Now that we’ve been home from our trip to Vietnam for almost a full week, it feels like a good time to sit down and write about it. It’s still fresh in my mind, our skin is still tanned from the beautiful sun and fresh air we had, and we’re finally over our jetlag and whatever mysterious illness we managed to pick up the latter part of our trip (more on that later). Our Vietnam vacation with kids was honestly one of the best proper holidays we’ve had in a long time – probably since our last trip to South Africa – and it was just so good. So, I wanted to share a little bit about why we chose Vietnam, how we planned our little SE Asian holiday, and what made it so good!
How We Chose a Vietnam Vacation with Kids
If you have kids, you’ve probably heard the saying, “You don’t take a vacation with kids. You take a trip.” For the most part, that’s true. We’ve traveled and done a lot with our children who are now eight, six, and almost four years old. Most of our trips are fun, but I’d never say they’re restful. Our trip to Vietnam, however, was equal parts adventurous and relaxing, and both Ryan and I both agreed that I *think* we finally found a good balance between the two.
Living in South Korea, we knew we wanted to travel Asia, and since our first year was spent marked by quarantines and restrictions, we knew we’d only have time for one real trip whilst living abroad. We narrowed it down to a few top locations, and we wanted to choose between Thailand, Bali, and Vietnam. We quickly nixed Bali because the airfare was more than we wanted to pay, and we’d heard there are a lot of American tourists there, which wasn’t the vibe we wanted. We thought a lot about Thailand, but we didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling that we did when we thought of Vietnam. We’re big believers in gut feelings, so Vietnam was it!
Planning a Family-Friendly Vietnam Vacation
We’d heard a few things regarding flying into Vietnam and, as a military family living in South Korea on SOFA status, we knew that certain airports would make travel more difficult. We’d heard that Hanoi, in particular, didn’t deal well with SOFA Visas and the fact that military personnel travel with their CAC and orders. So, we chose to fly into Da Nang, which pretty much defined where we were going to base our travels around in Vietnam.
When you think of a Vietnam vacation, you likely don’t hear about Da Nang first. You’ll hear about Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. Da Nang is a hidden gem though, and it was the perfect home base for our Vietnam vacation with kids. So, we booked tickets, which were about $4,000 total for our family of five from South Korea, and we were in it! We decided to book our stay through Airbnb again, which we love (see some of our past stays in Washington, Busan, Pohang, and Cape Town), because it would give us more flexibility as a family. We found this family-friendly Da Nang villa for 10 nights just a bit outside of Da Nang center within a gated resort that had four pools, restaurants, private beach access, and more. Most importantly, it had two bedrooms, laundry, and a kitchen, all of which we appreciate during extended vacations.
What We Did in Vietnam as a Family
I think that the best way to experience a country and travel with kids is to do a mix of relaxation and adventure, and I feel like we finally balanced that with our trip to Vietnam! We did a lot of research, and we planned our 10 days kind of like this:
- Day 1: Arrive
- Day 2: Massages at resort/pool time
- Day 3: Sun World Ba Na Hills
- Day 4: Massages at resort/pool time; Michelin-starred dinner
- Day 5: Pool + beach time/evening in Da Nang + night market
- Day 6: Hoi An + coconut boats
- Day 7: Massages at resort/pool time; Dragon Bridge
- Day 8: Marble Mountain + My Son Sanctuary
- Day 9: Pool + beach time; evening in Da Nang
- Day 10: Travel home
Yes, we could absolutely have added more to our itinerary, but it was important to us that A) the kids got plenty of beach and pool time and B) Ryan and I got a dinner alone, as well as massages and some pampering! And, ultimately, it was the perfect balance for us.
Is Vietnam Good for Families?
Without a doubt, yes! You’ll hear a million things, but we loved it. We loved Vietnam, we loved the people, we loved the culture and cuisine, and we enjoyed every moment of our trip. We learned a lot, and I’ll definitely share some of our top tips later, but yes. Vietnam is great for families! We definitely experienced the same “Caucasian frenzy” over the kids in Vietnam that we’ve experienced during our time in Korea, but it really doesn’t bother us, and people are so genuinely kind about it and don’t mean anything wrong or offensive by it.
We actually loved it so much, too, that we’ve already decided we’re going to go again in the next year or two. We want to explore some other areas of Vietnam and, as the kids get older, it’s going to get more and more fun to see it through their eyes, too.
Tell me – have you ever been to Vietnam, or is it on your bucket list?