Vietnam is an unusual holiday choice for families but it has a lot to offer! The country has a natural beauty with an abundance of amazing places to explore for the whole family. In addition to the rich culture and history, Vietnam is home to untouched beaches and plenty of top resorts with swimming pools and private beaches. What’s best of all? It’s extremely cheap. For a fraction of the price of a holiday in Europe, you could spend 2 weeks away sightseeing, relaxing and enjoying the food and culture of this holiday hotspot.
Why should you choose Vietnam for a family holiday?
- It’s a unique destination with a lot of soul and culture. It’s also less touristy than traditional beach holiday destinations.
- It’s very cheap. For the price of a 2-star hotel in the Mediterranean you can treat your family to 4-5 star luxury in Asia.
- It offers a wide variety of different holiday experiences from north to south, catering to those who want a luxurious beach holiday, off-the-beaten track budget trip or everything in between.
Adventures and sightseeing or a beach holiday?
Travelling with kids can be hard work, especially with younger children. We’re sure you want to get out and explore what the country has to offer but would recommend that you base yourself in only two or three destinations within a two week holiday and travel by plane between locations. Pick an assortment of developed beach resorts that you can use as a base to explore. It gives you the best of both worlds – a nice hotel with a swimming pool for the kids but an opportunity for adventurous days out.
Vietnam struck us as a very safe place, much more so than neighbouring Thailand and Cambodia. It’s quite an undeveloped and off-the-beaten-track country and everywhere we went we were treated with excellent service and a friendly smile. The main things to watch out for are the erratic driving in busy towns and cities and the odd occasions where vendors will try to rip you off.
Vietnamese people are calm, friendly and reserved. Respect local laws, avoid aggressive confrontation, don’t start any trouble and you’ll be fine. We recommend staying in a top rated hotel complex when traveling with your family, providing extra safety/security and plenty of facilities.
Vietnamese food is noted for being wild and different compared to western tastes and that’s very true, however there are plenty of westernised restaurants in the main cities and resorts. If your kids are particularly fussy eaters, we’d recommend sticking to one of the main cities or resorts listed below. You’ll find western restaurants such as Italian, BBQ and other European dishes, as well as fast food chains Mcdonalds, Dominos, KFC, Burger King and a handful of other American eateries.
Where to visit – family friendly beach locations
Nha Trang was one of the first true beach resorts in Vietnam. It’s quickly become one of the most popular places to visit on the mainland due to its excellent beaches. Although the city itself is becoming larger and now has its own airport, travel slightly out of Nha Trang and you’ll find more remote beaches and resorts – a contrast from the busier city centre.
Similar to Da Nang, Nha Trang has a wide variety of hotels for all budgets and it’s a little bit cheaper than its neighbour to the north. It’s one of the best choices for a family beach holiday and the top things to do include snorkelling, a hot springs, boat tours and two family orientated amusement parks, Vinpearl Land and Yang Bay Eco Park.
Although Nha Trang is known for its vibrant nightlife scene, there are plenty of early evening family restaurants and things to do on the boardwalk, or simply relax in the comfort of a luxury hotel.
Recommended family hotel: Vinpearl Nha Trang Long Beach Villas – A little bit pricey for Vietnam but one of the best hotels in the country according to user reviews. It’s luxurious and the villa options provide a spacious stay for families large and small.
Best time to visit: January – early September
- The most widely known beach holiday destination in Vietnam.
- A paradise for beach, island and boat tour lovers. You’ll spend most of your time relaxing or exploring the coastal region.
- Plenty of family-friendly hotels for every budget.
- Nha Trang is excellent for a beach holiday but doesn’t have a great deal to offer in terms of local culture and traditional Vietnam.
- Avoid visiting between October and December; it is rainy season and you’ll be stuck for things to do.
