Take a walk on the streets of Hoi An in the days before Tet, and you can’t miss the sense of joy and excitement in the air. Hoi An is the perfect place to spend the Lunar New Year. While all of Vietnam gets brushed up and beautified, in Hoi An, old traditions are still practiced and countryside rituals and folk culture enrich the celebrations. Read on for a guide to Vietnam’s favorite holiday and a list of the top Tet activities in Hoi An.

Preparing for a fresh start

Preparing for a fresh start

For Vietnamese, Tet is a nostalgic time, filled with childhood memories of visits from relatives, delicious treats, lucky money, new clothes, and days of fun with the whole family together. Every year local people prepare weeks in advance for Tet Nguyen Dan, the morning feast on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

Pagodas, houses, and shops all over Hoi An are cleaned, rinsed, and repaired. Flower markets, and food stalls spring up on sidewalks. Housewives shop for ingredients for family feasts, adorn altars and decorate the home. Men settle dues, get haircuts, and wash their motorcycles.

The sight of kumquat trees bouncing on the backs of motorbikes is a sign Tet is around the corner. Every home in Hoi An displays a kumquat tree in its entrance as a symbol of fruitfulness and prosperity. Kumquat trees are carefully grown to yield big, orange fruits, and the branches are often hung with greeting cards and lucky symbols.

Fresh flowers and plants are an important part of Tet decorations. You’ll see marigolds, sunflowers, daisies, and chrysanthemums in noble yellow hues all over Hoi An. New year wishes are penned in calligraphy and draped from doorways. Local people in Hoi An also welcome the holiday with lanterns, red envelopes, bamboo poles, and strings of fireworks.

Many special foods are served during the Tet holiday, but pride of place is always given to banh chung and banh tet. These steamed sticky rice cakes, filled with crushed mung beans and fatty pork, are savored with pickled onions and hot green tea. Families stock up on watermelons and fruits, Vietnamese ham, whole boiled chickens, Tet jams, and dried fruits for the coming feasts.


Marking the holidays together

By the time the day before Tet arrives the whole province and country is ready to celebrate together. Everyone returns to their hometowns in time to be with parents and grandparents. Last-minute treats and decorations are added, and the scent of incense fills Hoi An’s streets as countless altars are set up to honor ancestors and the kitchen gods.

In Hoi An, the last night of the outgoing year is marked with dances and festivities in the Hoi An Ancient Town. Beautifully dressed families with children wearing colorful new ao dai join folk games and snap photos. The excitement builds with special shows and songs in the hours before midnight, and then fireworks explode above the tiled roofs of the Ancient Town, the Thu Bon River, and the crowds of happy people.

The first days of any new year are an auspicious time. Families stay home and feast together. Elders give lucky money to young ones, and everyone shares wishes for the new year. Most people visit pagodas and communal houses, and stop by relatives and teachers. After the new year has been properly ushered in, the holiday is for relaxing and having fun together.


lunar new year in hoi an vietnam

Tet activities in Hoi An in 2024

If you’re in Hoi An in January and February, you have a chance to join the annual activities that take place around the Tet season. Below are some top events in Hoi An for Tet 2024.

Spring Flower Market in Hoi An – February 2 – 9

Stroll through this eye-catching flower market, held at the Hoi An Stadium and along the main streets around the city. 

Creative Craft Fair in Hoi An – February 4

Taking place at 106 Bach Dang and An Hoi Park, this fair showcases handicraft products, handmade goods from around Hoi An and Quang Nam province, and creative Tet decorations.

Lunar New Year’s Eve in the Ancient Town – February 9, from 7pm

Hoi An’s year-end party kicks off in the Ancient Town with a spring parade at 7pm, followed by an art show at 11pm and fireworks above the Hoai River at midnight.

Bai Choi Singing Contest in Ancient Town – from February 9

This competition between Hoi An’s bai choi teams spotlights a unique style of folk singing from Central Vietnam, listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

Boat Racing on Thu Bon River – February 12, from 9am

Catch the excitement of a springtime boat race early in the new lunar year, when onlookers line the Thu Bon River to cheer for teams of rowers from Hoi An’s districts.

Cau Bong Festival in Tra Que Village – February 16

Elders from Tra Que will celebrate the village’s annual festival with a traditional ceremony at the Cau Bong Stadium to pray for good weather and a bountiful harvest.

Kim Bong Woodworking Village Anniversary – February 21

Leaders of the Kim Bong community will mark the anniversary of the village’s founding fathers at Tien Hien Communal House with rituals and demonstrations of woodcarving and local crafts.

First Full Moon Lantern Festival – February 24

The first full moon of the Year of the Dragon will be a special one, with festivities and a few hours with electric lights turned off and only lanterns glowing in the Ancient Town.


Tips for travelers during Tet time

In 2024, February 8 to 15 is a public holiday in Vietnam. Many businesses will close for this period and the days before and after. Tour companies and restaurants often close during the holiday, as staff return home to be with their families. If you are traveling during this time, book your transport and accommodation well in advance. Here are a few more tips:

Don’t:

  • Make uninvited visits to local people’s homes in the first days of the new year
  • Argue, bargain, speak negatively or get into debates with others
  • Sweep your house or any local person’s house in the first day of the new year

Do:

  • Dress modestly and respectfully for religious activities, house visits, and trips to pagodas
  • Expect slightly higher prices on hotels and services in the dates around the new year
  • Bring a gift of brightly colored flowers or wine if you are invited to a friend’s home
  • Handle dishes and breakable items with extra care
  • Wish local people a happy lunar new year by saying: ‘Chúc mừng năm mới!’

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