Traveling with Kids Part 1
Top 3 Kid-friendly Northern Vietnam Destinations
Traveling and adventure don’t have to stop just because you have children. Especially in a country like Vietnam where 25% of the total population is under 15 years old, there are so many child-friendly activities available to try out, with the added bonus of affordability. Have a look at our list of family-approved favorite spots to start getting the ball rolling on your northern Vietnam travel plans.
At first look, Vietnam’s capital may look intimidating with its small streets crammed with honking motorbikes and cars going about their daily business. However, in spite of the traffic jams and early spring pollution (especially terrible from January – early April), there are a number of activities suitable for families with children of all ages to experience the charm of a Hanoian lifestyle.
- Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology – This is a wonderful place for families to dive into the fascinating culture of the country’s diversity – 54 recognized ethnic groups. Each display contains labels in English, French, and Vietnamese, including a large outdoor area housing real-size replica of different minority tribes’ homes. A great place to bring small kids to burn off some energy in the afternoon as well as for teenager’s academic enrichment.
- Hoan Kiem Walking Street – During the weekend the whole of Hoan Kiem lake, the literal center and heart of the city, is closed to thru-traffic and turned into a large pedestrian-only area. Take a walk around the lake and sample different street food options, watch street performers, and admire the picturesque beauty of the lake.
- Cong Vien Nghia Do Park – Near Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology, this playground is a local and expatriate favorite. Covered in astroturf and featuring large equipment like a jungle gym and a child-appropriate “zip-line”, this is another great place to let primary-aged children and younger spend a couple of hours to play in a safe outdoor area. You’re not allowed to wear shoes on the fake grass, so just leave them off to the side and make sure to bring a pair of socks and some water for those hot afternoons.
- Jump Arena – Vietnam’s largest indoor trampoline park can be found in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They have a range of activities including rock climbing, ninja challenge, a foam pit, and free-play jumping, so all ages can enjoy here!
- Bat Trang Pottery Village – This 14th century porcelain and pottery village is just outside of Hanoi and allows you to work with your hands, working with clay on a pottery wheel and painting ready-made porcelain, too! Also a great place for mom and dad to shop for that next piece to add to their dishware collection back home.
Don’t let the 5-hour drive or the 10-hour train ride put you off from visiting this off-the-beaten track destination! Sapa’s incredible natural scenery provides a ton of outdoor activities to enjoy together as a family as well as a chance to naturally interact with the ethnic minority groups in the area (who you will have already learned about if you visited the Ethnology Museum in Hanoi).
- Overnight train ride – Sometimes getting there is the first adventure! It’s a wonderful experience to take the night train from Hanoi to Sapa and allows for your family to have a good night’s sleep, arriving fresh in the morning to Lao Cai Station. The train can take between 8 – 10 hours and a typical cabin usually has 2 bunk beds (4 soft berths), while some trains have cabins with 2 soft beds or 6 hard berths. Upon arrival to Lao Cai station, it’s just a 30’ taxi or bus ride into Sapa city center, just in time for breakfast.
- Fansipan Cable Car – The tallest peak in all of mainland Southeast Asia, Mt. Fansipan sits at a towering 3.143 m (10,100 ft). In the olden days the only way to reach the summit was by hiking overnight and sleeping at a base camp. Now, you can reach the top within an hour due to the new funicular system starting from MGallery’s Hotel de la Coupole’s train station. Then, a 15-minute cable car followed by one more 5’ funicular ride brings you to the tip-top of the mountain. More active families may choose to only take the cable car ride and then climb the remaining 650 steps to the top. A complete round-trip adult ticket will set you back 920,000 VND, while a child’s ticket will be free for those under 1.1 m tall. Children between the height of 1.1 – 1.3m tall with be charged 685K.
- Textile workshops – A little hands-on experience anyone? Take the whole family for a day of educational learning and cultural exploration to a H’mong batik workshop. Traditionally, these designs are created by wax-drawn motifs on a piece of hemp fabric, especially used on skirts and other household items, and were in the past a primary form of visual expression as H’mong culture did not have a written form until recently. Recommended for families with children aged 6 and up.
