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This beautiful, beguiling country is packed with opportunities to explore everything from ancient cities to hidden caves. Visitors on luxury family trips to Vietnam can unwind in style at some seriously impressive kid-friendly hotels and boutique guest houses. What’s more, the Vietnamese tend to dote on children, so a warm for you and the brood is virtually guaranteed.

Our itinerary for a two-week family trip to Vietnam proves that a luxury vacation with the kids doesn’t need to mean abandoning your sense of adventure. If you’re craving some luxury, this 2-week itinerary allows plenty of time to relax and soak up Vietnam’s beauty and unique ambience, while still packing in plenty of big ticket sights, experiences and family-friendly activities.

 

Day 1-3 Ho Chi Minh City

The city formerly known as Saigon is still frequently referred to by the old name, as well as being commonly shortened to HCMC. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s wise to start your Vietnamese family vacation here, rather than throwing the brood in at the deep end by starting the trip in noisy, chaotic Hanoi. HCMC is a gentler introduction to Vietnamese cities, and there’s plenty here to keep the family entertained for at least a few days. There’s a lot to pack in, so hiring a driver/guide to whizz you around the city’s best sights and attractions is a wise move. Be sure to find time to take in one of the famous Water Puppet Shows, where folkloric tales are enacted on a “stage” of water (there are several in the city, but the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater in District One is reliably good), while the city’s zoo and botanical gardens also merit a visit.

Where to stay: Get things off to a comfortable start by checking into one of the city’s plush family-friendly hotels. For high-end accommodations on a grand scale, we recommend Park Hyatt Saigon, where the family-pleasing amenities include lush landscaped gardens, an outdoor pool, a super-handy location perfect for downtown sightseeing, and even a butler service for families wanting to go all-out. Families looking for a more boutique option might want to try Villa Song, which has 23-beautifully-appointed rooms and suites and a gorgeous riverside location. Both hotels can arrange transfers from the airport, and both have good on-site dining, so it may well be tempting to spend your first day and night just relaxing and soaking up the tropical bounty.

? Box out: Your kids may never forgive you if you leave HCMC without a visit to Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park. It’s a Buddhist-themed park, where rollercoasters and waterslides whizz past statues and shrines, and staff stroll around dressed as golden monkeys. Located in District 9, it even has an artificial beach. Best to side aside a whole day for this one!


 

Day 4-5 Mekong Delta Cruise

A luxury cruise along the Mekong Delta will be a memorable part of your family trip to Vietnam. Kids tend to love the colonial-era boat replicas, and the cabins are cool and comfortable. Meals are provided on board, but be sure to mention ahead of time if there are fussy eaters or food allergies. You’ll glide past gorgeous pagodas, drinking in stunning sunsets (and delicious cocktails, should the mood strike!) as you go. Excursions such as cycle rides and cookery classes are optional extras. One high-end option is Les Rives Experience, and for those who want to step up the luxury level, private speedboats and skippers are also available, which allow families to set their own sightseeing agenda. Plan to spend at least one night aboard.

 

Day 7-10 Nha Trang

Avoid the risk of car sickness and take a flight (around one hour, several flights daily) to the beautiful beach city of Nha Trang. Island-hopping boat tours and a visit to VinPearl Amusement Park offer further family fun. Book into your own private paradise at Evason Ana Mandara – a luxury resort set right on the softest, whitest sands imaginable. There’s a Kids’ Club (free for under-fours) and tons of water-based activities for older kids and teens. A spa (parents and kids pampering sessions available) and plush bar and restaurant mean families on luxury breaks in Nha Trang may never want to leave.

 

Day 11-12 Hanoi

After soaking up sun and spectacular views at Nha Trang (a flight from Nha Trang to Hanoi takes a little under 2 hours), the batteries should be recharged enough for a visit to the big city. A fun way to see the city is to take a bike ride to the the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, a pleasant setting for afternoon water puppet shows. On your second day in the city, have a guide take you on a whistle-stop tour of the city’s best temples and pagodas, stopping for lunch in the French Quarter, and visiting the Museum of Ethnology, which provides an interesting look at Hanoi’s multi-ethnic makeup, where kids can peek inside traditional dwellings.

Where to stay: Look for centrally-located lodgings on Hang Trong, Ngo Queyen or Hang Bong for ease of access to major sights. One lovely option for families is Apricot Hotel, an artsy lakeside spot with an emphasis on the finer things in life like afternoon teas, fine pastries and brightly-colored cakes. There’s a rooftop bar with glorious panoramic views so visitors can get the lay of the land as they sip sundowners at cocktail hour. Families on a luxury trip to Hanoi should have their hotel arrange a direct transfer from the airport.

?Box out: Kids with a head for heights can zip up super-speed elevators (50 seconds from ground floor to 65th floor) where a glass-floored Sky Walk offers a birds’ eye view of the city that’s not for the faint-hearted.


 

Day 13-14 Halong Bay

No luxury family break in Vietnam would be complete without a cruise around the magnificent Halong Bay, an UNESCO World Heritage Site with crystalline waters and dramatic conical islands. It’s a short hop from Hanoi, and your hotel will be able to arrange transfers and book boat trips. Do your research in advance, though–there are lots of types of trips available, but kids tend to enjoy the traditional-style junk boats. Indochina Junk is good option for off-the-beaten track exploring and it has a license to explore some regions that few other boats are allowed to visit, all with a focus on sustainable luxury travel.


? Tip: Halong Bay boat cruises are best for pre-toddling babies and kids that are old enough to know about boat safety. As strollers aren’t a practical option on the islands you’ll be visiting, kids will need to be small enough to be carried or big enough to walk by themselves. Unless you want to spend your whole cruise chasing your toddler all over the ship, it’s best to either take wee babies or wait until the kids are older.


 

Day 14- Hanoi/Departure

Back to Hanoi to catch the flight home! If your flight leaves late at night, it’s work making a quick trip out to Tam Coc, a group of three hidden caves famous for their natural beauty set the city in the glorious Vietnamese countryside.