Da Nang is the most developed coastal city in Vietnam and is home to trendy, high-rise apartments, a busy business centre and a super clean beach that stretches the length of the city. The coastline is also lined with nice hotels, some of the most luxurious you’ll find in the country! Spend your days relaxing by the pool/beach or sightseeing, and enjoy a lively evening of eating out, wandering down the boardwalk or finding a live music venue.
Apart from the resort and beaches, nearby attractions include the impressive Marble Mountains, a cave and mountain complex with amazing views of the coastline. The famous ancient town of Hoi An is also a short drive away, in addition to vast rice fields, local villages and Son Tra Mountain. If you’re travelling with older kids, Hue old town provides a thrilling day of history and sightseeing, 2 – 2hr30min away from Da Nang. A comfortable train seat will cost you around £14 per person and it’s well worth the trip!
Staying in Da Nang you can get the best of both worlds for a family holiday. You’ll have all the leisure facilities and entertainment you need on your doorstep, with more cultural experiences are easily accessible by car.
Recommended family hotel: Naman Retreat – Large family rooms and vast recreational areas for the family to enjoy, Naman Retreat is luxurious on all levels.
Best time to visit: February – May. It can be very busy June – August with Vietnamese tourists.
- An excellent beach with a coastline of top rated luxury hotels.
- Plenty of things to do in the surrounding area, ideal if you want an adventure holiday or lots of sightseeing.
- Lots of restaurants to choose from across many world cuisines, ideal if your kids aren’t a fan of local food.
- The go-to spot for the Vietnamese rich and famous, Da Nang is a little more expensive than other Vietnam beach resorts and cities. Expect to pay more for accommodation.
- Da Nang is a modern city that lacks the culture and traditional feel of other areas.
Phu Quoc is a much quieter beach area than our other recommendations. It’s a secluded island just off the south coast of Cambodia and is part of the wider Phu Quoc National Park. Although there isn’t a great deal of things to do on the island, it has some of the best beaches that Vietnam has to offer and plenty of relaxing resorts. Go on a boat trip, relax on the beach whilst the kids play in the sea or get involved in some fun, family water sports.
On an evening, the main beach area (Long Beach) to the west of the island is the place to go to for casual seaside dining, nice bars and entertainment on the beach.
As Phu Quoc is a small island, we’d recommend picking one of the larger resorts so your kids don’t get bored. We would also advise to pick a busier location if you’re travelling with younger kids. Aim to spend one week or less on Phu Quoc Island and combine your visit with a busier location (such as Ho Chi Minh City) for a varied Vietnam holiday experience.
Recommended family hotel: Green Bay Phu Quoc Resort & Spa – A top rated resort with a swimming pool for the kids (unlike many of the eco-resorts on the island that don’t have a pool).
Best time to visit: April – June and October – November offer cheaper prices, good weather and fewer crowds.
- Phu Quoc is an island paradise hidden away from the busy mainland. It’s the ideal place to unwind and away from the noise of more ‘city based’ beaches.
- Arguably the best place for snorkelling, boat trips and water sports in Vietnam. Take a day trip to the nearby islands and national park.
- The island’s beaches are a lot less developed than the rest of the country and are smaller and more intimate in size, ideal for keeping an eye on the kids as they play. Less cars also means better road safety.
- Phu Quoc is much smaller and quieter than other destinations on our list. It’s very much a place for relaxation and beach activities rather than sightseeing.
- A lot of hotels on the island are ‘eco-resorts’ and don’t have a swimming pool.
Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba
We recommend a Ha-Long Bay cruise to all holiday seekers, no matter your age or interests. It’s a vast collection of limestone cliffs, hidden coves, caves and beaches that will stay in your memory forever. No doubt the best way to see this glorious bay is by boat, and there are over 100 to choose from!
Check out our Ha-Long Bay cruise comparison guide for help deciding on a boat. Any of the more luxurious boats are perfect for families, with the Indochina Dragon Legend being the best in our opinion. It has a small pool, plenty of deck space for the kids to play on and dining options for even the fussiest eaters. Although many of the luxury cruise boats cater to families, being such a large vessel, the Dragon Legend is the best in our opinion for family entertainment. You’ll find a crowd of honeymooners, families and travelling friends.
