May 1, 2013

What to do in Hanoi, Vietnam with kids

Hanoi is the first city we arrived in Southeast Asia that we actually needed to wear our sweaters.  The cooler weather was another welcome relief after Dalat.  The sweltering heat in Southeast Asia can be exhausting at time.   The beautiful weather made for playing outside and walking in the parks much more fun!  Here are somethings our kids loved while we were in Hanoi.

The Museum of Etiology - is great for all ages.  It gives an excellent overview of all the minority groups in Vietnam. Beautiful costumes and well preserved artifacts. We wish we had more time to explore the inside however the kids were too excited to get outside.  Outside they have so many houses the kids loved crawling in and out of. They loved exploring each one. We loved seeing how the different groups live. Simply amazing and eye opening.  But the real bonus when you are done with the museum  is the incredible and the best park in all of Hanoi is right across the street!!

Cong Vien Nghia Do Park - Hands down the best park in Hanoi!  This park has a beautiful lake, walking trails, an incredible and clean play area and is secured by a tall fence.  The play area has fake grass, loads of different play equipment and even a zipline.  I think our kids monopolized the zipline.  Entrance is 2,000 dong for adults and 1,000 dong for kids.  Cheap eats can be bought just outside the gate.  Plan to spend the day here, it's just that much fun!

Walk around the Old Quarter - We loved exploring the narrow streets and all the wonderful sidewalk cafes.  Long ago, every street was dedicated to selling something different and the street is still named after whatever was being sold.  Very fun to explore.

Water Puppet show - If you haven't seen one this is a must.  Kids love the mastery of the puppeteers.  The music was lively and the kids were enthrawled the entire 45 minutes.  However, if you've seen one puppet show you've seen them all.  Get your tickets early for the best seats.

Hanoi Circus - This is one place you either love or hate.  The performers are talented and entertaining, but the animal acts are a bit disturbing.  Go and make up your own mind.  They have shows Tuesday-Sunday around 8pm and on Sunday morning a kids performance at 930a.  The circus is at Reunification park in a big permanent tent, NOT Lenin park .  There were plenty of open seats when we went.

Tip:  Buy tickets from the ticket office and not from the scalpers near by.  Scalpers will over charge you for ticket.  Adults pay, but kids are free. Attened the Sunday morning performance and only 1/8th of the seats were taken up so no need to buy tickets for the kids.

Reunification Park, which is right next to the circus, has loads much for the kids to do.  A cool, although dated, play area, swan boats, train ride around the park, bridges, carnival rides, a lake and lots of trails for kids to run on.  The park is huge and the lake takes about one hour to walk around.

Take a free city tour with Hanoi Kids - This is a great organization!  They suggest a lot of different tours however you can customize it any way you like.  We decided on a easy walking tour of the Old Quarter through the markets with an introduction to some delicious egg coffee.  A must try when in Hanoi.

Ho Tay Waterpark is on the north part of West Lake with amusement park rides too.  This place seems to be packed no matter what the weather is like.  When we were there it was way too cold for water play, but there were plenty of rides open for business.  The water park area is open in the hotter months.

West Lake is a huge lake just outside the Old Quarter.  The lake takes a few hours to walk around so bring a stroller and lots of snacks if you plan on walking.  They have swan rides, balls to run on the lake and plenty of grassy areas to play in.  About a $3-5USD cab ride from the Old Quarter.  Also found next to West Lake are tiNIWorld, Kinder Park and Ho Tay Waterpark.

Kinder Park is a huge indoor play area for kids.  It is attached to Ho Tay water and amusement park on the north side of West Lake.  They have multiple play areas with rock climbing, an indoor putting center, rooms where kids can pretend to be a fireman or a doctor and lots of other activities.  A bit pricey at 120,000 dong per child, but well worth the hours of entertainment.  A cab ride will cost about $4-5 one way from Old Quarter.
Tip:  Avoid any play area on the weekends as all cost!

tiNIWorld is another indoor play area for kids.  Hanoi has 3 locations and we went to the one at West Lake.  Although not as big as Kinder Park it is equally as fun. The best thing about tiNIWorld is you can drop your kids off and go downstairs and enjoy some coffee and free wifi while the kids play.  If you don't want to leave then TiniWorld also has free wifi and a grocery store next door.  Cost is 20,000-40,000 dong and open 930a-930p.
Tip:  Monday's are half price!

Hoan Kiem Lake - is a beautiful lake in the middle of town separating the Old Quater and the French Quarter.  It's great for people watching and playing ball.  The kids practically ran the entire way around the lake jumping and climbing trees and rocks.

Go for a cyclo ride around the old quarter.  Our kids just love the thrill of the ride!  Always negotiate ahead of time.

Carnival rides at Vườn hoa Lý Thái Tổ which is next to Hoan Kiem Lake on the southeast side of the lake.  Look for the tall statue and go to the back of the park on the north side.  The rides are mostly for toddlers so our kids had a great time.  Rides cost about $.30USD each and open around 430p.

Night market goes from Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Market and with all the various stalls creates a busy and crowded walking street with lots of different and delicious foods to eat.  You can find everything here, but it is only open on the weekends.  During the day, just shop the Old Quarter.

Hanoi has so many more things to do we couldn't list them all.  We really had a great time in Hanoi and all of Vietnam!  Anyone else have some suggestions for things to do in Hanoi?

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  1. What a great list! we'll be ticking some of these off over the next few days

  2. Thank you for your list!!!! I hope all the famiy will enjoy it :)

  3. Great tips! Is the end of the year between Xmas and new year a suitable time to visit?

    1. It might be a bit cold, but there really isn't a bad time to visit Vietnam!

  4. It really is definitely a very useful section of information. I am happy which you provided this handy info with us.

  5. Thanks! This was super useful.

  6. Great list, thank you!