 

Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family in Asia? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!
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The Philippines offer the very best of exotic vacations. It has everything you imagine when you think about a luxurious beach vacation. The soft white sandy beaches, the clear turquoise water, the fresh coconuts, sweet juicy fruits, happy-get-lucky locals (that speak English!), and lots of green jungles. An immense feeling of freedom.

Cheaper than Thailand.

And most importantly- jumping (real life!) dolphins! Free! We saw them while on ferries several times. They just show up, whole pods of them, swimming and jumping right next to the boat.

A few shorts words on the Philippines:

The Philippines are divided to four main districts. North (Luzon), center (Visayas), the south (Mindanao), and the island Palawan which is west of Visayas, towards Malaysia.

The archipelago consists of over 7,000 islands, and the main venues of transportation between them is by using the excellent ferry network (depending on the distance between islands, sometimes it’s a small ferry, sometimes a big one, almost a bus, and sometimes it’s a huge ferry that takes you 24 hours or more on the ocean waves), or by flight. You can also take a bus, I mean- you take the bus, and it goes on a ferry, and continues on another island:-).

The locals are charming, welcoming and hospitable, and always happy to help. But there’s two things they don’t believe in in the Philippines that it’s important you know about: hot water in the shower, and blankets.
Meaning you’ll only have hot water in medium level hotels and above. And the same goes for blankets.

It’s simply too hot there for either anyway.

The capital: is Manila, and she’s not welcoming to families. There’s a lot of traffic and sometimes the city just doesn’t feel safe. There are areas that bunch together strip clubs and gambling establishments. But together with all that- it’s the place to go shopping, there are crazy big malls there, with all the biggest brands. Personally I only go there to freshen up my wardrobe. My favorite place is called ‘Glorietta’ and it’s actually 4 connected malls. There are also some pretty big attractions (which I haven’t visited) like chinatown.

Family vacations- recommended hotels in the philippines

Money: the local currency is called Peso. $1=50 Pesos. You can find ATM mechines, but it’s not always easy, especially if you leave the highly touristic areas. Anyway the feeling is that there aren’t enough of them. Sometimes the line is very long. What they do have there are lots of money changers, and international money transfer. There are everywhere.

Visa: most people get free visa upon arrival of somewhere between 21-30 days but it always pays to check in advance. The most important thing is to have an exist ticket to somewhere.

Best seasons: it’s always hot in the Philippines. They have a rainy season and a typhoon season. December to May is the best time to visit. For vacations- Christmas! But summer vacation can also work, provided you can stay for a longer time, allowing for flexibility.

Food: it’s a tropical country so there’s a wide selection of fruits, dozens of types of Mango and Avocado, Coconuts, Jackfruit, and a lot of other we don’t even know about in the west. Most of their food is rice based, they have different kinds of white and pink and red rice… and a ton of seafood (goes without saying) as well as chicken and pork. They love their barbecue, and grill every type of meat they can find. You’ll see people fanning the flames everywhere. You choose the slice and they grill it for you on the spot. Try the chicken legs, a local favorite.

I will now write a recommendation for a fun route you can go on with the kids, based around central Philippines. I built it around the center on purpose as it’s considered the area best protected from typhoons, and therefore better at summer (and summer vacation). It’s flexible from a days-per-location perspective, so you could twist it to fit however long you have available.

1. Cebu

The route starts in Cebu. The second largest island in the Philippines.

You can stay in Cebu city, of find quieter places. I like recommending this hotel, on Mactan Island that is connected to mainland(ish) Cebu by bridge (the international airport is also on this island). It’s not cheap but will provide an excellent opening to any vacation.

Take two-three days to get over the flight and just have a good family time, then fly from Cebu to the tiny volcanic island “Cameguin”.

2. Cameguin

During the flight the staff entertains the passengers with riddle games. There are even prizes:-).
This tiny island sits on a volcano, which turns some of the beaches black. Beyond that, despite the size of the island it has many fun activities. There are some nice waterfalls (where you can swim), a site with a few hot spring pools, each with a different temperature. There’s a Zipline near the beach that goes above a sweet water lake, kayaking and other sea activities, and a site with giant clams (careful, they swallow everything!). A few museums and even an ostrich farm.

We’ve visited this island twice. Zig-zagged all across it on a bike we rented and discovered some lovely isolated corners. Climbed one of the mountains, and at the top we found a beautiful waterfall and remnants of volcanic ash.

When we went to the Zipline booking office the kids really wanted to go. For me it was enough to just see the cable stretched over the water to give up the pleasure. But the Zipline rules say you have to go in twos, so found myself being launched (twice! It’s a two-leg journey…) together with my youngest daughter.

I recommend to sleep in the hot spring campus called “Ardent”, that way you could go for a swim any time you want (the pools are open 24 hours), even after the kids fell asleep… :-). They have simple rooms with an A/C and a family room. Costs $80 a night.

There’s a restaurant there that’s not fantastic but it’s not bad either and the staff is nice. There are also a few stands just outside the campus. Basically, sausages and corn are readily available.

After three-four days of rest, day trips and being spoiled, take the ferry to Bohol Island. The ferry leaves every day at morning and by noon makes port in the city Jagna at central Bohol.

The journey takes about three-four hours.

My kids like Jagna because you can find the Filipino delicacy Calamay everywhere. Calamay is a sort of a sweet spread/jelly made of coconuts that they sell in a coconut shell packaging.

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3. Bohol

A word about ferries in the Philippines: I recommend that you bring some food with you, because the food on the ferry is expensive and the options are usually very limited.

And another thing- there’s no problem getting tickets in the port. Just make sure to get there some time ahead. Usually, especially before the ferry leaves, there are long lines. You’ll need to pay for the tickets (=first line), harbor tax (=second line), and for your suitcases (=third line). Children under 10 get a discount. Ask for the A/C class (=most expensive), or outside (=cheapest, and there’s a breeze:-))

When you get to Jagna you’ll have two options:

You can take a taxi or a minivan (air conditioned) to the biggest city in Bohol called Tagbilaran. Most tourists on the island go to its most famous beach, which is near Tagbilaran. It’s called “Alona beach” and it really is a nice beach with many nice restaurants, an ATM, agencies offering day trips and island-hopping, stores for beachwear, etc…

Family vacations- recommended hotels in the philippines

If you don’t want to party with all the tourists, you can always look for a guesthouse or a hotel in the city proper (it has a few nice malls, my favorite is ICM that has some video games in the top floor and even a 3D cinema). Or you can look around the road that surrounds the island, and soak in the magnificent ocean view. Another nice area is the town “Anda”, and near it the resort “Peace 1”, that has a private beach frequented by some sea turtles.

