Tag Archives: Vietnam with a toddler

Halong Bay with toddler 子連れでハロン湾

Halong Bay View
This Hanoi trip log is taking a lot longer than I expected…

The most difficult part of this trip, the loooong (with a 1 year old) 4 hour bus ride to the ferry terminal began quite early in the morning at 8AM. Mila woke up around 6AM, so we were all up, showering, packing and feeding and we just made it downstairs on time to catch the bus.  Our plan was to let her run around as much as we could until we had to board the bus.  Due to the early morning “run”, when we got on the tightly packed bus, she fell asleep and slept for the first 2 hours.  The hotel arranged the Fantasea cruise for us and the reviews we read were generally good, so we had high hopes.  The bus was a good sized tour bus, and the AC worked.  That’s all you can really ask for.

The bus made a pitstop at the ABC Stopover where there are some (overpriced) souvenirs and a small cafeteria. I actually bought two Ao Dai for the kids here.  I’ve had trouble finding silk pre-made Ao Dai for children that I liked in other cities I’ve traveled to in Vietnam.  The ready-made ones tended to be polyester and I wanted silk.  Most parents would tailor make a silk Ao Dai for children but I didn’t want to struggle with the little kids. Plus I always buy a bigger size for kids since their sizes seem to change every week. The ABC Stopover had really cute ones I hadn’t seen before.

Back on the bus and it was about an hour and a half to the ferry terminal.  Mila was generally in a good mood and with some assistance from other wonderful people on the bus, we made it to the ferry terminal before a meltdown.  Success!

The ferry terminal was very crowded and since it was drizzling that day, covered in dirt.  We were shuttled on to a boat named Dang Tam.  Cozy, decent seating, nice roof deck upstairs.  The boat dropped off half of the passengers on the overnight cruise and continued with the rest of us to the tour of Halong Bay.  The boats are NOT toddler/baby ready. They are fine regular tourist boats, but with steep dangerous stairs and a wide open back, They are definitely not meant for young children.  I was very happy to have the leash for Mila.  She kept wandering to the back of the boat and her favorite was the steep precarious staircase to the roofdeck. We briefly saw the overnight boat and it’s definitely not recommended for toddlers.

It was a very eery day at Halong Bay.  Very deep fog, couldn’t see very far ahead.  Suddenly, an island would appear here and there, then disappear back into the fog.  Beautiful and serene.  We had our lunch on the boat, the food was much better than expected. It was a full course of salad, “cha gio” (fried spring rolls), fried rice, chicken cutlet, fried whole fish, extra veggie dish.  I’m always impressed how they manage to get this much food out of a cramped ship kitchen. Being used to western tourist ships with terrible food, I thought the food was quite good.  Mila ate well on the boat, she loves the fried spring rolls.  It’s good to see kids being introduced to different foods at an early age.  I was impressed the other day when Nina picked up chicken feet in a soup and asked me, “Can I eat this?” and seeing my nod, just went on to gnaw at it until she ate all the meat (cartilage?) off of it. It may seem cruel to some, but I think it’s important to eat as much as you can from every animal that’s been killed for consumption.  Anyways, I digress.

After lunch, we came to the famous Dong Thien Cung cave.  It seemed like the entire island was made from limestone and the whole inside was a cave.  Breathtaking view.  It was unbelievable how beautiful it was.  The cave alone was worth the painful bus ride for me.

The next stop was a makeshift raft with kayaking option.  I stayed behind on the raft and my sister went out in a kayak since I couldn’t take that risk.  They kayaked the area where there were low caves that lead to big open space and some interesting rock shapes.  I hope to come back someday when the kids are older for this opportunity.  Marc would have absolutely loved this. Mila wandered around the raft and made friends, enjoying the scenery.

After this, the tour split up again and we changed to a different boat.  Sunrise something or other.  The second boat was not as charming as the first.  It had those tacky lights all over the interior like a high school disco night and was blaring music like it was 1999.

We opted to stay up on the roofdeck which was just a bit quieter. We chatted with some other travellers. Most of them were Westerners travelling through Asia on their trip of a lifetime.  They were either very young, or retired.  Funny how those two crowds come together.

