Family Travel in Northern Vietnam – 1 Week Itinerary

Mai Chau Village in Vietnam

My sister is coming to visit us in Vietnam in June, and we decided to spend 1 week traveling with the kids: a 4-month-old baby and my 3-year-old “Ninja Turtle” / very active son.

I agonized over the itinerary for a few months, as there is so much we could do in Vietnam and in the region. With kids, the easiest thing might be to plop down at a full-service beach resort in Mui Ne, Nha Trang, or Phu Quoc, but in June the weather is very hot, and I’m not much of a beach person anyway.

The itinerary I finally decided on mixes islands, city, and mountains.

Total pre-booking price: $1225 total for 2 adults and 2 kids (under age 4)

Includes – Flights (origin SGN), 7 nights’ lodging, 2-day cruise with full-board, all breakfasts.

Does not include: lunches & dinners, transfers, activities (other than on cruise), travel insurance

You can easily cut down on this price by booking less expensive hotels and choosing less popular flight times.

Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Long Bay

Take the 6:50am flight on VietJet Air from Ho Chi Minh City to Hai Phong. There are later flights, but they arrive in Hai Phong too late to catch most boat tours.

Kill some time with a second breakfast in Hai Phong before heading to the Halong Paloma Cruise office to board the boat at 12:30pm.

Lunch and a nice nap for the kids on board. Enjoy planned activities or relax with the baby on the sundeck. Dinner, cooking class, entertainment.

Costs:
Flight to Hai Phong – approx $60 per person with 1 checked bag each
Breakfast in Hai Phong – Varies
Family Suite on Halong Paloma Cruise – $404 (double occupancy, kids free, full board and activities)

Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Ha Long Bay by Larry W. Lo on Flickr

Day 2 – Ha Long Bay / Hanoi

Spend the morning on the boat or exploring a cave. Eat an early lunch on board, and then endure the 3 or 4-hour road trip to Hanoi.

Check into Golden Lake View Hotel(3-star). Spend the evening walking near the lake and going out to dinner.

Costs:
3-star hotel – $37.54
Transfer to Hanoi – TBD
Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 – Hanoi

Take a city tour with Hanoi Kids in the morning. Lunch and relax for the afternoon. See water puppet show.

Costs:
Tour – Free, only pay taxi costs and entry fees
3-star hotel – $37.54 (breakfast included)
Water Puppet Show – $3 – $5 per person
Lunch, Dinner

You could book the Hanoi City Tour with Sinh Tourist (approx $25 per person) if Hanoi Kids doesn’t have availability.

Hanoi water puppets Vietnam

Water Puppet Theater in Hanoi, photo by audrey_sel on Flickr

Day 4 – Hanoi to Mai Chau

Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Mai Chau with 3.5 hour drive into the mountains.

Check in and relax at Mai Chau Lodge. Afternoon walking around the village. Dinner at the lodge and swimming in the pool.

You could substitute the Mai Chau portion of the trip with Sapa, however going to Sapa involves 2 nights on the train. I preferred to spend 7 hours total in the car rather than 2 sleepless nights on the train; I’m a light sleeper and it would be difficult to get comfortable on two lower bunks with two adults and 2 kiddos.

Costs:
Breakfast – included at hotel in Hanoi
Transfer to Mai Chau – TBD
Lunch at Mai Chau Lodge – $13 person
Dinner at Mai Chau Lodge – $16 per person
Night at Lodge – $72.46 – Twin room, mountain view with terrace or balcony

Day 5- Mai Chau

No plans as of yet. Most likely I’ll ask the lodge to arrange something for us in the morning and we’ll spend the afternoon napping, relaxing, and swimming at the pool.

Costs:
Breakfast – included in room rate
Tour / activity – TBD
Lunch at Mai Chau Lodge – $13 person
Dinner at Mai Chau Lodge – $16 per person
Night at Lodge – $72.46 – Twin room, mountain view with terrace or balcony

Mai Chau Village, photo by Jos Dielis on Flickr

Day 6 – Mai Chau

Same as Day 5

Day 7 – Mai Chau to Hanoi

Spend morning in Mai Chau village. Lunch at the lodge. Transfer to Hanoi (3.5 hours by road). Last night in Hanoi for shopping at the night market, eating out, or just walking around the lake.

Costs:
Breakfast – included in room rate
Transfer to Hanoi – TBD
3-star hotel with late check out – $52.32 at Gondola Hotel Hanoi
Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 – Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City

Another half-day tour with Hanoi Kids. Lunch at hotel. Afternoon flight back to Ho Chi Minh City. I am hoping the kids will sleep through the two-hour flight! I booked meals for $2 each on the flight in case we’re hungry.

Costs:
Tour – free, just pay for taxi and entry fees
Breakfast – included with hotel
Lunch
Taxi to airport
Flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City – approx $100 per person on VietJet Air with 1 checked bag each

Cheaper flights are available if you are willing to leave during the early morning or after 5pm. I wanted to fly at 2pm nap time and be home for dinner, so we paid a higher price for the tickets.

Day 9 – Crash and Recover!

Conveniently send 3-year-old off to school at 7:30am. Snuggle in bed with the baby and look through the thousand or so photos we managed to take.

*I will take this trip in June 2014 and will post photos, reviews, and family travel tips when we get back. Hotel links are Agoda Affiliate links. If you book through Agoda, I will get a percentage of the booking price which will go to help support ExpatHeather.com

See more gorgeous Mai Chau Photos by Jos Dielis

One Comment on “Family Travel in Northern Vietnam – 1 Week Itinerary

  1. Lovely post! Sounds like you had a fantastic trip to Vietnam, and after reading your itinerary, I really want to go now. The Water Puppet Show sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing about your travels!

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