Halong Bay With Kids. The jewel in Vietnam’s crown, Halong Bay with kids makes for a very relaxing family holiday that has a little more character than just hitting a beach. Traveling with kids in Vietnam can sometimes be hard work, so Halong Bay provides just the right mixture of relaxation and outdoor activity to break up a trip around the country or even as a family holiday destination in itself. Hire a boat and then just take a few days to sit back and soak up the stunning limestone island formations all around “Descending Dragon Bay” while the kids hike, explore caves and swim to their hearts’ content.
The Destination: Halong Bay With Kids
What makes Halong Bay so memorable are the numerous limestone islands that jut outside of the water making all sorts of stunning silhouettes against the skyline. Some of these islands purely serve as scenery for brilliant photos whilst others have caves, jungle to trek through and beaches to explore.
Cruising is what’s done here so you explore the Bay from a boat which you can hire for a few hours up to a few days.
How much or how little you do at Halong Bay with kids is entirely up to you. Some people will take this purely as a cruising exercise – hanging around on the boat and just soaking in the scenery – while others will want to partake of the numerous activities on offer. Whatever you choose, there is no doubt that a trip to Halong Bay will provide some of the most amazing travel photos for your family album and is one of the most memorable ways to do Vietnam with kids. [For tips on how to take good travel photos, see the suitcases&strollers story How To Take The Best Travel Photos.]
The Activities in Halong Bay With Kids
The islands you visit at Halong Bay will depend very much on the tour boat operator you choose. Unless you charter a special private cruise and are extremely well versed about where you want to go, usually the driver is the one who will determine your itinerary.
But you can expect to visit places like Sung Sot or Surprise Cave at Bo Hon Island. This is one of the largest in Halong Bay and is fun for kids to explore. Also on Bo Hon is Luon Cave which is an excellent and memorable place to kayak.
Ti Top Island is one of the most popular beaches in the area which is worthwhile if you want a sand stop. There are hotels and restaurants on the beach too. Soi Sim Beach is a little less touristy and also has trekking up to an outlook that will give fantastic views.
There are communities of fishermen who live on floating villages that you can also visit and is a way of life specific to Halong Bay. This is an insightful way to interact with the locals and let the kids experience a different culture.
Then, depending on which boat your charter, there is swimming in the bay, fishing, tai chi and pearl shopping to entertain and keep you busy.
Family Friendly Accommodation in Halong Bay With Kids
There are a huge number of boats to choose from at Halong Bay. When taking your pick, bigger boats with kids are often better. They have more activities onboard and will be more likely to have other families with kids to interact with. Selecting and booking your boat before you leave home means you can choose a company with a website that lists safety features, itineraries and meal planners so you can be sure of a great experience.
Paradise Cruises are known for being happy to accommodate questions to potential families considering trips to Halong Bay with kids. They have a few boats to choose from but they are all large which means there is plenty to do on the ship and there will be lots of other people onboard to meet. They also have daily buses that leave Hanoi to transport you to Halong Bay (or you can organise a private drive or helicopter transfer through them too).
However, the cabins on all Paradise Cruises will only accommodate a maximum of three people (2 adults and one child under 12) so if your family is larger than this, you will need to budget for two cabins.
The Practicalities of Halong Bay With Kids
Most of the boats at Halong Bay are not designed with children’s safety specifically in mind, so there are not many appropriate safety measures put in place for very young children just learning to walk who can’t understand the dangers themselves. Unless you want to spend your whole cruise chasing your toddler all over the ship, it’s best to either take wee babies or wait until the kids are older. Similarly, strollers are not suitable for many of the island stops you will be making, so your children should be of an age where you can either carry them or they can walk themselves.
While it is technically possible to do Halong Bay as a daytrip from Hanoi, it really would not be worthwhile with kids. The commute by road is three and a half hours if the traffic is good which means you will be in the car for at least 7 hours. The success of a family vacation in Halong Bay is entirely reliant on the weather – as such, budgeting one day is a big gamble.
Halong Bay can be visited almost year round but the best weather is typically in October to December. Pack warm clothes for the evening because it can be surprisingly cold onboard at night.
It is not safe to drink the water from the tap in Vietnam. Only use bottled water for drinking and be wary of children drinking water in the shower or the bath. Obviously because you will be on a boat there will be very few opportunities to purchase baby supplies so bring everything you need with you.
If your nationality requires a visa for entry, purchase this in advance before you leave home or otherwise be prepared to wait. Sometimes customs is very straightforward, but you can be stuck for over an hour at the airport waiting for a simple stamp in your passport if you haven’t pre-organised your migration clearance.