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3 weeks in Vietnam ... help!


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#1 SkeptiFERAL

Posted 13 February 2013 - 06:39 PM

Okay, I have only booked the international flights at each end, and we go in less than 2 months. I know this "belongs" in travel, but figure I will find more of you here.

How would you fill the 3 weeks, with two "tweenies" kids????

I have broadly planned a week in HCMC (with an overnight Mekong Delta), a week in the "middle" (Da Lat, Na Trang), and a week out of Hanoi (with an overnight Halong Bay  - ?Sapa?)

#2 TillyTake2

Posted 13 February 2013 - 06:45 PM

I haven't been with "kids" but I think a week in hcmc is a lot & would be better spent in Hanoi/Sapa.

We loved Sapa & I think teens would too. Do an overnight trek with home stay. It is not that physical if you are of average fitness (I'm very overweight & was fine).

We enjoyed halong bay but 1 night was enough.

#3 SkeptiFERAL

Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:13 PM

Thank you!  I had heard others highly recommend the central regions and Hanoi, and probably less about HCMC.


#4 TillyTake2

Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:20 PM

We also really liked hoian.

We did 3 days hcmc (including a day to the tunnels which was great). The flew to hanoi & straight to 5 days in Sapa (overnight train & 2 days trekking plus a day going to another village. Overnight in halong bay, 4 days in Hanoi (lots to see), a week spread out down the middle (we flew to hue & then hired a driver). Most was spent in Hoian, it was lovely. Then at the end another day in hcmc (I personally hated the feel of hcmc).

We were there for 3 weeks. It was great.

#5 TheSmithFamily

Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:31 PM

We did a month south to north with kids aged 4 and 9 months.

We loved every bit of it!

Highlights were Hcmc, HoiAn, and Sapa.

HoiAn is beautiful and perfect to hire push bikes and explore.
Night sleeper train to Sapa is wonderful as is the scenery and walks
I preferred Hcmc to Hanoi just seemed more friendly but busier

The trains were great to travel on and we also did an internal flight with jetstar.

Cheers bron

#6 Isu

Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:29 AM

We spent 2 weeks in September with my 9 & 10 yo, as it was only 2 weeks we didn't want to rush things and we were flying in & out of HCM so our itinerary was.  3 nights HCM (we flew in at 7.30pm so we only really had 2 days in HCM) 1st day we did a walking tour with Saigon Hotpot, they are Uni Students who meet and walk you around the city to places like the Reunification Palace and War Mueseum, you are not supposed to tip or pay them only provide their lunch, this was a great day.  2nd day we went on a day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels. (if we had longer I would have loved an overnight trip to Mekong Delta).

We then flew to Hue we had 2 nights in Hue, that afternoon we toured the imperial city by ourselves and the next day we hired a driver and toured 3 different Emporers Tombs.

From Hue we caught the train to Danang and then taxi to Hoi An.  Absolutely love love loved Hoi An, the old town is great to just wander around and a 5 minute taxi ride and you are at the beach.  We could have done more here but we manily just walked around enjoying the place.  It is on my must go back to list.

From Hoi An we caught a sleeper train from Danang to Nha Trang (quite an experience but kids enjoyed it) we had 3 nights in Nha Trang, the day we arrived we just hung out on the beach, there was inflatable climing sliding stuff for a small charge which the kids enjoyed. 2nd day we went to Vinpearl amusement park which the kids really loved and 3rd day did a day cruise with snorkelling etc which was enjoyed by all.

From Nha Trang we caught a bus to  Mui Ne and just spent 2 days doing nothing really (Mui Ne has a very high Russian tourist population and this was the only place we had a lot of problems trying to communicate)

From Mui Ne we bused back to HCM for a night.

My next Vietnam trip Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa are in my sights.

#7 Chief Pancake Make

Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:40 AM

I second Hoi An.   Its great and kids will love taking cycling trips around the country side.  They might also like the overnight train.

#8 Boombox

Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:41 AM

Great memories from our Vietnam holiday! We travelled with 3 kids aged 4, 6 and 8.

We had three weeks from north to south, Hanoi, Halong Bay (1 night on boat), Hoi An, Nha Trang, HCM and 1 night in mekong homestay.

