Backpacking In Vietnam

A long country with neatly spaced-apart destinations allowing for a balanced mix of sight-seeing and beaches, it’s as if Vietnam was specially designed for an overland trip with kids. Everyone seems to adore children, the street food is delicious (fried rice, spring rolls and savoury pancakes are an easy default, washed down with fresh coconut water) and the logistics are straightforward. In fact, there’s no need to make reservations, except perhaps for flights both into the laid-back capital Hanoi and out of thrumming Ho Chi Minh City – two weeks apart for a well-paced jaunt. Heading south, travel by train and bus, and choose between great-value hostels. In Hanoi, explore the winding lanes of the old town by foot then take in a traditional water puppet show before strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake. From here take an overnight train (with bunks) to the former imperial capital of Hue. Gather up picnic provisions in the market to keep energy levels boosted while visiting the ancient ruins of the Royal Palace, where children can play among the fallen stones and chase chickens. Further south is the port of Hoi An with its streets of markets, old merchants’ houses and restaurants such as Morning Glory, which is owned by chef-entrepreneur Trinh Diem Vy who runs cooking classes at her school, Vy’s Market. It’s a short ride by boat or cab to An Bang beach for cafés, chill-out bars and some downtime. Finally, Ho Chi Minh City has some of the country’s best museums: visit the War Remnants Museum documenting the Vietnam War – with tanks and fighter jets parked in the grounds – for a quick history lesson before heading home.

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