Central Vietnam with Children

I've always wanted to visit Hoi An - old world charm, yellow dirty walls, travelling in boats and bicycles and foot. Not to mention, it is in Vietnam which has some of the best street foods.

Somehow, we never managed to plan a trip there, till now, with 2 children in tow! Was a little reluctant at first - a cultural trip with an erratic almost 2.5-year-old toddler and a 4-month-old baby. In the end, after considering various other countries, we decided to go, but spend a longer time there and take it slow with lots of breaks and naps.

So here are the details of our 7 days Hoi An trip with 2 children in tow, in July 2017.

1 country - Vietnam
4 cities - Danang, Hoi An, My Son, Hue
7 days
6 nights
3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Hoi An Ancient Town
- My Son Sanctuary
- Complex of Hue Monuments

DAY 1 - FLIGHT TO DANANG - HOI AN

An early morning flight at 9am means waking up before sunrise! Not the best timing for flights with children, but as there are limited (direct) flights to Danang, we didn't have a choice.

Our hotel provided free transfer from the airport to Hoi An, where we will be staying for 4 nights. We chose Lantana Hoi An Boutique Hotel & Spa as it was relatively near the old town, where we plan to visit often.

As we were still early and our room were not ready, we headed out for lunch at Mai Fish Restaurant. It was a relatively up scale restaurant, with lots of local food options. The price was generally high, and the food was average.


The afternoon was spent resting in the hotel, and to let the children nap. The husband, on the other hand, was eager to explore the town a little, and he came back with the famous Banh Mi Phuong. It was tasty and spicy, with lots of different things inside.


We walked around the town in the evening and were surprised by the number of people there. Was it because it was a Sunday? Or was this the normal crowd in Hoi An? After a few days there, it seemed that the town really had lots of tourists every single day!

DAY 2 - HOI AN

This was the day where we started our exploration of the Hoi An old town. With its yellow walls, a little grey and dirty parts, some plants dotting the buildings, Hoi An was as promised. It was easy to capture many picturesque shots.

Even with a short rest in the hotel after lunch, we managed to cover a few of the tourist spots - Japanese Covered Bridge, Tan Ky House, Fukian Assembly Hall and Quan Cong Mieu. Many of them had Chinese influence so they were relatively familiar in terms of the architecture and style.


Lunch was at the famous Morning Glory Restaurant, which seemed to be recommended by almost everyone. The food did not disappoint and there were lots of options to sample local food. If you plan to be here for dinner, do make a reservation as the queue may be quite long for dinner.

In between the sightseeing, we had coffee at Hoi An Roastery, our one and only cafe stop during the trip! Somehow, with the 2 children in tow and wanting to visit as many places as we can, we did not manage to chill and relax as much as we wanted to!


We had dinner at Hai Cafe, whose menu seemed to be catered to Westerners - there were pizza, pasta and grills. So, was not really the right choice for us who absolutely love Vietnamese food!

DAY 3 - MY SON

A tropical storm brought the rain to us and we were armed with umbrellas for our day trip to My Son Sanctuary. Note to self: bring raincoats and stroller cover when going to a country that may rain.

It was definitely difficult to walk around in the rain, and with the baby in a carrier and holding a big enough umbrella to cover the both of us. Luckily Ed slept most of the time! Must be the sound of the rain and the cool weather. Em was in the stroller as much as the road allowed, and when she was out of the stroller, she wanted to be carried, or walked by herself with the umbrella, splashing water. We were not able to appreciate the ruins as much as we would like to, but given an option of not going there versus what we experienced, I would still choose to go.

My Son was definitely not as impressive as some of the other ruins around the region, namely Angkor Wat. So, if ruins are not high on your travel to do list, you can consider giving My Son a miss.



DAY 4 - HOI AN

A "bonus" day included in the trip for us to do anything we want. Due to the limited direct flights available, we stayed an additional day in Hoi An. There were various options to spend another day in Hoi An - An Bang Beach, Tra Que Vegetable Village and trip to fishing village.

However, we opted for another day in the old town - shopping, eating and relaxing. Managed to buy quite a bit though bargaining was required (which I absolutely hated).

We had lunch at Ly Cafe for the best meal we had in Hoi An, and the most reasonable too. Dinner was at Cargo, a sister restaurant of Morning Glory, serving similar food but with Western food options.


