My Paradise: Cherished family memories in Vietnam

Author and family are all smiles in Vietnam.
Author and family are all smiles in Vietnam.

My Paradise: Cherished family memories in Vietnam

by Suzanne Murray
Stripes Japan

Ha Long Bay

After the hustle and bustle of visiting Vietnam’s Capital, Hanoi, it was refreshing to be welcomed aboard our relaxing 2-day cruise through Ha Long Bay. Ha Long is located in northeastern Vietnam and is a captivating destination that we knew would offer us a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see breathtaking natural beauty. 

The crew and staff were so attentive and kind to our family from the start. During our two days, we were able to see and explore all of these beautiful places: Hanoi, Lan Ha Bay, Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Island, Da Chong Islet, Trung Trang Cave, Ao Ech, and Frog Lake.

Ha Long Bay

We made a visit through dark and light caves by bamboo boat where we were able to see the beauty of Lan Ha Bay. The bamboo boat glided through caves as we viewed many stalactites and stalagmite formations throughout. It is truly amazing to see firsthand what nature has crafted over millions of years. We felt so grateful to be able to witness such beauty while also being surrounded by the most gracious locals.

The food included on our trip was nothing short of amazing and we were delighted to enjoy such fresh and delectable seafood cuisine along with so much more. All meals and excursions were included in our cruise which alleviated extensive coordination or added cost. Each meal was carefully prepared and presented while we enjoyed the backdrop of the bay's serene waters and sunsets. We also attended a cooking class on the ship’s roof and learned how to make spring rolls. After, we enjoyed drinks and swimming in the pool and hot tub located on the roof as well.

Our journey to Ha Long was a truly unforgettable experience in a breathtaking destination.  The stunning landscapes, hidden caves, and warm hospitality of the locals made it an extraordinary trip.  This journey will leave you feeling refreshed and renewed. 

Crusing along Ha Long Bay

Hoi An

Our journey to Hoi An, Vietnam, was nothing short of magical, offering many experiences that immersed our family in the vibrant culture and traditions of this charming city. From savoring delectable local cuisine to exploring ancient landmarks, and engaging with the warm-hearted locals, Hoi An left a lasting mark on our hearts.

Hoi An

Hoi An

Historic My Son: The first stop in our journey to Hoi An was the My Son Sanctuary.  This beautiful location is set in the mountainous region of Duy Xuyen District of Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. The sacred Thu Bon River flows gently through these Hindi-inspired ruins that were constructed between the 4th and 15th centuries.  These religious monuments have stood the test of time and war and continue to show their beauty to this day.

My Son Sanctuary

Adventures around Hoi An: We headed back to Old Town, Hoi An and had various custom clothes made by some wonderful local seamstresses. Soon after we took a trip down the That Cha River on coconut basket boats, which was a wild ride for some of us!  For lunch we had some of the best seafood cuisine we have ever tasted at a local restaurant right on the beach. 

The food was all freshly caught and prepared on site.  After lunch we stopped at a small vendor and made our own authentic Vietnamese lanterns to bring home with us.

A fun coconut boat ride on That Chat River

Amazing food in Hoi An

Try lantern-making in Hoi An

Heartwarming local hospitality: The gracious and kind-hearted people of Hoi An made our visit even more memorable.  Everywhere we went, we were greeted with smiles and genuine hospitality.  Whether it was a friendly chat with a local shopkeeper or a heartwarming encounter with a street vendor, their warmth and openness made us feel welcome and cherished.  On countless occasions, the locals would look at our three children and tell us we are so lucky. We even had a special hand-painted sign made with ours and our children's names and the word Lucky. We love that our children are able to see a new part of the world and have these experiences that they will remember for a lifetime!

Lots of fresh produce in VIetnam

Marble Mountain's mystique: A visit to the Marble Mountain was an adventure that led us to discover awe-inspiring caves, sacred pagodas, and ancient Hindu and Buddhist sanctuaries. The panoramic views surrounding countryside and the sparkling sea from the mountain's summit were breathtaking. We purchased a beautiful marble chess set for our son while there as a special memory for him.

A sanctuary at Marble Mountain

Xa Loi Tower, Marble Mountain

Sun World Ba Na Hills:  This was a stop that the kids really enjoyed! Sun World is an Amusement Park not too far from downtown Da Nang. We had quite the climb up the mountain in a cable car as Sun World Ba Na Hills is coined the “heaven on earth” with its spectacular climate and beautiful natural landscape. We experienced many different types of weather as we climbed to the top. While there we were able to walk through a French village, watch a few shows and walk across the Golden Bridge, which was officially voted by TIME magazine as one of the “Top 10 best destinations of the world 2018”. The kids enjoyed spending time in the indoor game zone, wax museum and dinosaur displays.

Ba Na Hills

Hoi An Memories Show

Lantern boat ride on Hoai River: As dusk descended upon Hoi An, the city came alive with the soft glow of all the beautiful handmade lanterns. The serene boat ride on Hoai River was a magical experience as made a wish while releasing floating paper flower lanterns into the water. The illuminated river and the flickering lanterns created an enchanting ambiance that felt like a fairytale.

Creating pottery at Pottery Village: An interactive pottery-making experience in the charming Pottery Village allowed us to unleash our creativity. Under the guidance of skilled artisans, we molded clay into unique pottery pieces, forming unforgettable memories to cherish, including clay whistles all three children made to drive us just a little nutty!

Pottery Village

Lamp-making in ancient Hoi An

Insightful guided tour: Having our own driver and local guide for some of these trips enhanced our journey, as they shared insightful stories and anecdotes about Vietnam's history, culture, and livelihoods. Their passion for their country's heritage enriched our experience and deepened our connection with the local way of life.

Hoi An's blend of delicious cuisine, warm-hearted people, cultural treasures, and immersive experiences made it a captivating destination. The lantern-lit river, the vibrant streets, and the rich traditions painted a vivid tapestry of Vietnamese life. Our adventures in Hoi An were truly unforgettable, leaving us all with cherished memories and a yearning to return and experience its magic once again!


Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Related Content

Recommended Content

Around the Web