A minivan from Jagna to Tagbilaran costs 100 pesos per person.

Bohol is a relatively small island but it has a lot of attractions, and it’s a fun place to spend a few days. You can go on tours and watch dolphins, snorkel in the oceanic nature reserves near the island. There are kayak trips, an Extreme Park, river boating, a beautiful natural phenomenon called “chocolates hills” (yeah yeah) and some incredibly sweet creatures called “Filipino monkey” that became the island’s symbol. Professional name: Tarsier.

You can get almost any tye of food there, from real local food to big fast-food chains like McDonald’s, KFC and domino’s pizza. And of course Dunkin Donuts, that took over the Philippines and apparently conquered them.

We lived in Bohol twice, for a few months each time. We rented a small house with a private beach in a small fishing village and just lived with the locals and the ocean. We would shop at the local market, go for walks in the village, play with the locals, and learn from them about sea life.

We loved going to some nearby islands called Pamilican and Balicasag. On the way to them we usually saw dolphins. Near the islands there are beautiful reserves and we would jump off our little boat and snorkel for hours. We even saw small sharks and sea turtles. The boat’s driver would throw some breadcrumbs to attract the fish to us, to the great joy of my youngest daughter, that didn’t want to go too far from the boat.

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4. Siquijor

After Bohol, take another ferry to Siquijor. This is a small, peaceful island, with incredible quiet beaches. It’s also called the “Isle of Fire”, because of the millions of fireflies that fly near its beaches at night.

The island itself offer a number of activities, most of which are nature related (waterfalls, springs, ancient trees, night walks to see the fireflies).

And of course there’s diving and snorkeling.

We arrived there completely on accident. While visiting Dumaguete, we met at the hotela Filipino friend. After an interesting conversation with him, he told us that he has a resort in Siquijor (a quick boat ride away from Dumaguete) and invited us to stay there. So we found ourselves, a few weeks afterwards, in Siquijor :-).

Most of our time there we spent in the great swimming pool in the resort. It was so fun and relaxed we didn’t even need to leave.

4.5 Optional: Dumaguete

From Siquijor you can go slowly to Cebu Island. Before that take a short ferry to Dumaguete.if you have time you can explore it, it’s another nice island with plenty of activities.

Another article giving details about those four places, including costs, you can find here.

The Philippines have two types of public transport that I haven’t seen anywhere else. The Tricycle, which is a bit like the Thai Tok-Tok or the Indian Rickshaw, meaning, they took a motorbike and added a contraption with seats on it. The Filipinos like stuffing as many people as possible into those. It comes in different sizes, some only fit three people, and others fit six or more. The other vehicle is called a Jeepney and it’s actually a jeep that has been turned into a bus. They make it themselves, so every Jeepney looks a little different. They paint it in screaming colors, add some designs and sometimes even add a few quotes. It’s similar to an open bus, and there too they stuff as many people as they possibly can. Try to ride both those vehicles at least once. It’s an experience of a different type:-).

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5. Cebu

From the city Dumaguete leaves a (air conditioned) bus that goes on the ferry to Cebu with you inside it, and continues until Cebu City. You can also get off halfway there, in south Cebu there is a (debatable) attraction that offers diving/swimming/watching Whale Sharks. These are sharks that feed only on Plankton and, despite their huge size, they’re very gentle creatures. This activity is not cheap at $150 per person.

After you get back to Cebu City, you can finish the journey with some shopping in a few of the huge malls in the city. All the brands you know and then some:-).

More details to help you plan your trip and budget for it you can find here.

If you’re coming to the Philippines, the first thing you have to prepare yourself for is that everyone will call you either sir or madam.

The best time to visit the Philippines is from December to May. Which means Christmas vacation is perfect. but summer vacation can also work if you can stay for a relatively long time (at least three weeks or more).

⇒In the Philippines they make all sorts of treats from a purple sweetpotato called Ube. Even ice cream! Water cost 10-20 Pesos (0.25$-0.5$) for a liter and a half, and bus tickets cost 8 Pesos (0.15$)

Hotels:
To get out list of recommended hotels in different destinations in the Philippines, including prices, please click here

Independent traveling:

Families that want to plan their trip to the Philippines by themselves can talk with me over the phone and get a lot of helpful recommendations, tips, and important information for correct planning. Answers to all the little questions and details you can’t find anywhere else. Send me an email (familytravelsquare@gmail.com) and we’ll settle on a time.

In general it’s possible to say that a trip (for the whole family) in a low budget will cost about 80$ a day, a medium budget trip about 150$ a day, and a high budget trip can get to any amount you want:-). In the Philippines there are R-E-A-L-L-Y nice luxury resorts, right besides simple Bamboo huts.

⇒Alcohol: the locals in the Philippines drink homemade Coconut wine. It’s worth a try, just take under consideration that you have to get used to it slowly otherwise you’ll get a stomachache. Excellent local Beer costs 30 pesos (0.65$) for half a liter.

 

Vacation packages and organized tours:

Many websites and agencies offer packages both for solo travelers and families that want to come to the Philippines. The packages include planning a route, with a guide, accommodation, and transportation. Usually the tour length us between 8-19 days. The cost moves from 75$ to 150$ per person per day (not including flights). And they depend on the agency and the quality of accommodation and transportation.

