by Cheyenne Johnson
I took my 10 year old son to Vietnam over Spring Break and it has been our favorite vacation in Southeast Asia! We visited Hanoi, Tam Coc in Nihn Bihn Province, Halong Bay, Cat Ba National Park and Hoi An. We took advantage of a cruise, stayed in hotels and visited a local homestay. It was a great mix of activities to ensure a memorable vacation.
Tours and Packages
I used Best Price Travel to book our Halong Bay Cruise and Tam Coc full day trips. Both trips included transportation from our hotel in the Old Quarter Hanoi to our destinations, and back to our hotel. Best Price Travel added a free walking food tour in Hanoi and Vietnam Visa prep at no cost when booking a package. They were very easy to work with, professional, and the prices could not be beat. All tour guides and drivers associated with our packages were phenomenal.
Halong Bay Cruise
We traveled with Orchid Cruises for two days and one night. The boat was small and our first day only had 14 people and 30 on our second day. The cruise included an excursion to Cat Ba National Park to visit a limestone cave, swimming in Halong Bay, kayaking, squid fishing, a cooking class and sunrise tai chi class. The food was some of the best we’ve ever had! The boat also had a spa, but I didn’t have time to take advantage of it. The cruise consisted of our group son/mother, a family of 7, a couple on their honeymoon, and a couple celebrating their 35th anniversary, and each of us felt the cruise met all our needs and exceeded our expectations.
For our full day tour here, we visited a local family homestay. We met the family that consisted of 4 generations and had tea service upon arrival. We then traveled by bike with a guide through rice fields and limestone mountains for what we thought was 8km but ended up being 19km. I thought it was incredible, but my 10 year old would have been content with the 8 km route. After the bike tour, we returned to the family and enjoy lunch prepared by them. The final portion of the tour was a 2 hour boat trip on the Ngo Dong River paddled by local farmers through limestone caves and along limestone mountains. This area is called the “Halong Bay on Land.” We stopped at several temples throughout the day as well.
We stayed at the Palmy Hotel and Spa in Old Quarter Hanoi before and after our cruise. Transportation from the airport to the hotel was arranged through the hotel. They stored our extra suitcases while we were away on our cruise. We preferred the location of this hotel as it was tucked back off of a main street, but was walking distance to all the things we wanted to see in the Hoan Kiem Lake area. We used the Grab app to go to other locations in Hanoi (Railroad Street and Hanoi Hilton).
The remainder of our week was spent in Central Vietnam in Hoi An at the Sunrise Premium Resort & Spa Hoi An. We booked a special package on booking.com that included breakfast. We had an absolute blast at this resort. They had several daily activities for adults and kids, a kids club and a spa. It is located about 20 minutes away from the ancient city area of Hoi An.
Tips and Advice
I bought a SIM card at the airport in Hanoi for $9, used it all week, and still had data left over. The Grab app was very easy to use and was much cheaper and easier than dealing with taxis. Average prices of some common foods and activities were: 1 hour massages ($12-$18), 1kg of fresh fruit ($1-$4), a bowl of pho ($1-$4), beer ($1-$2.50), Grab rides in the city ($1-$3).
There are so many ways to plan and prepare for your visit to ensure you have a great time. We were very happy with the tours and packages we selected on this trip. My son and I both enjoyed this trip immensely and highly recommend it to other families.
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