Vietnam vacations with teenagers

‘Sightseeing’ feels like a dated word, and certainly not the one you’d apply to a trip to Vietnam designed for families with teens. Active exploration, cultural discovery and loads of fun are much better descriptions.
Vietnam is a great destination for teenagers and their responsible adult add-ons. There is tons to see and do, and its people extend a warm welcome to junior travelers. Enjoy gorgeous countryside and buzzing cities, sensational street food, cycling between remote villages, kayaking between uninhabited islands in an emerald green bay, and riding the rails with local Vietnamese on a sleeper train. Suddenly, you can see why Vietnam and teenagers go together like rice noodles and broth.
A carefully crafted balance of cultural immersion and active adventure characterises trips designed for families with teens and, unlike regular family vacations that are open to primary school age children, teen trips can go bigger on the physical challenges. There may be two days of cycling in the remote northwest of the country, cruising past rice paddies and into tiny villages to meet the minority ethnic groups living here. There might be kayaking in Halong Bay, a fun and immersive way to explore this natural wonderland, and a night spent on a traditional junk. There will be plenty of opportunities to scoff street food, nose around temples, hop on a cyclo, shop for tailor made threads and generally get in amongst Vietnamese life. Some trips even include a homestay in a village on the banks of the Delta.

Small group vacations

The beauty of a family with teenagers vacation in Vietnam lies not only in the itinerary, but in the fellow travelers. These trips are open only to families, so your teens have the chance to make new friends and explore with people their own age, rather than getting marooned with mum and dad for a whole 10 days, or traveling with a bunch of primary age kiddies. Any shyness disappears as young people discover Vietnam through exciting and eye opening experiences. They will be kept on the go, but also allowed downtime to hang out with their new friends (and, let’s be honest, check their phones, too).

This is a chance to learn, laugh and see how life is lived in a country very different to back home. It’s also a chance for families to try a more ambitious trip, no longer constrained by tiny legs, buggies, picky eaters or short attention spans. Finally, you can go and explore together, with confidence, with the ease of an organised itinerary and the expertise of a local guide, and with the sociability of other teens and families all thrown in. Go have fun, you’ve all earned it!

Our top Family with teenagers Vacation

Vietnam family vacation with teenagers

Vietnam family vacation with teenagers

Experience adventure the active way on this family trip

From US $1325 to US $1445 9 days ex flights
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Travel Team
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Vietnam highlights for teens

Cycling

Active teen vacations to Vietnam get the whole family out on their bikes, exploring the quiet countryside or pedaling from city to sea. In the unspoiled northwest, cycle along quiet roads between villages, past rice paddies and sugarcane farms to discover epic karst scenery and to meet the people of the minority groups that populate this area. You might also choose to ride from Hoi An all the way to Cua Dai beach. A support vehicle accompanies any longer rides, so there’s always the option to take a break and ride inside.

Hanoi

Full of parks, lakes and tree lined boulevards, Hanoi is known for its laidback atmosphere. Explore Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Stilt House and Museum, and spend an afternoon cycling around West Lake.

Halong Bay

Absurdly picturesque, Halong Bay is home to more than 2,000 limestone islands which rise from the emerald waters of Bac Bo Gulf. Teen vacations include an overnight stay on a traditional junk boat, with days spent kayaking between beaches, caves and grottoes. A trip leader will take you through a safety demonstration, then lead you out onto the open waters.

Ho Chi Minh City

Old and new, East and West collide in Ho Chi Minh City. Take hungry teens to Ben Thanh Market to hoover up the delicious local street food, jump on a cyclo to visit Cholon, the Chinatown area, and get down to the Mekong to explore the Delta by boat, discovering its islands, quiet fishing villages and local cottage industries.

Hoi An

A key international port for centuries and now a World Heritage Site, Hoi An retains the feel of the past and is worth spending a day or two exploring. Active itineraries will include a walking tour or the chance to cycle to the coast. Street food tours and cooking classes are also possible. There’s superb shopping, too – browse local markets and shops for original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery and lanterns.

Hue

This is where teens can get a history fix, both past and recent, exploring the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City, which was almost totally wiped out during the Tet Offensive in 1968. The dramatic bomb damage demonstrates how devastated the country was during the war. Take a cruise on the Perfume River and visit an active Buddhist monastery, too.

Practicalities

Teen friendly organised tours of Vietnam are typically run as small group vacations, with no more than 16 people (usually three or four families) plus a group leader. All the logistics are taken care of, from activities, to accommodation and transport, and the teenagers have people of the same age to share their adventure with. Small group vacations are often great value, too, and may include optional activities so you can tailor the trip to your family’s interests and your budget.

The alternative option is to choose a tailor made vacation to Vietnam. Some are marketed as family vacations, suitable for children aged five or even less, but they can be tailored to suit older, teenage children, too – just ask. That might mean stripping out the short walks and working in more challenging hikes, more bike rides, more water sports or snorkelling on the coast, more foodie exploration and markets, and exciting extras like a motorbike tour, using experienced guides who are happy to ride with teenagers, so you all get to enjoy Vietnam in a unique way.
A vacation to Vietnam for families with teenagers will only be open to families, but family means ‘extended’ not ‘nuclear’ and includes any aunts, uncles, grannies or cousins who want to come along. As long as an adult is traveling with a child under 18, that’s a family. Trip departure dates coincide with the main school vacations (Christmas, Easter and summer), as well as running at other times, since not all teenagers are tied by a school or college timetable.
Vietnam is long and thin, and getting from north to south takes hours over land, so most trips, whether two weeks or just nine or 10 days will include a flight, or a flight and an overnight train journey. Vacations to Vietnam with teens usually tackle a manageable chunk of the country, to pare out some of this travel, but longer trips of 13 days have time to include the full country Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City stretch. Internal flights are pretty short (Hanoi to Hoi An is 90 minutes) and teens take using a mix of transport in their stride, while also gaining some serious traveling kudos by riding an overnight train with local people – a classic Southeast Asian travel experience.
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Greg Raines] [Boat: Pitikorn Ingmaneekan] [Vietnam view: ThuyHaBich] [Ho Chi Minh City: Olgaozik] [Floating markets: Harvey Enrile]
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