Top 10: Vietnam

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Taking the family to Vietnam? You’ll find folk child-friendly, the landscape phenomenal and plenty for the littlies to do.

To get started, why not try this top ten?
Junk moored off Monkey Island, Halong Bay, Vietnam.

1: Take a Junk round Halong Bay
A trip on a classic junk through the magical landscape of Halong Bay is one of the great experiences Vietnam has to offer. Kayak through low caves into hidden coves and lakes, moor on sandbars or off silent beaches, feed monkeys on Monkey Island, explore a floating fish farm, scramble in the rigging, dive from the boat and sleep on the roof of your very own junk amid one of the wonders of the world.

2: Toboggan down Sand Dunes
Mui Ne, a little seaside resort three or four hours north of Saigon, has a fantastic expanse of dunes. Kids can toboggan the yellow dunes on plastic sheets, paddle the fairy stream, and see wild horses, too.

Toboganning the sand dunes of Mui Ne, Vietnam.

3: Visit a Waterpark
Who knew that Vietnam did waterparks so well? In Saigon, go for Dam Sen, by Dam Sen park. In Hanoi, head for Ho Tay, West Lake. Toddler pools with myriad slides cater to the littlies, while twenty-plus slides, lazy rivers and a wave pool will please older children. Zipwires and some truly terrifying death slides add edge enough for teens.

Dragon boats moored on the Perfume River, Hue, Vietnam.
4: Ride a Dragon Boat
With their colourful, curved prows, shaped like a Chinese dragon, dragon boats are a fantastic way to tour a river. In Hue, you can cruise the Perfume River, explore iconic pagodas and the tranquil tombs of the Nguyen emperors and visit handicraft villages too.

5: Watch the Water Puppets
As the name would suggest, water puppets are puppets which perform in water — traditionally, a flooded paddy field. Colourful puppets, from cute little ducks to firework-breathing dragons, splash in the water, narrating simple, bite-sized morality tales. See them at the puppet theatre in Hanoi, or the Museum of Ethnography on weekends.

Tall gathering house. Museum of Ethnography. Hanoi, Vietnam.
6: Climb Inside a Tribal House
To explore tribal villages, head for Sapa in the northern Highlands. Or, for a more accessible version, clamber inside the amazing tribal structures at the Vietnamese Museum of Ethnography in Hanoi. (They have traditional seesaws, too!)

7: Pedal a Swan Boat
Great family fun, and so easy to do! Swan boats are simple little pedal boats shaped, well, like swans, rented out for 30 minute slots paddling your way around lakes and rivers. Try the Perfume River in Hue, or the lakes of Dalat or Sapa.

8: Explore Some Caves
The karst landscape of northern Vietnam, especially around Halong Bay, provides amazing limestone caves. But for real historical drama, visit some of the caves engineered during the American War. Hospital Cave, on Cat Ba island, Halong Bay, is an epic, three-storey military hospital, constructed entirely inside a natural cave. Or scramble through the cramped fighting tunnels of Cu Chi, outside Saigon.

Climbing an ancient tree near the Temple of Literature, Hanoi, Vietnam.
9: Go to a Park
Most parks in big cities offer amusements from children’s carousels to bouncy castles to balloons and windmills (along with massed aerobics and dancercise sessions after work). For tranquillity, seek out the park in Hanoi’s Temple of Literature; for a thrill, pop to the Vietnamese State Circus in Hanoi’s Lenin Park (Wednesday to Sunday).

10: Watch Crafts
From silk weaving to ceramics, from lacquer to incense, from conical hats to bird cages, boat-building to woodwork, basket-weaving noodle-making, there is something to engage and entertain every single child. Hoi An, Hue and Hanoi make great bases to explore workshops and maybe even help out too.
]Incense drying, Hanoi, Vietnam.

2 Responses to “Top 10: Vietnam”

  1. Ainlay December 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    This is so awesome, I just showed this to my daughter (7 yrs old) and she said “these look so fun, especially the sand dunes! Thanks for making these lists. Are you going to India with Z?

    • MummyT December 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

      Yes! Next year, hooray! The sand dunes are amazing. Go early, though, as you need to walk to the top, and it can be hot.

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