- Village life – You can’t visit Sapa without taking time to wander through quiet villages cradled by mountains and surrounded by rice terraces. While homestays are one of the best ways to get acquainted with ethnic minority villagers and their daily lives, the lack of indoor plumbing and warm bedding could cause discomfort for families. Get the best of both worlds by reserving a stay at Topas Riverside Lodge, situated within a remote Red Dzao village called Nam Cang. This jungle lodge has all the most-loved qualities of a homestay like traditional meals, herbal baths, and access to hidden treks without sacrificing the comfort of modern amenities like indoor toilets, wi-fi, heating and air conditioning.
- Topas Ecolodge –This stunning ecolodge features two saltwater infinity pools (one is heated) for your kids to splash around in all day as well as a modern spa for parents to take a break by relaxing with fusion massages created with local indigenous knowledge and Nordic training. A number of state-of-the-art technologies are in place to protect the environment, such as a constructed wetland to safely treat the properties wastewater and heated floors via underground air pumps.
Sapa is our specialty!
Browse our exciting Sapa-centric packages and itineraries today to get a unique look into this amazing world of colorful ethnic diversity and stunning natural scenery!
QUANH NINH PROVINCE
This region of Vietnam is home to marvelous UNESCO World Heritage Sites and natural wonders, making it the perfect place to add on a Vietnam family tour. Most visitors only stop for a Halong Bay day-cruise, but there are so many other opportunities here just waiting to be discovered!
- Halong Bay Overnight Cruise – Well it’s the most popular option for a reason. Many ships offer large connecting cabins for families to share and include comfortable beds, rain showers, and bathtubs. Popular excursions include cycling through Viet Hai, a village only accessible by boat on Cat Ba Island, touring large caves such as Sung Sot, Trinh Nu, Thien Cung, and Lung, kayaking through floating villages, and surveying the area with a panorama view at Ti Top Island.
- Bai Tu Long Bay – For families looking to get off the beaten track, check out Bai Tu Long Bay, the largest bay in the area, occupying 75% of the Halong Bay heritage site in addition to newer, less explored areas like Cam Pha and Van Don. Overnight cruises here visit really remote attractions, most notably kayaking in Cong Do and Cong Dam area, touring Vung Vieng fishing village, and stops at Da Xep Park, Thien Canh Son cave, and Tra Gioi beach. Even more adventurous families might check out some of Bai Tu Long’s island destinations with simple homestays and powder white sand beaches. The most accessible of these islands are Quan Long.
- Halong Bay Seaplane tour – Zip through the skies like a bird and gain a unique perspective rarely seen by tourists in Vietnam, a 25-minute seaplane tour of the Gulf of Tonkin. With a water takeoff and landing from Tuan Chau Island Marina, you’ll take in the highlights of Halong Bay from above as the 2000-plus jungle-clad islands slowly start to resemble the spiked back of a dragon. Only 12 seats available per flight and operatable with weather permitting, so make sure to book in advance and with some flexibility to ensure you have the best experience.
- Yên Tử Mountain Cable Car – Stretching from the base of Yen Tu Mountain to just below the summit, a system of 4 cable cars allows visitors of all ages to reach one of Vietnam’s most holiest peaks in comfort and style rather than trekking from the bottom (which is also possible!) Considered the birthplace of Vietnamese Buddhism, the mountain and its pagodas are associated with Buddhist King Tran Nhan Tong, the founder of the Truc Lam Zen sect found throughout the country. With its unique landscape, architecture, and history, this complex has been submitted to UNESCO to be recognized as a world heritage site.
- Dragon Park – The largest theme park in all of Southeast Asia, Dragon Park Ha Long opened in 2017 and houses three different amusement parks in one large area. Treat your family to cable-car rides, water slides, rollercoasters, and an observatory Ferris Wheel along with delicious restaurants, cute shops, and Japanese-styled gardens.
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