We stayed the night on Cat Ba Island.  The bus ride once we reached the island was honestly a bit painful after a long day. Mila was passed out and exhausted and my sister and I were ready to do the same.

We stayed at Cat Ba Palace Hotel and this is one hotel I’ve stayed in Asia so far that I do NOT recommend.  The dinner was bad.  The lunch on the boat was much better.  Their “cari ga” (chicken curry) was probably the most watery and sad curry I’ve ever had. The room looked OK when we first entered, but for some odd reason, the whole room was damp and so was the bed. I showered with Mila first and by the time my sister got in, no hot water. I suppose it is a budget hotel, but I would have preferred to pay a bit more for a dry bed.  The staff was generally nice and helpful.  We were on the second floor which may have contributed to the moisture in the air.  The hotel was built up against a mountain, so its back was essentially a steep cliff.  We were exhausted from travelling and went to bed early, but were rudely awakened by very loud Karaoke from downstairs.  I guess the staff have their nightly Karaoke after they are finished with their work, but it was painful and sounded like they were singing in your head.  I went to ask them to turn it down a bit, they said, “just another half an hour?”  I hate to be the But-I-Have-A-Baby-Mom, but I had to pull that card since all three of us needed the rest.  They turned down the mic and we passed out soon afterwards..

The next morning, we were up early again.  Fortunately, after the Karaoke ordeal, we had a good night’s sleep.  We left the hotel at the same time, around 8AM, and went back to the small pier.  We were really hoping to see our Dang Tam boat back and were very happy to see it approaching the island.

Back on the boat and back to Hanoi, we encountered an entirely different set of people.  There was group of young Israeli guys.  I’ve noticed this more and more as I travel, guys from Israel and other areas of the Middle East love little kids.  It’s just an observation, but it’s nice to see because I used to think young guys didn’t really take an interest in young children.  They smiled at her, when she would trip, they would help her up and cheer her on as she (with support) climbed up the steep stairs to the roof deck and clapped when she finally made it.

This was the last day to enjoy the scenery so we hung out mostly on the roofdeck.  The way back always feels faster than the way there and soon we were back at the ferry terminal waiting for the bus to Hanoi.

The bus ride back was a bit tough since Mila had gone from enjoying the fresh air to being in a packed bus, and she was not pleased.  Eventually, she settled down and was chatting up the other passengers on the bus.  We arrived back at the hotel at around 4PM and were relieved to be back in the comfortable room at Tu Linh Legend.





フェリーは雨が降ってることもあってドロドロ。20分程待って、Dang Tam号に搭乗。みたとこちょっとぼろっちいけど、後で何隻か乗ってみた中ではこれが一番良かったかも。ルーフデッキのチェアとかもちょっといい感じで。船泊予定の人達は半数が途中で乗り換えして、うちはこのままDang Tamで出航~。予想はしてたけど、小さい子供を連れて乗るにはちょっと危険な観光船。日本とかシンガポールみたいな安全第一のところから来ると結構びっくり。後ろとか、壁ないし。船の後ろに座って足ぶらぶらしてるお兄ちゃんとか気持ち良さそうだけど、子連れは怖すぎ。デッキに登る階段は狭いし急だし。何故にそこを登りたがる一歳児…もちろん実良さんにはお散歩紐とママがしっかりついてます。





カットバ島に着くころにはいい加減疲れも出てきて、ホテルにつくまでのバスが少し辛い。Cat Ba Palace HotelというFantaSeaの直営ホテルに泊まったんですが、ここがあんまり良くなった。食事もはっきり言って、船で出たものの方が美味しかったし。鳥カレーが水っぽい、肉がかちかち。食べたけど、うーん、もちっとどうにか出来たのでは?量は多いんだけどね。部屋自体はパッと見は普通だったんだけど、何か全体的にじとっとしてたというか、ベッドもジメジメ感があって巨大乾燥機が欲しかった。一日バタバタしてたので疲れて早く寝ようと思ったら下から大音量のカラオケが…何事かと思えばスタッフが仕事終わった後に宴会タイム。隣で歌ってるような音で寝れない。そりゃ早く寝過ぎといえばそうなのかもだけど、スタッフのカラオケタイムって...

