Experience Traditional Vietnamese Activities with Your Family!

When is the last time you snagged a catfish with your bare hands, lapped up ripe rambutan pudding, or imbibed some fresh artichoke tea? The next time your brood is navigating the frenzied thoroughfares of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, take the chance to engage in all of these traditional Vietnamese happenings. Vietnam encompasses a diverse conglomeration of Asian cultures, never-ending friendly faces, and countless affordable adventures—you will be able to embark on all kinds of authentic activities without worrying about busting your budget. So enjoy the full array of Vietnamese cultural offerings, and dive straight into the (stinky) durian delights!



Vietnam boasts over 3,500 kilometers of coastline and more than 2,000 islands, which makes its culture heavily centered around the ocean. Fishing has always been a popular hobby and source of income for the Vietnamese, and for traveling families, it can be a perfect pastime. For those who are traveling inland, there are plenty of opportunities to seek your freshwater fish fare in rivers. Those who love beach days will enjoy searching for ideal deep-sea fishing spots. Bait, lures, poles, reels, and tackle are easily rented or purchased in local shops in towns bordering bodies of water. No permits or licenses are needed for fishing in Vietnam, so challenge yourself to catch your dinner!

Where to go:

Phú Quốc Island: Here, barter with local fishermen to arrange a trip out on the ocean for as little as $20 USD. If you are planning on catching larger varieties like ocean sunfish and marlin, you may need to commission a private trip through a tour operator. There are also opportunities to fish from the shore if you are on a tighter budget—try the Duong Dong River to hang with locals or dangle your bait off of the Cua Can Bridge.

Mekong Delta: If you are feeling especially confident, you can try “mudfishing”, where you try to catch catfish or eel hiding between rocks with your bare hands. Try this activity in freshwater areas like the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. Again, here it is best to barter with village fish folk for a personal boat ride as opposed to booking with tour agents—a great opportunity to practice your haggling!


Eating Ph

If bare-handed fishing isn’t your thing, you’ll need to fuel up somehow, so try slurping down a bowl of fresh phở. The dish has become a crowd-pleaser in many Western eateries, but its home is in Vietnam. For those who are not noodle soup connoisseurs, phở refers to a broth that can be dressed up to the diner’s delight. Choose from add-ons like seasoned beef or chicken, cilantro, onions, bean sprouts, and basil, and infuse your meal with fish sauce or chili. The phở from your hometown go-to joint will pale in comparison to a piping-hot dish prepped within the energy of Vietnam, so take the time to search for your new favorite spot in the homeland of this delectable noodle soup. You’ll surely find it phở-nomenal and un- phở-gettable. Phở sure.

Where to phở:

Hanoi: Phở is usually eaten for breakfast in Hanoi, so start your day at your local soup spot. The best places often run out of fare around lunchtime, so get an early start to ensure you can taste the most delectable of phở.

Ho Chi Minh City: In southern Vietnam, the broth is often thickened with sauces and herbs, contrasting the clear broth found in the North. Venture down the coast to try this alternative version to the thin soups found elsewhere.



After filling up on phở, satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth with bowls of super cheap hot or cold chè, made from ripe local fruits. There are infinite versions of chè, but it is usually a pudding or sweet soup flavored with mangoes, sweetened black beans, coconut, rambutans, and other seasonal delights. If you enjoy the taste and smell of rotten eggs (sign me up!), try chè made from durian, the notoriously stinky fruit which is illegal in most public buildings and on many kinds of public transportation. You can find this dessert in local grocery stores or in food stalls tucked away in city streets. Adventurous eaters can down chè with seaweed and aloe vera.

Where to go:

Hanoi: Try Quan Che Muoi Sau on Ngo Thi Nham Street. Here, you can taste the chè dumplings. Chè 95 is also a great spot that serves all kinds of dessert, including yogurt, sweet sticky rice, and caramel options, all for less than $1 USD.

