A Family-Friendly Guide to Ho Chi Minh City
A trip to Ho Chi Minh City will be a fantastic introduction to the bustling life in Vietnam. Whether it is a museum or a sightseeing tour, there are endless things to do in Ho Chi Minh City for kids and the whole family.
This family-friendly city welcomes children of all ages to explore the city’s top attractions and enjoy amazing recreational activities. There are good ways to let the whole family relax and get memorable travel experiences in one of the most developed cities in Vietnam. This is a family-friendly guide catering to different budgets, preferences and highlighting the best things to do with kids in Ho Chi Minh City.
Getting around Ho Chi Minh City is not so hard despite its notorious traffic. From public buses to private cars, this lively city has all for everyone’s taste. Your trip to Ho Chi Minh City starts from the moment you get on any means of transport. Whether you think of an easy, cheap option to get around or you want some personalized experiences for your family, it’s good to make sure that your kids will have fun.
Traveling by taxi is a traditional way to get around any cities as a tourist. There are taxis everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City, and you can grab one to get to your next stop at a blink of an eye. No fear of getting lost, as the taxi drivers will definitely know most of the tourist attractions in the city. You should take note of some trustworthy taxi companies such as Vina Taxi, Mai Linh Taxi and Vinasun Taxi.
- Pros: Convenient, easy, available 24/7
- Cons: Taxi scams
» If you are afraid of taxi scams, Tips for Your First Trip to Vietnam may help.
You can book private cars through car rental agencies, tour companies or your hotels. Private cars are recommended if you travel with kids. There are lots of options available if you are strolling around Bui Vien Street or Pham Ngu Lao Street. You just need to clarify your preferences such as an English speaking guide or any special needs.
- Pros: Customisable, family-friendly, fixed price, flexible pick-up
- Cons: Higher price
If you want to know more about the local lifestyle, there is no better way than to get on a public bus. There are more than 100 routes around all districts in Ho Chi Minh City. Tourists can seek buses at major terminals such as Ben Thanh Station, Cho Lon Station, Mien Dong Station and Mien Tay Station. Check Ho Chi Minh bus map here.
- Pros: Budget-friendly, local exposure
- Cons: No air-conditioning (some buses), old seats
A common Vietnam travel myth is that there is no metro in Vietnam. And you should never believe it as Ho Chi Minh City Metro will officially welcome guests soon in 2021. You can conveniently reach major spots in the city with six urban lines and three lines of tramway and monorail. Become one of the first tourists to visit Vietnam after COVID-19 pandemic and try the brand-new metro – Does that sound good?
- Pros: New, convenient, local exposure
- Cons: Under construction
» See more on Safe destinations in Vietnam to travel post pandemic
Accommodations in Ho Chi Minh City
You are going to one of the most flexible cities in this world. There are hundreds of places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City with prices ranging from budget hostels to chic hotels. No matter how much you are willing to pay, there are good things to come on your trip.
The outstanding advice is to opt for a place in the city center of District 1 which is close to most tourist attractions and food choices. If you travel with kids, think twice before booking any hotels near Bui Vien Street or around the backpackers’ area. The atmosphere is fantastic for party-goers, but loud noises from bars may disturb your kids. There are some competitive alternatives on Tran Hung Dao Street or Nguyen Trai Street.
Some of the best luxury hotels in Ho Chi Minh City are dotted on Nguyen Hue Street, Le Loi Street and Dong Khoi Street. Here are some suggestions: The Myst Dong Khoi, Rex, The Reverie, Sheraton, etc.
Take note of some hotels that are not in District 1 but it does not take much time to travel to the city center. You can think about hotels near Chinatown in District 5 and District 6. Airbnb accommodations in Ho Chi Minh City are also worth considering.
Things to Eat in Ho Chi Minh City
One of the best parts of every trip to Ho Chi Minh City is definitely the food. Kids would love to treat their taste buds with mouth-watering dishes from street-side eateries to food courts in shopping centers to fine-dining restaurants. It may exhaust you just to find a place to tick off your child’s wishlist. If you just don’t have enough time to try all in the Foodie Bucket List, prioritize Pho (beef rice noodles), Com tam (broken rice) and Banh xeo (sizzling pancake).
You don’t have to worry when your kids insist on street food. Saigon street food is both safe and scrumptious. The tasty street food is the allure to any tourists for obvious reasons: tempting aromas, eye-catching colors and power-packed favors. Vietnamese baguette, fresh spring rolls and sweet soup desserts are among the most popular offerings from street food vendors. You can always find them available at Ben Thanh Market or Binh Tay Market.
