Monday 24 October 2022

Five Things to do in Great Yarmouth this Halloween Half Term

Paid Collaboration with Visit Great Yarmouth

Half term has arrived which means a whole week of keeping the children entertained.  Great Yarmouth has so much to do for the whole family and some spooky specials this week, so here are five of our favourite family Halloween activities this half term.

Halloween Spooktacular at the Hippodrome Circus

The Halloween Spooktacular is a circus meets pantomime meets Halloween and it was a hit for our whole family.  There was humour to make the adults smile, silliness that had the kids laughing out loud and incredible acrobatics as well as a Halloween dance party at the end that had everyone on their feet.  Jack Jay and Johnny Mac were hilarious and I am still trying to work out how one of the performers bent her body the way she did!  On twice a day until Halloween this is a show you don't want to miss.

Halloween, Great Yarmouth, Hippodrome circus

Fire on the Water

Located on Great Yarmouth main sands is Fire on the Water, a mixture of fire installations, sculptures and displays as well as a designated crafting tent.  Come dressed for the cold and feel free to bring a chair as there are four different fire shows on each hour.  We loved wandering amongst the lit up song lyrics, watching the giant christingle and listening to the music.  At the art tent, we could decorate CDs and attach candles before letting them float.  There are tents to grab food and drink and plenty of space to move around (as well as disabled/buggy friendly pathways.  It's only around for a week so book your tickets now!

Halloween, Great Yarmouth, Fire on the Water

The Lost World Adventure Golf

If the weather is a bit nicer and you want something outdoors this half term, then check out The Lost World adventure golf in Hemsby.  With a dinosaur theme it is fun for everyone, and there is a bonus Halloween challenge as you go round that keeps the children entertained (and a prize at the end if they complete it).  If you visit on Friday 28th then head to The Lacon Arms afterwards for their family Halloween party.

Halloween, Great Yarmouth, Lost World Adventure Golf, Hemsby

Fairground Frights

Right on Great Yarmouth seafront is The Pleasure Beach (read our review of it here), a theme park with fun for all ages.  This Halloween they are running 5 nights of Fairground Frights - unlimited rides and unlimited thrills, still for only £15 per person.  Best suited for over 10s, there is an end of season firework display on the 30th too. This is bound to be a half term highlight for older children and a great reason to come to the seafront.

Halloween, Great Yarmouth, Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

Merrivale Model Village

Not only is there now a pumpkin patch in Merrivale model village and a Halloween theme, it is open longer during the Halloween half term so you can see the model village lit up.  We loved our visit in the summer (my review is here) and the price of entry includes being able to come back throughout the day so make sure if you visit in the morning that you come back to see the lights at 6pm. The fairground is our favourite part of the village and you exit via a penny arcade so bring some cash as you will definitely want to play.

Halloween, Great Yarmouth

It is a great time of year to visit this seaside town with something for all the family!

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Friday 21 October 2022

2 Weeks in Vietnam - Our Family Travel Itinerary

We spent nearly five weeks in South East Asia with our five children and I have had lots of requests to share our itinerary so this is the second part, our 2 weeks in Vietnam.  You can read the itinerary for our 2.5 weeks in Thailand here.  Our trip was a mix of lots of research and plenty of flexibility as we made decisions on the road about what we would do and what pace we would move at.  When we were thinking about doing a bigger activity or trip, we sat down as a family to look at the options and we decided together which one we wanted to do. I will note some other activities that we missed in some locations that I would have loved to do if we had more time! 

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids, hoi an

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids

Ho Chi Minh City

Also known as Saigon (and referred to in the rest of this post as HCMC), Ho Chi Minh City is the second biggest city in Vietnam and in the south of the country and this is where we flew into from Thailand.  We had decided to stick to the southern half of the country as the weather was supposed to be better during August and whilst it was still monsoon season, the rain didn't get in the way at all.  HCMC isn't know as a classic holiday destination but it is a city unlike anywhere we had been before and crossing the street is an experience in itself!  

