Visitting & travelling Vietnam during Tet Holiday (Vietnamese New Year - Lunar New Year) 2017

Tet is the most important day of the year in Vietnam. We all are waiting for Tet Holiday and traditional festiavals after Vietnamese New Year - Lunar New Year as   also hope to get the best things

Hanoi Vietnam during Tet
Hanoi Vietnam during Tet

On the Internet and other social networks, I have read many articles written by foreigners, tourists and cultural researchers about Vietnamese Tet Holiday (called Vietnamese New Year or Lunar New Year).

Vietnamese New Year - Lunar New Year

Well, in Asia, each country has its own New Year festival and it’s different from the New Year festival which Europe, America and the world celebrate. Even in Vietnam, out of the 54 ethnic people, many have their own festival, such as the H'mong, who have the New Rice festival in November, which is earlier than "National Tet Holiday" about 2 months.

Bánh chưng - a Vietnamese Tet food

But in this article, I want to talk about the traditional Vietnamese Tet, which has a history of thousands of years. We call our traditional New Year is "Tet" (read like teid"), also known as the Lunar New Year according to the Chinese culture.

The traditional New Year mentioned in this article is the festival celebrated by East Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and many others in Asia.

It means that in Vietnam, we have two New Year holidays. The first celebration is New Year's Day, taken from the Gregorian calendar (we call this 'Western Tet' - the first day of a year). It’s January 1st (like New Year’s Day in almost countries in the world).

Vietnam Tet Foods
Vietnam Tet Foods: Hanoian make "Banh chung" to commemorate to ancestors during Tet

Food in the Tet in Vietnam
Food in the Tet in Vietnam

And then about 1 to 2 months after, we celebrate another New Year’s Day that is more special, more important, it's traditional New Year - Lunar New Year Holiday and Festival.

All the people of Vietnam celebrate this traditional Tet.  In Vietnam, Tet signifies the beginning of spring, as well as the new year  (spring is the season in which trees and flowers sprout and bloom).

This is the banh chung which is maked by rice and meat
This is the banh chung which was maked by rice and meat and and is wrapped by a special kind of tree leaves

If want more information about Vietnamese Tet, you can search the keywords on the Internet. I just want to take the time to talk to you about how to travel in Vietnam during Tet holiday.

Should you travel to Hanoi, Saigon, Hoian, Sapa, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Halong Bay in Vietnam during tet?

If you want to go to Vietnam to explore the traditional New Year in Vietnam, I suggest you visiting Hanoi and this is the best place to travel during Tet.

Across Vietnam, Tet is in every corner with feasts and traditional activities. But why do I suggest you going to Hanoi instead of Saigon?

Is it because Tet in Hanoi truly Vietnamese traditional New Year? The reason is because the weather in Hanoi at the time of Lunar New Year is always cold, while in Saigon temperature rises high (it’s pretty hot).

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi in Happy New Year's Eve
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi in Happy New Year's Eve: fireworks festival

The cold in Hanoi and the North of Vietnam make people want to reunite with their family and have dinner together during this holiday period.

If you come to Hanoi, you need to remember that there are 2 kinds of people in Hanoi: the original Hanoi people (who have lived there for many generations) and the immigrants (the provincial people).

Every Lunar New Year, the Government of Vietnam allow workers and people about 5-7-9 days off work to celebrate the New Year Holiday.

Therefore, the immigrants will come back home to family in other provinces. Approximately, 60% of the population of Hanoi will return home or travel elsewhere, even traveling abroad.

Thus, Hanoi becomes unusually quiet from the start of the first morning of the Lunar New Year (Tet). All of the shops, restaurants, cafes, small and medium hotels, entertainment venues, supermarkets are closed because everyone is at home with family. Right in the center of Hanoi's Old Quarter, there weekdays are like a giant market, busy people and many goods for sale. But then on New Year's Day, it is deserted.

Hanoi's ancient streets deserted on the first day of the new year
Hanoi's ancient streets were deserted on the first day of the new year: no sell anything and no open the door

Only some major hotels (read more: Most luxury hotels in Hanoi) or Hotels in Hanoi Old Quarter are open to serve foreign tourists who want to celebrate Tet in Hanoi.

This period will last about 3-5 days. Then, everything is back to normal.

So if you go to Hanoi on the days of Tet Holiday (from 1st to 5th), you will not be able to go exploring. This city is desolate, with very few people. These days, if you want to move and travel around Hanoi (read more: Best places to visit Hanoi), there are only two means of transport: taxi or public bus (the mini buses suspend their service during this period ). It is very difficult to rent a motorcycle on New Year's days. Many attractions will be closed, except the temples and pagodas.

But if you do not visit Hanoi at Tet, you will not know the Tet in Hanoi, the Vietnamese traditional Tet Holiday.

So, can you travel in Vietnam during Tet?

I have advice for you: Come to Hanoi just before Tet (before the New Year’s Eve). They are the last 5 days of the year when millions people in Hanoi and thousands of immigrants head to Hanoi to go shopping for Tet to hope getting the best things in a new year.

Ambassador of Sweden in Hanoi
The Ambassador of Sweden in Hanoi in Before New Year's Eve

It’s the most crowded time and Tet atmosphere pervades everywhere. You'll meet the Before New Year’s Eve flower markets, and Hanoi’s Old Quarter is full with people and goods.

You should stay in Hanoi on New Year's Eve, the night that transfers from the old year to the new one to see the Vietnamese people celebrate Tet (New Year).

Hanoi's flower markets during Tet
Hanoi's flower markets during Tet (before New Year)

In the early days of the new year, you should not be in Hanoi, come to the villages in the suburbs of Hanoi, or choose from the following locations to come: Sapa (read more: From Hanoi to Sapa), Halong Bay, Trang An - Ninh Binh (read more: From Hanoi to Ninh Binh), Hoian [read more: How to get from Hanoi to Hoi An], Nha Trang (read more: From Hanoi to Nha Trang)... However, I recommend you book a tour package to travel to these locations during Tet, because they are also as quiet as Hanoi (the capital of Vietnam) in Tet.

Hapy New Year in Vietnam
Hapy New Year in Vietnam

Because only a few hotels, cafés and restaurants open for tourists everything becomes more expensive than usual.

You should pay close attention to your travel schedule. Train tickets, bus tickets booking time and hotel rental periods should be streamlined when you want to visit Vietnam during Tet.

Hanoi during Vietnamese New Year (Tet)
Hanoi during Vietnamese New Year (Tet): a woman hope to sell many "đào" flowers

If you arrive to Saigon during Tet in Hochiminh City, then about 7-10 days after the Lunar New Year, you should be in Hanoi to attend the traditional Tet festivals in Vietnam (held in big temples and pagodas such as Huong Pagoda, Yen Tu Pagoda).

Vietnamese holiday festivals after Tet Holiday
Vietnamese holiday festivals after Tet Holiday: Going to Yen Tu Pagoda

Vietnamese holiday festivals after Tet Holiday 2
Vietnamese holiday festivals after Tet Holiday: On the highest mountain in Yen Tu, pray for the best things in new year

If you want to know what date is Vietnam's  Lunar New Year on the Gregorian calendar, please contact me.

Tết or Vietnamese New Year, is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture. The word is a shortened form of Tết Nguyên Đán, which is Sino-Vietnamese for "Feast of the First Morning of the First Day". Tết celebrates the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese calendar, which usually has the date falling in January or February. Source:

Because Vietnamese New Year usually has the date falling in January and February so the Hanoi weather is often very cold. Please read more Hanoi weather in January