Christmas Eve on the Saigon River

The Bonsai Boat at Dock

Since we were traveling during the Christmas holiday, the kids didn’t get the typical Christmas morning when they wake up and find presents under the tree. The presents for everybody this year was the trip itself, but we did want to do something special to recognize the holiday.

We were in Ho Chi Minh City on Christmas Eve and our “something special” was dinner on the Saigon River. We booked a Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise through Bonsai Cruises.

Continue reading

The Best Place for Families to Stay in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) City

Saigon Street. Featured Image.

Okay . . . So there are thousands of places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, so I can’t say the best . . . but this place was pretty darn spectacular for my family. I’d give Riverside Apartments a full recommendation to any other family traveling to Ho Chi Minh City.

I’m a writer. I’m accustomed to spending quiet days at home, staring at my computer, dreaming up imaginary people and writing their stories. When I go out and about anywhere (even the shopping mall . . . or the grocery story . . . or, well, any crowded social gathering), I usually find myself on sensory overload. Now, putting myself onto the extremely chaotic streets of Southeast Asia . . . especially Vietnam . . . let’s just say I was thankful for the oasis that Riverside Apartments was for us.

Continue reading

Island Tours, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Temple Grounds

During our stay in Phu Quoc, we tried a couple of tours around the island. Our hotel (Famiana) used a company called John’s Tours which offered a menu of land and boat/snorkeling tours. Another company called Red River offered similar tours.

My kids weren’t big enough (nor could they swim well enough) to go snorkeling, but even if they had been old enough, I had read (and heard) too many poor reviews of the snorkeling around Phu Quoc island. Based on what I had read, Phu Quoc is not the best place to go snorkeling.

But we still decided to give a couple other tours a try. We went on a Night Squid Fishing Tour and a South and East Island Land Tour.

Continue reading

Vinpearl Amusement Park, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Vinpearl Amusement Park

In my last post I talked about Vinpearl Safari and Conservation Park and what a great time my family had there during our trip to Phu Quoc Island. Vinpearl Land (an amusement park and water park) is located right next to the Safari Park. You can find their official website here.

We had such an unexpectedly good time at Safari Land that we had high hopes for the amusement park as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t think this park was worth all the hype it had received.

Continue reading

Vinpearl Safari and Conservation Park, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Safari Park Entrance

The day my family spent at Vinpearl Safari and Conservation Park was probably my favorite day in Phu Quoc, and we almost decided to skip this attraction completely. I’m so glad we decided to go.

I started the day disappointed that our original plans were canceled. We didn’t intend to go to the Safari Park because, despite the good reviews, we watched some unimpressive YouTube videos that made it look like a rather mediocre zoo. Yes, it is a zoo (and my family has been to a number of zoos), but it’s not mediocre by any means.

Continue reading

Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Phu Quoc Sunset

In recent years, Vietnam has made a humungous effort to make Phu Quoc Island into the next Phuket. They have built a new airport and have been consistently adding direct flights to the island from all over the world. They have also relaxed visa requirements. While a visa is still required to go to mainland Vietnam, many tourists who go to Phu Quoc, plan to stay on the island, and will leave in less than thirty days don’t need a visa. And it’s worked. Take a short drive around the island and you’ll see all kinds of development projects. Open your ears and you’ll hear a huge variety of languages. While there, we met families from Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Russia.

Continue reading

A Family Trip to Vietnam

Ha Long Bay Panorama

When I moved to Asia in 2005, I made a list of places I wanted to visit. Vietnam had been on the top of that list from the beginning, and yet for thirteen years I never went. I know . . . how can I come up with excuses for thirteen years, right? But as we all know, life happens. One time I actually had tickets in hand and tours and hotels booked, but Hubby had a health crisis only a couple days before we were scheduled to leave, and we cancelled all of our bookings and thanked God it didn’t happen while we were traveling. After that failed attempt, every time a holiday rolled around, we had other things to do. My son and daughter were born, and we wanted destinations that would be easier to do while toting preschooler and toddler around with us. Or Hubby was in grad school, and we had to forego our vacation to pay tuition (and so he could use the time off work to write those papers). There was always something that took precedence . . . for thirteen years.

Continue reading

Asia with Kids–A Family Trip to Sri Lanka

On The BeachSri Lanka never really crossed my mind as a destination, but my husband happened to get a bug in his brain and started doing a ton of research, discovered that it was a direct flight from Beijing, found decent-priced airfare, and ended up planning a trip there during our spring break. I went not really knowing what to expect—just willing go along for the ride and see what we would find.

It ended up being a spectacular break. We loved it so much we could see ourselves going back.

Continue reading

Hua Hin, Thailand (A Travel Review)

A couple weeks ago, when my children were released from school for spring break, we were eager to get away and experience something new. Many of the expat families we know who travel around Asia have recommended Hua Hin, Thailand. I had visited Thailand only once in the eleven years I’ve lived in Asia, and I happened to catch a virus that, for the whole week, made my head feel like it was going to explode. With so many recommendations for the particular resort that we stayed at and the great deal we found on air tickets, we couldn’t resist the temptation to go and give it another try. I was ready to make some new memories of Thailand—ones that included the country itself rather than feeling miserable and unable to get out of bed.

Continue reading

Taiwan–A Travel Review

My family recently had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan during our recent Christmas holiday. In a previous post, I discussed why I love traveling with my young children. In this post I want to talk about Taiwan in general—overall impressions for those who might be interested in Taiwan and recommendations for my expat friends who might think of traveling there.

Continue reading