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Think Vietnam is solely for backpackers and couples without babies? Wake up and smell the family-sized Nam deals. For families in search of a holiday with a difference, step away from the obvious and into the remarkable.
Districts that are so French you'd be forgiven for wearing a beret, to Buddhist temples, a million bicycles and locals in signature cone hats, Hanoi is a hocus-pocus mix of culture, history and character. The chaotic streets will leave your eyes wide and your children’s even wider. Visit the Presidential Palace and historic Dong Khoi Street and then a famed Thang Long Water puppet show. They can tell quite the story those puppets, even if the acting is a little wooden – gah!
Two-day jaunts around breath-taking Halong Bay will allow parents to sunbathe under giant junk boat sails, while kids burn kilojoules on kayaks and in caves etched from ancient stone. If anything can get ‘generation tech’ to look up from their iPads, it’s an enormous limestone karst; jutting from the water like a gigantic green giant.
Hoi An is the water-fringing township that perpetually glows with paper lanterns and twinkling yellow restaurants. Between the shops selling colourful knick-knacks, to tailors making impeccable threads for a fraction of the NZ price, stop for a breather at Reaching Out Tea House. With excellent coffee, tea and biscuits, this little café located at 131 Trần Phú, Sơn Phong, only employs the hearing impaired. An oasis of calm in busy Hoi An, communicate using worded wooden blocks and feast on traditional, locally made treats.
Fancy a holiday from your holiday? The city of Quy Nhon is a lively little nook on the coast. With scattered beaches, the Binh Dinh Museum and its main pagoda, noted for its 17-metre high Buddha, there is plenty to do. And once you’re done seeing and doing, abscond to Ho Kho Island for an afternoon of relaxation and little else. Take a tour and pack a picnic; for a lazy few hours you can sunbathe, snorkel and swim in crystal-clear water.
Ho Chi Minh is surprisingly kid-friendly; between the standout educational attractions such as the War Remnants Museum and the Vietnam history museum, outdoor play areas are as vast as they are fun. Favourites include Công Viên 23 Tháng 9 Park because it’s packed with playhouses and climbing frames. Then there’s KizCiti; a mini town where children imitate an adult’s working world and pretend to be professionals, from bakers to airline pilots. There’s also a café (with WiFi) to entertain the parents.
Fly home the next day. Air New Zealand now fly direct from NZ to Ho Chi Minh so you can travel all the way home without transfers. Music to any parent's ears.
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