Vietnam has a beautiful landscape, a rich and diverse culture, delicious, strange, cheap food, good security; Vietnamese people have an open and hospitable heart. Those things make Vietnam an attractive destination for foreign tourists, including children. What to do with when you come to this charming S letter-shaped country. Here are Top 10+ things to do for families with kids in Vietnam.
1. Trekking in Sapa
Sapa is one of my favorite destinations, it looks like an undiscovered treasure. Our journey was held by Ethos- Spirit of the Community, which is a community enterprise offering tours around the villages of the nomadic Hill tribes of Northwest Vietnam.
While on the tour, we were taken to a market and trekked up the mountain among the paddy-field to get to our Guide’s village. We met the family and cooked around the fire. It is hard to explain the warmth that we felt, sharing food in the multi-generational home, experiencing a taste of their life. We spent the whole day laughing together and finding out about their life, marriage, religion, children, work, and life in general through the guide and also the translator.
We chose a tour for only us, so the guide the same as a member of the family. He gave us all some sugar cane to ensure the children had enough energy to get up the hills and chatted and joked with the boys all along the way. They even came away at the end with a toy horse woven from reeds.
2. Kayaking around Lan Ha Bay
Cat Ba Island is the starting point for some incredible activities in Vietnam, and kayaking around Lan Ha Bay is a highlight activity here. While everyone has heard of Halong Bay, less adventure than Lan Ha, a neighboring collection of limestone karsts just off Cat Ba Island. This means almost no crowds and hardly any cruise ships – a much more peaceful experience!
You’ll be taken by boat into the middle of Lan Ha Bay to a floating pontoon where you’ll begin your venture. Kayaking around the hundreds of islands here is a great experience for the whole family. We really enjoyed paddling around and watching in the incredible views as well as finding wonderful white sand beaches no one else goes to. You can paddle a kayak and sunbathe, swim in the sheltered coves, or just sit and take it all in.
If you manage to find Vanboi Resort, you can buy some freshly cooked lunch on the veranda, overlooking the sea. Hiring a kayak is pretty easy because you can either book through an agent in the town or head to Ben Beo ferry port and bargain! The cost of the kayak is negotiable, you’re likely to pay about $10 per kayak for the day, and you will also need to pay an additional $2 per person conservation fee at the harbor.
3. Cruising Halong Bay
Halong Bay, in Northeast Vietnam, is well known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands covered by rainforests. No visit to northern Vietnam is perfect if it does not have a trip to Halong Bay.
The rare beauty of the bay, with its towering limestone karsts, makes it become a natural wonder of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The best way to enjoy Halong Bay is on a three day and two-night cruise, giving you a lot of time to enjoy the Bay. There are a lot of cruise operators to choose from, with most including transport between Hanoi and Halong Bay. It is important to know that this is a four-hour journey and must too far for a day trip.
We chose Galaxy Premium Cruises and satisfied with our choice. We spent our days watching the wonderful scenery, kayaking and swimming in the Bay, and eating great seafood. The accommodation on board was very clean and comfortable and we are fond of sitting on the top deck, particularly at sunset. Day two was our highlight when we left the other boats far behind and spent the day swimming and kayaking among the vast scenery, almost alone.
4. Sailing along the Tam Coc River
Sailing along the quiet waters on the Tam Coc River is one of the most scenic boat rides to take with children in Ninh Binh. A three-hour cruise in a wooden rowboat takes you through three caves, past towering karsts, and cuts through a green rice paddy.
The highlight of a Tam Coc boat ride is sailing through the narrow caves with bats hanging from the roofs and ghostly stalactites and stalagmites. The three natural caves are called Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba; each is remarkably different from the rest. Kids will love navigating through the dark and mysterious caves.
There are a lot of stops along the way where little ones can get out of the boat and stretch their legs. The most popular shore excursions are visiting ornate waterside temples and traditional pagodas. The rowers are willing to help kids. Life jackets are provided for all passengers and kids have to wear one at all times. Most Kids find sailing along on the tranquil water calming, so it’s a wonderful family activity.
5. Boating along the Perfume River
One of our favorite activities we did as a family in Vietnam was to go on a half-day tour along the Perfume River in Hue! Hire a traditional Vietnamese boat right from the city center of Hue and it will take you all along the river with stops at Thien Mu Pagoda and Hue Citadel. The boat will stop at each of these places and you can hop out and explore while the boat waits for you to come back to go to the next site.
