In Vietnam With Uzma Bozai
Love far flung destination holidays but don’t know how to do them with little ones in tow? We caught up with Uzma, our founder after her last exotic getaway to find out how she does it, here’s her guide to travelling with toddlers…
If you’re anything like us the thought of holiday evokes dreams of serene white washed beaches, warm clear empty waters and exotic food, which usually means long haul travel. With a very boisterous 3 year old travelling companion we weren’t quite sure how we would manage it. Thankfully with advice from a few expat friends use to travelling with kids the 12 hour international flight to Vietnam, 3 hour domestic flight to Nha Trang, 1 hour taxi journey to the island’s private jetty and boat transfer to paradise was completely worth it!!!!
TIP: Book night time flights, get to the airport early, dinner, let them sprint to the gate or let them loose in Heathrow’s children’s soft play areas while you shop, PJs on and then enjoy 10-12 hours of peace while they sleep.
An Lam Ninh Van Bay didn’t disappoint. Built on the edge of a natural reserve, we glimpsed its tropical rainforest backdrop as we zipped across the bright, green waters of the South China sea. From the moment we set foot on the island our little tike was in her element, she threw her shoes and most of her clothes off and roamed free for the next 2 weeks.
The An Lam family welcomed us onto their island with open arms. The effervescent Dao snuck us extra chocolate afternoon treats when she saw the 3 of our faces light up at the sight of “chocolate”; shared stories of her family coffee farm while Little UB did planting in the kitchen garden and whisked her off just at the right time of a meal so we could eat our food while it was still hot!
TIP: Vietnamese food is perfect for western kids. Freshly steamed or grilled fish or chicken, just ask for the vegetables to be cooked a little longer if you have a fussy eater like ours. No pizza or nuggets in site, yeah!!!
Apart from meal times you can while away the day with only the rainforest creatures for company. Once your kids are a little older you can trek into the jungle but we just walked around the island, making friends with the resident wildlife and had regular visits from Mr. Toad and Mrs. Lizard in the villa. There is no kids club but essentially the whole island is an open playground, not to mention your own swing in the bathroom. We did yoga in the morning, had sneaky trips to the spa in the afternoon and traditional basket boat trips in the evening. Oh and lots of cycling around the island to burn off all the over indulgences (bikes were provided with training wheels too!)
TIP: Plan activities before 11 or after 4 its far too hot during the day but the best time to lay by your pool and enjoy an iced Vietnamese coffee, we had to have a few decaf ones as they are very potent!
Although the sun was setting on our island idyll we had a couple more cultural stops to make… Next stop Hoi An, a 15th century trading port and Unesco world heritage site.
Hoi An is kid central, our base the Anantara Hoi An had daily activities including lantern making and it was right on the river for daily boat rides or cycles into the old quarter. (A little hairy with a toddler on the back, but everyone was doing it!)
The old quarter has a stunning fusion of ancient Vietnamese and colonial French architecture and is great for magpies like me. Pick up a new holdall and fill it up to your hearts content. I met some inspiring ethical groups working with Vietnamese artisan communities who we have collaborated with on our next summer’s collection.
I forgot to mention the best bit, Hoi An is a foodie heaven. They are famous for their white rose dumplings and our personal favourite Vietnamese pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Streets restaurant and cafe trains and employs disadvantaged youths and street kids, expect amazing flavours and service.
TIP: Book restaurants as soon as you arrive so you don’t miss the best ones!
Last stop, lazy Sunday in Hanoi with old friends and their 3 year old, (yikes!) was a gentle return to normality. Brunch by the lake at Maison De Tet Decor, an old merchants house and interior designers dream, vintage cushions and rugs galore. Try to go on the second sunday of each month when they host Maison market day and bring the city’s artisans to the house to sell their wares. The rest of the day was spent with swan boat rides on the lake and strolls through the city’s parks and pagodas.
TIP: The water puppet show is suppose to be spectacular, we missed it but then you cant do everything!
Hanoi, described as the “Paris of the Orient’ was the perfect end to a perfect almost tantrum free holiday.
Hope to see you again soon Nam ♥
Check out Uzma’s Vietnam Edit for Uzma’s must have take away pieces!