Trips in specific destinations:

You can book those in your own country or from the variety of agencies spread throughout the Philippines. We’re talking about “island hopping” trips of all sorts, and all kinds of special attractions such as sea kayaking, rice terrace tour, the underground caves, Palawan, and more. The prices also vary and the cost is between 15$ per day per person (a short trip of boating and visiting a few stations) and up to 80$-100$ per day per person (a tour to more distant locations or a unique trek)

Organized tours:

Organized tours to the Philippines there are plenty. In each one of the websites offering tours they offer a slightly different route and a varying day count. The average cost is between 270$-300$ per day per person. The selection offered to families, on the other hand, when it comes to organized tours is fairly small.

To those with strong stomachs: they have a traditional delicacy called Balut, which is basically a Duck egg boiled with the embryo still inside. You can find it in almost every street stall in the city or the country. It’s usually painted purple or red to distinguish it from the other (regular) eggs.

Click here to get a month’s worth of food filled adventure in the Philippines.

Further tips and info:

Visa:

Citizens of most nationalities get 30 days free visa upon arrival, and can later extend their visa for a month or two, for a period of up to two years.

For visa information for your county click here

For visa extension cost click here

Currency and exchange rate:

In the Philippines the used Pesos. One Dollar is worth 50 Pesos, one Euro is worth 60 Pesos, one British pound is worth 70 Pesos, and 10 Indian Rupees are worth 8 Pesos.

Recommended seasons:

The best season in from November to February, and from March until May, when it rains the least and it’s not too hot. In the rest of the year it rains more but it’ll be hot, and the moment the rain stops the sun creeps back. In Eastern Philippines it rains year-round, but when ut doesn’t rain it’s sunny.

Internal transportation:

In the Philippines there are several airline companies, we especially recommend Cebu Pacific, an international airliner that offers domestic flights at reasonable prices.

A lot of the transportation between islands is done by ferries and these are best companies: Oceanjet, Oceanfast, and 2Go

Booking ferry tickets- not recommended to do through the internet. It’s a long and tiring process that requires showing all sorts of passport photocopies when you collect the tickets. It’s better to go to the ticketing office and buy directly. That way you can also make sure you have good sits and that all the family members share the same sleeping compartment (don’t forget to make sure of that again and again).

The public transportation in the Philippines is also excellent and cheap. Always when you get to a new island you can take a bus to anywhere on it.

In the Philippines you can find buses, air-conditioned mini-vans, rickshaws (normally referred to as ‘tricycles’), motorcycle taxis, and Jeepneys- a jeep-engine powered bus that is very very cheap (and the experience is free) 🙂
In bus stations and in the ferries they sell Bananas-deep-fried-in-Sugar-on-a-stick

⇒roosters: in the Philippines Rooster fights are legal. In almost every house you can see Chickens and Roosters. They take very good care of their Roosters, and across the whole country you can find stores that sell only Rooster care equipment. You can even find a special Shampoo for shiny feathers.

Useful information:

The most important thing to know about the Philippines is that against the common opinion, you don’t have to fly from island to island. It’s much cheaper to sail and take buses, and even if it takes a bit longer, there’s nothing quite like feeling the ocean wind and see the Dolphins jumping among the waves while sailing in the Philippines. Not to mention you get to avoid the whole headache around airports.

What is also important to know is that the Filipinos love their Seafood and Pork, and those that keep kosher might find it difficult. Chabad houses can be found in Manila and Cebu, the two biggest cities in the Philippines.

Money- in the Philippines there are ATM machines, but they’re sparse. In the big cities you can find one pretty easily, but in the villages sometimes there are none. And when you do find an ATM (even in the big cities) there’s sometimes a very long line. Commission-wise it’s better to go to the foreign banks because they don’t charge a commission for a withdrawal and in most cases you can withdraw larger amounts (HSBC, metrobank)
Money changers, however, are everywhere.

Sim card and mobile network- in the Philippines there are several companies that provide mobile network we recommend Globe (faster network) or Smart.

⇒Because it’s so hot in the Philippines sometimes, you can buy cold mineral water in a bug, from a machine. You should try, especially with kids

 

and one last tip: come with a waterproof camera.

When thinking of a family beach vacation, Vietnam isn’t the first place to pop in mind.

Usually it’s closer to Thailand or Goa. But for those looking for a change, or to find a quiet, luxurious place, should definitely consider it as an option. I flew to Vietnam with my kids just to spend a few months on the beach…

Mui-Ne is a small stretch of beach five hours by bus from Ho-chi-Minh city
The bus picks you up at the hotel in Ho-Chi-Minh and drops you at your hotel in Mui-Ne.

∴ One straight road. On one side the beach and resorts built one after the other, and on the other side hotels, stores, spas, and that’s it. Mui-Ne is all about relaxing.

∴ Kite-surfing enthusiasts like the place as it has great surfing, shops for renting equipment and courses.

∴ Keep in mind that on this vacation you won’t do anything other than swim, walk on the beach, play in the sand, oh, and eating.

∴ Mui-Ne is heaven for seafood lovers. Along the street (and there’s only one street) are spread restaurants showing in their aquariums all the things you can eat. Squids, Octopus, Shrimp, Prawns, and different kinds of clams and oysters, crabs and snakes, lizards, turtles…

∴ And for fruit lovers. Pineapple, Passion Fruit, Litchi, Jack Fruit, and more .they even make fresh aloe-Vera juice and also avocado shakes.

∴ The place looks completely western. Everything is clean, pretty, and modern. Not what you’d think of Southeast Asia or Vietnam.

∴ The hotels are amazing. The service, for the most part, is amazing.

∴ You can rent bicycle or scooter to get around easier. On the other hand there are taxis and scooter-taxis flooding the area. And there’s the local bus.

Fairy Springs- a charming piece of nature in the middle of the stretch of beach. It’s a fountain of water coming from the ground. They’re warm and flaw in a shallow stream to the ocean. You walk along the stream barefoot, on the soft, soft send. A joy for the kids. Colorful dunes in the background. Along the way there’s also an ostrich farm where you can ride the birds.

∴ The night life is awesome and include lots of alcohol, clubs, and live shows.

∴ If you’re worried- there are ambulances and a high-level professional clinic.

