Vietnam with kids is a much easier family holiday destination than you might think, especially a trip to Hoi An.
While the bigger cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are more crowded, Hoi An offers just the right cocktail of culture, beach, and delicious food for a family holiday that's not too overwhelming for anyone. If you are traveling with kids and looking for a taste of Southeast Asia, Hoi An with kids is the ideal mix of activity and chillax.
Hoi An is an ancient trading port town located on Vietnam’s central coastline which achieves the ultimate balancing act for a family holiday spot with its two sides: town and beach.
The city is a quaint grid of cobbled streets lined with heritage ancient shop-houses. It’s big enough to occupy any eager tourist for a few days but small enough to be safe with very young children, especially as many of the streets are closed to cars and large vehicles. While the main drawcards are the shopping and tailoring services, the architecture alone is still attractive to give the town a friendly cultural and historical vibe that will charm even the most resistant tourists.
Wandering the streets of Hoi An ancient town is a wondrous experience. In the cobbled laneways budding photographers can go trigger-happy snapping shots of traditionally-clad locals in conical hats against the backdrop of brightly colored terraces. Traipse around colorful handicraft shops, wander through the old Japanese quarter, check out the hustle and bustle along the river and then head to the Japanese Covered Bridge dating back to the early 1600s to cross into the Chinese quarter, shop for brightly-hued fabric lanterns, visit temples, eat the delicious local cuisine at street food stalls and stop for coffee and pastries, etc. Hoi An is definitely charming that you don't need a guide. But if you decide to have one, you will get an insight into the historical importance of the town as a trading port that truly brought together Eastern and Western cultures and helped them co-exist.
Hoi An town by the Thu Bon River
If you’ve never been to this part of the world before, one of the best ways to come into town during the day is by boat along the Hoi An river. It’s a chance for kids to see river life and fishermen at work, although you will have to keep a tight hold of overly curious toddlers.
It’s also worth into the old town in the evenings to witness the spectacle as the noisy locals gather in the streets to play games and get together to unwind.
The vibe is lively and loud – but family-friendly and amusing. While Hoi An Town can be safely navigated by stroller during the day, the streets get extremely busy at nighttime, so they are not ideal for younger children. But for children who are a bit more independent and can be relied upon to not wander off, evenings in Hoi An with kids are an exciting and interesting experience. And remember, it is not safe to drink the water from the tap in Vietnam. Only use bottled water for drinking and be wary of children drinking water in the shower or the bath.
Hoi An safe at night
The kids will love all the small wildlife you encountered, from tadpoles in random ponds to leaping frogs on the grounds and geckos adorning the walls. They discover the local markets held not only Vietnamese ingredients and vibrant fabric, but treasures like plastic headbands and Disney characters pen cases. They also gain a newfound love of calamari and swapped cereal for 'pho' or 'mi quang', 'banh mi' at breakfast time.
Cua Dai Beach area is home to many of the large hotel chains with four and five-star facilities. Here is where you are likely to meet with some of the local expatriates at the rustic beach bars to hear what life in Vietnam is really all about.
Cua Dai Beach
If your nationality requires a visa for entry, purchase this in advance before you leave home, or otherwise be prepared to wait. Sometimes customs is very straightforward, but you can be stuck for over an hour at the airport waiting for a simple stamp in your passport if you haven’t pre-organized your migration clearance.
Despite the inevitable ups and downs of schlepping small children around, Hoi An family holiday is a perfect mix of entertaining the kids and satisfying your wanderlust.
Images source: Internet