I did a fair bit of travelling, India, Nepal, East Africa, Middle East before I had Children. Now planning to take my 3 boys, plus husband, backpacking, on the very cheap, and the agreed destination is SE Asia. Its now starting to feel a bit scary as I am considered the leader!! I have already noted lots of advice from the forum but any advice welcome. Must see War History, Monuments, Must eat Food and Must lie on Beaches.
My photo gallery covers just about everything you want to see. My blog just hits Phnom Penh & Sihanoukville. S'ville is developed and has plenty of places to stay/eat. If you want beach time, this is where I would take your family. Of course you are going to hit Angkor Wat, Cambodia's premier attraction. I was not a member of TP when I was in Siem Reap. Plenty of blog and websites deal with SR. A must-see on your list.
VN has many beaches, but I think you and your kids will have the most fun in Nha Trang. Huge public beach, great bay tour, cheap places to stay/eat. My blog covers NT. Mui Ne is OK, but the beach and swimming in not in the same league as NT. Hoi An is a must-see IMO. A historic city, Cua Dai is beach is close, Cham ruins, the best city in VN for custom made clothing. Take the My Son tour, go back via boat option. My photos cover this. HaLong Bay should also be on your must-see list. Heaps of companies offer 1-2-3 day tours of HaLong. I went for 1 day as it was Feb, cool and raining. I would decide once in HaNoi. Get 3 prices before handing over your money. Your GH/hotel will try to sell you a tour as well. Know your prices and you will know if they are quoting too high of a price. Some GHs get upset if you do not book with them. Fair warning. SaPa if you have time. Again, let the weather guide you. Not much fun slogging around in the rain/mud if you hit it at the wrong time. I though the water puppet show in HaNoi was worth the time/money. Book it your self when you are walking around Hoan Kien Lake. I would stay in the old quarter. Many cheap places to stay/eat, many of the sights are walking distance from the old quarter.
I suggest you use the open tour bus sytem when in VN. Cheapest way to move between cities, flexible and convenient. At least 4 companies offer this service. Sinh Cafe is the largest, best buses. They also stop at more expensive hotels in each city. Around $25/nite. Hanh Cafe aslo runs the open tour, stops at $10/ or under hotels. My blog covers this.
I hope this helps with your planning. Send me a PM if you have questions.
[ Edit: Edited on 09-Sep-2009, at 11:16 by vegasmike6 ]
i ever been a leaders for a group travel around, so i understand how stress full you are of being family leader hihihi...
it sound like you plan for such long family journey in asia. about vietnam cambodia is very easy to get around by booking tour service while you are already in that country. what kind of transportation mean you will take is depending on how old your son are. let say you start entering to southeast asia from cambodia then vietnam and laos. from Siem Reap you can travel to phnompenh, visiting capital city afterwards you can choose get to vietnam by cruise or speed boat long mekong rivers. enter to vietnam go up to Saigon through mekong Detal, it is worthwhile taking adventure culture tours of southern vietnamese on water. otherway taking bus from phnom penh to saigon city, woh it hard and take more half day with this way is cheaper. fast and saving time is flight, pretty easy to get tickets locally. in saigon, get a room for family and tour package with sinhcafe in Pham Ngu Lao streets, hoian you can get good family room rate -snip-. you should stay in hoian longer beacuse, it is nice slow pace place, good food great people. and good beach for you sons play sport too.
in northern vietnam, you should not miss halong bay overnight on cruise and kayaking... i wold like to advise more in next time, never mind to answer any questions related to vietnam .....
have good safety trip in asia
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
Thankyou so much for your help. Great Blog. Just what I needed.
Like you I've travelled extensively in pre-kid history. In the past 3 years my wife, 2 kids (late teens) and I have spent a month backpacking Thailand/Laos/Camodia and then again in Vietnam. We pre-booked nothing each time except our flights to & from Australia. This year we're heading to Myanmar.
What I found was that I was able to travel the same way as I did pre-kids. Ad-hoc, on the cheap and adventurous. Both trips were outstanding successes for all of us. In short I recommend that you stop worrying and take the family on similar adventures as you would have if you were single & traveling with backpacking initiates.
The recos from Jackytan and Vegasmike6 ring true with me. I would add though - Thailand: Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi (tigers), Phi Phi and the southern islands/beaches; Laos: Gibbon experience (Bokeo) - check out some blogs as the gibbons aren't the entertainment, fast boat down the Mekong (5 pax) to Luang Prabang, elephants & chilling at Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng - party place for whole family; Cambodia - Siem Reap and the fantastic temples (eg Anghor Wat) may be hot & boring for the kids; Vietnam - add Ninh Binh (motor biking if possible), Easy Rider motor bike tours in the southern highlands, Sa Pa in the north with day trip to Bac Ha markets, group tours - Mekong Delta (3 day) from Saigon and Haulong Bay (3 day) from Hanoi (these were the 1st tours I've been on in all my travels and they were great value). Food is best in Vietnam & Thailand, worst in Laos but cheap everywhere.
Great news - bottled water is used almost everywhere so getting the runs is no longer mandatory for backpackers.
Have a ball & enjoy the people of Asia - they are the best.
From an Aussie travel addict
Thanks Elliots. Feeling a lot more confident. All extras noted, especially the motor bike trips. Looking at the cheaper flights to Thailand from the UK then aiming to do a month. I wish we'd had the net and these forums in the 80's!