∴ One of the big advantages of the place (the reason I chose it) is that it’s a desert area, and the humidity is very low. So even though you live right on the beach, you don’t feel it! The weather is a-m-a-z-i-n-g

∴ Staying there is Very comfortable– there’s fast WiFi almost everywhere, excellent coffee, air-con, spas…

∴ There’s one resort that offers a private mud bath. Take the kids and make them feel like Shrek 🙂. After the bath you’ll get free access to the huge swimming pool filled with mineral water and health.

∴ You can get any kind of massage there, Including hot stones and everything. And special kinds like coconut or rice milk massage or massage with aloe-vera.

∴ Every travel agency offers tours in the area.

∴ And of course to try out many different water sports. Boogie-board, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, jet-skiing.
∴ One note: Despite the touristic nature of the town, many service providers don’t speak English.

In short: prepare yourself for a high-end vacation for ridiculously low prices.

Recommended hotels in Mui-Ne and their price
Recommended hotels in Saigon and Hanoi and their price

prices for example:

  • Excellent resort with ocean view, swimming pool and a private beach (family room including breakfast) – 30$-60$ a night. There are more expensive resorts offering private bungalows and such, those can get as high as 500$ a night.
  • Cold coffee- 0.5$
  • Beer bottle- 0.5$
  • Full seafood hotpot- 5$
  • Whole peeled and sliced pineapple- 0.5$
  • Full body massage- varying prices. Depends if you go to the small spas or the big luxurious ones. Somewhere between 5$ and 25$ an hour.
  • Bicycle rent- 2$ a day. Scooter rent- 8$ a day.
  • Fresh coconut juice straight from the nut- 0.5$

My life for me isn’t just traveling. And it isn’t just an easy way to make my way in the world. As you probably already know by now, this lifestyle is very meaningful to me. And in fact almost every step I take, and almost every choice I make, happens only after a lot of consideration and no little desire to do the utmost for me, but mostly for my children.

I try my hardest to take the points that make our unique routine, and make the most of them. To think, to be creative and use everything that our lifestyle allows, all to give my children morals, confidence and experience.
This post is born of questions that a number of families asked me while planning their trips or already traveling. I found out in in the short, practical answers I give to everyone, hides a lot more than just “how to pack for your trip”
So here are four things that seem small, but in reality are huge.

1. Their own bags

When going on a long trip, your suitcase or big bag and everything in it become a very big part of your life. Therefore, it’s important to put some thought into how to best distribute the equipment between everyone.
Give your children their own bags, let them decide what they take (with your well-meaning guiding), and make sure all their things fit into their own bag. That includes shoes, personal toiletries, and a towel if possible. That bag will be their private, intimate place, where their things are, and they’re responsible for it.

Give them the feeling that you trust them to know how to take care of their things, to remember packing them whenever you’re going to a new place, and make sure they can carry their bag themselves. Respect their privacy about the things in the bag, and give them that good feeling involved in being responsible over its contents.

2. Financial freedom

Southeast Asia presents a wonderful opportunity to let the kids handle money on an everyday basic from a very young age. Involve the kids with everything money, on the everyday level. But everything. They should know how much the room costs at the guesthouse, look at the prices in menus, and be aware of the daily budget you’re keeping to. Calculate exchange rates.

And beyond that- make sure they always have money in their pocket. To experience regular shopping, every day, according to need, but also desire. Slowly slowly they’ll learn not to buy ice-cream with that money, but to save it for when they’re really thirsty and just want a bottle of water. Or to pay for the laundry you asked them to collect. Or the bus ride. I’ve been giving my older children (14 and 17 years old) free access to the family wallet and money and they manage their money very responsibly.

3. social awareness

During your time abroad you’ll have to deal with a lot of things you might not think about beforehand. For example, friends’ and family’s birthdays and other events you won’t be able to participate in. to mark the important dates and feel that you share your loves ones’ happiness, despite the distance, set aside a small amount of money (that you would’ve spent anyway on the event) and go out with the kids to give that money to those that really need it. Make the kids a part of everything, ask them their opinions, and give them the chance to be involved. Buy fruits for the street urchins, clothe for poor families in your area, or donate a few books or toys to a local orphanage. To this day there’s a Tibetan woman in Pokhara that hugs me every time I pass her by, because of the warm socks and shirts I bought for her children for the birthday of a close friend of mine, in his name. Actually, it was my daughter that asked her what she needed and went with her to the store to get what she needed.

4. Full and active cooperation

Let the kids have a say about every decision, considerations, inquiries. Send them on info-gathering missions- starting from the currency exchange rates in whichever country you’re going to, and all the way to finding a place to sleep. My children, according to their ages, manage the trip completely alongside me. They search for plane tickets, find out all the info we need about the places we want to go to (visas, currency, diseases, etc..) and very often they’re also responsible for booking hotel rooms for the first few nights in a new destination. I don’t chase after them to do it, I trust them fully and give them all due credit. How to get from place to place, how much does it cost, which company to go with, how long does it take, where should we stop and rest. And many other fine-print details that amount to quite a list that we share amongst us.


The K-12 education program, experience public school at home.


 

Christmas/ hanuka and Easter/passover vacations are the best times to take the kids and go on an amazing vacation in the Philippines.
Granted, there is summer vacation, but it’s actually the summer that isn’t a very good season in the Philippines, and if you go there during summer vacation there’s the chance you’ll get some rains and storms. Nothing terrible, but it’s something to consider.
What else, I heard from many families recently that they are looking for an interesting and different destination, something to refresh the annual vacation in Europe.
And hence the Philippines are the perfect destination 🙂

First of all- check out our best tips for family travel in the Philippines.

And now- Here are four places that are simply wonderful for a vacation in the Philippines with kids:

1. This hotel in Mactan, on the island Cebu. An awesome start to a vacation. It’s not cheap, at around 200$ a night, but it’s well worth it. Everything you need in a vacation without moving too much :-). A huge swimming pool, complete with slides and bridges, SUP (stand up pedal surfing) and sea Kayaking, and if you ever leave the swimming pool you’ll find a climbing wall and a kid’s playroom, a private beach, free bicycles to move freely inside the hotel grounds and more…

There are many things to do in Cebu, here are few of the lesser known attractions for families.

