Vietnam with kids
August 16, 2007 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Anyone have any words of advice regarding the wisdom of traveling to Vietnam with our two twin seven year old daughters in March?

I'm mildly concerned that things are going to be too chaotic for the kids, unplanned waits, difficult transport connections etc. They're adventurous and outgoing, they thrive in unusual situations, but I have slight fears that Vietnam is too adventurous and would require them to be too outgoing.

My wife and I have traveled to both China (Beijing and HK) and Bali without kids, and I'd be comfortable with kids in either of those places, how different would Vietnam be?

We picked Vietnam for a couple reasons, the kids love Vietnamese food pho, banh mi and spring rolls are readily available everywhere so I understand so that would make food easy (as opposed to China, where I was never 100% certain what I was eating, "what's that we're eating daddy? "Uhhh...some kid of animal I think...or at least the same thing that the table next to us has, I pointed at because it looked good and it is.") And the beaches I understand are spectacular. Itinerary would be a couple nights in Saigon, couple nights in the Mekong delta and then a week at a beach resort in the middle of the country. Then likely home with a couple day stopover in Taipei. Perhaps an overnight quick fly in/out to Ankor Wat.

Anyone done anything similar to this with kids? I suspect it's probably easy and fantastic, but need someone to reassure me.
posted by Keith Talent to Travel & Transportation around Vietnam (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wonder if trying to learn some Vietnamese phrases together might help them feel more comfortable...if they can ask "what's that?" and know a few greetings, I imagine local people will be thrilled that they're trying and will go out of their way to be helpful. Maybe this might be a way around the fact that some kids are naturally curious, but might be afraid to shower listeners with the usual barrage of questions if they worry about making a mistake with the language. I teach English as a second language, and I've found that picture flash cards are a good way for kids to memorize simple nouns. Perhaps enlist the helpful folks at the local banh mi place to help you with pronunciation?

Amazon has a few things that look good, like this book of Vietnamese folk tales and a sing-along CD of Vietnamese kid songs.

And kudos to you both for taking the kids somewhere awesome.
posted by mdonley at 1:43 PM on August 16, 2007

I was in Vietnam in January. If you're an experienced traveler (and it sounds like you are), you shouldn't have any problems. The scariest part was the traffic. Most places are very tourist-friendly, especially in Saigon. The delta and the beaches are awesome. We visited Vung Tao, but I really wanted to go to Phu Quoc.

I'd be happy to answer some basic questions if ya have 'em.
posted by gnutron at 2:02 PM on August 16, 2007

You might find some helpful information from the Andrus family over at Two parents traveled around the world with 4 young kids. They have 21 posts from Vietnam alone, including the Top 6 Things For Families to do in Vietnam.
posted by nitsuj at 2:33 PM on August 16, 2007

make sure you get _all_ of the immunizations and meds! kids can have a hard time with the anti-malarial pills (they're big, or used to be), so make sure you have that under control. Malaria can be a real problem to treat in kids.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:37 PM on August 16, 2007

I'd second the notion of the traffic - crossing the streets of Hanoi or Saigon is literally a death-defying feat. I have seen people (tourists) frozen at a cross-walk, trying to get enough guts to make it across the street. The trick is to go, but go slowly and steadily and the scooters will somehow dodge you.

The Vietnamese are extremely friendly and family-friendly, so they will probably be happy to see your kids. Definitely learn the basics of hello and thank you and it will go a long way. Ask a local to teach you and you'll have a friend for life.

And you're right, the food there will knock your socks off.
posted by HeyAllie at 2:52 PM on August 16, 2007

here is the CDC's travel health web-page for travelling in vietnam. it lists what immunizations you should consider, and tons of other information to stay healthy while there.
posted by Flood at 3:18 PM on August 16, 2007

Thailand, Laos and Vietnam are all terrifically child-friendly and the kids will be the star of every small village you visit, and they'll make plenty of friends wherever they go.

I had problems with traffic in Bangkok, which is admittedly not nearly as bad as Saigon. However, grab the sleeve of a local and follow along and you'll be good.

I'm so jealous of you. I think it will be a wonderful trip.
posted by luriete at 4:17 PM on August 16, 2007

Recommended vaccinations and prophylaxis drugs.

Read especially the section on malaria.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:29 PM on August 16, 2007

One thing if you're travelling from Saigon to the middle of the country, it might be a lot nicer to take a train rather than a bus. I took a few overnight trains to get from Saigon to Hanoi, and they were really nice.
posted by einarorn at 4:45 PM on August 16, 2007

Yes, you'll have a great time. Seven is old enough that the kids won't be jumping into the middle of traffic, or doing other similar things you might be worried about.
I backpacked in Vietnam over a dozen years ago, and I didn't encounter any delays, unplanned waits, etc. Transportation was extremely smooth. Any difficulty I had stemmed from being a young single female traveling alone. Since you'll be a family unit, you and the mrs. won't have to deal with them.
Vietnam was one of the most wonderful places I had ever been to, and enjoyed it tremendously more than China, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. But like I said, this was over a dozen years ago, so things might have changed. . .
posted by jujube at 5:09 PM on August 16, 2007

Your kids are going to have to be prepared to be the centre of attention wherever they go. Staring, pointing, touching etc. The fact that they are twins will only garner more attention. My guess is that your children will be feted like royalty wherever you go. It's not creepy, but it will be pretty constant. Vietnam is a great choice for kids.

If you can do it, I would advise you to avoid the bus system. It has the capacity to be pretty fucking terrifying. Overnight sleeper trains with cabins for 4 would be a great option if you can schedule it.
posted by tim_in_oz at 10:00 PM on August 16, 2007

We took our 6yro girl, and 1 & 4yro boys to Thailand in May. This was our first trip to an Asian country with the kids.
Overall, it was great, the kids caused no problems and had a terrific time.
The kids were the center of attention everywhere, as others have advised, and my two young blonde boys got a bit sick of being touched by strangers all the time.
That said, I found people much more approachable as the kids were a bridge, so I had much more contact with run of the mill locals than I have had in the past as an adult.
I have a pretty relaxed attitude to travel, and am happy in locals street markets or wandering around in non-tourist areas but we didn't have any issues.
I would also suggest that the travel health web sites are somewhat paranoid, a little common sense goes a long way.
posted by bystander at 11:32 PM on August 16, 2007

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