Ho Chi Minh City: In southern Vietnam, chè is often served with sweetened coconut cream. Chè Khánh Vy in District 10 of the city is a great place to start your sweet southern culinary tour.


Vietnamese Dance

Feeling a need to ward off some impending evil? Look no further than the lion dance! The artsy ones in the family will enjoy a hearty dose of culture whilst listening to Vietnamese instruments like the dan nhi (fiddle), dan nguyet (two-string guitar), and the dan tam (lute) accompany traditional dancers. The lion dance is one of the most famous boogies in Vietnam, and acrobats and martial artists usually perform alongside the dancers. The dance originated in China (Vietnam did not gain full independence from China until 1000 AD), but it has developed a distinct Vietnamese flavor over the last ten centuries. Most of these rituals are performed during lunar festivals, so chances are you’re already knee-deep in Vietnamese culture—reveling at a festive lunar celebration—if you have the chance to witness one of these traditional jigs.

Where to go:

Hanoi: Need to get your groove on? Visit this city in autumn to see the lion dance during Trung Thu, which falls on the full moon in August. This festival honors each family’s ancestors (see the final activity in this article), and fortunately involves eating tons of cake and fruit!


After a grueling day of fishing and chè tasting, it is time for a traditional Vietnamese massage, known as tam quat. Originally developed as a medical strategy to stimulate circulation and eradicate stress, tam quat is now popular for tourists and locals alike. Centuries ago, the practice was only performed by blind masseurs, as the massage is designed to react to people’s energy and muscle tone. A combination of forceful kneading and direct pressure applied to tight muscle groups helps the patient relax. Cupping is also popular, which involves applying warm suction cups to different areas of the body. Some can be turned off by the trademark circular bruises left behind after the treatment, but cupping does not hurt and instead often results in many beneficial results ranging from improved blood flow to mitigated migraines. Cup, cup and away!

Where to go:

Ho Chi Minh City: If you are in need of a cupping session to recover from your globe hopping, make a pit stop at the Traditional Medical Hospital. If you are exploring Ho Chi Minh City, try to choose an outlet that is certified by the medical Department of the city: Dai An in District 11 is a great choice, as is Cham Cuu Chuong in District 7. Expect to spend around $5-$10 USD for an hour-long treatment—even less if you choose to chance it on a street massage.


Most Asian countries have a rich tradition of drinking tea, and Vietnam is no exception—Vietnamese people have been cultivating tea for thousands of years. In Vietnam, drinking tea has historically been a practice of the upper class. Green tea, or trà xanh, is especially popular in Vietnam, and is known for alleviating infections. If you’re feeling fancy, lotus and jasmine teas are considered delicacies because they are difficult to produce. Green tea leaves are placed meticulously within the flowers where they soak in the essence of the bloom, after which the tea is packaged for consumption. Some teas even include lotus petals themselves. No trip to Asia is complete without soaking in the atmosphere from a street-side tea stall, so get sipping!

Where to go:

Lamdong: Lamdong is the home of the some of the oldest trees in Vietnam, some dating back to more than 1,000 years ago. This part of the country is overrun with tea plants, so visit this area to get a glimpse into Vietnamese tea production. Artichoke tea, called trà atiso, is the most famous kind of drink produced in the Lamdong region.

∴ In addition, Tea is actually served at almost every local restaurant. You will see a big jar of tea, waiting for you, for free, on every table. When the weather is hot, the tea will be served with huge cubes of ice, and they will drink it, with no sugar at all, from a beer glass. You can enjoy it on every meal :-).

Honoring Ancestors

Most Western cultures emphasize individual successes and independence, while Eastern traditions are rooted in collectivist principles like family and cooperation. One common Eastern phenomenon is the multi-generational household, which exemplifies the central aspect of family in collectivist nations. For example, Vietnamese people erect altars in their homes and prepare daily offerings to honor their ancestors, taking special care to celebrate them during the full moon. The Vietnamese believe that their ancestors have the power to bring good luck long after their deaths. As you explore Vietnamese cities and villages alike, you will discover temples and altars tucked into every nook and cranny, as the Vietnamese perpetually offer fruit, photographs, candles, wine, and even money to their ancestors.

