just another note, we found the people (South & Central) love Aussies. They recognise you as Aussie (I don't know how) & call out to you as you walk down the street. We found when we did tours they spent a lot of time chatting with us & our kids. My husband, an ex-serviceman (but not a vet.) easily found someone to share a cigarette or a beer with. I think our shared history & sense of humour goes a long way in VN. Treat the people with respect & you'll get double in return!
#13 joannemahoney has been a member since 16/6/2011. Posts: 7
"Treat the people with respect & you'll get double in return!"
I think this is true in most places actually.
Just on a side note, while I have heard a lot of bad travel stories about Vietnam, an old Master Sergeant I served with in Germany was a five year Vietnam vet. He had stayed there a long time. And his wife was (is) Vietnamese and he took her back to the States when he left. In 2004 they went back, and even as a long serving veteran fighting in the war, he was in no way treated negatively. Indeed they are thinking of retiring there. So for some people (like yourselves) it obviously holds a certain charm.
My girlfriend and i are looking at heading to Hanoi in November, just wondering what sort of aus dollars we are going to need accommodation is paid for im talking just spending money.
We have looked at other sites and nothing seams to make sense. We were thinking around $1000 aussie dollars each should last us for 5 day?
Any suggestions would be helpful.
#15 sheecapri has been a member since 17/8/2011. Posts: 3
Unless you have very expensive tastes, $1000 each will see you through quite comfortably.
#16 Tessie has been a member since 13/7/2011. Posts: 8
I live here and $1000 more than lasts me for a month! You would have to have extremely expensive tastes to need anywhere near that - so have fun!
Is there any tips anyone can give us in regards to the pricing of things in vietnam for example
t shirts, thongs shoes, souviners type stuff,
Do we need to have any injections before comeing there, any information would be usefull neither of us have ever been out of australia before so its all new.
#18 sheecapri has been a member since 17/8/2011. Posts: 3
I realise that the trip in the original post has probably been and gone but I thought I might add something here for those who are planning similar holidays. We have travelled through Vietnam with our three children on a couple of occasions and we absolutely love it. On our first trip the kids were 5, 8 and 13. The Vietnamese people seem to love children and (relatively) large families get a lot of attention. We tried a whole range of different experiences from serviced apartments to guest houses. We travelled by train (slow but the kids loved it) and car and plane, always felt safe, didn't get sick and met some wonderful people along the way. In my opinion it's a fantastic country for a family holiday with enough tourist infrastructure to make it feel safe but with something interesting to see around every corner. It has a really quirky ad hoc kind of feel to it, the people have a lot of energy. Sure, they are always trying to sell you stuff but they're usually polite. Our kids loved Vin Pearl Land in Nha Trang - if you go on a weekday you might only have to share it with about 50 other tourists. They loved Hoi An - the food is amazing and the girls in the family had skirts made for about $10 each which was great fun. I loved Hue, the Citadel is beautiful and we hired a car and driver and went to Khe Sanh as I'm mad for history. Saigon is just amazing, you can wander through Cholon for hours and never run out of things to see. It's very easy to leave the tourist stuff behind and get lost in the thick of it. The best advice I could give is to go. Enjoy!
#20 Equineinsight has been a member since 17/6/2010. Posts: 2
We went to Vietnam, stayed in Saigon for 3 night, NhA trang 5 nights and hoi an 5 nights, we loved every moment of it. Our favorite place was hoi an. Will definitely return! Food was fantastic, people so lovely, accomodation was great, what more can I say. Thanx every1 for ur responses ;)
#21 danolou has been a member since 28/2/2011. Posts: 3
hi. we are planning a holiday in vietnam from 19th nov to 4th jan - halong bay area.what can we expect weather wise? any suggestions as to what we should not forget to take with and any dos and donts would be appreciated. thanks :-)
#22 ashleigh has been a member since 29/11/2011. Posts: 1