Vietnam is one of the best places to travel with kids of all ages – and it’s cheap.
Vietnam is a brilliant location for a family holiday as everyone wins, and with Australian dollars it’s cheap.
For adults, the fresh, clean local food, fabulous wines and cocktails and beautiful beaches as well as terrific shopping keep it busy.
For kids the food, luxury hotels and swimming pools are the best.
Spoiler alert – Australians need a Visa and you need separate visa for each child, don’t do what I did and end up at Customs for 2 hours with problems, paying hundreds of US dollars just to get in.
There are three main locations for a first time visitor; the bustling city of Hanoi, the beach side oasis Da Nang ( just near the historical Unesco World Heritage town of Hoi An) and the packed city of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), full of war history.
Da Nang is the best place for families to start as it is a beach area full of gorgeous family-syle resorts, and Hoi An, the Unesco World Heritage site with gorgeous historical Asian buildings and pedestrian roads is only 30 minutes drive away.
Last month I stayed at The Hyatt Regency Da Nang with my twins who are 10 years old.
Everything about this hotel is luxurious, modern, fresh and elegant and made for families, not just the kids.
There are five pools (yes, FIVE) and a water slide, as well as a pool with a man made beach for young kids with sand buckets. There is a well staffed kids club, well suited to kids under 10.
The spa at The Hyatt Regency is more like a fantasy land than a spa. Set in a garden full of water features, walls and climbing vines, it’s a luxurious adventure even to locate your spa treatment room.
Rooms are modern and spacious, with gorgeous luxe bathrooms. An upgrade to The Hyatt Regency Club topped off our stay. We had an exclusive building with both indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy daily breakfast, and fabulous cocktails and an open bar every night for two hours with canapés.
Hoi An is a short drive away, and full of classic Vietnamese architecture, cute local restaurants and excellent tailors. The Vietnamese are some of the best tailors in the world, and are brilliant at copying garments if you bring them with you – and they can turn almost anything around in 24 hours.
From gorgeous paper lantern-filled streets at night to boats on the river, it is definitely worth a visit.
Da Nang is also home to one of the world’s greatest resorts, The Four Seasons Nam Hai. A stay here is a once in a lifetime indulgence, with a cooking school, kids club where kids make their own pizzas, one of the world’s greatest spas overlooking water and so on. Absolute luxury.
Hanoi is a 30 minute plane ride north, and where you will find less of the French influence of the south, and more traditional Vietnamese architecture and food. One of the highlights of a visit are the river cruises on the UNESCO world heritage site of Ha Long Bay, where a family can hire a boat for two nights and sail amongst the picturesque islands.
If the children are old enough, they can take out canoes and take to the water.
Saigon is about 50 minutes flight from Hanoi, and is a city of 7 million people, and standing in the city centre, it feels like every one of them owns a motorbike. Crossing a main road there is hair-raising to say the least, but it’s an experience, especially for children.
Saigon (as the locals call it) is packed with fabulous hotels. The Park Hyatt is one of my favourites, with a spectacular pool area, and beautiful paint bar with live music.
A drink on the rooftop of The Caravelle Hotel, which was home to Australians during the Vietnam war is definitely worth doing.
The former Prime Minister’s home and the various war museums are brilliantly done and not only fun to visit, but such a great educational experience.
The Ben Thang markets are a site to behold and packed with everything from souvenirs to copy gear and amazing shoes, another quality item to buy in Vietnam. Many of the world’s biggest sporting brands have factories in Vietnam, so there are plenty of seconds in shops and markets all over the country.
I have barely talked about the food, but the local Vietnamese food is fresh, healthy and delicious, and ridiculously cheap, and they are famed for their beauty treatments. From lashes to nails and massage, the Vietnamese know how to make women look and feel beautiful.
Vietnam is a tropical country, so it is almost always hot, and it does have rainy seasons, but it is a sensational experience for anyone wanting adventure and a break, but particularly for families.
Vietnam With Kids In Brief:
Da Nang – 4-10 nights, stay at The Hyatt Regency Da Nang, OR The Four Seasons Nam Hai if money is no object.
Visit Hoi -An at least once to shop, eat and take photos.
Saigon – 3-4 nights
Hanoi- 3 nights