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Family Travel in Vietnam: Seeing Saigon with Kids in Tow

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With a hectic pace and some heavy museums, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) sometimes gets a bad rap when it comes to family travel, but this mama and her kids had a ball!

I love Vietnam. FACT: It’s top of my next-to-live list. But when we arrived three years ago the idea of taking the kids to bustling Ho Chi Minh City – one of the busiest cities in the world – was my worst nightmare!

Here are my top tips to combat your worries and get booking:

Choose Your Hotel for both LOCATION and COMFORT

Choose a hotel that’s not only is in a great location, but can also offer you a good-sized room and facilities.

There are so many small hotels in Saigon that are maybe a 2-minute walk from the centre (known as District 1) – but they are often old and have no facilities and tiny rooms. Le Meridien Saigon, however, ticked all of these boxes for us. In District 1, it overlooks the river and is only a 15-minute walk, or 5-minute taxi, to all the city’s key sites.

Highlights for me:

The Pool was very child-friendly whilst also providing parents with a great view. Roof-top pools always fill me with dread, but this one on the 9th floor is very cleverly designed and is not right on the edge, with good seating around and high sides to ease parents’ worries.

Breakfast: so much choice! From delicious fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheese, pancakes and waffles, eggs, to pho… I could go on and on. For us, getting the kids to eat a nice big breakfast is the key to a productive morning out and about – and this one definitely did that! (They even had ice cream — but I managed to distract the kids from that one!)

Spacious Room: There’s plenty of space for everyone so we weren’t all cooped up on top of each other. Plus windows all around the room so great views, too!

Everything in moderation:

Make sure you don’t exhaust the kids and yourself trying to pack everything into one day. Break it all up! Sightseeing in the morning, rest in room after lunch, then chilling by the pool in the afternoon. Then you’re ready to head back out for a family early supper – everyone’s happy!

My Recommended 3-day itinerary for Saigon with Kids:

Day 1:

MorningCu Chi Tunnels: The quickest way to get there is via a speedboat; so many tour operators offer this, we used Vietnam Awesome Travel.

Midday: Back to hotel for chill and swim!

6pm: Early family dinner – we went to Propaganda Bistro, which I booked online before we went. Great kids’ menu!

Day 2:

Morning: Back of the Bike Tour: This filled me with dread — taking my children on a bike around this city! But it was awesome; the staff and drivers are so friendly, and honestly, it’s the quickest way to see the city – without kids moaning about walking: We covered Eiffel’s Bridge, Notre Dame Cathedral, and The Central Post Office, Chinatown, wet markets, alleyways and so much more. With some delicious street food to end. They even pick you up and drop you back at your hotel!

Midday: Back to hotel for chill and swim!

6pm: Family dinner: We chose Secret Garden, which has fabulous food and a very cool setting!

Day 3:

Morning: Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum: The former was previously the residence of the South Vietnamese President and is where the first Communist tanks crashed through the gates when Saigon fell in 1975; it’s basically a living time capsule of that historic moment. The War Remnants Museum, while quite powerful and moving, is also very graphic and not ideal for kids. However there is a crèche on the top floor – so we took the kids up there and tag teamed it!

Midday: Back to hotel for chill and swim!

Late afternoon: Head to Ben Thanh MarketThis place is a maze, but full of fab knock-off Nike, Under Armour, Converse, Mulberry, etc., plus rainers for the kids, bag for mum and a wallet for dad – all happy!

Have a spring roll and fruit shake in the food stalls there, too!

Dinner: Just behind Ben Thanh is new branch of the renowned 4Ps Pizza. I can’t tell you how many people recommended this to us; it goes against all my principles of eating local when travelling, but honestly – oh my – this is the BEST pizza I have ever had, with homemade burrata in the middle and incredibly fresh toppings. UNREAL.

If you have any more time, I would also recommend a street food tour. Both Back of the Bike tour and Vietnam Awesome Travel offer these – it’s a great way to taste lots of different dishes but be warned – go HUNGRY!

One thing I know for sure: I will be back. Such a fabulous trip!

Lead image sourced via Travel Blogs. Cu Chi Tunnels image sourced via Hai Tuan Travels. Reunification Palace image sourced via S Vietnam Travel. 4Ps Pizza image sourced via Aaron Joel Santos Photography.

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