13 Days, 4 Cities: Hanoi, Da Nang, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City
At the prehistoric Ha Long Bay – another UNESCO World Heritage site checked off our list with the kids.
Kayaking at Ha Long Bay. A great way to enhance a family trip to Vietnam. Watch our video here.
“13 days in Vietnam? What can you do there for so many days?”
“Is Vietnam family-friendly?”
“Is Vietnam safe for kids?”
These were some of the questions we were asked when we told friends and family that we were doing an ‘epic’ 13-days Vietnam trip. Most people have done shorter trips to Vietnam (either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh) and those who do, would usually do it without young kids.
A Hanoi special – We found an alternative ‘Train Street’. Watch video here.
So why did we do such a long trip to Vietnam with kids?
As working parents, we want to maximise our year-end leave. Since we will already be in Vietnam, we decided to linger longer to see more of the country. As it turned out, this plan paid off handsomely!
Riding a water buffalo in Hoi An – This will certainly go down the kids’ memories!
With one set of return air-tickets coupled with 2 domestic flights, we were able to experience the breadth and depth of this beautiful country, from its northern gateway of Hanoi, down to Central Vietnam Da Nang, Hoi An and finally ending in the South, Ho Chi Minh City.
Ba Na Hills. Rain didn’t dampen our spirits because we had an excellent guide! Watch our video here.
You know you’re in good hands when you’re led by Mr. Vincent, our local Hoi An Guide.
With our trustworthy and friendly Mr. Vincent. We share his contact in the table below.
As it turns out, Vietnam is so family-friendly. From military jeep tours to the astounding acrobatic cultural show (think Cirque Du Soleil) and yes, the unforgettable Cu Chi Tunnel Tour plus kayaking at Ha Long Bay in the overnight cruise, our kids relished every experience we planned in Vietnam.
A trip to Ho Chi Minh City is never complete without visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels.
Hanoi City Tour on a Military Jeep! What an incredible experience! Thanks to our Hanoi Hotel Concierge for recommending.
In addition to these ‘touristy’ experiences, we learnt about Vietnam’s war history including how they fought for independence from the French colonisers. A visit to Vietnam was historically and culturally eye-opening for all of us (adults included). In fact, this trip inspired many questions from my kids about Communism and War etc…topics that they may eventually discover through History lessons but now learn about them firsthand. Priceless!
At the unforgettable InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula.
The exceptional InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula deserves a review on its own. Watch this space.
Parting shot from our luxurious suite at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. 3 Days is too short!
‘Epic’ DIY 13 Days Vietnam Itinerary
We share our ‘Epic’ DIY 13 Days Vietnam Itinerary hoping that it will be a useful guide for more families to experience this wonderful country.
|Day||City||Itinerary (with Hyperlinks For Easy Bookings)|
|1||Singapore to Hanoi||Arrive in Hanoi in the evening. Check into La Siesta Classic Ma May Hotel. (https://lasiestahotels.vn/mamay/). Explore old quarter on foot. Dinner at Red Bean Restaurant (within the hotel) – Highly Recommended!|
|2||Hanoi||Morning walk around the Hoan Kiem Lake. Join the Half-day afternoon Army Jeep Backstreet Tour. Watch Long Water Puppet Show in the evening (Booked via Klook).|
|3||Ha Long Bay Cruise||2D1N Ha Long Bay Cruise (Booked via Hanoi Hotel Concierge)|
|4||Ha Long Bay – Hanoi||End cruise and return to Hanoi. Visit Hanoi Cathedral and ‘Hanoi Hilton’ (Hỏa Lò Prison). Enjoy late lunch at ‘Obama Bun Cha’ in Hanoi.|
|5||Hanoi to Da Nang (Flight)||Take Domestic Flight via Vietnam Airlines to Da Nang. Check into luxury 5-star Intercontinental Danang, Sun Peninsula Resort (https://www.danang.intercontinental.com/). Free and easy in resort.|
|6||Da Nang||Explore hotel breakfast, experience guest facilities and activities such as Hotel Gym, Coffee Art Class, Planet Trekkers Kids Club, Pizza Making and Spa.|
|7||Da Nang to Hoi An||Check out of Da Nang, transfer to the charming La Siesta Hoi An Resort (https://lasiestaresorts.com/). Visit Hoi An Old Town, try Hoi An Street Food (especially Banana Nutella Pancake!). Enjoy dinner at Morning Glory Restaurant (yummy!) and take the river boat ride to admire the lanterns at night.|
|8||Hoi An||Hoi An Tour with Buffalo Ride and Basket Boat Ride (Booked via Klook). Join Lantern Making Class (Booked via Klook). Watch Teh Dar Cultural Acrobatic Show by Lune Productions (Booked via Klook).|
|9||Hoi An (Ba Na Hills)||Join the Full Day Ba Na Hills Tour with Mr. Vincent from Hoi An Cham Cham Travel. Highly recommended! Contact Mr. Vincent via Whatsapp at +84 93 194 48 53.|
|10||Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City (Flight)||Take Domestic Flight via Vietnam Airlines to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and take a taxi to Fusion Suites Hotel (www.fusion-suites.com). Enjoy dinner in hotel. They have a really nice cafe.|
|11||HCMC||Join the morning City Day Tour with Saigon 2CV or a Vietnamese Cooking Class. Evening, join Saigon Street Food and Sightseeing Night Tour with Aodai Riders (Booked via Klook).|
|12||HCMC||Join the morning Cu Chi Tunnel Tour via Speedboat (Booked via Klook). Afternoon, explore Ho Chi Minh City Free and Easy. Visit Ben Thanh Market, Saigon Square and go Café Hopping at Saigon Café Apartments.|
|Last Day||HCMC – SIN||Go on the Hop On, Hop Off Bus of Ho Chi Minh City (Booked via Klook). Check out and proceed to Airport for flight back to Singapore. Bye Vietnam!|
The kids took ‘turns’ on the Basket Boat in Hoi An. Fun!