Most boats are capable be hired directly along the river with the drivers, but we contracted with our hotel and the cost is only about USD 35 for our family of four members.
6. Enjoying the rides and games at Sun World Ba Na Hills
Sun World Ba Na Hills has been pretty famous recently for it’s photogenic “Golden Hand Bridge”. Really, built for Instagram, it is held aloft by two giant stone hands that appear to spring straight out of the mountain below. However, what most people don’t realize is that this bridge is only a single attraction in a sprawling theme park built in the mountains outside of Danang.
Sun World Ba Na Hills is built the same as a European village or rather a mashup of several villages. It’s a bit like the Vietnamese version of Epcot. You are able to visit a German-style beer garden, tour a French Chateau complete with it’s owns wine cellar, or wander through a skillful gothic cathedral.
For children, there are always activities at Sun World Ba Na Hills. The park is connected via a series of cable cars in which children will love riding. The streets of the European village are full of performers and live shows. And there is an enormous, three-story fantasy park full of arcade games and interactive rides including an alpine slide and rock climbing wall. The best part is all of the games and rides are included in the cost of your admission to the theme park so your children can play for hours at no extra cost.
Sun World Ba Na Hills is located about an hour outside of the city of Danang, which makes it about 1.5 hours from the popular tourist town of Hoi An. The cost is VND 750,000 (~$32) for adults and VND 600,000 (~$26) for children over 1 meter tall. Children under 1 meter tall are free.
7. Cooking class in Hoi An
Hoi An is the ideal place to try a Vietnamese cooking class. The Old City and surrounding countryside is home to dozens of cooking schools, most of which are willing to welcome kids from age 5 and up.
A cooking class in Hoi An begins with a visit to the local market. This is a wonderful training way for children to learn more about fresh produce. After you choose the ingredients you need, it’s time to step into the kitchen. Participants’ level differs between cooking schools, but in most cases, you can expect to help with chopping, grinding spices, mixing sauces, and barbecuing. Some schools let you choose a menu in advance. Fresh rice paper rolls and other dishes that don’t require much cooking would be ideal for children.
I suggest you should choose a cooking school that combines other activities outside of the kitchen. My Grandma’s Home Cooking is set inside a local home on a river island. There’s a pretty garden where little ones can play if they feel bored. At Tra Que Water Wheel, participants also help plant rice and make rice paper. There’s even a water buffalo ride at the end. Hoi An Family Tours organize classes for children of all ages and consist of a paddle on the river in a coracle that is
traditional round boat as part of the experience.
Prices differ from school to school, you can expect to pay between $35 and $55 US for a full-day cooking class. At the famous Red Bridge Cooking School, kids under 7 are able to join the tour free of charge.
8. Lantern making in Hoi An
Vietnam is one of the foreigners’ favorite tourist sites including my family. We love it because of all sorts of reasons – the food, the activities, the people, and the sights. Hoi An is our favorite place mostly because there are a lot of things that kids can do.
Hoi An is well-known for lanterns. On our travel last year, We wanted to buy one to give my children, but we wondered if lanterns could get damaged in our luggage. However, we found several workshops showing making lanterns. The bamboo lamp frames were already prepared. we chose the fabric and colors for the cover and we were shown how to stretch and glue fabric to the frame. My girl at that time was just six, but she could make the lamps totally herself. We brought the lanterns that we made ourselves home with us, and they still have existed now.
The cost of showing making lanterns was approximately 40k VND. About the same amount as we would pay for a similar lamp at the night market. I think it’s wonderful to bring fun to the kids.
9. Riding the alpine coaster to Dasara Waterfall
Bao Loc is not on the typical Vietnam travel destination, but it is a good place to stop in the Central Highlands if you’re headed to or from Dalat. One of the first things to do in Bao Loc is visiting Dambri Waterfall, Dasara Waterfall, and Tourist Area. It’s an interesting place for families to spend the day.
