A great destination
Offering both cultural activities and great beaches, Hoi An is a deservedly popular choice for family vacations. There’s plenty to keep everyone busy, fed and entertained.
What to do
Of all the beaches around Hoi An, An Bang is the easiest with kids. It’s just a five-minute, US$5 taxi ride from town and there are a slew of family friendly restaurants to choose from. Most are designed to be hang out spots and for the price of a meal, guests can use the shaded loungers, sun huts, toilets, showers and the grassy area for the little ones to run around.
An Bang is ideal from March to October. During the hottest months, An Bang boasts shallow waters and few or no waves. A few shops sell beach toys and there’s plenty available to borrow or hire, including boogie boards, balls and buckets. In addition to Western and Vietnamese beach fare, Soul Kitchen has a pool table, board games, books and some shady nooks perfect for a little nap. It’s all very laidback. Soul Kitchen’s neighbours are also decent spots to settle in for R&R. Kids and teens will dig the pizza at Luna D’Autonno.
Teens might also take to SUP. If they can be roused at the crack of dawn, the Aloha Tour (US$50) by SUP Monkey is in the shallows of the coastal stretch from Ha My down to An Bang beach where the sea is most calm, perfect for beginners.
Older kids can get crafty at Lifestart Foundation with their 1.5 hour lantern-making workshop. They’re both giving to a good cause and getting a cool souvenir. It’s 330,000 dong, with a minimum of two participants required to run the class. Sign up in advance by visiting the shop at 14 Nguyen Thai Hoc St, Hoi An or calling T: (0167) 355 9447.
Get hands on in the Thanh Ha pottery village. Meet some of the local potters. At the touristy Terracotta Village centre, kids can play with clay or paint a readymade piece.
To inject a bit of culture and history into their travels, mix it up a bit by taking a cyclo or riverboat ride.
A Vespa passenger seat makes for a cool, comfortable ride and Vespa Adventures offers children under 12 a 30% discount. Helmets are provided and one of their half-day tours is something the whole family can enjoy. The Countryside & Islands Explorer has a balanced amount of fun – the older, wiser folks get to proudly watch kids toil in the rice paddy, sweat over a rice cracker stove and labour over a mat-making loom, while in return the kids get a good laugh watching the folks clamber over bamboo bridges.
Ms Vy's cooking classes are hugely popular and the good news is they offer private family classes, with the programme keeping small children in mind. The price is as precious as your little one, at 4,400,000 dong for two to four people, but it is a private experience and everyone walks away with full bellies. Green Bamboo Cooking School & Cafe is also very kid friendly, and it's an intimate experience, getting you into a real family home.
For families with teens on a tighter budget, check out the free or inexpensive half-day bicycle tours through Hoi An Free Tour, an organisation of local college and university students who volunteer to guide trips as a way to develop leadership and communication skills. It could be a way to get your teen interacting with a local closer to their own age, and learning about Vietnam through the eyes of a student.
Nomad Yoga does a few kids' yoga classes every month. It’s suitable for those over three, as long as they can follow instructions for an hour learning some animal poses and laughter exercises.
And if you are in desperate need of modern distractions, head to the big city of Da Nang. Opened in 2015, Vincom Shopping Centre has a good cinema playing new films, indoor skating rink and indoor playground.
Dingo Deli at 277 Cua Dai Road, halfway between town and Cua Dai Beach, is a fantastic spot for families. The menu has just about every familiar Western comfort food, with lots of the dishes customisable to taste – create your own sandwiches and salads, or pick a la carte: pastas, Mexican, all-day breakfast, burgers, milk shakes, fresh juices, gluten-free options. Their shop is stocked for self-catering, including fresh milk, baked goodies, snacks, imported beer, cold cuts and cheeses. There’s an adventure playground at the back and outdoor seating so adults can enjoy their meals while letting the kids run amok. T: (0120) 600 9300; open daily 07:30-21:30.
In town, The Cargo Club is a cafe-restaurant that has a huge selection to please everyone in the family. There’s a kids' menu, while adults can dine on paninis, quiche, fFrench bistro fare, burgers, pizza, pasta and a slew of Vietnamese and pan-Asian dishes. The riverside location, rooftop terrace and well-oiled service make this a very civilised choice. Everyone will surely raise their hand for one of Cargo’s extensive dessert and ice cream choices. You can also grab house-made ice cream or an afternoon snack at Cocobox. 107-109 Nguyen Thai Hoc St; T:(0510) 3911 227; open daily 08:00-23:00.
Adults deserve a treat too and the Sunday brunch (12:30-15:00) at Intercontinental Danang Resort ensures kids are catered for so adults can enjoy too. The children’s dessert station is a slice of heaven – chocolate fountain, ice cream sundae with the works – and once they’ve had their fill, the kids' table will keep them entertained so adults can continue the feast. It’s 1,499,000 dong per adult, 749,000 dong for those 6-12 years old. The resort is located 45 minutes from Hoi An.
Where to stay
Lots of Hoi An hotels and guesthouses have families in mind – the Vietnamese always travel with the whole family in tow – so even small homestays will often have one family room. For families on a budget, our top in-town pick is Orchids Homestay, which has two huge family rooms that can sleep up to four. The place is exceptionally tidy and the English-speaking owner is extremely accommodating with kids. Family rooms are 800,000 dong and include air-con, WiFi, TV, shower with hot water and good pressure, bicycle and breakfast – eggs, bread, fresh fruit and milk. It’s just a short walk along the river to the town centre.
One step up the budgetary ladder is Rock Villa Hoi An. Sandwiched between a rice paddy and river, this countryside escape has one building with the upstairs floor devoted to two interconnecting rooms, a shared bathroom in the middle. Within the safety of the private walled garden, there’s a grassy area, swing set, and a 25-metre pool with separate shallow splash pool and toys. Bicycle use is free and they have child seats and small bikes for older kids.
Have more to spend? Almanity and Anantara Hoi An Resort are upscale options that have the services and amenities you expect at this price point: good location, swimming pool, buffet breakfast and plenty of room to spread out and run around, especially Anantara with its large lawn and garden. Almanity attracts a younger crowd and, huzzah, they have a kids club. Park the children in there while you enjoy a yoga class or your one spa treatment included in the room rate.
In addition to the convenience of being steps to the beach, several An Bang hotels have other handy features for families. The cottages at An Bang Seaside Village are within a private walled garden and some of the houses have two queen beds and a kitchenette. Red Flower Cottage Homestay has one deluxe bungalow with living area and kitchenette (not to mention, lovely service from Ms Kim). For something more rustic, Under the Coconut Tree Homestay also has a family room.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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