We stayed in an airbnb apartment with three bedrooms which was on the 32nd floor with incredible views over the city.  We were in district 5 which wasn't touristy at all but we were less than 10 minutes walk to the centre of district 1 and felt like we had the best of both worlds.  Our airbnb had a swimming pool and small playground. 

We spent three days in HCMC which was plenty. We visited

  • Tan Dinh Pink church. We didn't go inside but it is fun to admire from outside
  • A walk through the fabric market opposite and around the local area
  • Saigon Mall which is a huge shopping mall with everything you could possibly want.
  • The cinema (make sure you opt for films in English with Vietnamese subtitles.  This was a welcome bit of normality for the kids).
  • Nguyen Hue Walking Street - This comes alive at night with street performers, music, street food and vendors selling light up toys.
  • The Cafe apartments on Nguyen Hue walking street.  This is a classic apartment block but each apartment is a different cafe with views out over the walking street. The kids highly recommend Dosh Donuts.
  • If you are vegan then check out Rawberry who do incredible desserts and offer delivery for around £1 (message through Facebook). The banoffee mini cake was incredible.
If you have longer in HCMC then there are plenty more areas to explore. The war remnants museum and Cu Chi tunnels are fascinating for anyone interested in the history of the war, Notre Dame Cathedral and the central post office are incredible buildings to admire the architecture and for a longer stay with children, I was recommended Tinker Play in District 7. I followed Becky at Good Honest Travels on Instagram who is an expat living in HCMC with her children and she has lots of recommendations.

We hadn't planned out our time in Vietnam properly and so had no travel within the country booked before we arrived so we actually ended up booking flights from HCMC up to Da Nang the night before we travelled.  Prices are very reasonable and there were multiple flights per day to choose from.

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids, pink church

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids, ho chi minh city

I had thought that we would head up the coast and use the sleeper trains but we made the decision instead to fly up to Da Nang and explore three different areas nearby and spend less time travelling. 

An Bang Beach

We flew into Da Nang and got a taxi from the airport to An Bang beach, a seafront town around 40 minutes away. In contrast to the built up city, An Bang was quiet, small and laid back and we absolutely loved it.  We had found a few places online that looked good but not booked accomodation so we turned up and asked to look at some rooms.  We ended up choosing Blue Alcove and had two sets of connecting family rooms that led straight out to the small pool.  The hotel was connected to Aira boutique hotel where we ate our breakfast buffet and could use the facilities.

Most of our time in An Bang was spent eating, drinking and swimming.  The beach was beautiful and quiet and there was a strip of restaraunts along the front serving freshly caught seafood and with play areas and swings to keep the children happy too. There was something about the atmosphere here that we all loved.  It is easy to visit from Hoi An or Da Nang for the day but we enjoyed spending a few days relaxing here and having everything so close.

Recommendations are all food based for here and include:

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids

Hoi An

Hoi An is an ancient town and the town centre is a car and motorbike free zone which is very refreshing.  Famous for its lanterns, the main town has painted yellow walls and a river runs alongside it. It was one of our favourite places to visit and whilst it is very touristy, it is somewhere not to miss on a trip to Vietnam. It is quite quiet during the day but it comes alive at night.  It was only 10 minutes drive in a taxi from An Bang beach but it felt like a very different place.

We stayed just outside the ancient town in Phu Thinh Boutique hotel with two sets of interconnecting rooms again.  Here are some of the things we did in Hoi An

