Tet holidays make for one of the busiest travel seasons in Vietnam as Vietnamese go from one destination to another all over the country to be home for the reunion times or set off on end-of-the-year adventures. But with a little good planning and the right attitude, you can pay a visit to Vietnam during Tet holiday and enjoy one of the most memorable times in this beautiful country.And I have you covered with my top tips for traveling to Vietnam during Tet holiday. My guide dishes out advice on how to fully enjoy Tet Festival in Vietnam.
What is Tet?
Tet is Vietnam’s national holiday celebrated from the 1st day to at least the 3rd day of the first month in Lunar Calendar (sometime around late January or early February). Many homes have Ochna integerrima tree – hoa mai (in the central and southern parts of Vietnam), or peach flower tree (in Northern Vietnam) – hoa đào and kumquat tree (cây quất) or hoa ban (in mountainous areas) and other decorations in the weeks leading to the New Year Day.
It is a special annual time when millions of Vietnamese people will be traveling through the country to prepare big and lavish meals, clean every inch of their houses, share reunions with friends and family, and pay respects to their ancestors.
Festive activities include dragon dances and lion dances, free cultural shows, music, and entertainment, propitiating the Kitchen God, the arrival of the Lady Luck on the stroke of New Year midnight, going to relatives’ and friends’ houses, exchanging lucky money (lì xì), etc. Popular Tet themes include the promotion of goodwill, compassion, and peace.
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When is Tet?
Like many winter holidays in Southeast Asia, the dates of Tet Festival in Vietnam change from year to year and its celebration lasts 7 days or longer as it is based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. This year this national public holiday officially begins on February 16th, 2018. It lasts between February 14th and 20th, 2018.
What to do when you go on a Vietnam tour during Tet Holiday?
Consider Vietnam package deals
Since the bundled pricing offered by packages can be very competitive, the peak travel periods during Tet holiday can be the best time to buy package deals (such as air/hotel or air/hotel/car). Traveling on a Vietnamese Tet package and you might be almost stunned at the offer; you can barely afford to stay home at these prices.
New Year countdown party
Come February 15th, 2018 join fellow partygoers to greet New Year Eve at countdown parties with firework displays. Let’s dive into the thick of the merrymaking before pyrotechnic displays light up the sky once the clock strikes midnight. Even though it might not be the most exciting party you have ever taken part in, it is the best way to fully appreciate the city full of contradictions: the lovely craziness of the last day of the old year and the quietness and peace of the Lunar New Year’s Day.
Get Hanoi all to yourself
Join the festivities and be part of all Hanoi streets’ transformation into a magical paradise. During Tet, all of the streets are decked out in shimmering street lights and festive installations. During this time a lot of shops and businesses will be closed or running on a skeleton crew. Especially, if you are in Hanoi on Friday, February 16th expect to see an absolutely different image of this busy capital – few vehicles, few people, just you and the beautifully decorated streets. It’s time to appreciate the peace!
Get familiar with Vietnamese food
Finding a meal that does not have Vietnamese traditional food in it can be quite the task in the less cosmopolitan parts of Vietnam. But don’t worry. If you have never sampled Vietnamese food, it’s time to discover one of the world’s best cuisines. What do Vietnamese eat during Tet? Bánh chưng (steamed square cake), giò chả (Vietnamese sausage), xôi (sticky rice), dưa hành or củ kiệu (pickle) to name a few. Your best bet for a traditional holiday meal is at your Vietnamese friend’s house. What can be better than homemade Vietnamese traditional food, getting to know what lucky money is, and exchanging the New Year’s wishes?
Know what to avoid during Tet Holiday
Tet holiday supposedly allows you the freedom to do things that at any other time of the year would be considered pretty much absolutely acceptable. During Tet, black and white or dark clothes, negative topics, swear and commit cruelty are something to avoid.
Planning to visit Vietnam or your Vietnamese friends during Tet holiday? Traveling over this holiday should be notoriously busy, expensive, and even stressful, but the news is not all bad. Provided you carefully plan your journey in advance, it is still possible to find great deals and enjoy your stress-free travel.
Sample itinerary on Halong Bay during Tet holiday: