Vietnam with Kids

November 4th - 22nd, 2014

Our Story

From early on, we knew we were going to be spending time in Europe, Thailand, and Australia.  Before leaving for our trip, it was our goal to only plan all our accommodations and flights through Europe, but not all the details past that.  We did, however, want to have booked our flight leaving Europe, in case anyone in passport control gave us a hard time we could show we had ongoing travel plans.  We were about to book our flight out of Spain to Thailand when the coup happened, causing enough turmoil in Thailand to have us concerned about our plans.  In order to play it safe, we looked at other countries near Thailand that we could book a flight to, and then see what happened in Thailand as it got closer.  Vietnam quickly got on our radar, and the rest, as they say, is history, as Vietnam became one of the most memorable experiences on our whole trip.


Without a doubt, Hanoi was the most outside of our comfort zone we got on all our travels.  We really weren't sure what to expect when we got there.  The whole visa process and the high entry fees they charge scared us a little bit as it seems like a scam, but once we actually got to our apartment near Hanoi's old quarter, we really began to appreciate our new home for the next few weeks.  One thing we really loved was the low cost of living.  Eating at a local "restaurant"/hole in the wall, where we'd be the only white people in sight, would typically cost about $5 or 100,000 Vietnamese Dong, for a delicious meal large enough for the four of us.  

Perhaps the most worrisome thing about Vietnam for us were the motorcycles everywhere.  It is a little unnerving crossing the street sometimes with kids, as there would be no crosswalk and a nonstop crowd of motorcycles that don't slow down for pedestrians, but we quickly learned by watching the locals that if you just start walking without slowing down you'll be okay!  It is really quite a sight to see all the motorcycles, some of which transport families of five people, and frequently you will see people packed them up with more stuff than a UPS truck!

Many people warned us of safety while traveling there, but we quickly found the people to be very pleasant, especially towards kids.  High school and college age kids, both boys and girls, would flock to our children and want to take pictures with them.  It was a little unnerving at first, but an Asian friend helped put it in perspective for us when they explained that for these people seeing our little white kids is like seeing their childhood dolls come to life.  You do have to be a little wary of people selling things on the street, as they are quick to take advantage of foreigners who don't know any better, but once you start to get familiar with how much things should cost it becomes easier to buy things at the right price.

Read more about Hanoi on our blog

Halong Bay

While in Hanoi, we took two separate trips to nearby locations renowned for their beauty.  The first of these is Halong Bay, where we stayed overnight on a boat in the most fascinating body of water we've ever seen.  What makes Halong Bay so unique are the thousands of island-like rock structures that dot the bay as far as the eye can see.  As part of the tour, you not only get to enjoy the sights, but also visit some interesting places such as a cave and an oyster farm, and can go on some treks and even kayak if you want to.

Read more about Halong Bay on our blog

Sa Pa

The second of our Vietnam trips was to Sa Pa, a mountainous region famous for showcasing actual Vietnamese rice paddy villages.  Getting to Sa Pa is a bit of a nightmare, as your options are either an overnight train or an overnight bus (PS, avoid the bus!).  The biggest downside of visiting Sa Pa, aside from the overnight trip, are the throngs of begging ladies and young girls trying to sell cheap handmade products wherever you go.  It is hard not to feel bad for the villagers and their quality of life, but if you can get past the negative parts, there is so much beauty there that made the trip very special for us.  The treks down to the villages and rice paddies are really amazing, the tour guides are incredibly sweet, and everyone is so nice to children.  Overall it was a positive experience, though it is not something everyone would appreciate.

Read more about Sa Pa on our blog

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