Vietnam with Kids
November 4th - 22nd, 2014
From early on, we knew we were going to be spending time in Europe, Thailand, and Australia. Before leaving for our trip, it was our goal to only plan all our accommodations and flights through Europe, but not all the details past that. We did, however, want to have booked our flight leaving Europe, in case anyone in passport control gave us a hard time we could show we had ongoing travel plans. We were about to book our flight out of Spain to Thailand when the coup happened, causing enough turmoil in Thailand to have us concerned about our plans. In order to play it safe, we looked at other countries near Thailand that we could book a flight to, and then see what happened in Thailand as it got closer. Vietnam quickly got on our radar, and the rest, as they say, is history, as Vietnam became one of the most memorable experiences on our whole trip.
Without a doubt, Hanoi was the most outside of our comfort zone we got on all our travels. We really weren't sure what to expect when we got there. The whole visa process and the high entry fees they charge scared us a little bit as it seems like a scam, but once we actually got to our apartment near Hanoi's old quarter, we really began to appreciate our new home for the next few weeks. One thing we really loved was the low cost of living. Eating at a local "restaurant"/hole in the wall, where we'd be the only white people in sight, would typically cost about $5 or 100,000 Vietnamese Dong, for a delicious meal large enough for the four of us.
Perhaps the most worrisome thing about Vietnam for us were the motorcycles everywhere. It is a little unnerving crossing the street sometimes with kids, as there would be no crosswalk and a nonstop crowd of motorcycles that don't slow down for pedestrians, but we quickly learned by watching the locals that if you just start walking without slowing down you'll be okay! It is really quite a sight to see all the motorcycles, some of which transport families of five people, and frequently you will see people packed them up with more stuff than a UPS truck!
Many people warned us of safety while traveling there, but we quickly found the people to be very pleasant, especially towards kids. High school and college age kids, both boys and girls, would flock to our children and want to take pictures with them. It was a little unnerving at first, but an Asian friend helped put it in perspective for us when they explained that for these people seeing our little white kids is like seeing their childhood dolls come to life. You do have to be a little wary of people selling things on the street, as they are quick to take advantage of foreigners who don't know any better, but once you start to get familiar with how much things should cost it becomes easier to buy things at the right price.
Read more about Hanoi on our blog
Goody Bye Hanoi...Hello Chiang Mai!
Want to see our apartment where we stayed during our 2 weeks in Hanoi? Check out our video! Our chatty kids fill you in on all sorts of random stuff!
The Museum of Ethnology is a public museum exhibiting the many different ethnic groups of Vietnam. For us, however, the highlight wasn't the inside of the museum, but the amazing full size replica houses they had setup behind the museum which you could actually explore.
Don't let the thumbnail scare you...That's just one of the many steps in my hair makeover by an awesome group of Vietnamese hair stylists! Want to see the results?!
We have been in Hanoi for 2 weeks now and I think we have done a fair job of eating the city up! Find out what were some of our favorite foods and restaurants...If you are visiting Vietnam you should definitely check out a few!
Good Bye iPhone 5s. You were just a thing.
AAAAA...We were all so excited! First time we were going to see a movie in the theater after 145+ days! Who would have thought our first movie theater outing would be in Vietnam?!
A full day of sightseeing started at Ho Chi Minh's Museum and ended at the craziest part of Old Quarter...Just when I thought the Old Quarter couldn't possibly get any crazier!
We had heard a lot of good reviews on Wrap and Roll Restaurant, but we are here to tell you to forget about those good reviews on Trip Advisor! If you are visiting Hanoi, you should save your money and eat elsewhere. But you should most certainly go see a water puppet show if you have never seen one. They are quite unique.
I always love reading about legends. If you have watched the Disney movie Brave, then you know that "legends are lessons, and they ring with truths". Come read the legend of Hoan Kiem Lake, and the famous tortoise carrying a sword.
The Temple of Literature was the first Temple we have ever visited. It was really quite amazing. I do wish we had a guide or someone knowledgeable to give us more information about what we were looking at, however.
If you are planning to haggle, make sure you have exact change! A street vendor who is overcharging you is NOT going to give you change back! DUH! Lesson learned!
Our first impression of Hanoi was...Oh my goshhhh...there really are motorcycles everywhere and everyone rides on them, even babies!
Setting Expectations? Nah! You've heard that a million times before. Read on to find out what my one and only piece of advice is for surviving long flights with kids, and whether or not it would work for you.
While in Hanoi, we took two separate trips to nearby locations renowned for their beauty. The first of these is Halong Bay, where we stayed overnight on a boat in the most fascinating body of water we've ever seen. What makes Halong Bay so unique are the thousands of island-like rock structures that dot the bay as far as the eye can see. As part of the tour, you not only get to enjoy the sights, but also visit some interesting places such as a cave and an oyster farm, and can go on some treks and even kayak if you want to.
Read more about Halong Bay on our blog
We know sometimes pictures are not enough. Why don't you watch the video clip and take a ride on the Papaya with us?
Halong Bay is a magical place. I feel a trip to northern Vietnam is not complete without a visit there. Check out our pictures to see if you agree.
The second of our Vietnam trips was to Sa Pa, a mountainous region famous for showcasing actual Vietnamese rice paddy villages. Getting to Sa Pa is a bit of a nightmare, as your options are either an overnight train or an overnight bus (PS, avoid the bus!). The biggest downside of visiting Sa Pa, aside from the overnight trip, are the throngs of begging ladies and young girls trying to sell cheap handmade products wherever you go. It is hard not to feel bad for the villagers and their quality of life, but if you can get past the negative parts, there is so much beauty there that made the trip very special for us. The treks down to the villages and rice paddies are really amazing, the tour guides are incredibly sweet, and everyone is so nice to children. Overall it was a positive experience, though it is not something everyone would appreciate.
Read more about Sa Pa on our blog
On our second day in Sa Pa, we saw some more beautiful scenery on our walk to Cat Cat Village. It was a beautiful place and we were glad to see it, however the ride back on the sleeper bus is something we could have definitely done without!
Come join us on the first day of our amazing Sa Pa, Vietnam tour! After an insane experience with an overnight sleeper bus, we enjoyed a scenic 13 km trek through rice paddies and some small tribe villages. It is a beautiful place, though it is hard to not feel bad for all the girls and women begging you to buy their items.
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