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Travelling in Vietnam on Tet Holiday

Tet Nguyen Dan, also known as Lunar New Year, is the largest and oldest traditional festival, with the widest range of popularity in Vietnam. From the ancient centuries of the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties, our fathers celebrated the annual Tet holiday solemnly.

The lunar new year Vietnam

The Lunar New Year is the first and the most important stage in the Vietnamese festival system, but the "ceremony" as well as the "festival" are very rich in both content and form, carrying a profound humanistic value and bold.

The fact that our fathers defined the Lunar New Year right at the end of an old year, opening a new year according to the lunar calendar, is a cycle of cosmic operation, reflecting the spirit of harmony between people and nature (Earth-Heaven-Creature), the word NGUYEN means beginning, the word DAN means the morning, the beginning of the new year. At the same time, Tet is also an opportunity for families, relatives, neighbors, near and far relatives to gather, reunite, visit, pray for each other and pay tribute to their grandparents and ancestors.

The lunar new year Vietnam

Tet Festival in Vietnam usually falls in late January or early/mid-February. The dates vary from year to year as it is based on the lunar calendar. The celebration lasts one week or longer.

In 2020, Tet Festival is observed on January 25. 

How is Tet Festival celebrated?

Since Tet is the most important festival for Vietnamese, preparations for celebration begins well in advance. They make offering and pray at temples about the two weeks before and immediately after Tet because visiting temples is considered auspicious. Many families visit the graves of ancestors in the week prior to Tet. Homes are cleaned and decorated with Hoa Mai (yellow apricot blossom), Hoa Dao (peach blossom), Kumquat tree and many other colorful flowers.

tet Vietnam

On the eve of Tet, they cook an abundance of food. On the first days of New Year, everybody, especially kids, wear new clothes and shoes to visit families and friends and enjoy the traditional Tet food like Banh Chung (a sticky rice cake). Many children receive “lucky money” in red envelopes.

NewYear Vietnam

Big replicas of yellow apricot are hung to decorate streets. Big replicas of yellow apricot are hung to decorate streets.

Travelling in Vietnam during Tet Holiday

What does the Tet festival in Vietnam mean for tourists? It is a particularly good time to visit in Vietnam? Should I time my Vietnam visit to avoid Tet? Many travelers have such doubts in mind. To help you make the decision, here are some facts to know about Vietnam during Tet Holiday:

  1. Transportation: flights, buses and trains about 1 week before or after Tet Holiday are often booked out well in advance as Vietnamese people travel a lot this time (return home/go back for work). Be sure to book early.
  2. Accommodation: most hotels remain open, so there is no need to worry about accommodation. However, some hotels may raise the price if you stay during Tet holiday.
  3. Sightseeing: some tourist sites remain open during Tet, but many museums, mausoleums, and indoor exhibition place and art houses will be closed at the first 3 days of Tet.
  4. Restaurants: many restaurants will be closed during Tet. Some of them open but price can be higher
  5. Shops: many shops will be closed for the first few days of Tet Festival. The good news is - many products will be sold at a very reasonable price because most sellers want to start a smooth sales year.
  6. Banks: banks will be closed for the holiday.

Here are some good parts of Tet for travelers:

  1. The country is vibrant and colourful during this time, and you will have a chance to learn more about culture of Vietnam.

  1. Streets are quiet and light in traffic during Tet. Beaches will be less crowded - overall Tet is a great time for those who enjoy the tranquility.
  2. Streets are elaborately decorated and everybody looks happy. Just enjoy the festive mood!
  3. Hotels and travel agents still work during Tet holiday. Some hotels will have special nights or New Year celebration.

Tips for travelling in Vietnam during Tet

If you're planning to visit Vietnam during Tet holiday, here are some tips.

  1. Be sure to plan and book your Vietnam tour early so that tickets can be guaranteed. Booking two or four months ahead is not a bad idea.
  2. Book hotels early. There are three reasons: you can enjoy a relatively low price; avoid the risk of having no room to stay; there are more choices if book early.
  3. Since some tourist sites are closed during Tet, it’s wise to plan your itinerary accordingly: visit the museums and such just before or after Tet, and relax or walk around Hanoi Old Quarter or go sunbathing in beaches during Tet.
  4. For travelers, dining at hotel restaurants is the option since most restaurants are closed.
  5. If you are in need of some currency changed, do this in hotels though the exchange rate might be less than favorable.
  6. Try not to bargain because it will be considered to bring about bad luck for the whole New Year. If you have to do, be very politely.

All in all, if you're planning to visit Vietnam during or around Tet Holiday, be sure to prepare your trip ahead of time!