Highlights were bike riding in Hoi An (Heaven and Earth tours). Vinpearl in Nha Trang- kids LOVED it! Walking around village areas in Mekong homestay. The general craziness of Hanoi and HCM is great fun, crossing the roads was hilariously terrifying! And eating! I ate everything, salads, soups, street food etc. I thought if I'm there why miss out. I took plenty of gastro medications (didn't need any) and the addresses of good hospitals in every place we visited.

We flew between places except for Da Nang to Nha Trang which we also did the overnight train- filthy is one way to describe it! But nice the see the early morning life as the train went along.

I'd also love to do Sapa if we go back. I thought the kids might not be up to the long journey there, or the hiking.

#9 eachschoolholidays

Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:42 AM

We've been to Vietnam 4 times- you'll love it! You could also consider Phu Quoc which is an island off the coast of Vietnam. I went 5 years ago and I would imagine there has been a lot of development since then, but it was very relaxing with very little to do.

Our favourite place is Hoi An, highly recommended!

#10 SkeptiFERAL

Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:15 AM

Thank you all!!!!  Lots of food for thought here.

#11 SkeptiFERAL

Posted 20 February 2013 - 06:38 PM

Any hotel recommendations?

#12 Vickery

Posted 20 February 2013 - 06:47 PM

Definitely do a trek in Sapa. It was the highlight of our trip.

#13 aidensmum

Posted 20 February 2013 - 07:39 PM

Nah Trang - Vin Pearl and the mud baths are awesome. Was the only place we were wary about being out at night. Heard stories of drunk backpackers getting robbed.

Hoi An- my favourite. Best food and atmosphere. Cheap luxury accom. Quiet and beautiful. Good for bike and abseilling tours.

Hue - don't bother. The cyclo drivers were relentless pestering us to take us places. We couldn't wait to leave.

I'd definitely go to Sapa with tween kids.

We went to the cinema and pizza hut in Hanoi. It was awesome as the teens there aren't as westernized as in HCMC and they are so cute. Laughing in the wrong parts of the movie and giggling at my husband cos hes twice their size. It would be interesting for your Tweens to experience. Movies were all English with Vietnamese subtitles.

#14 Lucygoosey1

Posted 20 February 2013 - 07:54 PM

Overnight junk cruise in Halong was great,  we went kayaking and explored caves.  
Hoi An was a favourite of mine.  We stayed 3 nights but could have stayed longer.  This is a great spot for getting tailor made clothes and cooking experiences.  The food was fab.
I preferred Hanoi to HCMC,  but enjoyed both immensely.


#15 Ice Queen

Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:07 PM

Yes, I agree with everyone that Hoi An is great and very easy with small kids.  We stayed at a resort with a pool and spent hours in the pool (the Ving Hung which is really popular). I did a cooking class one day which was great.

Loved HCMC, I could happily spend a week there but I know not everyone loves it.  It was very very very hot when we were in Vietnam, much hotter rhan we expected so HCMC felt like a bit of a 'break' with the air con and the odd shopping mall to chill out in with our DD who was only 2.

We found Hanoi pretty hard work with a small child.  We were tired from the travel (it was our first stop) and it was just so overwhelmingly busy and noisy.  Our DD just freaked and we ended up having to have one of us hang in the hotel with her!  It was so hot that the Ergo carrier was a disaster and pushing a stroller was not an easy task especially in the old town.  I did see glimpses of what everyone raves about with Hanoi but for us it just felt like hard work.

Halong Bay was a highlight.  We found DD much easier out on the peace of the water.  We had a gorgeous boat and just relaxed and ate for 24hrs.  My only advice is spend the bucks on a good boat, ours was lovely and food as amazing.

We did internal flights, they were cheap.

#16 Kay1

Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:19 PM

We went pre kids. Hanoi I think would be fun for older kids (I did see people with babies and toddlers and it looked hard going). Hoi An we loved also. It was our anniversary when we were there so we splashed out and stayed at the Victoria resort which was lovely. They have a rescued elephant there that you can feed and see at the beach....or at least they did 8 years ago! Danang was absolutely dire, avoid at all costs!

