Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

School terms keep kids in school and parents sane. Holidays can be boring to kids if they are left alone. Discuss vacation ideas and how to make good use of the free time for both children and adults.

Ho Chi Minh suitable for kids?

Postby tiredmummy1972 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:51 pm

Hi all,
Planning to do a short trip to Ho Chi Minh with my 4 kids- all below 12. youngest is 2yrs old. any interesting places there? thanks in advance for your tips and advices.

tiredmummy1972
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Re: Ho Chi Minh suitable for kids?

Postby iluvjr2 » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:35 pm

tiredmummy1972 wrote:Hi all,
Planning to do a short trip to Ho Chi Minh with my 4 kids- all below 12. youngest is 2yrs old. any interesting places there? thanks in advance for your tips and advices.


Hi

I will recommend you to do a private tour, something different from those busy tourist buses - Mekong Local for a day tour with Water Buffalo Tour. This tour is totally different from those commercial ones. We chose this tour because we wanted the children (aged 6 and 9) to experience the glimpse of the rural lives at the Mekong Delta. Bringing the visitor into experiencing the lives of a local was really experience for the children especially when our children live in a concrete jungle. The tour brings you to a off the beaten path experience. The guide spoke excellent English.

There are two water parks in HCM however, we did not visit them as water parks are pretty common in most countries.

I have good recommendations for dinning in HCM too. PM me if you need. :smile:

iluvjr2
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Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

Postby Dnls_mum » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:49 pm

I am planning a 12 days holiday to Hanoi, Halong and Sapa this November for our extended family of 10. We are chartering a cruise to ourselves with indochina Sails at Halong and arranging a private tour of Sapa. In Hanoi, we plan to visit the usual tourist attractions, museums, water puppet show, cyclo tours and a day tour to Hoa Lu/Tam Coc to see the Halong of the rice fields. Has anyone been to Hanoi and Sapa and do you have any recommended must eat restaurants or must go places?

Dnls_mum
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Re: Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

Postby Dnls_mum » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:44 pm

No restaurants to recommend?.....hmmmm...

How about West Lake? Is West Lake worth a visit while in Hanoi? Presently I have not included it in my itinerary, but I wonder if I should. Any views will be appreciated.

Dnls_mum
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Re: Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

Postby Dnls_mum » Sat Nov 30, 2013 4:00 pm

I have not seen much discussion on KSP on North Vietnam. Thought I should share my recent experience with everyone here. Hopefully it will give parents here a new travel destination to consider.

It was an family vacation comprising our family of 5, my sister's family of 3 and my parents. Total 10 of us.

Day 1: Singapore to Hanoi
We flew to Hanoi in the morning on SQ and arrived around 12 noon. We were picked up by our hotel. Took us an hour to get to the Old Quarters where our hotel, Essence Hanoi Hotel, a boutique hotel, is located. The hotel has lovely clean rooms and tasteful decor. Glad we followed the recommendations on Tripadvisoran picked this hotel. it is also conveniently located in the centre of the Old Quarters, and so convenient to walk to the many streets of the Old Quarters.

After check in and a short rest, we took a short walk to the Hoem Kiem Lake nearby. Lots of shops along the way to distract us. It was our first experience with the busy Hanoi traffic. Crossing the roads was an adventure in itself. It was a Sunday and it was very crowded. We decided to continue exploring the shops instead of jostling with the crowd to take pictures along the lake. We will comeback again on a weekday to visit the lake.

That evening, we went to Quan An Ngon for dinner. Quan An Ngon is a Marche style restaurant selling Vietnamese street food from all over Vietnam. It is a good place to experience Vietnamese street food in a clean and comfortable environment without fear of getting food poisoning. The restaurant has outdoor and indoor seatings. We were urshered indoors on this visit. You can order from the menu or walk around the stalls outside to see what you want. We ordered Bun Bo Nam Bo (grilled beef with dry vermicelli), pho, Banh Xeo ( a central Vietnam pancake that we enjoyed tremendously on our previous visit to Hoi An), spring rolls etc. We enjoyed our dinner.

Day 2: Ninh Binh & Overnight train to Sapa
This morning, we had an early start. Drove 2 1/2 hours or so to Ninh Binh. On arrivals, we visited Hoa Lu, the ancient capital city of Vietnam's Dinh Dynasty. Then it was off for a local lunch. Very local as it is pretty out of he way and the food was very simple but expensive! We had never eaten such tough beef and chicken! No fats in these meat at all and my kids call them the Olympic chicken and cow!

After lunch, we visited Trang An, also known as Halong Bay on land. It is a gathering of valleys and water caves. We went on a 2-3 hour row boat trip to the caves. Visited 9 caves in all. We took 3 row boats. Each row boat can take 4 comfortably. The rowers were ladies who row with the hands and even legs! The scenery here is beautiful and very peaceful. An enjoyable way to while away an afternoon. Trang An is actually an alternative to the more popular Tam Coc nearby. But Tam Coc is more touristy, and has lots of peddlers trying to sell you their wares while you are on the boat. That's why we decided on Trang An instead. Glad we did that.

Then it was back to Hanoi for a quick dinner and shower before we catch our overnight train to Sapa that night. We ate at the Essence Cafe, the restaurant at our hotel. The food was good The Essence cafe is a very popular and recommended restaurant. It serves western as well as Vietnamese food. We had the Bun Cha ( pork with dry vermicelli), grapefruit salad, Cha Ca (fired fish with vermicelli and wrapped in rice paper).