Where to go:

Hanoi: Tran Quoc Pagoda is an exceptional example of a center of worship in Hanoi, but temples and altars pepper every inch of the country. Most temples in Vietnam will have altars where you can honor your own ancestors or place small offerings for your loved ones.


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

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!


Families planning a month-long trip to Vietnam should prepare themselves for the foodie adventure of a lifetime. Food is central to every aspect of life in Vietnam, and the scent and sizzle of delicious dishes being prepared provides the sensory backdrop to travels around this wonderfully colorful country.

It’s good news for foodie families with an eye on the budget, too – unless you’re absolutely intent on splashing some serious cash, there’s absolutely no need to blow the travel fund on eating out in Vietnam. With a handful of notable exceptions, family feasting in Vietnam is more about sampling delicious street food than formal dining at fancy restaurants, so there’s plenty of opportunity to give various foods a try without the risk of making an expensive mistake if the kids decide it’s not for them. Expect to pay the equivalent of a couple of dollars or less for a plateful of food.


? Vietnamese Fish Sauce

The kids may balk at the fishy flavors, but most grown up visitors find themselves developing an addiction to Nước Chấm, the salty fish sauce that is used as a dip for all manner of street snacks, lending the simplest of foods a rich umami flavor. The sauce is made with a number of different fish or even crab, but the ‘real deal’ is made with fermented anchovies, aged for several months in a barrel before the pungent liquor is extracted and mixed with garlic, vinegar, sugar and sometimes chilli, to create a sauce that is a vital component of Vietnamese dining.

Vietnamese food tends to be less fiery than other Southeast Asian cuisines, so there should be plenty for kids to get their teeth into – although those who like it hot can easily add a kick to their food thanks to the peppery sauces that accompany many dishes.

Kids with a taste for culinary adventure can even try chowing down on crickets and other beasties, while even those who are more timid in their tastes should be tempted by the bright and beautiful fruits, many of which are unheard of outside the country.

There are many regional variations to Vietnamese cuisine, so there’s little chance of getting bored on your month-long foodie trip. Pack those loose-fitting clothes, leave plenty of room in your suitcase for gourmet goodies to take home, and get ready for eating experiences that will reappear in your foodie dreams forever.

The Route

Visitors to Vietnam can follow a north-south route, or vice-versa. We’ve set out the north-south version here, flying into Hanoi rather than Saigon, but the same itinerary can be followed in reverse.


Although it’s often considered a less sophisticated city than southern foodie haven Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s capital is bursting with delicious dishes, many of which are prepared and served by the roadside. The city is also famous for its coffee, and your caffeine-fueled adventures in Hanoi should center largely around the beautiful Old Quarter, where characterful cafes abound.

There’s enough to keep you occupied in the city for at least four days and nights, so allow plenty of time in your schedule to discover the best of the eating and drinking scene. Be sure to check out Nam Dong market, which is notable for its che (sweet soups), which might be made with grapefruit and coconut milk, or chestnut, coconut and jackfruit served direct from the green coconut shell. Expect to pay the equivalent of around $1-2 dollars for a soup at the market.

Alongside the famous pho, the noodle-and-meat soup that is eaten with gusto at breakfast, Hanoi’s options include easy eats such as deep fried spring rolls, which can be dipped in spicy or fishy sauce if so desired. Even better news for kids – the legacy of French occupation has led to some enticing pastry shops – look out for spiced apple tarts and gato chuối (banana cake) served at famed cafes such as Cafe Loc Tai.

where to stay in Hanoi- family friendly accomodation

Ha Long Bay

Families in Vietnam should plan to take a couple of days’ trip to Ha Long Bay (cruises run from Hanoi, be sure to research the best options rather than booking on a whim), where the foodie adventures are all about supremely fresh fish and seafood, some of the best of which is served in kid-pleasing floating restaurants. The island-dotted bay offers plenty of scope for beach-hopping and cave-exploring, and most restaurants on ship and on shore will happily cook up chicken for those who don’t like fish.