2. After few days in this hotel, book a (very) short flight to an amazing island called Camiguin. It’s a tiny island with a few interesting attractions. It has beautiful black-sand beaches. And hot springs, and giant Clams that are definitely worth a visit. You can go snorkel-diving around the island, or even tour around it on a bicycle on the friendly island surrounding road.
You should quietly spend a few days on that island. Enjoy the hot springs, the massages, and sleeping in your favorite guest-house right next to them. That way you could go on a tight romantic dip after the kids went to bed…❤
Staying there is very cheap. Staying in a family room in the guest-house will cost no more than 50$ a night. And it includes free entrance to the hot springs 24/7

3. From there continue to the marvellous island Bohol. Recommended hotels you can find here . OR – you can stay at a private beach house. In Bohol you can enjoy all sorts of attractions like the Chocolate hills, the Extreme park, sailing on the Loboc river, and most importantly- Dolphin watching. Don’t miss  it! It’s an amazing experience.
Estimated costs per day will be around 150$-180$, including accommodation, meals, and attractions.
By the way, in Bohol’s biggest city, Tagbilaran, there are a few nice malls that have cinemas (with 3D) restaurants and shops. One of my children’s biggest enjoyments was the arcade in ICM (island city mall), that they always left with some nice prizes.
To divers, that’s also the place from which you can go on breathtaking dives in the area. In Bohol there are also several interesting underwater reserves. I’ll never forget the sea Turtles we saw while snorkeling around Bohol. It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life.
If you don’t dive and want to take a course, in Bohol you can find a few good options for that.
There are also sea-Kayaking tours that you simply must check out.
To more adventurous families I warmly suggest going on an independent tour around the island. Bohol allows for a fascinating view into the life of the locals, with the tiny fishing villages, fragrant markets, jungles, and virgin beaches. Tourist free gems are hidden around every corner if you only go in deep enough.

Bohol also offers few Adrenalin-rush activities. check them out here.

4. From Bohol you can move on to the enchanted island Siquijor, with its white beaches, snorkelling, night sailing and watching thousands of fireflies, kayaking, and quiet. The hotels here are good and don’t cost much, only about 60$a day all expenses included. I wrote about it here.

-From there the move is pretty simple back to south Cebu, where the bravest can swim with Whale Sharks. The experience is not cheap (I haven’t done it, my youngest wouldn’t let her mom swim freely like that with sharks. I am waiting for her to grow up…), and costs about 150$ per person.

-Finish the trip in Manila, the shopping city.

The Philippines is one of the destinations I’d most recommend to travel with kids or for a family vacation. They have a crazy abundance of beauty and luxuries and a very high quality of life. And most importantly- everything is possible on a very sane budget.

Take for example this hotel.

It’s a hotel in Siquijor, one of the smallest and most charming islands in the Philippines. There are both amazing beaches and family activaties over there. On a small scale, without too much noise and mess. Perfect for a family vacation.

I was there with my kids for a few days and it was a joy!

We just swam all day in the pool or the ocean, and drank Coconut milk straight from the nut.
So I went to my favorite search engine and input today’s dates. I got 42$ a night for a family room, including breakfast.
Now.
Let’s say you get there and you want to simply stay there for two weeks. Or a month. The cost will go down to 35$ a night at the highest. Food will cost you 15$ a day.
Attractions, diving, activities and luxuries will cost maybe a bit more.
And that’s it.
A delightful family vacation for a uniquely delightful price.
Family trip on a low budget is possible in so many ways and so many places, you just need to know where to look :-).

And here are some crazy activities you can enjoy with your family during your trip to the philippines.

“Whoever Said That Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness Didn’t Know Where to Shop”
~Blair Waldorf

Shopping is an inseparable part of almost every trip abroad, and Southeast Asia is no exception. It’s a well-known fact that after a two week trip in Thailand with the kids, you dedicate two-three days to shopping. Because it’s so much cheaper. And it’s so much fun to go shopping, and convert everything to your local currency and see just how cheap everything is.

But Thailand is no longer the only destination where it pays to go on a crazy shopping spree and come back home with a new wardrobe and a truck’s worth of furniture. In fact, if you ask me, there are some places I much prefer, from a quality perspective, from a price perspective, and even from a design perspective. A few years ago, I was in Ho Chi Minh City with my kids, and we planned on going to Bangkok from there. Of course I gave up the shopping in Vietnam, thinking I’ll do it all in Bangkok. But when I got there I discovered that their products weren’t nearly as good, and of a much lower quality, and more expensive. And I was very disappointed.

Only Two Phrases Can Change A Woman’s Mood….

1) I LOVE YOU
2) 50% OFF

And so here are the three places I recommend for shopping in Southeast Asia:

1. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

in Saigon you can’t not want to buy everything. When you walk in the street and see the small designer stores, or even the street vendors with the cut-paper greeting cards, and it’s all so cheap, it’s hard to stand the temptation. I love walking around the streets of Saigon, and breathe in inspiration. In fact, Saigon is one of the only places where I enjoy going to the mall.

Four of my favorite places:

Saigon Square– a colorful market with a lot of finds, some of them even original (ZARA, GAP, H&M)- all for really funny prices of only a few dollars. Even the fake’s quality is pretty high and the designs are in good taste. A lot of clothes and products for children and babies. A few years ago I bought my daughters some very cheap designer clothes and they’re still wearing them to this day (the older one gave the younger and all that). I always shop there when we visit Ho chi Minh city.

Vincom center– a wonderful mall, with a whole floor with only kids stored including a mindblowing stored like Lego, Corolle (an amazing doll company), a huge bookstore, children’s playroom, food court and more. The rest of the mall is dedicated to woman’s products, cosmetics, shoes, etc…
Diamond plaza- another mall, this time more luxurious. Everything looks very well thought of. I especially like the cosmetics floor that is simply stunning. With products of the world’s best companies, and attendants that give you free samples and put makeup on you (they’ll be happy to help the girls too ), and of course everything has testers. The joy! The prices are lower than the rest of the world, but for Saigon they’re pretty high. Other than that, they have designer stores with international fame.