音を下げてくれって頼みに行ったら”後30分我慢して”って、いや、無理。無理だって。赤ちゃんがいるから気を使ってよ、ってママにはなりたくないが、ここは流石に子供を理由に音を下げてもらってようやく安眠。うーん、FantaSea、ホテルはもう一声!カラオケのごたごたの後は爆睡したので朝はさっぱり。また朝の8時に出てピアへ。嬉しいことにまたDang Tamの船が来てくれてほっとした。もー、あのテクノ船だとハロン湾の空気ぶち壊しだもん。最終日はゆっくりしたいわ。


いい加減最後のバスでは実良さんもグズグズになったりもするも、周りの寛大さに助けられながらTu Ling Legendに到着。前に一泊しただけなのに、おかえりなさいませ、と言われてほっとする安心感。やっぱこのホテルいいわ~。FantaSea クルーズも全体的には良かったです。でも、Sunriseの船にあたっちゃうと、辛いかもね~。出発前に、うるさい船はいやだと伝えておくと、全然違うかもしれません。折角の旅行ですから、しっかりリクエストして、楽しんで下さい。

Halong Bay 1 Halong Bay 2

My sister on the kayak heading towards a cave

My sister on the kayak heading towards a cave

The cave my sister canoed through.  Pretty Cool

The cave my sister canoed through. Pretty Cool

Halong Bay 4 SmallDSC05456 Halong Bay 7

The view from the top of the island

The view from the top of the island

Cat Ba Palace Hotel Entrance  Looked OK...

Cat Ba Palace Hotel Entrance Looked OK…

Cat Ba Palace Hotel room.  It's gooooold, but moist....

Cat Ba Palace Hotel room. It’s gooooold, but moist….

Would be cool if I didn' have Mila with me.

Would be cool if I didn’t have a toddler with me.

The Kayak stop where I hung out with Mila for an hour

The Kayak stop where I hung out with Mila for an hour

And they are off!

And they are off!

The beautiful Dong Thien Cung cave

The beautiful Dong Thien Cung cave

The light shining in through

The light shining in through

Look at that!

Look at that!

I just thought this little house is cute

I just thought this little house is cute

Mommy, Seriously, this post is a bit too long...

Mommy, Seriously, this post is a bit too long…




Vietnam(Hanoi and Halong Bay) with a toddler 子連れでベトナム(ハノイとハロン湾)


I’ve always wanted to go to Halong Bay, but it’s a difficult choice since it’s a long bus/boat trip from Hanoi.  With two toddlers, we had our reservations. In fact, Marc, who is half Vietnamese, refused to go to Vietnam anymore while the children are young, since we had such a chaotic time on our last trip.

But when my sister casually pitched doing a sister’s trip to Vietnam, Halong Bay immediately came to mind. With an extra pair of hands, maybe, just maybe, I could pull this off.

I did ask Marc if he had any interest in coming along, but the answer was a resounding no.  He also suggested leaving Nina at home since he did not want to keep disrupting her school schedule and routine (we had just gone to Phuket a few weeks before).  He could put her to bed and help her in the morning.  She goes to daycare full time, plus we have an awesome helper that can look after Nina if need be.  Nina didn’t enjoy Vietnam last time either, so it was quickly agreed that Mila, who hasn’t started daycare yet, would come with me to Vietnam and we would go during the week, so the family could be back together for the weekend.

My sister was planning on a budget trip, but with Mila, I needed some level of comfort, so we decided on a budget of USD50-100 for our stay in Hanoi. We figured that should get us a decent accommodation since when we went to Ho Chi Minh, Marc’s grandmother was staying at a place for only USD30 a night (she negotiated the deal) and it was actually pretty nice. With no negotiator this time, we figured a 50-100 would be a decent enough budget. We planned to arrange an overnight trip to Halong Bay, staying in a hotel to for safety concerns.

We looked exclusively at hotels in Hanoi that had “Family Room” offerings, as I’ve usually found hotels that offer family rooms to be more helpful with a toddler.  We booked Tu Linh Legend Hotel since this one seemed to have a nice family room, was very responsive on email and was offering lower rates for advanced booking directly through the hotel. Even when we had to push the trip back 2 weeks because of my sister’s jellyfish accident, they were accommodating and re-booked us right away.

