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All you need to know about travelling to Vietnam during Tet

Travelling to Vietnam during Tet?

In 2019, Tet falls at the start of February, and many people may tell you that it’s not a good idea to travel to Vietnam during this time.



However, Tripfuser’s GRACE HOMER is here to tell you exactly how you can dive into the vibrant celebrations and make the most of being a part of this wonderful time of year in Vietnam. Also, what you should bear in mind to make sure you are respectful of this important holiday in the Vietnamese calendar. 


Tet 2019 in Vietnam: 5th February 2019


Official observed dates: 2nd February 2019 - 10th February 2019


Firstly, what is Tet? Short for T?t Nguyên ?án, Tet is the Vietnamese New Year. It is also referred to as Chinese New Year as it is similar to the Chinese calendar, however, the people of Vietnam celebrate Tet based a separate Vietnamese calendar. 


Tet is considered by locals to be the biggest and most important in their national holidays. Most of the Vietnamese pause their busy lives during this holiday and travel to be with their family members all across the country. 


Vietnam becomes awash with a sea of colourful flowers, yellow in particular


How is Tet celebrated in Vietnam?


The lead up 

If you’re in Vietnam during the lead up to Tet, you’ll notice how many of the Vietnamese work to rid their homes of any bad fortune. This can be done through thorough cleaning, buying new clothing, resolving arguments and paying debts. The rush to tie up any loose ends is because Tet Nguyen Dan literally translates as ‘the first morning of the first day of the new year’ - just like much of the western world make new year’s resolutions, the Vietnamese make sure they go into the new year with a clean slate.


Paying respects to gods and tributes to ancestors

The Vietnamese believe that Tet is the time when the Kitchen God reports to the Jade Emperor about their family so will burn gold leaf paper and offer live carp to the Kitchen God. During Tet, you’ll also notice an increase in the amount of incense burning, especially during the middle of the day. These are offerings which are burned in memory of the departed in order to pay tribute to their ancestors, an important aspect of the holiday.  


Encouraging good luck and omens

Whilst much of the western world say ‘cheers’ to another year, sing songs and embrace their loved ones on the stroke of midnight on the 31st December, the Vietnamese welcome in the new year by beating drums and lighting firecrackers. Believing that the luck for the whole year can be determined solely by the events during Tet, the Vietnamese do what they can to make sure good omens come to them. This ranges from encouraging dogs to bark and welcoming the wealthy into their homes believing that this will determine the family's luck for the new year.


Visiting family & friends

Tet is a time when the Vietnamese people travel the length of the country in order to return to their hometowns or provinces to spend time with their loved ones. Typically, the first day of Tet is dedicated to close friends and parents, the second day to in-laws and other friends and the third day to distant relations. During these meetings, gifts are exchanged and feasts are laid out. 


Following the normal rounds, families will then go off to pray for the year to come or join in the parades that usually fill the streets in the last few days of Tet.


Outside houses and businesses, you’ll see offerings and incense burning along with plenty of yellow flowers


Travelling Vietnam during Tet


Whilst you may have heard differently, foreigners are very welcome to be a part of the festivities during Tet. You’ll find the Vietnamese are even friendlier and welcoming during Tet as no one wishes to bring a bad omen on the new year. 


Travelling Vietnam during Tet is a vibrant, colourful and wonderful experience. Especially so in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue and Hoi An. However, you should be prepared for the following.


Things to bear in mind when travelling Vietnam during Tet: 

  • Be respectful: This is a major festival in the Vietnamese calendar and should be respected. As always, respect the normal customs of Vietnam and be kind. 
  • Restaurants and shops will be closed: Some businesses shut for three weeks surrounding Tet, yet some only shut for 1-2 days. Whatever the case, be prepared to have limited choices during the week of the new year.
  • Prices will be higher: It is the peak season of travel during Tet, almost everything from travel to hotels to food goes up in price. If you remember to work this into your budget, it won’t be a shock. Remember, everyone else is paying these prices too, not just you. 
  • It will be busy: It’s the biggest holiday of the Vietnamese calendar! The Vietnamese like to travel and will be visiting their favourite places in Vietnam which may be the places you are heading to as well. Make sure to book accommodation ahead and head out early if you don’t want to be caught up in the crowds. 
  • Travel will be limited: Don’t try to squeeze too many destinations into your itinerary as travel will be limited or unreliable during this time - everyone wants to be home for Tet!
  • If you’re invited to join a celebration: The Vietnamese people are very friendly and welcoming so you may well be invited to join a family’s celebration. If you do, purchase some red envelopes (you can find these everywhere) and fill them with 5,000 VND notes for the children that will inevitably be at the party. If you want to take a gift for your hosts, anything red or from your home country is a great gift during Tet. 


on - You’ll see many women and girls in the traditional Ao Dai dress during this time


Want to join the party?


  • On the stroke of midnight head to Thong Nhat Park, Van Quan Lake, Lac Long Quan Flower Garden, My Dinh Stadium or Hoan Kiem Lake to catch an amazing fireworks display.
  • On the 5th day, head to Dong Da Hill to celebrate Dong Da Festival with the locals.
  • On the 6th day, head to Co Lao Citadel to see the locals adorn costumes and form a procession in the Co Lao Festival.


Ho Chi Minh City

  • For a cracking fireworks display at midnight of the new year, head to the Thu Thiem Tunnel or Dam Sen Park.
  • Head to District 8 to visit the Tau Hu Canal to see the canal transformed into a beautiful flower market.
  • From the 1st to the 4th day, head to the streets of Mac Thi Buoi, Nguyen Hue and Ngo Duc Ke in District 1 to join in the book festival.
  • Try some foods that are only available during Tet in District 5’s Chinatown (‘Cholon’). Here, you can also admire the wonderful and colourful decorations on the temples and houses. 


There are also various flower shows, elaborate festivals and ceremonies that take place throughout Vietnam’s major cities and destinations. The whole country transforms into a sea of red and yellow during Tet and the atmosphere is so exciting it’s contagious. 


Worried you’ve missed the boat of seeing Vietnam during Tet? Don’t worry. Luckily for you, a country as breathtaking as Vietnam can be enjoyed at any time of the year, not just during festivals like Tet. 


Chat directly with one of our local in-destination agents in Vietnam and start designing your perfect adventure. The best way to experience a country is to travel like a local and what better way to do this than to travel with a local.


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Written by: Grace Homer
Published: 24 January 2019

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