The two Waterfalls are the main highlights of the area. Dambri is attractive to see because of its height of 70 meters (230 feet) and its powerful cascades. The nearby Dasara Waterfall has gentle cascades and is so beautiful with the surrounding forest area. A unique way to get to Dasara is by riding the alpine coaster to the base of the waterfall. Two people share a bobsled cart and control the speed with the hand lever. It’s great for the thrill-seekers because you can go fast down the mountain.
Other activities consist of riding a Ferris wheel, paddling a swan boat, and trying traditional Vietnamese games such as balancing on the beam or going across the monkey bars. There is a children’s area with rides, but they’re old and worn down. A more wonderful experience is to enjoy your time in the small swimming pool because there is a water slide here. The cost is 200,000 VND ($8.60 USD) for adults and 120,000 VND ($5.15 USD) for kids.
10. Going bananas at the Crazy House in Da Lat
Children like strange and wonderful spaces, so the Crazy House in Da Lat, Vietnam is sure to fascinate them! The Crazy House used to be a coffee shop, but now it is not only a public museum but also a fully-functioning guesthouse. After a short introduction from a friendly guide, you’ll be able to escort the kids around this bizarre complex. Think of curving staircases, fantastical turrets, strange walkways, and everything in between.
The property is full of oddly misshapen buildings, art installations and bright, popping colors: the little ones won’t know where to look! And, if they get a little bored, there is a quirky café on-site where they can enjoy a cool drink, or take their ice-cream into the central gardens to relax.
Caution word: some of the upper staircases don’t have very high railings so kids should definitely be supervised here!
Ticket price: 50, 000 VND (about 2.15 USD / 1.50 GBP) per person, and opening hours are 8:30 am to 7 pm every day.
11. Going on a night safari at Cat Tien National Park
Cat Tien National Park is located two hours north-west of Ho Chi Minh City. It is suitable for family travelers that want to get away from the noise of the big city. This national park is protecting plenty of animals that are endangered in Vietnam. Cat Tien National Park offers a tour called Night Safari. All participants get on a big truck, a tour guide shows you the stunning animals like porcupines, gaur, weasels, barking deer, vivet cats, samba deer, and wild pigs without disturbing their natural habitat.
The tour lasts an hour, the price ranges from VND 200.000 to VND 250.000 ($10-$15) per person. The national park is located a 3-minute boat ride from the main island. There is no minimum age limit for the children.
Check out our Family’s tips for doing a safari with kids under the age of 5.
I suggest you should stay at Green Bamboo Lodge, they have plenty of rooms where you have a fantastic view of Dong Nai River. It is a 4-minute walk to the Cat Tien main entrance or information desk. Visiting the national park can easily be squeezed into your 3-week trip in Vietnam either you are heading north or going toward the southern part of this scenic country.
12. Chill at the beach
With over 2000 miles of coastline, Vietnam has plenty of secluded coves, white sands and waters suitable for snorkelling. No trip to Vietnam with children is complete without some downtime at the beach.
Na Trang, Mui Ne, and An Bang are popular beach destinations, although my vote goes to the beaches of Phu Quoc, an island right in the South of Vietnam.
We stayed at Green Bay Resort, which is fantastic for children. There are bungalows set into the rainforest for varying budgets, children swimming pool, and staff exceptionally welcoming to families. But the best bit for children is the warm, shallow waters off the private sandy beach, and the free kayaks to paddle the shores.
13. Watching a water puppet show
Watching a traditional water puppet show is an indispensable thing when traveling to Vietnam. A water puppet is a genuine fun cultural event that is easily accessible to all. In spite of being performed entirely in Vietnamese, you understand the meaning of the story. Puppeteers stand behind screens while an orchestra plays along.
We have visited not only the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre in Hanoi but also The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater in Ho Chi Minh City. Our children were a bit different ages at each, but remember it was their favorite part of each trip! You can sense puppeteers’ genuine joy in the performance and this really rubs off on the audience.
The show takes approximately an hour which is long enough for holding the kid’s attention. On the other hand, sitting in the theatre can be a great way to refresh yourself from the humidity outside! It is interactive fun – you could even get splashes in the front – and despite the language you will have a good idea what is happening and be thoroughly entertained with a great Vietnamese tradition.
14. Ice skating in Ho Chi Minh
When traveling to Ho Chi Minh, Landmark 81 is probably one of the first buildings you’ll notice. It’s actually impossible not to see; With the height of 461 metres, it’s the highest building of South East Asia and the 14th tall building of the world.