Ben Thanh market- one of the places all the guides recommend. It’s a market where they sell anything you can possibly want, from cheap clothes to souvenirs, local produce like Coffee (a million kinds and flavors), tea (ditto), Vietnamese Coffee filters, baby products. It’s a huge compound, crowded and loud, with a number of exits and entries. And a food court to those interested. You should go there if only for the experience, I sometimes buy there the Vietnamese Coffee (I know exactly which brand and which type of coffee, and how much the locals buy it for)- if I can find it at a low price. It’s customary and recommended to bargain and bargain hard.

2. Manila, Philippines

Alright this one isn’t really new. Manila is THE place for shopping, if you happen to get there. Manila is full of shopping centers, from all sorts of markets to expensive luxurious malls.

My four favorites are:

Glorietta- we’re talking about a compound of a few malls made into one. Something huge. There’s everything you can possibly be looking for and then some. In Glorietta there are the biggest and most diverse stores I’ve found yet of brands like GAP, Old Navy, and Banana Republic (even in Thailand I never found the like). ZARA has a very large shop. If you get there- look for the Vietnamese restaurant in the food court. The food there is just like in Vietnam.very very tasty.

Robinsons– a department store chain with pretty much the same stores all over and a wonder of a supermarket with ingredients that are almost impossible to find elsewhere. I like their prices, and I also like their home products section- where you can find a wide variety of mosquito repellents (I collect those…) and a number of other necessities.

Greenbelt– a nice mall with a selection of big brands and large cosmetic stores where you can find some really nice bargains. My daughters and I spent a whole afternoon just in one of those cosmetic stores, impressed by everything.

SM mall chain– not specific to Manila, you can find these malls, in all sizes, all over the Philippines. If you’re in Cebu you should give it a visit. Even if you’re in Manila it’s still worth going to. Some of these malls are in the top10 biggest malls in the Philippines and indeed the whole world. They also host all kinds of afternoon activities (for free), and we once took part in a Zumba class that happened in the mall, to the great joy of all shoppers. They also have some of the best stores from, with well-known international brands. In every mall there is also a nice local book store with a collection of nice English books booklets for all ages.

∴ by the way, one of our little pleasures, whenever we go to a mall in the philippines, is the Buka. A drink of coconut water and ice with some sugar (to those who want it). Not something anyone should miss.

3. Pushkar, India

if you’re looking for shanti clothes, Yoga pants, colorful skirts, dresses and tunics, jewelry, perfumes, and oils, Pushkar is the place for you. Pushkar is a gathering place for wholesale traders from all of India and the world. To the little picturesque market come shop owners from Europe and the rest of India to buy whole stocks of clothes. And we get the lowest prices :-). The diversity is huge, and of course they’ll saw anything you ask of them. In our last time in Pushkar I had some dresses, Yoga pants and shirts (and, of course some really eye-catching skirts) made for me and my daughters for hilariously little money. Pushkar’s market really is charming and if you get there don’t miss Sanu’s fruit & juice shop.

please check out our favorite hotels in vietnam and in the philippines.

My new ebook is now available on amazon. click here, and find out how to travel the world with your kids for less then 1400$ a month (yes, even when shopping at those really trendy shops :-)).

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Discover the best hotels and accommodation prices in Vietnam-Ho Chi Minh(Saigon) and Hanoi when travelling with kids. Recommended destinations for a comfortable stay

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city are both remarkable destinations that any tourist would love. Not only do they have a certain charm around them, these cities are also home to some really amazing relaxation spots. However, when you stare reality in the face, the first thing you observe are the clogged array of motorbikes, scooters, cars, and smoke in a dense and people-clogged environment. This colorful mess might make you stop in awe at the crosswalk and wonder if you will ever be able to cross that road.

However, even with this rather dense atmosphere, navigating these two cities can be really easy if you know the right place to stay and are able to find your way around.

Below is a list of Recommended hotels in Ho Chi Minh City when travelling with kids:

Best Luxury Hotels:

The reverie Saigon– Do you want to get a mind blowing view of the river and the entire city? This hotel offers you everything you need in a five-star hotel and so much more. From a breathtaking swimming pool with color changing waters, to a full bursting minibar and a manservant available for hire, it is just perfect if you are looking to have a great time. It also features wall-to-wall windows with well facilitated rooms (including an espresso machine!)

Kids below 11 years of age stay free. Price– 225$ a night.

Book your stay now to enjoy the amazing city and all of its pleasantries!

Click to book through Agoda now

Click to book through Booking now

Sherwood residence hotel– Get the feel of luxury at an affordable rate! The Sherwood residence hotel offers you apartments from 80sqm in size in a spectacular apartment setting. This standard room comes with 2-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms, living room, well equipped kitchen with a fridge and even a washing machine.

To get more out of your stay, you also get a swimming pool, a play room for the kids and so much more in a sparkling and squeaky clean setup.

What’s even better? Children younger than 11 years get to stay for free!

The price- 87$ (for the standard apartment described above) a night and upwards for other high end rooms with additional features.

Book your stay now to set down a reservation for your trip!

Book through Agoda today

Book though Booking today

caravelle saigon hotel– Would you like to enjoy the serenity and astonishing beauty of Ho Chi Minh? the Caravelle Saigon hotel brings you a 5-star hotel in the perfect location! You get great rooms, a wonderful pool and a remarkable view!

It also offers free stay for kids younger than 5 years!

Price- starting from 135$ a night.

Make your reservation today to enjoy excellence in hospitality!

Click here to book through Agoda

Click here to book through Booking

Best Guesthouses in Saigon:

beautiful Saigon hotel– Want an affordable yet high class accommodation that brings you quality service and a family friendly environment? The beautiful Saigon is what you need!

Here, you get an amazing location, swimming pool, clean rooms, fast Wi-Fi and breakfast included in the fee. It is absolutely affordable and offers you the option for rooms with three or more beds for better convenience.

Kids younger than 10 get to stay for free!

Price: Starting from $28 night.

