What’s most important to us when we go away with the kids? Making memories… And not driving each other insane! After years of practice, we think we’ve finally nailed the family vacay. What’s the secret? It’s all about the quick escape from Singapore: at around three hours away, Vietnam is where you’ll find us on the next school holiday. Historic Hanoi and beautiful Da Nang are where it’s at for exceptional experiences, so we’ve shared some of our fave ways to explore these cities, with the incredibly fam-friendly Hilton Hanoi Opera and Hilton Da Nang as our launch pads…
WHAT TO DO IN HANOI WITH KIDS
Beautiful ways to explore Hanoi
We have a serious soft spot for an ‘old town’. If you came for French colonial architecture, you’ll find it concentrated around the Old Quarter, a short walk from the Hilton Hanoi Opera. Just wandering through the streets is enough to amaze the kids: look for the old city gates carved from stone, spot street vendors selling everything from flowers to feather dusters, and explore colourful temples along the way. Chances are, you’ll hit Hoan Kiem Lake: it’s a lovely, leafy stroll around to see the stone ‘turtle tower’ on an island in the middle of the lake.
What to see in Hanoi
It’s an iconic experience: the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre at Dinh Tien Hoang Street near Hoan Kiem Lake puts on several shows daily, and kids love the performances based on local legends. Chances are high you’re going to pick up a puppet as a souvenir from the surrounding markets. If your kiddo is obsessed with planes, tanks and the like (or you’ve got a history buff in the fam), drop by the Vietnam Military History Museum on 28a P Dien Bien Phu, where there’s a real jet fighter on display amidst wartime aircraft wreckage.
Where to eat
If you’re keen on Vietnamese street eats but want the comfort of a restaurant, Quan An Ngon in the Hoan Kiem district is the business. The sprawling restaurant is in a French colonial villa, and serves authentic street eats from stalls in its courtyard garden (or retreat to the aircon inside). Our tip? Go for the banh xeo: kids love these stuffed crispy pancakes; we love dipping them in nuoc mam – Vietnamese fish sauce.
Where to stay: Hilton Hanoi Opera
This retreat in the French Quarter hits the sweet spot with its nod to the neo-classical design of the Hanoi Opera House it was built next to; its proximity to the airport (you’ll only have to deal with 35 minutes of ‘are we there yet?’ after the plane ride) and location amongst the must-sees in the city make it the perfect base for fams. You’ll absolutely appreciate the large rooms for spreading out with your brood, but here’s what seals the deal: it’s moments away from the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake, so you can head out on foot to explore or retreat to that spectacular outdoor pool to cool off. Yes there are kids’ menus here, but because we’re all about encouraging our little guys to experience local cuisine, we’ll be taking them to Ba Mein restaurant in the hotel: its regional Vietnamese menu with a modern edge is just our thing.
Hilton Hanoi Opera; 1 Le Thanh Tong St, Hoan Kiem Dist, Hanoi, Vietnam
For another amazing experience in Vietnam, coastal Da Nang combines a beach holiday with the rich heritage of Hoi An – one of the world’s most beautiful old towns.
WHAT TO DO IN DA NANG WITH KIDS
Head to the hills
Make time for a day trip to Ba Na Hills (45 minutes from Da Nang) where you can enjoy some cooler weather and fam-friendly activities including cable car rides, gorgeous gardens and a French village to explore. For the most epic view from 3,280ft above sea level, don’t miss the new Golden Bridge: the spectacular walkway is cradled by a colossal pair of hands that emerge from the mountains!
Hit Da Nang’s beaches
You came for a seaside holiday, and Da Nang delivers with its impossibly soft sand and clean waters. My Khe Beach has gained a rep as one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia – the surf is gentle here and the sand is clean, so it’s a great spot for sandcastle-building and chilling out by the sea. For something a little different, enjoy a lazy “coconut basket” boat ride on the river.
Head to Hoi An
Hands down, Hoi An Ancient Town is one of the most memorable, colourful places in the world – and it’s only 30 minutes away from the Hilton Da Nang. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has preserved much of its colonial architecture and remains car-free (great news for the stroller crowd!). This divine pocket of Vietnam was made for wandering around with the kids: explore the markets, get lost in laneways decked out with bright lanterns and relax in quiet courtyard cafes. If you’re a bike-riding fam, this place is just your thing; for another little adventure, hop into one of the traditional wooden boats for a gentle ride on the river. Heads up: Hoi An is famous for its tailors, so get something made! Those in the know head to the fabric market first or Bring-Your-Own material; it’s easiest if you bring a piece you want an exact copy of.
Where to eat
While you’re in Hoi An, head to the famous Mango Rooms by the river. It’s tempting to spend the whole time taking family snaps against the emerald-green walls: but don’t ignore the equally colourful dishes too, from zesty salads to modern mains that combine local flavours with global twists (yes there’s a kids’ menu). For more fresh flavours, Cocobox has four branches around Hoi An Ancient Town, and you’re bound to come across one. Stop in for the great smoothies, cold-pressed juices and healthy sandwiches on homemade bread.
Where to stay: Hilton Da Nang
If gazing out at water puts you in instant relaxation mode, Hilton Da Nang is where you need to be: the newly opened hotel is right on the banks of the Han River and near Da Nang Beach. In fact, there’s an ocean or river view from every single room. Sigh. It’s a modern vibe here, and you’ll get a bit of the city buzz – walk straight out onto bustling Bach Dang Street where your kids can count bridges as you stroll by. It’s also a quick drive to picture-perfect My Khe Beach. This is a brand new property, and it’s already getting glowing reviews for its amazing, personalised service, which we know makes all the difference when you’re travelling with kids.
Hilton Da Nang; 50 Bach Dang St, Hai Chau District, Da Nang, Vietnam
Benefits for the fam
Book a family room at Hilton Da Nang, and children dine for free at Brasserie Nam (below 12 years old, and from the children’s menu) with accompanying adults! Exciting welcome goodies, kid-friendly TV channels and baby cots are also available for the young ones.
This post is in partnership with Hilton