FAMILY SOJOURNS

Vietnam is placed sixth among the ten fastest-growing travel destinations in the world and leads in Asia, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

By Le Diem on July 12,2018 09:48 AM

FAMILY SOJOURNS

Photos: Luxury Travel & Asia Pacific Travel

THERE’S A LOAD OF OPTIONS FOR THOSE WITH KIDS LOOKING TO TRAVEL AROUND VIETNAM

The number of visitors to the country has increased sharply in recent times, with more than 13 million foreign arrivals last year, a 28% increase year-on-year. Many come with their families, which creates potential for tour operators to develop family holiday packages.

Thanks to its tropical weather and lots of sun, Vietnam offers year-round travel. Its diverse terrain of mountain ranges, jungles, rivers, plains and beaches mixed in with a rich culture and dozens of ethnic minority groups makes it perfectly suited for a family adventure and holiday, according to Mr Pham Ha, CEO of Luxury Travel, one of the leading tour operators in the country. ‘Children have a natural curiosity and quickly break through cultural and language barriers, particularly in Indochina, where children are revered and foreign children are treated to endless attention from smitten locals,’ he said.

Families want to be active on vacation and engage in cultural activities, in addition to age-appropriate sports. They tend to stay longer in each destination, typically three nights or five to seven nights. Vietnam has already become popular for many families to experience adventure and learn more about what the country has to offer, Ha added. The search for the rarest of travel experiences is taking luxury travellers to some of the most remote, off the beaten track locations on the planet. However, they can still venture into these uncharted territories in style and comfort. Remote eco-lodges in Vietnam and Cambodia are becoming increasingly popular among upscale global travellers.

Noting the demand, travel companies have already been designing more facilities for families at places with beautiful natural surroundings that are kid-friendly.

FAMILY SOJOURNS

Discovering Bai Tu Long Bay & Lan Ha Bay

Emperor Cruises, a luxury cruise operator in Vietnam, has launched its second tour around Bai Tu Long Bay. On the eastern fringes of world heritage site Ha Long Bay is untouched Bai Tu Long Bay, which has gained favour among many travellers for its peacefulness and relative seclusion. Along with limestone mountains, the bay also boasts attractions such as the Cong Do natural reservation area, Vong Vieng fishing village, Thien Canh Son Cave, Da Xep Park, and Tra Gioi Beach. There are also some populated islands, like Quan Lan, Ngoc Vung, Cong Dong and Cong Tay, with many beautiful beaches. The Bai Tu Long Bay National Park, meanwhile, is rich in biological diversity.

Inspired by the lavish lifestyle of Emperor Bao Dai, Vietnam’s last monarch, the Emperor Cruise was built in the style of the1930s, with each suite featuring interesting stories from his life. There are eight King and Queen Suites with an ensuite, a private balcony, ocean views, a butler service, and a limousine service, for guests to enjoy their time with their little princes and princesses on a regal experience.

Known as the Hideaway Package, the tour gives parents and kids an escape from daily life to the beauty of the bay, where they can relax on board. There is also kayaking and snorkelling, an encounter with local fishermen in a floating village, and a BBQ lunch on a wild, secluded beach.

FAMILY SOJOURNS

Another highlight Luxury Travel tours is Cat Ba Island, with idyllic Lan Ha Bay just offshore offering breath-taking views of green-clad limestone karsts stretching into the distance, while the other side of the island is dotted with colourful fishing boats and beaches as well as Cat Ba town.

Guests can also trek through forests and take in the local wildlife in the Cat Ba National Park. Visits to fishing villages and honey and fish sauce makers are also possible. Bars, cafes, and restaurants are all open late in Lan Ha Bay, bringing more fun to tourists staying overnight at a resort among rocky islands and beaches and enjoying a full day of adventure on the water.

All packages are friendly-family, according to Ha, and are suitable for different age groups and especially children. Accommodation therefore usually features swimming pool, gardens, kid’s clubs, a cinema, and restaurants serving different types of food.

Rural life in Mai Chau

Meanwhile, Asia Pacific Travel has launched a new product recently in Mai Chau district in northern Hoa Binh province. Though Mai Chau is familiar to local and international tourists for its beautiful rural landscapes and mountains, forests, fields, and stilt houses, the new Mai Chau HideAway Resort on the shores of Hoa Binh Lake provides a fresh and unique experience, according to Mr Giang Nam, Director of Asia Pacific Travel.

Based on the rustic style of the 60s, all rooms are simple but no less modern. The resort combines modern facilities in its stilt houses with simple colours and open windows with natural light to create a sense of comfort, peace and tranquillity.

There are a host of activities for parents and kids to do together, such as visiting colourful local markets of ethnic minority people, trekking to nearby forests, kayaking or rowing bamboo rafts on Hoa Binh Lake, yoga, cooking classes, enjoying specialities of the Muong minority people, who account for some 60% of residents in the province, or swimming in the infinity pool close to the edge of Hoa Binh Lake, built with and decorated in natural stone.

As families tend to combine both relaxation and exploration, they pay more attention to beach resorts with child-friendly facilities, such as those in Ha Long Bay, Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Phan Thiet (Mui Ne), or historical and cultural sites like Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, and HCMC, while finishing in the Mekong Delta, which offers easy access to HCMC for the flight back home, according to Mr Brian Vu, Marketing Manager at Hello Asia Travel.

FAMILY SOJOURNS

From north to south

Hello Asia Travel’s most popular family tour is a 12-day package along the length of Vietnam. The journey starts in Hanoi and its popular sites of the Temple of Literature, Bat Trang ceramic village, and the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, among others, before heading out to Halong Bay.

It then takes guests to the central region and the imperial capital of Hue, another world heritage site, to discover Vietnam’s former capital, before continuing on to Da Nang, with its famous beaches and the Cham Museum, a graceful building and an eclectic mix of French-colonial and Cham architecture. Nearby Hoi An ancient town boasts a blend of Chinese, Dutch and Japanese cultures and also beautiful beaches.

Continuing southwards, the tour visits HCMC, Vietnam’s most bustling city, before heading down to the Mekong Delta, famous for its stunning floating markets and canals and bridges, for a boat trip. The final destination is Mui Ne, a tranquil and peaceful beach where families can have a great time on white sandy beaches before heading home.

Along with beautiful landscapes and historical and cultural sites, cheap accommodation and good food are another attraction of Vietnam for families, according to Ha. ‘We have had many customers of different generations who toured Vietnam seeking new experiences and great memories,’ he said. ‘We therefore have various tour options available, from five to 20 days.’

Though the number of families visiting Vietnam is increasing, there are certain difficulties.

As many new products are offered in places that are still unknown to many foreigners, tour operators must invest more on marketing as well as accommodation of international standard, according Nam.

Agreeing, Brian added that there is still a lack of entertainment areas and varied activities at these destinations for families with active children. Tour agencies are now trying to create more activities within their packages to attract more customers.

Believing in their new and unique products, tour operators expect to welcome increasing numbers of foreign customers, including families, in the future.

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