Hue was interesting. We did the DMZ tour which provided one of the quintessential travel experiences in that we shared our bus back with some chickens in a basket (as well as about 10 more people than could actually fit!) original.gif We also hired someone to take us down the river in a boat to the temples there. Guys on motorbikes meet you at the shore and race you through the jungle to the temples - very exciting and fun and beautiful temples. original.gif

#17 hm6

Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:30 PM

Just returned from Vietnam and Cambodia with the family. we didn't do the resorts - but loved all of it. So can't advise on NaTrang etc. we stayed in HCMC - very bustling city and we loved our home stay ( but the accommodation whilst fine was fairly basic). We also stayed in Hoi An and certainly you can fill up a few days there - there is quite a bit to do we did a bicycle tour plus a half day food trail which was great and our kids loved it. We also stayed in Hue and we loved it - we had no problems with the cyclo drivers at all - its different to Hoi An but still interesting - we did a bike tour there too plus we had lunch with a local family which was really beautiful food and the family were very welcoming. We also did a trip out into the countryside in Hue which gave us a different view of Vietnam as well - that was a very interesting day. We did Hanoi and Halong Bay overnight. We didn't get up as far as Sapa but would've loved to - next time maybe. Hanoi old quarter was well worth I staying in - crazy but fabulous.My advise with kids is try everything and allow yourself to go with the flow -Tweenies should be able to cope with most things thrown at them. things will be different but that's why you go - food is cheap so eating for a family is wonderful. Just to add try to check out places that support the local community eg "know one teach one" restaurant. Plus there is a great craft shop in Hoi An that helps street youth gain skills - there are beautiful items here. Have a great time.

#18 SkeptiFERAL

Posted 01 May 2013 - 06:10 PM

We are back!  It was AWESOME! The best place to take the kids, both because it was easy to holiday in, and because they learned so very much.

In case anyone searches this in the future, here is our itinerary we chose:

Days 1-3 HCMC/Saigon - with a half day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels.
Days 4-5 Mekong Delta tour - overnight in Saigon
Day 6 -7  - flight to DaLat
Day 8 - bus DaLat to Nha Trang ... SCARY!!!!
Day 8-9 - Vin Pearl luxury resort, Nha Trang - a great "break" for the kids - water park and "theme" park (smaller than our Gold Coast ones, but no queues and great hotel facilities at both the luxury and normal Vin Pearl Resorts)
Day 10 - fly Nha Trang to DaNang - private car to Hoi An
Day 10-13 - Hoi An - BEST place we stayed - would go back to Vietnam and just visit here if I was strapped for time. Beautiful town and people.
Day 14 - Hoi An - Hue by private car, via "old road" (less than $70 for 5 hours - worth the $ to avoid more bus travel and to see the scenery)
Day 15 - Hue ... to be honest one day here was enough for me.
Day 16 - day in Hue, and overnight on reunification express train to Hanoi (an "experience" ... one which I probably would not have done had I organised better, realising that we were overnight train x 2 to SaPa ... but still worth the "real world" experience to open the kids' eyes - DO NOT do this trip if you are at all OCD ... and even if you are not, take toilet paper and wipes to clean the surfaces in the cabin, and maybe invest in one of the silk sleeping bags on sale everywhere ... the linen leaves a bit to be desired)
Days 17-19  Hanoi. What a buzzing city! Stay in the Old Quarter if possible. The Essence Hotel was the best value/service etc hotel we stayed in.
Days 20-21 Overnight to Halong Bay ... worth doing despite the fact that it is very packed with boats and very tourist-oriented. Spectacular.
Night 21 - Hanoi until night train on day 22
Day 22 - Night train to SaPa - Kings train. VERY comfortable and clean. Unfortunately we had a carriage with a very loud, metal-on-metal noise every time it turned a corner. OUr trip back 2 nights later had the comfort without the noise.
Days 23-24 SaPa - hill tribes. Beautiful and fascinating. The pushiest, most persistent of all of the street sellers we found. Worth doing a trek to some of the less travelled (barely) villages than Cat Cat.
Day 24/25 - Night train SaPa to Hanoi, arriving 5am, lunch time flight Hanoi to HCMC, overnight flight to Australia.

It was the most awesome of experiences. Such a perfect place to take children for them to experience the fact that the world can be so VERY different from Australia, but at the same time it be relatively comfortable travel (once you get over the traffic/driving issues).





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