Here are some suggestions for your family:
♦ Pho Hoa Pasteur (featuring Pho)
♦ Nhu Lan Restaurant & Bakery (featuring Banh mi)
Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City for Kids
There are abundant things to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City for kids of all ages. From modern entertainment facilities and lively tourist spots, this city offers unique experiences your whole family will love.
Join a traditional cyclo sightseeing tour
It is recommended that you let your kids tour the city on a traditional three-wheel bicycle taxi. The cyclo drivers will give you an interesting tour around must-see tourist spots in Ho Chi Minh City such as Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Chinatown and Ho Thi Ky Flower Market. Your kids would love joining the chaotic traffic in Vietnam, not being hit by some insane motorbikes.
# Insider tips: Bring along sunglasses, sunscreen and water to deal with the scorching heat.
» Are you interested in Ho Chi Minh City Cyclo Tour?
Enjoy a water puppet show
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It's hump day & since I ? puppet shows, thought I would share some of the puppet shows I have seen around the world starting with the water puppet show in Vietnam. The stage (pic 2) consists of a tank filled with water. The puppets (pic 1 & 3) are made of wood, some weighing up to 15 kgs ! & operated by large rods by puppeteers who stand waist deep in water behind the screen & operate them. I enjoyed watching this a lot as there was a lot of water splashing & even fire breathing dragons ! (pic 4) At the end of the show, the puppeteers emerge from behind the screen (pic 5) And the best part is that you can buy the "retired" puppets as souvenirs just the way I did (pic 6) as memories of this unique puppet show ! * * #waterpuppet #waterpuppetshow #waterpuppettheatre #hochinminh #visithochiminhcity #vietnam #visitvietnam #vietnamnow #myvietnam #onepicatatyme #worldtraveler #wanderlust #globetrotter #photooftheday #travelmemories #travelflashback #traveldiaries #world_shotz #traveltheglobe #exploretheworld #traveltolive #instapassport #instamood #instagood
Watching puppets move seamlessly on the water, your children will be amused by this traditional art performance. Most of the shows depict Vietnamese folk tales and legends. They are one of the best family-friendly activities in Ho Chi Minh City, although Vietnamese water puppet shows are typically performed with no English.
# Insider tips: You can watch water puppet shows in Ho Chi Minh City at The Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theatre daily at 5 p.m, 6:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Tickets cost $7.50 for shows lasting about 50 minutes each.
Visit Ho Chi Minh City Zoo
Animals are just appealing, as the concrete jungle covers the green part of the world that the children deserve to see. Ho Chi Minh City Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a good place to teach your kids about animals, trees and allow them to get up close to some of the animals and feed them. The zoo opens daily from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and offers free entrance for children under 1 meter tall.
# Insider tips: There is a museum located inside the zoo, which is called The Museum of Vietnamese History. You can pay $2.50/pax to visit this museum and extra fees for media (per camera). Children under six and disabilities can get free admission.
Explore the underground labyrinth
An immense network of connecting tunnels in Cu Chi District, the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City is a famous place for not only adults but also children. Cu Chi Tunnels will tell your whole family about the Vietnam War and Viet Cong guerilla fighters through stories about intricate systems of tunnels. A snug adventure will ensure an incredible and educational experience for your kids.
# Insider tips: You can let your kids try the tunnel opening and go into the small tunnels – They will have really cool pictures!
» Explore Cu Chi – Ben Dinh Tunnels Tour
Soak up Artinus 3D Art Museum
Kids won’t yawn more in museums next time when you tell them to visit the Artinus 3D Art Museum, the largest of its kind in Vietnam. This museum features three-dimensional paintings of wildlife, landmarks and sculptures. Let your children believe in the magic from paintings: Swimming with sharks, trapped inside a giant bottle, getting inside Van Goh’s masterpieces and more.
# Insider tips: To get the best photos, make sure the children stand on the marked photo points. The tickets cost $11.50 on weekdays and $13.50 on weekends.
Beat the heat at Dam Sen Water Park
It is never too late to submerge yourself in water in a city that rarely gets cold but often gets very hot. Dam Sen Water Park is a top choice for the locals of all ages. This water park has everything to fascinate your kids, from wave pools, water slides to thrilling rides. Going swimming sounds boring in terms of traveling abroad, but in Ho Chi Minh City, it makes sense.
# Insider tips: Adventurous children can go for a Kamikaze slide, a 19-metre-high super fast water slide. There are lifeguards at each spot to guarantee safety for everyone. Entrance fees start roughly from $4.00.
Don’t stress out to find a place to suit your kids’ interests and yours. Your whole family will have fun-filled activities in Ho Chi Minh City and bring home fantastic experiences as souvenirs from this lovely city. Contact us for more day trips in Ho Chi Minh City.
© Maika Tours
Written by Trinh Tran
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