  • Walk around the ancient town looking at the shops and cafes
  • One of our favourite experiences was a cooking class.  We did a local market tour followed by an excursion on a traditional fishing boat and practiced throwing a net.  We caught some crabs on the river banks and then were taught how to make 4 different Vietnamese dishes before sitting down to an incredible meal.  The experience was child friendly and there were extra staff to help my younger children.  This is the experience we booked and it included pick up from our hotel too.
  • Hoi An is known for its tailors and if you want anything custom made, you can't walk more than a few metres before finding a shop that will do it.  I had an idea of a skirt I wanted and got it made but you can have anything from party dresses to suits.
  • In the evening lantern boats sail down the river and it is a really special experience.  We aimed for sunset and it was so beautiful. There are longer boat tours on bigger boats but the little ones are brilliant.
  • We were cycled around the old town on bikes with what looked like a large wheelchair on the front.  It wasn't the cheapest experience but the children loved it.
  • If you want Vegan food then check out Nourish who did incredible lunches and was very close to our hotel.
You can read more about why we loved Hoi An and what we got up to here.

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids, hoi an

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids, hoi an lantern boats

Da Nang

Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam, located about half way down and has an international airport.  It is also situated on the coast and has a white sand beach.  We had heard that Da Nang was somewhere you could easily skip but we decided to explore for ourselves and spent a lovely couple of days here.  We stayed at the Grand Sunrise Boutique Hotel which was about 5 minutes walk from the beach.  We arrived via taxi and it was around 30 minutes from Hoi An. 

Things we did in Da Nang:

  • Hired inflatables and swam in the sea at My Khe Beach. We were the only people at the beach other than the ladies hiring out sunbeds, inflatables and selling drinks and the sea was a similar temperature to a bath I would run for the children!
  • Drank smoothies in quiet cafes and people watched.
  • Fly Burger for amazing burgers (very close to our hotel) and Loving Vegan for incredible vegan food (get the cheezy chilli chips)
  • Asia Park/Sun World (I am not sure what the official name is as it uses both).  This is a theme park on the river front that you can spot from a mile off because of the huge big wheel. The theme park is only open from 3pm-9pm (thewheel until 10) and has different areas based on different Asian countries. There are plenty of rollercoasters and rides but also statues and buildings based on different styles of architecture and a replica version of Ankor Wat you can wander around in the Cambodian part.  We went on a weeknight and it was pretty empty. Wristbands were £8 for adults (over 140cm) and £4 for children and covered everything including the big wheel. 
  • Eat at the Helio Centre opposite Asia Park.  There are lots of stalls for food and live music to listen to whilst you eat. 
Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids, da nang

Vietnam with children, backpacking south east asia with kids, da nang

In total we spent two weeks in Vietnam and we only explored a very small part of it.  There is so much to see and Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in the north would be top of my list when/if we are able to go back.  We flew direct from Da Nang to Singapore at the end of our two weeks and I will write our Singapore itinerary up soon!  Please get in touch either on here or through social media with any questions! Click here to read more about planning a family backpacking trip.
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Wednesday 5 October 2022

Koh Samui With Children

Of all the places we visited on our Asian Adventure, Koh Samui on Thailand's gulf coast was the most traditionally child friendly.  We reached the island via ferry from Chumphon (the ferry stops at the three islands, Koh Tao, Koh Phanghan and Koh Samui) but there is also an airport on the island which we flew out from.  Samui has many beaches, each with their own personality so you can choose where to stay based on your priorities.  We chose the quieter and more family friendly Bophut beach because the hotels looked well designed for young families and it was walking distance to fisherman's village.  Everywhere on the island is reachable in under one hour though so wherever you pick to stay, it is easy to get around.

A big part of our week on the island was relaxing as we had just travelled down the coast and we were flying on from Koh Samui to Vietnam, but we managed to fit in quite a bit during our week as well so I wanted to share the family friendly activities we loved (and some that we didn't manage to fit in but looked great for another trip).

Stand up Paddle boarding

The sea was calm and warm and ideal for stand up paddle boarding.  We saw multiple places to hire them but we rented one from our hotel (it worked out around £6 for two hours) and took it out on the sea. The children all loved sitting on the board as I paddled out and Dylan spent the most time on there floating around the bay.  

