Posted By : Threeland Travel / Vietnam Travel Guide
Although Tet can be a very exciting time to travel in Vietnam, it's also the busiest time of the year to be there. Millions of people will be traveling through the country to gather with friends and family. The holiday will certainly have an impact on your trip plans.
Q: What and When is Tet holiday in Vietnam?
Vietnamese Lunar New Year (commonly known as Tet in Vietnam) is the most important celebration of the year in Vietnamese culture, and would take place a week leading to and a week after the first day of Tet. The celebration is based on the Vietnamese lunar calendar, the date changes annually for Lunar New Year, but it usually falls in late January or early February.
The first day of Tet in Vietnam for:
• 2019: February 5
• 2020: January 25
• 2021: February 12
• 2022: February 1
Vietnamese Tet holiday
Q: What activities are suggested for travelers to do in Tet Holiday?
While Tet is generally celebrated between family members, some families are very welcoming of foreigners, and would often invite them to join in on the celebration. This way, visitors can have a true Tet experience while in Vietnam. There are many other activities to be had during Tet as a visitor:
- You can attend flowermarkets all over the city, where vendors sell a variety of flowers, as well as Tet-related products, such as ingredients to make Chưng Cake (Bánh Chưng) as well as traditional decorations.
Flower markets in Tet days
- While you can find peach blossom branches and small kumquat trees in flowermarkets, we recommend for you to visit peach blossom gardens and kumquat gardens in order to see the best variance of these traditional Tet trees. These gardens have large peach blossom and kumquat trees for sale, but you don’t need to buy them in order to appreciate their beauty.
Kumquat garden in Tet holiday
- You can watch performances of the lion dance, a traditional Vietnamese dance derived from China where the dancers perform dressed as a lion, in streets around the city, specifically near Hoàn Kiếm Lake in Hanoi, Pham Ngu Lao Street in Saigon or in Vietnamese pagodas. The lion dance is believed to bring luck, prosperity and happiness, and would be accompanied by traditional music specific to the lion dance. Some performances would also have the inclusion of the dragon dance or the replacement of the dragon dance for the lion dance instead.
Lion dance in Tet holiday
- At 12am on the first day of Tet (5 Feb, 2019), celebratory fireworks are fired all over the city (30 locations in Hanoi to be exact). Families traditionally visit pagodas to pray for blessings during Tet, and with the new tradition of the celebratory fireworks, they would do it immediately after the viewing of the fireworks. We recommend that this is the one thing that you should definitely do during Tet, since it is the peak of the festivities and it is the one tradition that you can fully immerse in during Tet. For fireworks location in Hanoi, we hereby have included a list, and for pagodas location, you can find one with ease near any of the firework locations.
Firework in Vietnamese Tet holiday
High range fireworks (6 locations):
1. Hoan Kiem District (in front of the new Hanoi Press Office)
2. Tay Ho District (Lac Long Quan flower garden, in front of the district’s People's Committee gate)
3. Nam Tu Liem District (My Dinh National Sports Complex, My Dinh Ward)
4. Hai Ba Trung District (Thong Nhat Park, Le Dai Hanh Ward)
5. Ha Dong District (Van Quan Lake, Van Quan Ward)
6. Son Tay (Son Tay Ancient Citadel)
Low range fireworks (24 locations):
1. Ba Dinh District (Ngoc Khanh Lake, Ngoc Khanh Ward)
2. Hoang Mai District (Den Lu Lake Park, Hoang Van Thu Ward)
3. Long Bien District (Vincom Mall, Phuc Loi Ward)
4. Dong Da District (Hoang Cau Lake, O Cho Dua Ward)
5. Cau Giay District (Cau Giay Park, Dich Vong Ward)
6. Thanh Xuan District (Nhan Chinh Lake Park, Nhan Chinh Ward)
7. Bac Tu Liem Disctrict (Pheo River bridge area, Minh Khai Ward)
8. Gia Lam District (Trau Quy Urban Area)
9. Me Linh District (on the roof of the 4-storey People’s Committee building, Dai Thinh Commune)
10. Ba Vi District (Quang Oai Stadium, Tay Dang Town)
11. Thanh Tri District (stadium of the District Culture, Information and Sports Center, Tu Hiep Commune)
12. Dan Phuong District (Stand B, district stadium, Phung Town)
13. Thach That District (roof of the 4-storey People's Council building, district People's Committee, Lien Quan Town)
14. Chuong My District (district stadium, Chuc Son Town)
15. Thuong Tin District (roof of the 2-storey Center for Information and Sports Culture building)
16. Quoc Oai District (roof of the 6-storey district Military Command building)
17. Phu Xuyen District (Thao Chinh Sub-zone, Phu Xuyen Town)
18. My Duc District (ecological lake park, Dai Nghia Town)
19. Hoai Duc District (roof of the 3-storey Center for Information and Sports Culture building)
20. Ung Hoa District (district stadium, Van Dinh Town)
21. Dong Anh District (district stadium, Dong Anh Town)
22. Soc Son District (district stadium, Soc Son Town)
23. Phuc Tho District (district stadium, Phuc Tho Town)
24. Thanh Oai District (district stadium, Thanh Oai Town)
Q: Do shops, restaurants and tourist places open as usual during the Tet holiday?
