Top Tips for Vietnam with Young Children and Babies
We’ve had an absolute blast with our 3 year old and 7 month old travelling the length of Vietnam from South to North. We had both been there previously some years ago and had fond memories, and we’ve been glad that coming back with the kids has been even more enjoyable.
There are definitely a few things we have learnt which might be useful for other people thinking about coming to Vietnam with young kids:
- Firstly, the Vietnamese LOVE kids. Expect smiles and joyful chatter wherever you go, especially for a baby. People have generally gone out of their way to be more helpful because we have kids. The only downside is that this can be slightly overwhelming. You may find a friendly local street food vendor wants to hold your baby’s hands, which might mean a quick blast of antiseptic gel is needed. Or even they may take the baby for a cuddle and walk off to show their friends and family. It’s all out of joy and friendliness, but slightly nerve-wracking when you realise you’ve just let a stranger walk off with your baby down the beach.
- Travelling on the trains with kids is fantastic. Get a private cabin, and you have your own little space to cause havoc and watch the world go buy. Kids under 5 travel free. Our 3 year old loved it, and our baby slept better than he does normally. The brilliant train travel website The Man in Seat61 has everything you need to know about travelling by train in Vietnam. We would especially recommend getting 2 berth VIP cabins if you can. We used Baolao.com to book our tickets which was all very straightforward.
- Taxis are cheap and plentiful, and Grab works very well in all the main cities. Get a local SIM card for your phone when you arrive at the airport (we like to use an old phone, and then also use this as a WiFi hotspot for our two phones). We didn’t have any luck validating our credit card (despite being no issue in Singapore and Malaysia) but with most trips under 50k VND it wasn’t difficult paying by cash. Generally we found all Grabs to have seatbelts in the back (except one we used for a very short trip). Ma Linh and Vina Sub are the ‘traditional’ metered taxis, and whilst we found them quite a bit more expensive, they generally seemed reliable. We also loved using our ‘Doona’ car seat / stroller for Grabs as it meant getting in and out of taxis super quick and easy.
- I’m not sure we saw a baby change anywhere, so get ready to get creative with your choice of where to change your little monster!
- Similarly don’t expect high chairs anywhere except for the very touristy areas (eg some restaurants in Hoi An). We always carry around this portable high chair device which straps to a normal chair and works well for our 7 month old.
- Also when eating out we generally didn’t see children’s meals on the menus. However, people were usually very accommodating and happy to make something simple for our 3 year old.
- We found jars and pouches of baby food pretty hard to come by. Here’s where we did manage to score some:
- Ho Chi Minh City: Annam Gourmet Market had an excellent selection of baby jars and pouches – the best we found in the country. A bit pricey (approx 35k VND per item) but good for restocking our supplies. Auchan supermarket had a few Hipp Organic jars, but a very limited selection.
- Hoi An: Concung had a good selection of nappies, wipes and some dried food (e.g. Heinz / Hipp Organic porridge, and a few baby snacks), but no baby food jars / pouches.
- Hanoi: Bibo Mart has a number of outlets in Hano (here’s the one we went to)i. We were able to buy Aptamil that had been imported from the UK (for about the equivalent of £25 for one packet).