? Ninh Binh Mountain Snails

If you’re in Ninh Binh during the August-May ‘snail season’, be sure to try the famous mountain snails. These hard-to-find critters live in limestone caves and grottoes, but will typically venture out in search of leaves during the rainy season. Considered a delicacy, the snails are cooked in a variety of ways – steamed with ginger and pungent lemongrass, or grilled with tamarind and/or garlic. The snails can be found at restaurants and street stalls during the rainy season. Check out the markets in Tam Diep the day after a heavy downfall, and you can chow down on snails for a dollar or less.

After a couple of overnight stopovers in Haiphong and  Ninh Binh (try the delicious charred rice here).

Hue, which you can either fly to or take an overnight train– both from Hanoi- is one of Vietnam’s foodie hotspots and one that merits a few nights’ stay. This handsome city, formerly the royal capital,  is known for a culinary scene that is fancier than elsewhere in Vietnam, with elaborate sweet confections, and dainty rice cakes such as banh beo. Heartier dishes include  bun bo Hue, a spicy, meaty broth that can be enjoyed at hole-in-the wall quan restaurants as well as more upscale spots.

from Hue you can take a direct bus or a train to Da Nang and then a bus/taxi to:

Hoi An

If you eat just one thing in Hoi An, make it banh mi. This famous Vietnamese sandwich is Hoi An’s best-known dish, and it’s a favorite with kids and adult alike. Sold at bakeries and on the street, it’s a baguette (that French influence again) typically filled with creamy pates, bbq pork and cold cuts as well as fresh, crisp vegetables. Just point at the ingredients you do and don’t want on your sandwich. For the best in town, locals will point you to the Phuong Banh Mi stand, on Hoang Dieu Street

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Da Nang

It’s easy to get here from hoi An as they’re so close to each other, just hop on a short bus that leaves Hoi An every half hour. Families may want to linger a few days to explore the beaches of Da Nang, and exploring the wealth of street food treats can be a time-consuming task in its own right, such is the appeal of of the foodie scene here. Navigating the maze of streets and the menus can be a challenge, but there are plenty of child-friendly options involving chicken and noodles, for picky eaters who don’t fancy pork skewers dipped into the pork-liver and hoisin sauce that characterizes Da Nang’s street food scene.

Ho Chi Minh/Saigon

for the last leg of this trip you can fly from Da Nang straight to Ho Chi Minh, or take the overnight train.

Somewhat confusingly, Vietnam’s largest city is known as Ho Chi Minh by some people and Saigon by others, but no matter what you choose to call it, there are plenty of delicious things to try here, as well as some relaxing spas to escape to and prepare for your return flight. The busy city streets are ablaze with activity seemingly 24/7, and there’s a dazzling array of different sweet and savory treats to sample. Theme parks, water parks and expansive botanical gardens are among the family-friendly attractions and the coffee, sweetened with condensed milk, will give you an energy boost for exploring the city. Of all the foodie treats in the city, be sure to visit the Lunch Lady in District 1. Made famous by Anthony Bourdain, this is  a long-standing favorite among locals, who line-up round the block for the daily noodle specials and summer rolls, cooked with flair before the drooling punters.

?  Try the food zone at Vincom B shopping mall. they have a delicious ice cream shop.

AND You must try the  ? smoothie counter (“the brothers”) in Bui Vien street, right in the heart of the tourist neighborhood in district 1. They mix fresh fruits (to your choice) with ice and sweet milk. costs- around 1$-1.5$.

Family friendly hotels in Ho chi minh city

In short:

Hanoi → ?/✈ ➡  Hue → ?/ ? + ? ➡  Hoi An → ?/?➡  Da Nanag → ?/✈ ➡  Ho Chi Minh City