DAY 5 - HOI AN TO HUE

With a pre-arranged tour from Hoi An to Hue, the three hour journey were broken up nicely with stops along the way.

Marble Mountain - Thankful for the lift that allowed us to go up the mountain without climbing hundreds of stairs. Only managed to see one section of the mountain the floor were wet and slippery and the other parts were far away (which means no lift!).


My Khe Beach - The sand was smooth and the beach was clean, but the sun was too hot as we reached there around noon. Just spent a short while for Em to play with the sand. Lots of activities to do if you're a beach person!


Hai Van Pass - Made famous by Top Gear, many tourists were on motorcycles. Definitely a very picturesque road to use for travelling to Hue, albeit being the longer route.


Seafood lunch at Lap An Lagoon - A rainy day meant that we couldn't really appreciate the beauty of the lagoon, while enjoying our seafood lunch. Not very cheap and so, we did not have lots to eat!

We reached our hotel in Hue in the afternoon. Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort and Spa was a huge sprawling hotel off the city centre.

DAY 6 - HUE

Another day tour to visit some of the important monuments in the city of Hue that were also recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

We visited Khan Dinh Tomb, Minh Mang Tomb, Thien Mu Pagoda and the Citadel. It even included a boat trip down the Perfume River on a "dragon boat" (a boat with a dragon head). Em still talked about the dragon boat occasionally!


We had lunch at Hanh Restaurant, and we probably ordered everything in their menu. Extremely satisfying lunch with lots of new food that we would not find in Vietnamese restaurants overseas.


DAY 7 - HUE - DANANG WITH FLIGHT HOME

The 2-hour journey from Hue to the Danang International Airport was broken down with a trip to the Elephant Spring/Waterfall. A cascading waterfall, with an elephant sculpture of course, with lots of stalls set up for resting and changing. Very clean water for a refreshing dip!


We stopped again at Lap An Lagoon, and this time, the weather cooperated, and it was just beautiful.


And we took the evening flight home, ending our trip in Central Vietnam. All in all, we managed to do most of what we have planned, and it probably went better than I have anticipated! Yes, there were meltdowns, and yes, some days were hard managing the two children. However, like I always say, staying home taking care of them may also include meltdowns, so why not have those in another country!

Walking along Kloof Street

{ April 2014 - Cape Town, South Africa }

After lunch at Cafe Paradiso, we walked along Kloof Street to The Company's Garden. It was an easy 20 minutes stroll (with lots of stops to snap photos) under the beautiful weather of Cape Town. Along the way, we saw why Cape Town was voted as the World Design Capital 2014. The shops' signs, the road signs, and just the city seems to be beaming with creativity! And that's just one street near where we were staying.

I remembered thinking, "I think I am going to like this city".

First lunch in Cape Town at Café Paradiso

{ April 2014 - Cape Town, South Africa }

Our first lunch in Cape Town set the standard for our meals in the city. The food was delicious and fresh at Café Paradiso, with an amazing view of the Table Mountain. The outdoor seats were casual yet charming, and the waiter was friendly and helpful. A perfect combination for a great casual lunch.


::: Footnotes :::

Café Paradiso
110 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel +27 21 423 8653. 

The Company's Garden on our first jet-lagged day in Cape Town

{ April 2014 - Cape Town, South Africa }

Before I went to Cape Town, I have heard that it is a beautiful city. Even then, that did not prepare me for what we experienced and felt on our trip there. We spent about 5 days in the city and that was probably just enough to really experience it.

We arrived in Cape Town after a 14 hours flight from Singapore, with a one hour layover in Johannesburg. We drove our rented car to our amazing apartment/hotel in Gardens, Cape Town. The view of the Table Mountain greeted us in almost every single turn, making such a wonderful backdrop to the city.

Feeling a little jet-lagged, we decided to take it slow for the day, having lunch and walking around the area, experiencing the city. We made our way to The Company's Garden. It is a small garden right in the middle of the city, with trees and flowers, and many scampering squirrels! Various buildings are situated around the garden, including the National Gallery, Library, Parliament and a cathedral. It was a lovely place to start our trip.


The squirrels (and birds)


The buildings

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