If you want to extend your stay in Ha-Long and visit a beach, Cat Ba Island is only a short ferry ride away. The island is a small collection of beaches and villages where you can relax in a beach-side hotel or visit a local fishing village. It doesn’t have the many family facilities and excursions of one of the larger resort areas but is well worth seeing as a combined visit with Ha-Long if you have time.
Recommended family cruise: Indochina Dragon Legend
Best time to visit: You can visit Ha-Long Bay year-round and expect decent weather, however, the best times to visit are March – April and September – October for less rainfall and cheaper prices.
- In our opinion, Ha-Long Bay is the number one site to see in Vietnam for all ages and interests. It’s breath-taking!
- A Ha-Long cruise gives you the opportunity to put your feet up and not worry about anything except taking pictures and enjoying time with the kids. The service on-aboard is excellent.
- Cruises are action packed with family friendly activities such as kayaking, snorkelling, swimming and fishing.
- Ha-Long is more of a short stay destination and involves a 3 hour drive to get there and back from Hanoi. It isn’t a place where you can fly in, catch a cab to the hotel and then relax.
- A Ha-Long boat trip involves being on open water for 2-3 days (with stops in between) in a fairly restricted space, which may not suit some kids. We think its best suited for ages 6+.
Mui Ne/Phan Thiet
Phan Thiet is commonly known as Mui Ne, even though Mui Ne only refers to the small fishing town in the area. This long coastline of beaches to the south of Vietnam is known for its brilliantly vast red and white sand dunes, set back into the mainland and stretching for miles. It was once a haven for Russian holidaymakers but has seen lost popularity since the financial crash of 2004. Today, Mui Ne has the remnants of the Russian tourism industry but still retains its ‘small beach town’ vibe.
The beaches are lined with hotels ranging from the 5 star, luxurious Anantara to hostels and beach huts; and everything in between! Hotels are extremely cheap due to the decline in visitors, meaning you can grab an excellent family hotel with multiple pools and facilities for less than £80 per night (family room).
When you’re not relaxing in the comfort of your hotel’s private beach, cycle or grab a cab and venture into Mui Ne for market shopping, take a day trip to the nearby sand dunes or eat out in one of the many bars and restaurants on the Phan Thiet strip. The water sports are particularly good in Phan Thiet, perfect for some family fun.
Recommended family hotel: Pandanus Resort – Notoriously popular for Tripadvisor reviewer families, the many facilities and central location of the Pandanus makes it ideal.
Best time to visit: Visit Phan Thiet/Mui Ne year-round. It’s one of the driest areas in South-East Asia, thus has very little rainfall.
- Phan Thiet is one of the cheapest beach resorts we’ve ever been to. You can stay in an excellent 4 or 5 star hotel with multiple pools and a private beach for less than £70 per night.
- The red and white sand dunes of Mui Ne are a must-see. They’re vast layers of soft sand that you can explore on foot or by beach buggy. It’s like being in the Sahara desert in the middle of Asia!
- Mui Ne has plenty of restaurants and bars for an evening and a quiet beach town vibe over a large touristic resort.
- Due to vast coastal erosion, the Phan Thiet beaches are shrinking in size and aren’t the best beaches you’ll see in Vietnam. However, they’re quiet, secluded and most resorts have a private section for your leisure.
- It isn’t the easiest place to get to. Fly into Nha Trang airport and catch a bus for 3hour30 or jump on the express (~3 hours) train from Ho Chi Minh City.
We hope you enjoyed reading our Vietnam family holiday recommendations. Vietnam is no doubt an unusual place to explore for a traditional family holiday, but the intriguing culture, stunning landscapes and cheap accommodation prices are very tempting and we highly recommend checking it out this year as a change from your usual holiday hotspot.