Ultimate guide to things to do in Vietnam with kids
Young people are loved by the Vietnamese, and young foreign children in particular receive truly warm and adoring attention from the locals. Vietnam makes for an interesting and unique cultural experience that the whole family will love. Alluring landscapes, fascinating history and bustling with activity – Vietnam is an enchanting country! It’s a destination for both kids and adults, with attractions that appeal to the whole family – for every age and interest – Vietnam, with something for everyone, has you covered.
The kids will love
Ho Chi Minh City
Watch a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show, take the Chu Chi Tunnels tour and be sure to stop at Chu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station, take a boat ride around the Mekong Delta, try the local food (kids will love the interesting and mild cuisine), and take a day trip to Dai Nam Van Hiem (an interesting combination of gardens, temple and amusement park) – Ho Chi Minh City is a must-see destination full of experiences that will interest the whole family!
Hanoi biggest attraction is that is it full of hands-on things for kids to do – visit Ho Tay Water Park and Royal City, both full of activities for kids (including ice rink, cinemas, game rooms and water-play areas), take a boating trip on Ho Tay, spend time in Thong Nhat Park with kids games and natural surroundings, and take a tour of Vietnamese culture in the Ethnology Museum.
Hoi An & Da Nang
Beautiful beaches, great restaurants and full of activities for kids. Both areas, quite close, are full of family-friendly resorts with children’s programs, playgrounds, pools and games rooms. The whole family will enjoy – exploring the Old Town (bike or wander through the winding streets), taking a boat ride or fishing tour on the river (witness traditional riverside communities), the Hoi An Free Tour (a family-friendly bike ride through the surrounding countryside run by volunteer students who want to practice their English!) and visiting the bustling early morning fish and vegetable markets.
Best time to travel
Vietnam has a wonderful climate and is suitable for travel year-round. The low seasons, April to June and September to November, are best for travelling throughout the country. There are low crowds during these periods and the cheapest accommodation. Typhoons are active in the northern areas from October to November.
December to March is a beautiful time in Vietnam, particularly the south which has mild weather and dry conditions. Northern parts of Vietnam can be quite cold. The Tet festival, which celebrates the Vietnamese New Year, is a week-long festival across the country usually falling in late January or February. This is a wonderful festival to be in the country for and kids will enjoy it also. Keep in mind that prices for travel and accommodation can be very expensive and packed during this time as Vietnamese families travel back to their ancestral homes to celebrate the event.
July and August are high season for travel in Vietnam, coinciding with the Australian and New Zealand school holidays. Accommodation prices increase by up to 50% and it is recommended to book well in advance for this period. Expect hot, humid temperatures nation-wide and frequent sporadic downpours.
Things to do in Sunshine Coast with…
Young children will have a great time in Vietnam and will lavish in the warm attention received from locals. There are great beaches and coastal towns in Vietnam which are full of fun activities for younger kids. (Note: please do be careful of currents, particularly at quieter beaches – some have choppy or rough tides).
Kids will love Hoi An and Da Nang – popular destinations for travelling families, both are full of activities and family resorts to keep all family members entertained!
Teenagers will love Ho Chi Minh City. The city has culture and food experiences galore that will entertain for days!
Older kids might like to head to Lake Eppalock, a vast manmade lake around 30 minutes from Bendigo, for boating, swimming and waterskiing. Golden Nugget Discovery Tours offer adventure tours for those visitors who like a little action with their sight-seeing. Don overalls, a hard hat and a miner’s lamp to venture to the heart of a mine, 85 metres below ground to hunt for gold. Their Night Eco Spotlight Walk showcases the Australian Bush as it comes to life with local nocturnal wildlife including Kangaroos, Possums, Gliders, Owls, Frogs and Bats.
Speaking of things that go bump in the night, take a ghost tour of Ballarat, Australia’s most haunted city, with Eerie Ghost Tours. Travel through underground buildings, alleyways, and even the remains of the old Ballarat goal, the location of many an execution, on a paranormal quest that’s not for the faint of heart.
Getting around Vietnam
Train travel is a dependable, scenic, sometimes time-consuming, way to get around Vietnam. Vietnam Railways is the main railway service. The main route links destinations between major cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with express services running every day – the fastest trains take 32 to 36 hours. There are also three routes that link Hanoi to other northern Vietnam destinations, Haiphong, Lang Son and Lao Cai. Children under two travel for free and tickets for children between two and nine are half price. Tickets are split into four classes – hard seat, hard sleeper, soft seat and soft sleeper. Private carriages are also usually available for higher prices.
Hiring a driver in Vietnam is convenient, popular for visiting the more remote regions and destinations. Car rentals don’t allow for foreigners to drive due to Vietnamese insurance laws. Cars can be rented for around $100 to $160 per day and minibuses or for approximately $160 to $190 per day. Both are available for hire in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other major tourist centres.
Bus travel in Vietnam is extensive and affordable, though usually very time-consuming. Modern deluxe buses, including sleepers, are available between the major cities. Two reliable companies are Mai Linh Express and The Sinh Tourist. Open Tour buses are another option that operate mostly for tourists (particularly backpackers) between the major destinations – the down side of these are that they are often tourist-packed, without any contact with locals and could be overwhelming for young children.
Air travel throughout Vietnam is the most efficient way to get around, and usually reasonably affordable. Vietnam Airways and Jetstar are two reliable major airlines.
More about Vietnam for families
- Family resorts and hotels are quite popular throughout Vietnam, particularly in coastal areas such as Hoi An and Da Nang. Many have kid’s programs and activities, as well as childcare services. Cots are usually available at mid to top-end hotels, but not at others or in more remote areas.
What to pack
- Sunscreen – which can be difficult to find in Vietnam – and insect repellent are essentials.
- Baby essentials – baby food, nappies, wipes, et cetera – are recommended to pack from home. These are available in the major cities but can be harder to purchase in more remote areas and smaller towns. A baby carrier is preferable to strollers for small children, again for the more remote destinations, and a fold-away car seat if you are planning to do any travelling by car – these are very rarely available with car rentals in Vietnam.
- Light-weight clothing is recommended year-round for southern parts of Vietnam, and warmer layers for northern areas between September and April.
- Rain gear is recommended year-round, most particularly from October to December
- Vaccinations for Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Tetanus and Japanese encephalitis are recommended for travel to Vietnam. Malaria tablets are also recommended for travel more remote areas (generally, anywhere outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City). Consult your GP for these vaccinations, tablets and any other recommendations prior to travel.
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Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.