Koh Samui with kids, child friendly Koh Samui


Not too far from Bophut beach are two incredible temples, Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem, both of which are worth a visit with kids (and they are walking distance from each other).  Big Buddha stands tall and you can walk around the outside ringing bells. Wat Plai Laem has many parts and as well as admiring the art, size and beauty of the structures, we also loved watching the turtles swimming around as the temple is set out on a lake.

Koh Samui with kids, child friendly Koh Samui

Na Muang Waterfall

There are two waterfalls, Na Muang 1 and Na Muang 2 (accessible via a short hike).  We visited only the first one after getting dropped off in a taxi next to a field of elephants.  It is a beautiful waterfall and so cool and refreshing to swim in!

Koh Samui with kids, child friendly Koh Samui

Beach Hopping

There are so many beaches to choose from on Koh Samui and if you had longer, you could try a new one every day.  We loved Silver Beach which was a smaller beach with white sand and crystal clear water. We accessed it through a hotel which served chips and ice creams on the beach and we loved spotting fish in the shallow waters. The sea was shallow for a long stretch making it ideal for young children wanting to splash about.

Koh Samui with kids, child friendly Koh Samui

Speed boat trip

One of the best days of our whole holiday was a speed boat snorkelling trip we did from Koh Samui.  We visited the islands Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan and snorkelled in wonderfully clear waters. We took it in turns to hold the baby but the children were all confident swimming out with the life vests that were provided and it was an incredible experience. Our trip was with Mr Tu and we were picked up from our hotel and dropped back afterwards and the price we paid included lunch at a beachfront restaurant on Koh Tao and soft drinks on the boats.

Koh Samui with kids, child friendly Koh Samui

Fisherman's Market

Located along Bophut beach is Fisherman's market. An interesting place to wander during the day, but most alive on a Wednesday and Friday evening with the night markets.  There are tons of food and drink stalls as well as some seating and live music to enjoy as you eat, and there are all manner of souvenir to admire alongside the clothing stalls.  It was a busy market but much calmer than those in Bangkok. We enjoyed trying new food and drink and buying some treats.

Koh Samui with kids, child friendly Koh Samui

Coco Tam's Fire Show

We discovered Coco Tam's whilst at the night market but ended up going back again as the children enjoyed the fire show so much and wanted to show their dad.  On twice a night, it is worth getting there early to ensure a space.  The tables are situated along the beach with giant beanbags around and all facing down to the sea.  As well as drinks you can get snacks including chicken nuggets and chips and the bar stools are all swings which we loved.  The fire show is entertaining and was a huge highlight of our stay for all four of the children.  The performers made fire halos around peoples heads which they couldn't get enough of.  The show is free but the drinks and snacks are expensive for the area - definitely worth it for the performance.

Koh Samui with kids, child friendly Koh Samui

Other Ideas 

Elephant Sanctuary

I had hoped we would visit one of the ethical elephant sanctuaries on the island where you can learn more about the magnificent animals, prepare food and get close to them, but my tribe chose to skip this in favour of more water based activities.

Ang Thong Marine Park

This is another speed boat snorkelling trip to the Ang Thong marine park.  We had trouble deciding between this trip and the Koh Tao one we did as both looked very good (and very similar).  If we had longer we would have considered a second snorkelling trip.

Scuba Diving

For older children and adults, the snorkelling trips are also available as scuba diving trips.  If you are interested in diving though, it might be better to base yourself on Koh Tao where lots of diving courses are run

Island Hopping

The ferry goes between the three main islands on the gulf coast and takes only half an hour to Koh Phanghan and 1.5 hours to Koh Tao.  Both islands can be done as a day trip or you can stay on them.  Koh Phanghan is where the famous full moon parties are held. Each island has its own personality and so much to see but we decided to concentrate on one island during this trip.    `

Koh Samui is such a child friendly place to visit, especially if you pick the right area and hotel.  We stayed in the Ibis Bophut and it was well set up for families with connecting rooms, a small playground, swimming pools and a private beach as well as a great breakfast buffet!
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