Many businesses close in observance of the national holiday, and other places slow down with fewer staff on hand.
The bad news: many museums, mausoleums, indoors exhibition place and art houses will be closed a couple of days before the lunar new year and don’t open up again until five or six days after. There are some notable exceptions, though. For example, the Citadel in Hue, the Ancient Town in Hoi An and the Cu Chi Tunnels nearby Ho Chi Minh City all remain open for Tet. Be sure to check online in advance.
The good news: beach will be empty, cities will be vacant (3 first days of Lunar calendar) - overall a great time for those who enjoy the quiet on the streets, a very rare phenomenon indeed.
Tips: Going to the Perfume Pagoda, a famous Buddhist shrine in Vietnam, during Tet, these kinds of places can become extremely busy with overlong queues and travel can be a complete nightmare.
Hanoi tranqulity in the first day of Lunar New Day
Restaurants & shops:
Most restaurants do close down, but more than enough stay open, especially in touristy areas, thus don’t worry to be starving as walking the empty streets. Just walking around for a while, or ask a local to point you in the right direction, Vietnamese are super friendly to help you. Tet is the perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and try many foods that only have in Tet holiday.
Like restaurants, many shops will be closed for the first few days of the Lunar New Year. Some market will still be open, with much fewer vendors than you normally see, even in major trading points like Dong Xuan market or Ben Thanh. Most vendors want to start a smooth sales year by selling at a very reasonable price, therefore try not to haggle or if you do, do so politely or else it will be considered to bring about bad luck for the whole New Year. Remember to smile as shopping in Vietnam :)
Traditional foods for Tet holiday
Q: How is transportation and accommodation during Tet holiday?
Hotels are in business as usual during Tet, then you certainly won’t have any problems finding a place to stay. However, nowadays many people like to spend their Tet holiday on a family vacation. And don't forget, the world's most populous country China as well as other Asia countries share the same New Year dates; which means Tet holiday would be the peak season to Hotels/Resorts.
Booking ahead is the way to go here. Generally in big cities and tourist spots high on hotels you'll find booking sites still have last-minute deals and hotels don’t tend to close. In smaller destinations, especially ones that only have small family-run guesthouses out in the sticks, be prepared for some difficulties. As most of these places are not available to book online, you’d be wise to go through a local booking office before you arrive at your destination and get them to secure your room in advance.
Everyone in rush for Tet preparation
All the major means of transportation remain to operate during Tet, but you really should book well in advance. You won’t have much fun if you try to show up and buy a ticket at the public bus/train stations, and the airports. Most Vietnamese would leave for their hometown to celebrate the coming of the New Year with their families; transportation becomes packed in the days before and after the holiday. Plan extra time if you'll be wanting to move around the country. It’s highly recommended to rather book with local travel agencies than travel by public transportation these Tet days.
Q: Should I travel to Vietnam during Tet holiday?
Definitely YES if you plan well in advance for your trip. Threeland Travel has been operating many group/private tours during Tet holiday, and our tourists all agreed that: “It is a joyous time to be in this country and with enough planning and preparation, it would be an awesome experience.”