Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Kodomo Blog

Tips for a Family Trip to Ho Chi Minh

Renowned as a deeply historical yet brightly-lit city that is modernising quicker than you can say Good Morning Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is unlikely to spring to mind when thinking of holiday destinations to experience as a family unit. Yet year-on-year, families exploring Southeast Asia add it to their bucket list, looking to experience the charming culture, fascinating history and world of outdoor adventure Vietnam has to offer – here’s how to experience the best of Ho Chi Minh when travelling with kids.

Ho Chi Minh skyline

Image source: Flickr

Water puppetry

No trip to Vietnam would be complete without catching this intriguing 11th century art form in its birthplace. Although the performance takes place entirely in Vietnamese, securing front row seats to the event will keep the kids occupied as they soak up the laughs, music and, naturally, the stray water.

Get outdoors

There’s only so much history and culture kids can take in one go, so activity-based trips that combine both are the best way to help keep them interested. A Mekong cruise is a fantastic way to explore Vietnam’s verdant countryside and learn more about the locals’ way of life, as you sample the locally-produced honey and coconut candy with a side order of culture. For a more historical slant, take a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Although the realities of the war are hard-hitting and perhaps beyond the understanding of very young kids, the reward for their attention comes in the form of old war tanks and the opportunity to crawl through the 50 metres of tunnels open to tourists that the Vietnamese once used.

Ho Chi Minh Mekong River

Image source: Flickr

Dine like a Local

A busy local restaurant that’s jam packed with locals is usually a simple indicator of good food and should not be ignored. When doing as the locals do and indulging in classics such as pho and banh mi, make sure you stop to try what is guaranteed to be a big hit with the kids, Kem Xio – the mother of all Vietnamese desserts. Sticky rice and ice cream, usually coconut flavoured, is topped with coconut flakes to create a sweet treat of epic proportions. In fact, why not go dessert hopping? You’ll find plenty of ice cream, frozen yogurt and cupcake shops all over the city.

Ho Chi Minh dining

Image source: Flickr

Crossing the road

Before heading out onto the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh, give the family a full briefing on road-crossing etiquette and what to do in the event that you become separated amid the chaos. When crossing the roads, to avoid the hundreds of bikes that are careering towards you, always walk in a straight line as it’s easier for drivers to miss you. Stopping or changing direction is a proven way to end up in a cast with a hefty medical bill. If you do manage to lose anyone in the crowds, make sure they carry a card detailing the address of your hotel. Also, be aware that many roads here won’t have paths, so be vigilant.

Plan ahead

Where possible, book both excursions and hotels in advance, especially when staying in the city as the best hotels in Ho Chi Minh tend to fill up months ahead of peak season, particularly those with an outdoor swimming pool and central location. When taking longer journeys, book a private taxi. Air con and minimal time spent in traffic feeling hot and bothered is a luxury not to be underestimated.

Ho Chi Minh at night

Image source: Flickr

Prep accordingly

If you’re heading to the likes of the Mekong River, things like dengue fever are far more prominent, so bring protection against mosquitos and remember that kids love to scratch mosquito bites too, so relief is an essential. Sun block, hats and sleeves should all be top of the packing list, as due to heat and pollution it can be easier than usual to become dehydrated. That said, you’ll also need to prepare to get wet if you’re visiting during rainy season, so ensuring you have ponchos or a change of dry clothes when out and about is everything.

Ho Chi Minh bikes

Image source: Flickr

Take a cooking class

If you’re looking to take cover from the heat or even the rain, a cooking class is a fantastic idea when travelling with kids in tow. Not only is it an educational insight into the culinary traditions of a nation that highlights the differences between countries, but it’s a way for them to get hands on with the day’s activities and a huge bonus for parents, as you’ll sort out lunch in the process.

Use the cyclos to get around

A fun and novel way to get around is using the traditional Vietnamese cyclos. Fuelled by pedal power, passengers are offered front row seats. This is a really exciting way to see a city without having to drudge around on two feet with kids complaining every step of the way. You can even book an organised tour on a cyclo, passing the major highlights such as the Saigon Post Office, Reunification Palace and Notre Dam Cathedral.

Ho Chi Minh tuk tuk

Image source: Flickr