Traveling in Vietnam with kids

Traveling in Vietnam with kids


What does Responsible Travel recommend?


The cities are frenetic, the markets full of strange sounds and smells, and the long journeys from north-south will test the patience of little ones – and big ones.
But there is much to enjoy in Vietnam with kids – the enchanting water puppet theatres, laid-back beach resorts and islands, friendly local communities and of course the trains, boats and cyclo rides.
Cycling, kayaking, hiking and snorkelling will keep energetic teenagers entertained, and there is an excellent balance of culture and nature, chaos and tranquillity, allowing families to plan the perfect, personalised itinerary.

Health & safety


Travel safely in Vietnam with kids

Health


  • Several vaccinations are advised before traveling to Sabah; consult your GP or travel clinic six to eight weeks before departure to ensure you have time to complete all the series of injections.
  • Malaria is present in rural areas so consult your GP or travel clinic to find out if you will need anti-malarial medication. Wearing long sleeves and trousers is also advised, as well as insect repellent. This also protects against dengue fever.
  • Tap water is unsafe to drink - also be wary of ice in drinks and unpeeled fruit and vegetables.
  • Many medications may not be widely available – or worse, counterfeited – in Vietnam, so bring a basic medical kit, plus any prescription medicines along with a copy of your prescription.
  • Health care in the major cities is adequate for minor injuries and illnesses, but you may need to travel to receive more specialised care. Ensure your travel insurance covers medical evacuation and emergency repatriation, as well as any adventure activities you may be taking part in on your trip.
  • Parts of the country are incredibly hot and humid, so keep well hydrated at all times and keep an eye if traveling in Vietnam with kids.
  • Rice wine is part of the culture here – but avoid the homebrew, and opt for recognised brand names. Super-strength rice wine can contain lethal levels of methanol.
  • To contact the emergency services, dial 115.
For up-to-date Vietnam health advice, consult the CDC website.

Safety


Vietnam is generally a safe destination but petty crime is most prevalent in the main backpacker districts, tourist shopping areas and popular places like Nha Trang. Be sensible – don’t flash cash or valuables, don’t walk around the cities at night and avoid empty beaches after dark.
 
Carry photocopies of your visa and passport instead of the real documents. 
 
Unexploded landmines still sadly exist in central Vietnam and along the Laos border – do not stray from paths and marked trails in these regions, and travel with extra care if in Vietnam with kids. Better: travel with a local guide.
 
Moto taxis are a bad idea. Driving standards – of the motorbikes and other vehicles – is poor, as is vehicle maintenance. Additionally, although it’s illegal to travel without a helmet, the helmet itself may be of poor quality or damaged; there are frequent, life-threatening accidents.
 
For this same reason, avoid traveling by night if possible – especially in overnight buses. The sleeper trains are an excellent, safe alternative – just be sure to keep your belongings close.
 
There are many illegal taxi in the cities; ask your restaurant or hotel to book you a cab, especially at night, or look out for the green My Lai taxis – these are licensed, and will not overcharge you or argue over fares.
 
Don’t just pick the cheapest or most convenient boat tour operator in Halong Bay – especially if opting for an overnight cruise. Read reviews of the tour online including the safety aspects – boats have been known to sink rapidly. Ensure you get a safety briefing upon departure.
 
Several of Vietnam’s more popular beaches now have lifeguards – but do be careful, particularly around Hoi An, as there can be dangerously strong currents.
For up-to-date Vietnam health advice, consult the FCO website.

Activities for families in Vietnam


What to do with little ones

We certainly don’t recommend a trip to any of Vietnam’s zoos or animal parks unless you want distressed children on your hands, but you can get up close to several species of endangered langur in Cuc Phuong’s Primate Rescue Centre. The centre runs a successful breeding programme, and also supports carnivore and pangolin conservation programmes. Ethical, educational – and fun.

The Mekong Delta is a wonderful world for children to discover. Traveling by car, minibus or boat, the delta has plenty of opportunities to explore floating markets on small wooden sampans, see how coconut sweets are made, trek out to traditional villages and meet the people whose lives depend on this immense river.
If you’re worried about navigating the metropolises of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi with kids, try laid-back Hoi An – whose name means “peaceful meeting place”. It’s small and beautiful with little traffic. There are plenty of cycling options outside the town – and the beach is just a short hop away.

Traveling in Vietnam with kids


responsibletravel.com asks the experts


Vo Thi Bich Ha, from our supplier Haivenu, is Vietnamese and has travelled in the country with her two young children. She shares her tips on traveling in Vietnam with kids:
“I wouldn’t advise traveling with toddlers because the facilities are not very child friendly. It’s nothing like what you’re used to in England – the toilets are difficult with a young child, the restaurants and museums don’t have changing tables and other facilities. But kids from eight upwards who like to explore will love Vietnam. They can ride a pony in Sapa, go rafting down the river, paddle a large basket boat, make decorative lanterns from silk in Hoi An. You can also learn to make spring rolls, salads, noodles... the children go out to the markets with a guide to get the ingredients and come back to cook and eat them.”
Lesley Schofield, from our supplier All Points East, has young children and has travelled with them extensively in Southeast Asia. Here’s her advice on visiting Vietnam with kids:
"The Mekong Delta’s really nice for children. There’s an awful lot of travel on boats rather than minibuses. And other than the big boats that take you from one country to the next, most of them are quite small boats that meander round the backwaters of the delta. They’ll just carry one family or one group, so that’s a really nice thing because the kids aren’t cooped up inside a minibus getting bored.”
Photo credits: [Puppets: Mike Hauser] [Langur: Art G.] [Coconut sweets: Katina Rogers] [Hoi An beach: marin] [Boat: Tu]
Written by Vicki Brown
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