Tet Nguyen Dan, commonly known as Tet, is the festival that welcomes the arrival of the Lunar New Year in Vietnam. Tet is one of the most important public holidays in Vietnam and a great time for tourists to visit the country.
In the days leading up to Tet, visitors in Vietnam will see the streets decorated with flowers and lights as locals prepare for the festivity. Time is spent with family and there is generally a positive and peaceful atmosphere.
Travelers who would like to experience Tet in Vietnam can find everything they need to know below including the festival dates and where to go to enjoy the best celebrations.
When is the Vietnamese Tet Festival?
As Tet marks the Lunar New Year, the date is not fixed. Rather, it falls sometime between January and February, and the celebrations last 7 to 9 days in total.
Recent and upcoming Tet festival dates are as follows:
- Tet 2020: Saturday 25th January
- Tet 2021: Friday 12th February
- Tet 2022: Tuesday 1st February
Foreigners who would like to be in Vietnam for Tet should make sure they check the visa requirements and, if necessary, apply for a Vietnam visa online in advance.
How is the Tet Festival Celebrated?
As Vietnam’s New Year festival is celebrated throughout the country, tourists up and down the nation can enjoy the atmosphere as people get ready for the main day.
Preparations start 2 weeks in advance. Homes are cleaned, new clothes are purchased, debt is paid, and arguments are resolved all with the intention of starting the new year afresh.
Markets are even busier than usual as locals buy everything they need to cook the traditional Vietnamese meals they will enjoy with their families.
Another important Vietnam New Year tradition is purchasing flowers. Flowers including chrysanthemums, kumquat trees, and blossoms are bought and used to adorn homes and streets.
What do Vietnamese eat for New Year?
As with all major Vietnamese festivals, food plays a central part in the celebrations. Traditional meals are prepared and shared with friends and family during the days of Tet.
Overseas visitors can take the opportunity to sample some of the most typical Vietnam New Year food, including:
- Banh Chung: sticky rice cakes
- Gio Cha: Vietnamese sausage
- Thit ga: boiled or steamed chicken
- Canh Bong: vegetable soup with pork
- Mut Tet: candied fruit
The Best Places to Go on Tet New Year in Vietnam
Tet is a major festival in Vietnam and is therefore celebrated throughout the country. Northern Vietnam offers some of the most interesting options during Tet, including Hanoi, Sapa, and Ha Long Bay.
For the very best experience, travelers can choose from one of the following destinations to spend the Lunar New Year in Vietnam.
Hanoi: bustling markets and fireworks over the lake
In the week leading up to Tet, Hanoi is a hive of activity. Markets are filled with produce including the food and flowers that locals buy as they start preparing for the festivity. Hanoi Old Town is one of the best places to soak up the atmosphere, in particular Hang Ma Street.
There are many other things to do in Hanoi during Tet with plenty of opportunities to learn about the country’s history and shop for souvenirs.
The start of Tet is marked by a 15-minute firework show over Hoan Kiem Lake and people go out into the streets to start the celebrations.
In the days following the start of Tet, Hanoi becomes quiet as people leave the city and head to the towns and villages to spend time with their families. Travelers should be aware that most business and tourist attractions remain closed although there will still be plenty of places to buy food and other essentials.
Ha Long Bay: New Year’s overnight cruise
Ha Long Bay is one of the most visited places in Vietnam, known for its natural beauty and turquoise waters. Traveling to Ha Long Bay for Lunar New Year in Vietnam is a great alternative to Hanoi.
A popular activity is to take a Ha Long Bay overnight cruise, many offer private party cruises with catering and entertainment. Passengers can expect to try some traditional Vietnamese Tet food such as Chung Banh.
Tourists should be aware that some cruise operators do not run during Tet. It’s therefore advisable to book in advance due to the high demand and reduced offering.
Ho Chi Minh City: a festive atmosphere New Year
Like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City is especially lively in the days leading up to Tet. People dress up in traditional clothing and head out into the streets.
Many residents leave the city for their home towns during the days of Tet, offering travelers a unique opportunity to see Ho Chi Minh at its most peaceful.
Tips for Traveling to Vietnam during Tet
Whilst Tet is a great time to visit Vietnam, there are certain considerations that visitors should keep in mind.
- Book in advance: some businesses close for holidays so reserving accommodation in Vietnam and activities is advisable.
- Prices may be higher: some restaurants and other service providers may charge extra during the festive period.
- Transport can get busy: locals head to their hometowns by bus and train so avoid peak times.
- Plan outdoor activities: as museums and other tourist attractions remain shut, the days of Tet are perfect for visiting temples, national parks, and exploring the cities.
Providing all these points into consideration, Lunar New Year in Vietnam is an unforgettable experience for travelers.