Lantern making lessons in Hoi An. We made lanterns for our home! A unique souvenir.
We share some key essentials that helped made our epic DIY trip to Vietnam special.
5 Essentials When Planning for a Vietnam Trip:
- Let the fingers do the booking: There are tons of local tours in Vietnam. To book a good and enjoyable experience, we turned to our trusted Klook app. In fact, a large part of our tours were booked conveniently using Klook. Some of the tours were booked just on the morning itself in Vietnam due to spontaneous change in plans. That’s the flexibility DIY trips provide families.
We caught the world famous ‘Teh Dar’, a riveting cultural acrobatic show in Hoi An. Book early!
We were also able to cancel some pre-booked activities and had our deposit refunded immediately when we had to change plans due to poor weather. Certainly, these are all subjected to prevailing T&Cs but to know that it’s that easy, is reassuring. As a family who plans DIY trips with our kids on the go, we’ve always found booking via Klook seamless, convenient and 100% reliable.
Lantern Boat tour along the Hoai River in Hoi An. We booked ours conveniently with Klook.
2. Connect and Convert Conveniently : We have always used the Wi-Fi routers from Changi Recommends to stay connected whenever we travel. Even more so in Vietnam where connectivity is essential since virtually everyone from Grab drivers to hotel concierges use WhatsApp messages to stay in touch. This allows us to coordinate with our travel partners without the need to meddle with SIM cards or top-up values when we travel the length and breadth of the country.
We never ‘leave home’ without first getting these essentials from Changi Recommends! Fuss-free and dependable!
Changi Recommends’ routers allows multiple devices to log in, making it economical for the whole family to consolidate our Wi-Fi usage to one reliable device. The strong and fast connectivity allows us to be less dependent on hotel or ‘free’ WI-FI services.
In addition to Wi-Fi routers, we have converted to using Changi Recommends Foreign Exchange Services. With its competitive rates, we could change our foreign currency online from the comfort of home and pick it up from any of the Changi Recommends Counters at Changi Airport on the day we travel. This eliminates the need to purposely make time to withdraw cash from ATM machines, then queue at Money Changers. Life-changing for frequent travellers!
Cave tour at Ha Long Bay. We even had Wi-Fi signal here thanks to Changi Recommends’ WiFi router!
3. Go ‘Topless’: Ho Chi Minh City is infamous for its sheer amount of motorbikes! So, to maximise our stay, we booked the Saigon 2CV Tour which brought us around the city in an open top vintage Citroen (CV2) vehicle to take in the sights, sounds and smell of the bustling Ho Chi Minh City!
The iconic ‘Pink Church’ in Ho Chi Minh City, thanks to Saigon 2CV Tour, we were able to visit iconic sites easily!
The tour brought us to many local sights outside of District 1 (such as the pretty ‘Pink Church’!) but best of all, was the interactions with our local guide who told us about the rich history of Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). We were drawing friendly stares and waves even from the locals as we cruised the streets in the open top vintage car. If it’s not for this tour, we really wouldn’t have had experienced Saigon the way we did! Seriously cool!
Probably the best way to experience Ho Chi Minh City as a family! In a classic Citroen!
4. Give it to the Concierge: One of the challenges of planning a DIY trip is that we are not familiar with the locales and geography of the country. This is where our concierge from Hotel La Siesta Classic Ma May comes in. Ms. Kaylee recommended all our tours while in Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hoi An. She even helped us fine-tune our itinerary with a more realistic sequence. We are truly grateful for this excellent service we have received from Hotel La Siesta Classic Ma May even before we touched foot in Vietnam! From this trip, we found their communication always prompt, polite, professional and most of them speak really fluent English! We really can’t recommend this La Siesta hotel chain enough.
We miss their smile and service. Exceptional!
La Siesta Hotel Ma May. Our first hotel on our first trip to Vietnam. Left an indelible impression!
5. Couple Time: One thing about Vietnam is that there are a myriad of short, unique and inexpensive tours that one can experience. So, when we found ourselves with nothing to do one evening, we turned to our Klook app and booked a Saigon Night Food Tour with Aodai Rider. Little did we know that this spontaneous tour became one of the most memorable highlights of Vietnam for the hubby and I!
Not only were we able to taste authentic Vietnamese street-food at places where locals would queue up to eat, we were energised by the tales told by these 2 young, hardworking ladies in their Aodai costumes while riding pillion on their bikes as we meandered through the millions of motorbikes in downtown Saigon! It’s also my very 1st time riding a motorbike! I was holding on to my Aodai driver for dear life initially but this experience altered our core memories of Vietnam forever! We give it 10/10 stars!
Definitely a highlight – Savoring local street food with these two ladies on their bikes! We miss them!
‘Xin Cao’ (Thank you) Vietnam. You’ve touched our hearts. We will be back!
Our epic 13-days Vietnam trip made us appreciate the wonderful contrasts that Vietnam offers. We were touched by the genuinely warm and sincere hospitality, from the hotel staff to our Ba Na Hills Guide and not forgetting the 2 indefatigable Aodai ladies who brought us on a night food tour on their motorbikes. We have fallen in love with Vietnam and will return in a heartbeat.
Vietnam – our 17th country with our kids. Check out all our global-trotting experience on our blog here.
If you’ll like to have a downloadable itinerary of Vietnam, do email us at [email protected] or DM us on our IG accounts @lifestinymiracles and @doting_dad. We hope our travelogue will inspire you to visit Vietnam one day 🙂