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Family Fun in Vietnam

30 May 2022

Our holiday began in the unmistakable and vibrant Hoh Chi Minh city with it’s distinct smells and constant buzz and toot of scooters.  We stayed at the centrally located Caravelle Hotel, a lovely old hotel with good sized rooms and high ceilings.  The historic roof top bar is a must to visit and enjoy the cooler evening temperatures and breeze.  Everything is easy walking access from this hotel, from local shopping malls, museums and churches to a great selection of restaurants. 

Every meal we had during our stay was delicious (and economical).  The Vietnamese food is a delightful combination of sweet and savoury, with some of the most surprising combinations of both.  This is certainly a country that will awaken the most sleepiest of taste buds!

One word of warning in Hoh Chi Minh:  Be aware of scooters, they are everywhere.  This city has a population of 9 million people and 7.5 million scooters!  They do not give way to people, so always watch for them and walk SLOWLY across the road, so that they drive around you. (don’t take on cars or buses though).  It is very strange to get used to when your instict is to run out of the way when a scooter comes towards you!

A fun activity we did during our city stay was the Cylco City Tour.  This one hour ride is a must do to get amongst the exitement of the streets.  Cycle through the markets and past the many French Colonial buildings, the Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral.  Expert Tip:  DO NOT flag one of these down on the side of the road, because there are many unreputable drivers in the city.  Book with helloworld before you depart (or with our local tour operator) so we can ensure you are booked with an authorised company.

 Of course, the Cu Chi Tunnels are a must do trip when visiting Ho Chi Minh.  We did the half day option (8am to 1pm) which was plenty.  The heat becomes too much for the children otherwise.  We also chose the private tour option which kept us flexible with the children and sped us past the tour groups.  There are two options of travel to get there: one by bus (takes 1.5 hours each way) and one by speed boat (takes 1 hour each way). 

We chose the later, which was more expensive but refreshing to be on the river and enjoy the sights of river life.  The escorted tour is fascinating for both adults and children to gain an insight into how the Viet Cong lived and fought the Americans from this amazing tunnel system during the war. 

You get to go in the small access hole, crawl through up to 100 metres of the tunnels (which has been enlarged for tourists, but still need hands and knees, or duck walk), you can also (for extra cost) get to fire M16 or AK46 machine guns at the firing range.

After a busy few days in Ho Chi Minh we flew to Hoi An (Via Da Nang airport).  This was a refreshing break from busy city life.  There are two options for accommodation, to stay in either central Hoi An for a more cultural experience, or by the beach. We chose to stay in the Palm Garden Resort at Cu Dai Beach on the coast.  This is a good 4 star resort with lovely appointed and spacious rooms, and a huge swimming pool.  It’s only a 10 minute (in-expensive) taxi ride into Hoi An old town.

We visited Hoi An every evening to eat our way through the delicacies at the vast selection of restaurants, visit the shops and also walk around enjoying the bright lanterns that light every street.  The old town area is blocked off to scooters and cars, so you can absorb this scenic location in relative peace.

 A must do when in Hoi An is a Food Walking Tour.  There a varierty of options, but we chose the dinner option.  This took us through the markets where we sampled savoury pancakes and traditional pork rolls.  Then we visited 3 more restaurants for a different course at each.  Our local guide provided a detailed history of the region and the restaurants we visited were off the main street to ensure we had a local eating experience.

 Another fun activity we did with the children was the Motorscooter side car tour.  We were driven by locals and could sit as passengers on either the scooter or in the sidecar.  The tour took us along the small county roads through the rice-paddies and local small farms.

Vietnam is a hot and humid destination all year round.  We found the trick to travelling with young children was to keep activities and tours to a half day, so that we could refresh in the pool (or hotel airconditioning) for the other part of the day.  We didn’t pack the holiday full, instead carefully selecting what sighseeting would be enjoyed by both adults and children.  It mean’t we didn’t see every possible sight, so we look forward to having another opportunity to visit the wonderful, vibrant destination again soon.

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