Despite the lack of open spaces and sometimes poor air quality, Hanoi is a safe and stimulating city for children. There is very little violent crime in Hanoi, and even less involving foreigners. Hanoi is becoming more globalized by the day, and the mixture of languages and cultures children will encounter at school and in day-to-day life will give them perspectives and memories that will endure for many years. For children in your home country, international experiences may be vague or felt from behind the screens of computers or TV. But for expat children, different languages and customs are a deep part of their foundation and process of maturing.
There are both positive and negative attributes associated with “internationally mobile children.” Being aware of some of the negative possibilities can help to lessen or avoid them. Here is a shortlist of difficulties “internationally mobile children” may face:
- Less emotional closeness in relationships
- Need for change and exotic experiences
- Unresolved grief and sadness
- More individualistic or egotistic personalities
However, there are also many positive attributes associated with children who spend time abroad:
- Family closeness
- High academic achievement
- A desire for service careers
- High flexibility and adaptability
- Language ability and interest
- Openness and ability to accept change
- Willingness to take risks
(Compiled by the Hanoi International Women’s Club in association with guidance counselors from the United Nations International School in Hanoi.)
Traffic safety is the most important consideration for children in Hanoi. For children old enough to move around on their own, make sure they’re cognizant of the dangers of crossing streets and bicycling in traffic, and that they always have proper safety helmets for biking or skateboarding. If you have an infant, a backpack carrier will be much more effective than a stroller when moving around Hanoi, due to the frequent unevenness of the streets.
Though facilities may be limited compared with your home country, there are numerous activities for children in Hanoi, many sponsored by international schools. Music, dancing lessons, swimming, and other sports are just some of the ways children can be entertained when they are not busy with school.
The National Circus performs every Sunday (http://vietnamcircus.com.vn) and the Thu Le Zoo, near the Daewoo Hotel on Kim Ma, has many animals, including elephants, tigers and leopards, in addition to rides for children, and is open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.