As a traveler to Vietnam, there are certain things you should know about Tet. At the very least, you should have an idea whether your upcoming Vietnam holiday will coincide with this grand event and what to expect if so.
When is Tet Festival?
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 2019, Tet Festival is celebrated on February 5. Typically public holidays will be granted for seven days. The specific days taken will depend on how the dates fall over a weekend, and extra days may be declared holidays to bridge to weekends.
In 2020, Tet Festival is observed on January 25.In 2021, Tet Festival is celebrated on February 12.
Night View of Vietnam during Tet Festival
What is Tet Festival?
The full name for Tet is Tet Nguyen Dan. It is the most important and widely celebrated public festival of the year in Vietnam. It is the occasion for Vietnamese to express their respects for ancestors as well as welcoming the lunar New Year with family members. Overall, Tet holiday for Vietnam is a bit like the Spring Festival for Chinese: every family will get together to have big meals to welcome the New Year.
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. 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.
Big replicas of yellow apricot are hung to decorate streets.
Odynovo (formerly Odyssey) guests enjoying Vietnamese New Year feast with a local family. (Photo: David Budd)
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 travel a lot this time (return home/go back for work). Be sure to book early. Note: Odynovo (formerly Odyssey) provides private vehicle for customers, so there is no need to worry about short-distance transportation.
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. The floating markets in the Mekong Delta will be closed.
4. Restaurants: many restaurants will be closed during Tet. Therefore, Tet may not be the best time for culinary tour fans.
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.
Overall, Tet is not the best time to travel to Vietnam, but will all these factors spoil your Vietnam holiday during Tet? Not really. 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.
Local flower market at night.
2. 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.
3. Streets are elaborately decorated and everybody looks happy. Just enjoy the festive mood!
4. Hotels and travel agents still work during Tet holiday. Some hotels will have special nights or New Year celebration.
My 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!
Vietnam Weather during Tet Festival
The Tet Holiday usually falls in mid January or February. Dry, bright weather is expected across Vietnam. Temperatures in the north (Hanoi, Halong Bay) will be relatively cool (avg temp: 17 °C) but higher in central Vietnam (Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Nha Trang, etc) and South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta) (avg temp: 25-28 °C).
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