Click here to book through Agoda

Click here to book through Booking

Saigon Europe hotel spa– Experience convenience and relaxation in a spa styled hotel with all of the facilities you need!

Want to stay in a good location, with big, clean, air conditioned rooms and a pool? The Saigon Europe hotel spa offers you that and so much more. It also come with a served breakfast included in the fee.

Price: $50 a night for the family room.

Book your reservation today and give your family a treat.

Click here to book through Agoda

Click here to book through Booking

Recommended hotels in Hanoi with kids:

Best Luxury Hotels:

meracus hotel– Enjoy the service of a great staff and a breakfast served for kings in the highly rated Meracus hotel. With a strong reputation of excellence, this hotel is located right on Hoan kiem in a perfect location and is extremely affordable for all of the features it offers!

Price: 70$ a night for a family suite.

Click here to book through Agoda

Click here to book through Booking

Hanoi la siesta– Perfect for maximum comfort, the Hanoi la siesta is designed as a family friendly location with pleasant and helpful staff and a good location. Located in the old quarter, you can book rooms with connecting doors for great family accessibility and closeness.

Price: 160$ a night for two rooms with a connecting door, or 170$ a night for a family suite.

Want to enjoy your stay with your family? Book a room at the Hanoi le siesta today!

Click here to book through Agoda

Click here to book through booking

A good hotel for a good price:

hanoi lotus boutique hotel– This hotel offers you an amazing array of services including friendly staff, great location, an awesome restaurant and organized tours for the entire family. You also get free Tea/Coffee/fruit juice throughout the whole day.

Price: 25$ a night for a double room, 40$ a night for a family room.

Follow this link to book through Agoda

Follow this link to Book through Booking

Best Guesthouse in Hanoi:

funky jungle– If you are a backpacker/traveler, a group of friends travelling together or visiting the city as a family, then the funky jungle is the ideal location for you!

Located in the heart of the old quarter, this guesthouse provides a common playroom, restaurant and bar (free beer!). It is a great place for social encounters/making new friends from all over the world.

You can get a few beds in a dorm room, or get a private room.

Price: A bed costs 10$ a night and a room costs 35$ a night.

Click here to book through Agoda

Click here to book through Booking

Don’t forget that you need to make your Vietnamese visa in advance online. and read more information about trip to Vietnam with kids. 

For more inspiration try our awesome itineraries:

Vietnam with kids- Two weeks luxury vacation

Vietnam for food loving families

and more…

You can find many more hotels throughout Vietnam on Agoda  , Booking  or Hotelscombined  

My new eBook is now available on amazon. click here, and find out how to travel the world with your kids for less than 1400$ a month (yes, even when staying at those really nice hotels :-)).

 

 

For almost a month now we’re enjoying ourselves on a private beach that sits in the middle of a small bay on a beautiful* island in the Philippines.
We drink fresh Coconut milk, and eat pineapples and watch the Starfish. The water is clear and warm and we swim every day.
We’re in an area that lies outside the tourist road, and so we get the local Filipino experience in all its glory.
Meeting the village people, going fishing with them, play basketball with them, go out for some barbecue in the tiny local restaurant, that also fixes bicycles.
In the local market they offer fresh cocoa beans just like that, in baskets. And all sorts of fruits and vegetables and pastries we’ve never even seen before. Actually… today on the way to the ATM I saw in a small bakery store the little sweet pastries we loved so much in Vietnam. Where they sell it very cheaply in carts. Immediately I bought some for the kids. How fun it is to remember something we loved to eat in another country.

Click here to get a month’s worth of food filled adventure in the Philippines.

“Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and it’s fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgment”.~Paul Fussell, Abroad.

I feel that this experience, like many others we’ve had, both for me and for the kids, is incredibly enriching. Just as is, natural and wild and real and pure. Without make-up. But in comfort and with all the luxuries (we actually have a tv after all…).
The combination of the beautiful waters, of passively watching the tides, the effects of the moon and the weather. Walks on the beach and seeing dozens of living creatures, the refreshing swim. Playing with the village children. And so much more.
From time to time the owner of the house we stay in comes to visit. She stays a few days. In those days she takes us on a journey deep inside the Filipino culture. She teaches us to cook Filipino dishes, explains to us about the oceans life and the creatures in the ocean. Opens the door to experiences like fishing at night using a flashlight, coconut peeling and explaining everything you can do with coconuts. She explains about the leafs they put in the soup and why they’re very healthy, and why in all the gardens around people cover their plants in empty eggshells.
Today she told me exactly where I can see dolphins. And how to get there.
For me the stay here is the peak of the good life. Sun, ocean, soft sand, and fresh coconuts. You don’t really need anything more. Just let me lie in the hammock and look at all that blue.
And if I can write to you a bit more personally, I feel like this place is drawing me deep into myself. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s the quiet. Maybe it’s the dream coming true in living here. One dream of many :-). Both for me and for the kids there is a sort of understanding, realizations that pop up, and a type of maturing. Of sharpening.
And the love I hold for life and the world bursts out in joy.
♦ So how did we get here?
We make friends fast, fall in love fast, stay very open, brave and free. All those create non-internet-opportunities that express themselves in exceptional and exciting friendships and experiences. When you start your own journey pull your nose outside of the internet. From the guides. Give the road a chance. Don’t be scared. Come to it with your love, and you’ll see how it rewards you. There’s a whole world outside. An exciting world full of love.
♦ Ok ok. So bottom line: how much does it cost me?
◊ The whole house, all three rooms, the amazing gallery, the handmade furniture, the balconies, the accessorized kitchen, the barbecue station in the yard, the fertile coconut trees and all their coconuts, the banana trees, the privaaaaaate beeeeeeeeeeaaaaach.
◊ Laundry.
◊ And transportation (cause a girl need to go on the back of a motorbike from time to time)
All that costs me 15$ a day.

*the island is called Bohol and it’s one of the better known and more touristic islands in the Philippines. It’s a beautiful island but its tourist centers are very small and focus in very specific areas. the rest of the (pretty big) island is tourist free.

You can watch the girls talk about this experience here.