Children will be fond of visiting the observation desk to take in the amazing view. You should also visit the ground floor. You’ll be amazed to find an actual ice skating yard!
The building’s open from 9:30 to 22:00 every day, and you can borrow ice skates and skating aids; protections and helmets are also available. If you feel you fancy to this game, you can attend daily ice skating classes. But either way, it’s so much fun skating around to blasting disco sounds.
It costs 5€ for kids and 7€ for adults per day, skates included. If you dislike ice skating but you’re kids are, don’t worry! There is a food court only next to ice skating yard with free WiFi and a gallery facing it.
15. Going on a street food walking tour
One of the best activities to do in Vietnam with children is going on a street food walking tour, especially if you are visiting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh cities.
Street food tours are one of our favorite things to do when we first visit a new country because it gives you the chance to try local foods in a cheap way. It is also very common for locals in a lot of countries to eat a lot of their meals from street food vendors, so it gives you an insight into locals.
One of our favorite companies to go through for tours in Southeast Asia is Backstreet Academy. The cost of a street food walking tour is only around USD 20 per person. If you have little ones along, we suggest you should book a private tour so that you can go at your own pace and have the children interact with your tour guide a bit more compared with a big group.
16. The War Remnants Museum in HCMC
The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is a place where you learn so much and your heart will hurt so much, too when you see the suffering things that you have never thought yet. It is a place where young children may not understand the full extent of what is being shown there and a place where older children may have a lot of questions.
Showing children to a place like the War Remnant Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is a hotly discussed topic for many families and if you do decide to take your kids there are things you need to consider. The displays are graphic and they explain situations in the Vietnam War that may not be what you have learned in your history lessons. This is a side that many do not know about, as there are always 2-3 sides to every story.
The outside area of the museum is displayed in many old Army tanks, helicopters, and some old bombs. This is a place where younger children may find very interesting because you can get up close to them and really see what they looked like. There is also the jail version there that does have some extremely graphic images and descriptions of the start and lead up to that war in Vietnam.
Inside the museum is where your children may struggle with the information that is displayed. It covers all areas from bombing to Agent Orange as well. Our daughters are older and they could self-regulate what they wanted to see and read but one of us always checked a room before they entered to give them a brief overview of what was in there. There are seats on the outside of the rooms where they waited for us if they did not want to enter.
17. Shopping at the Cai Rang Floating Market
Located in Can Tho, one of the big cities in Vietnam, the Cai Rang floating market is the biggest of its kind in the Mekong River Delta. Visiting the market was certainly an eye-opener for my little Canadian family.
At the market, there are large boats piled high with fruits and vegetables and smaller boats pulled alongside them while men and women manually put their purchases into the boats. There are also ladies in smaller boats selling coffee, baguettes, and drinks. There are even ladies cooking pho right there on their tiny boats, like little mobile cafes.
In order to arrive in time to watch all the action, it’s best to arrive as soon as the sun rises. Although we were staying not too far from the market, we still had to get up well before sunrise. We then boarded a small boat put along the canals which then took us to the Cai Rang floating markets. There are a few different tours available, but we took one organized through our homestay which was $10 US per person.
Visiting the Cai Rang floating markets was a wonderful experience for us all, one I would like to introduce for families planning to visit Can Tho.
18. Riding Phu Quoc Cable Car
Riding the world’s longest cable car in Phu Quoc is one of the best things to do with children. The journey takes place between two islands of the scenic An Thoi archipelago in Southern Vietnam and is thrilling and attractive.
The Phu Quoc Cable Car is about 8 km long, apparently the longest in the world today. It takes 15 minutes to get to the other end. This means for a whole 15 minutes, you are up in the sky in a glass car, that sometimes sways from side to side, staring below at fishing villages, turquoise waters, and hundreds of fishing boats that look like colorful pieces of paper on water. At the end of the ride, you can head to the white sand beach on the Hon Thom island and have a good time at the entertaining area there.
The ticket price to the Phu Quoc Cable Car is VND 150,000 for adults and VND 100,000 for children. You can get to the cable car station in An Thoi by bike, taxi, or a shuttle bus from the center of Phu Quoc City.