I visited Vietnam in October 2016, with my parents for their 25th anniversary. This was their first trip outside India. This was our first family trip outside India. This post is to help planning a family friendly trip in Vietnam.
The following was roughly our itinerary.
It was a day before mom’s birthday. After a small celebration/cake with friends at home, we headed to the airport to catch a flight to Vietnam. A very exciting week as due to Mom’s birthday and 25th anniversary of my parents.
Day 1: HCMC
Landing at Ho Chi Minh City around noon, we took an Uber to get to our AirBnb. (The Uber costed us ~80k, the yellow bus would have costed us much around the same (20k*3) to Pham Ngu Lao. Ubers were fairly new in Vietnam at that time, so they were insanely cheap. We even used Ubers to get between cities.)
After checking in, got some groceries, a sim card, beers etc. we walked to visit the Binh Tay market. We had plans to visit the War Remmants museum after that but we were too tired, and also had to make bookings for the Mekong Delta tour [which our AirBnb hosts helped with booking].
To our surprise, when we came back, there was a birthday card and a cake from the AirBnb host in the room. This was something very special. Experiences like these make some AirBnb stays very special. [I’ll definitely sign up as a host the day I buy a house]. I’m in touch with some of my AirBnb hosts, and the very friendly lady here is obviously one of them. We spent the entire evening with the host’s family and learning more about their family, culture, things to do in HCMC, and Vietnam in general.
That night, we wen to Eon Heli Bar at Bitexco Financial Tower. It’s a bar on the 52nd floor with great views of the city. Drinks weren’t expensive either (~200k for cocktail, ~90k for beer).
Day 2: Mekong Delta
Day trip to Mekong Delta. This was the highlight of the entire Vietnam trip. We did this via a tour booked via our AirBnb. This included a pickup/drop in a shuttle bus in the city, all boat rides and activities throughout the day.
One other great things about this tour was making friends with other travelers. I made a new friend who was visiting from Czech Republic. An year after this trip, when she visited US [I moved to US in 2016], I was able to host her at my place, and in 2019 when I visited Prague, I had a local host to stay with, and discover hidden gems of Prague.
Day 3: Nha Trang
This was a full day of relaxing in the beach town of Nha Trang. We stayed at Handy Holiday Apartment, which had some killer views from the room.
Day 4: Ba Ho falls
Day 5: Hanoi
Full day of walking around. Temple of Literature, Old quarter market, District 1 market etc.
My favorite part of this day was enjoying Hanoi’s local beer they sell at road side food stalls.
Day 6: Hanoi
As our trip was getting closer to ending, we spent the better part of the day in the local markets getting souvenirs.
Monday, Oct 17
We had booked our flight back to HCMC from Haiphong as our original plan was to visit Cat Ba as well, so we had to get to Haiphong from Hanoi. For this ~2hr drive, the cost of Uber was much much lesser than what a public transport bus would take.
My souvenir shopping is usually a mug and/or a fridge magnet, but when traveling with my parents, souvenir shopping means getting nothing for themselves but buying something for every friend or relative they can think of. As one can imagine, we were not done souvenir shopping in Hanoi and had to do some more shopping in HCMC. After the shopping, we spent the night at an AirBnb a short walk from the the airport, getting ready to fly home the next day.
Tuesday, Oct 18
Aaaand, the family trip was over. It was time to go back to Google, writing code and doing code reviews. A week flew by really fast, and I’d definitely wanna come back to Vietnam again.
Some places I did not visit on this trip, but would want to do next time.
- Phon Nha-ke Bag National Park
- Son Doong cave: http://shareably.net/incredible-underground-kingdom-son-doong-v1 (Oxalis is the only company)
- Paradise cave
- Ha Long Bay (cave)