Before visiting Hanoi, I was told that I would either love it or hate it.  I’m still sitting on the fence!  I loved the experience however, hated the thought of spending longer than a few days here.  What I do know, is that you absolutely HAVE to experience the excitement, culture and chaos that is Hanoi for yourself.

What to expect

You need to be extra careful crossing roads here!

There is a technique to crossing the road here, which basically involves just walking out in front of oncoming traffic.  You make eye contact, step out confidently, and the sea of scooters just parts around you.  This isn’t so fantastic when your kids are little as (1) they like to dawdle, and (2) a stroller sits low and sticks out in front where cars can’t see.  Lucky nearly everyone rides a scooter!

A baby or toddler carrier is a much better alternative here.  I used the Ergo Baby Carrier for little miss nearly 12 months and the Piggy Back Rider for mr 3.5 years.  (See my baby and toddler carriers for travelling section).  Due to overflowing shops and the seemingly millions of scooters, there is not much room to push a stroller here anyway.

It’s not as bad as it sounds! As long as you are aware that the traffic is crazy and don’t let your kids run off ahead, you will be fine. If you are unsure, just wait for a local and do as they do.

Hanoi with Kids
If you are unsure, just watch how the locals cross the road and follow suit

Foreign kids are treated like celebrities!

My favourite thing about Hanoi, is that every single person you meet genuinely adores children.  At first, you might feel like everyone is trying to steal your baby.  (see my blog post on Help the waitress stole my baby!)  I promise you, they just want to cuddle and squeeze some cute chubby baby thighs.

It can be a bit overwhelming if you are not expecting it, however give in to the warm welcome!  Where else will someone distract your grizzly baby for you whilst you are trying to eat a meal? Or play peek-a-boo with your grumpy toddler on the train?

This “it takes a village” culture is a breath of fresh air when travelling.  It’s a relief to know that normal baby and toddler behaviour is well tolerated here.

What to do in Hanoi with kids

This list was supposed to be a lot longer however unfortunately, due to a combination of jet lag, motion sickness and migraine, I lost a travel day!

1. Explore the OLD QUARTER

Strolling around the Old Quarter (see my blog post on The Old Quarter of Hanoi in Photographs), experiencing the sights and smells, and taking it all in is a great activity to do with the kids.  The Vietnam lonely planet has a great self-walking guide within its pages.  Everyone is friendly however, be warned, one section of the streets is filled with vendors selling toys and things can get a bit crazy if you parade the kids past it.  There is also a night market to check out.  Don’t forget to bargain!

Hanoi with Kids
You won’t go hungry in the Old Quarter!

2. Stroll around HOAN KIEM LAKE

This is a beautiful lake in the old quarter, which is also home to the well known ‘red bridge’.  It’s a fantastic place to take the kids to escape the chaos of the Old Quarter. You can walk all the way around it, and there are places to stop and rest or get a snack or ice-cream. People watching opportunities are endless here, however it is really pretty at night time so make sure you come back after dinner.  At night, there are lots of Vietnamese couples, both young and old, taking a romantic stroll around the lake.  There is something both old fashioned and beautiful about seeing this, and it truly makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Hanoi with kids
Hoan Kiem Lake and the well known ‘Red Bridge’


Kids young and old will love this.  It goes for around 45 minutes (which is about 15 minutes past my kids attention span) but it’s really cool and definitely worth seeing.

4.  Go on a CYCLO RIDE

This is one of those touristy things that you just have to do here.  All kids will find this exciting, and it’s great to give your feet a break from walking the streets of the Old Quarter. It’s an easy way to check out the city and is quite nice if you go at nighttime as well.  You need to negotiate your price first though, otherwise you might get a nasty surprise at the end.  If you are worried about it, just ask your hotel to organise you a tour on one.

5. Pay a visit to CONG VIEN NGHIA DO PARK

This park really is fantastic.  It’s a great escape from the chaos of Hanoi and has heaps of stuff to occupy the kids.  There is a lake, incredible play area, walking tracks, a zipline and lots of fake grass.  There is an entrance fee however like most things in Vietnam, it’s really cheap.  You can buy food and snacks on the way in if you didn’t bring any.

6. Stop for ICECREAM.

Vietnamese ice-cream has some interesting flavours that are quite different to back home. I loved stopping for an ice-cream snack because if picky Mr 3.5 didn’t like the flavour, I scored an extra serving !

hanoi with kids
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Looking for some more inspiration for your next getaway?

For more information on my travel through Vietnam with kids…check out this page:  Vietnam

To see all of my destination, head on over to this page: My travel destinations

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