Then it was off to catch the Victoria Express, our overnight train to Sapa. We had 3 private cabins. Each cabin can sleep 4 people. The beds were comfortable, with duvets. We were each given a bottle of water, face towel and a toothbrush packed in a pretty drawstring bag, and bedroom sleepers. We all had a good night sleep. We were glad to have chosen the Victoria Express. There are cheaper train cars by other companies, but when we saw the other train cars as we were walking to our train car, we had no regrets paying more for the Victoria Express. There is only one locomotive pulling all the different train cars of different companies. The Victoria Express is only for guests staying at the Victoria Hotel in Sapa and not available to non hotel guests.

To be continued.....

Dnls_mum
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Re: Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

Postby Dnls_mum » Sat Nov 30, 2013 10:19 pm

Boat ride in Trang An
Image
Image


To be continued.....

Dnls_mum
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Re: Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

Postby Dnls_mum » Sat Nov 30, 2013 10:37 pm

Day 3 : Coc Ly Market, Sapa
We arrived at Lao Cai Station past 9am. The train was 3 hours late because there were repair works being done of the tracks which has slowed the train down during the night. As we had taken the Victoria Express which had a restaurant car, we had bee served complimentary croissants and drinks prior to arrival.

We headed off immediately to Coc Ly market, the weekly market of the Flower Hmong tribe. The market was extremely colourful and there was also a buffalo market. This is a weekly market whereby the Flower Hmong tribe do their trades.

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Image

Different tribes have different market days. The Coc Ly market is on Tue.

After our market visit, we headed for lunch before taking the one hour drive from Lao Cai to Sapa. We checked in to the Victoria Sapa, and had a rest before heading out to explore Sapa town in the evening and to get some dinner.

It was cold and foggy with a light rain drizzle. All the shops in Sapa town was selling fake North Face stuff and local handicrafts. Beware that some stuff are actually machine made and came from China. The local stuff made by the minority tribes are more costly than the China stuff and also the designs are more rustic and less refine than the machine made ones from China.

We decided on grilled meat and rice at Nature's Bar and Grill. The restaurant has an open log fire and which was much welcomed on this cold night. Outdoor temperature was down to 8 degrees Celsius.

To be continued.....

Dnls_mum
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Re: Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

Postby Dnls_mum » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:27 am

Day 4:Lao Chai & Tavan villages & Silver Waaterfall
This morning started misty and with a light drizzle. We headed off to Lao Chai village of the Black Hmong tribe and TaVan village of the Red Dao tribe. The villages are nestled among the rice terraces.

Image

Very beautiful. Total track is about 5km. Mostly downhill. Weather was cold but as we walk, we warmed up from the exercise. The villages were celebrating teachers days so we saw kids gathered outside the school. Each one brought their own stools to sit on.

After the cold morning walk, we headed to Sapa Lotus restaurant for a hot pot lunch. It was much welcomed on this cold day. The soup base was similar to Tom Yum soup but not spicy. They use lots of lemongrass, tomatoes and pineapple. Very yummy!

After lunch, we went to Silver waterfall. Unfortunately, due to the mist, we could not see the top of the waterfall. :sad: The walk up the waterfall was quite tiring, there were more than 100 steps.

Thereafter, it was back to the hotel to rest and wash up before our surprise birthday celebration for our mum at the hotel's TaVan restaurant. We even have a cake all ready! Cake was yummy. We learned during this trip that the cakes in Vietnam are light and not too sweet. Just right for us! :please: as for food at TaVan, we felt the Vietnamese set was better than the western set. This was what we observed during the trip. Always safer to go for Vietnamese even if the restaurant serves western. Not that the western food is bad, but somehow not as well done as we are used to in Singapore.

To be continued......
Last edited by Dnls_mum on Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

Postby starlight1968sg » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:34 am

Dnls_mum,
Thanks for sharing and my dh has always been keen to go to Vietnam but I hesitate due to various concerns/reasons.
Yours was DIY?
Thanks.

starlight1968sg
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Re: Travel : Vietnam - Hanoi & the North

Postby Dnls_mum » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:51 am

starlight1968sg wrote:Dnls_mum,
Thanks for sharing and my dh has always been keen to go to Vietnam but I hesitate due to various concerns/reasons.
Yours was DIY?
Thanks.


Hi starlight1968sg,
I planned the trip myself, but as there were 10 of us, we arranged for a private tour with a travel agent in Hanoi. They arranged the Sapa trip and the Ninh Binh tour and a Hanoi city tour for us, customising them to my requests. I know they can customise tours for just a couple or a small family too. But pricewise may be more ex compared to our group of 10. We have economies of scale! :boogie: Somehow I don't think we are skilled enough to drive in Vietnam. Think India, but slightly better :sweat:

For the Halong Bay cruise which I will come to soon in my review, we chartered the Valentine Junk, a 5 cabin luxury junk from Indochina Sails. It just happened that there were 10 of us and the 5 cabin junk was just right. If you are just a family of 3 or 4, then perhaps get 1 or 2 cabin on the 15-20 cabins Indochina sails junk or if you prefer a private junk, they have a 2 cabin Valentine 2 as well.

Dnls_mum
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