The schedule was pretty much a roller coaster ride

Mar.18 – Leave Singapore in the AM, arrive at Hanoi around lunch time
Mar.19 – Leave Hanoi in the AM, See Halong bay (Night at a hotel)
Mar.20 – More tour of Halong Bay and head back to Hanoi expecting to arrive around 4PM
Mar.21 – Leave Hanoi in the AM and arrive back in Singapore around 2PM

On the way there, we flew just me and Mila and she was perfect.  8AM, got on the plane, slept for the first 2 hours and ate the last hour.  We got off the flight and my sister was there, along with the hotel pickup. It was truly one of those moments when the stars aligned.  Hanoi was very hazy, but unlike the Singapore haze, it didn’t have that terrible burning smell, so it didn’t feel half as bad.

Tu Linh Legend Hotel is located in the tourist area of town and it’s pretty convenient to hang out around Hanoi. The hotel lobby is simple and clean, has comfortable couches, computers, a friendly doorman and lobby staff. Every single staff member was friendly, spoke English decently well and loved children.  They had tea, coffee, bananas and milk in the lobby and they were very good about refilling that tasty plate of bananas that Mila downed.

The family room was quite spacious, though from the photos on their website, I thought the room had two king beds; it turned out to be one king bed and a folding bed.  The folding bed was quite small and uncomfortable and I took the couch since my sister has a bad back and needed the bed.  She’s fairly picky about her bed, but was pretty comfortable, even with Mila rolling around next to her, so it was a nice space for a family.  I actually have this weird obsession with sleeping on the couch, so I was actually quite comfortable. I’m sure they had a baby cot if we had asked, but I knew Mila was going to end up on the bed anyway, so I didn’t bother.  As long as there’s enough room, we are good!
**When we came back from Halong bay and stayed another night, instead of the folding bed, they had a small mattress and my sister was happy to sleep on that. So I guess you can probably request it if you don’t want the folding bed**

There’s also a water boiler (meant for tea) for those of us who may want to take extra caution with washing water-bottles for the babes. I don’t usually sterilize water bottles for a toddler, but considering the bad water in Vietnam, the hot humid climate and other risk factors, while I travel, I sterilize the pacifier and straws and small pieces of the water bottle that accumulate bacteria quickly.  My kids have never been sick on a trip fortunately, and that’s one of the safety precautions I take.  It may be irrelevant, but better safe than sorry.

The room was also very clean including the bathroom so we were happy with the accommodation.  All of this for USD45 a night, pretty good!

Here’s the website for Tu Linh Legend Hotel and the tripadvisor reviews. When we went, there were not mane reviews, but it looks like it’s getting great reviews now!




妹は今回はセミバジェット旅行との事で、20から30USDの比較的安宿に泊まってましたが、流石に幼児連れて失敗したらきついので、私達がいる間はUSD50から100までで探そう、という事で、色々探しました。うちもホーチミンに行った時はマークのおばあちゃんの泊まっていたところにUSD30で泊まったけど、あそこの良かったので、ま、50から100だせば十分なところに泊まれそうだし、マークほったらかしの旅だし。後は、ファミリールームのあるホテルを探すこと。ファミリールームをわざわざ作ってるところはやはり家族連れに理解があるし、部屋以外の点でも融通がきいたりするのがうれしい。色々見た結果、メールの対応も早くて、大きめのファミリールーム有り、しかもアドバンスブッキングの場合はがっくんと値下げもしてくれる、Tu Ling Legendホテルに決定。こちら、出る3日前に、妹のクラゲ騒ぎで日程が二週間変わった時の対応も良く、ハロン湾ツアーも組んでくれたので、とっても助かりました。



Tu Linh Legendホテルは観光地のど真ん中にあって、とっても便利。美味しいものも回りにあって、ハノイをうろつくには申し分ないロケーション。スタッフは全員フレンドリーで子供ラブで英語も問題なく喋れる。豪華ではないけど、メンテのしっかりされた綺麗なロビー。コーヒー、紅茶、バナナとミルクはいつも補充されていて、実良はバクバクいただいてました。






The dining area for breakfsat

Tu Linh Legeng Hotel

The small bed, the couch and the king bed


The small couch area to hang out