Family holiday disasters? We’ve had a few! Wolfie hospitalised in Venice for acute food poisoning at 3 months… The great street food tour of Langkawi, during the month of Ramadan (EVERYTHING was closed!)…the gastro/hand foot & mouth disease/severe morning sickness in Fiji… I was determined to plan, and execute our best Watts family holiday yet.
The requirements were simple; our destination needed to be hot, the food needed to appeal to all, safety was of course of utmost importance, and transport there and on the ground needed to be safe & fast.
Mez and I had been to Vietnam before, pre-kids, and LOVED it. Perhaps it was time to give it a go with the kids in tow. I researched (Weather, rainfall, monsoon patterns etc!) and I researched… and then I researched some more. Finally I booked it, and we were away!
We had a two week break, and split our time between Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Danang..
Ho Chi Minh City is a dynamic and modern city, and had changed a lot since we’d last visited. Traffic was greatly improved, but motorbikes & scooters still rule, and the first thing we heard upon waking, and the last thing at night was the beeping of horns! We played games of ‘spot the scooter transporting the most humans’ and ‘spot the scooter transporting the most random load’ …There are many museums, cultural and historical places of interest to visit in HCMC, but our kids are a bit young, we’re not there yet. We used the city as a place to acclimatise and then jump off to the central coast. Having come from the middle of winter in Sydney to the humidity of HCMC, we all need to adjust and get our bearings. A couple of days poolside in HCMC was perfect before our journey further north.
The flight to Danang is only an hour, and there are multiple flights a day. Upon arrival in Danang, we headed straight to Hoi An, a thirty minute drive inland to the very pretty Anantara Resort. The soft peach of the colonial buildings is very much like staying at a mini Raffles! The old town of Hoi An is seriously photogenic; bougainvilleas tumbling down the yellow shopfronts, fruits & flowers of every shape & colour overflowing onto the footpath at the town market, and the quaint traditional fishing boats chugging along the river. We were lucky to have arrived on the right day of the lunar calendar to witness the full moon lantern festival, and we lit ours, and released them down the Thu Bon river along with our wishes for happiness, luck & love! Hoi An has hundreds of restaurants…we were spoilt for choice! We made a wonderful discovery of “Com Ga”, (a dish similar to Hainanese Chicken Rice), rice cooked in chicken broth, served with shredded chicken, vietnamese mint, loads of onions and sometimes a green papaya & carrot pickle, served with the loveliest chicken broth…we ate it EVERYDAY! We had 4 perfect, lazy days of swimming and eating and doing little else… Good times!
We left the Thu Bon river behind, for a sea change…back to Danang to the Hyatt Regency, seriously one of the largest hotels I think I have EVER stayed at! This hotel caters brilliantly to families, with dedicated kids pools & a waterslide, a kids club, a rock climbing wall and most importantly, family friendly accommodation. We had a ground floor two bedroom apartment with kitchen and two bathrooms, a balcony and access straight out the front to all amenities. The space and privacy after interconnecting rooms was great! This property is right on Non Nuoc beach, dotted with traditional basket boats & jumbo jellyfish, with the famous Marble Mountains just across the road. In the heat of the day, the kids disappeared to the kids club, to paint and draw, and glue, and play with other kids whilst we snoozed and read…perfect! Once cabin fever set in (i can’t help it, I need to be getting the most out of every trip!) we jumped in a cab and headed inland, to Ba Na Hills, a well known Vietnamese amusement park, an easy 45 minute drive away. This park is truly unique, for several reasons. Firstly, it boasts the longest continuous cable car in the world, we were in the cable car for 17 minutes!!! The resort is also a replica of an original French retreat from 1919, and it’s so European in it’s styling it’s freaky, you could really be in France! The price of entry covers everything except for food, and there is so much to do; a luge, a three level amusement arcade with games & rides & an indoor playground, cellars, and cafes, mazes, a funicular, more cable cars (different ones!) and religious landmarks…we ran out of time! Being on the coast, seafood is spanking fresh, and a short cab ride from the hotel is a strip of restaurants, with fishtanks and seafood on display that I had never seen before, let alone eaten before! BBQ clams with peanuts and shallots were the highlight, washed down with icy cold Bia Saigon! The Han Markets in Danang deserve an honourable mention too, if you’re into that sort of thing…really very interesting displays of dried squid and prawns, and the fresh seafood section in particular was beautiful, as was the fresh fruit piled high into pyramids!
And then, it was all over! Time to go home.
I read not one, but two books, worked on my tan, caught up on some zzz’s, the kids made friends, swam all day everyday, and enjoyed a kids club experience! We ate incredible food, day in and day out, and enjoyed several icy cold beers! The kids are already asking if we can go back next year…! The verdict: Vietnam was VIETNAMAZING!!!!!
We stayed at:
Intercontinental Asiana Saigon
We flew internationally & domestically with Vietnam Airlines. Utilitarian, but good!
Where we ate:
Com Ga Ba Buoi
22 Phan Chu Trinh
Ba Le Well
45/11 Tran Hung Dao
Ba Thoi 2
My Khe Beach