The full name for Tet is Tet Nguyen Dan. It is the most important and widely celebrated public festival of the year in Vietnam. It is the occasion for Vietnamese to express their respects for ancestors as well as welcoming the lunar New Year with family members.
Overall, Tet holiday for Vietnam is a bit like the Spring Festival for Chinese: every family will get together to have big meals to welcome the New Year.
Tet Festival in Vietnam usually falls in late January or early/mid-February. The dates vary from year to year as it is based on the lunar calendar. The celebration lasts one week or longer.
In 2020, Tet Festival is observed on January 25. Typically public holidays will be granted for seven days. The specific days taken will depend on how the dates fall over a weekend, and extra days may be declared holidays to bridge to weekends. In 2021, Tet Festival is celebrated on February 12.
Once the fireworks ended the noise continued, as drivers were honking horns and people were out laughing, cheering, and celebrating. Being in Hanoi for Tet was an awesome, festive experience.
For three days after Tet, Hanoi was very quiet. The same streets that were packed with people, motorbikes, and shops just a few days ago had almost turned into a ghost town in some places. Most shops and restaurants were closed, their garage style doors shut and locked. Now there was room to walk on the sidewalks since they were no longer being used by motorbikes as a parking lot. We saw a small number of Vietnamese people dressed up and heading off to family and friend’s houses, but mostly it was tourists like us, wandering the empty streets of Hanoi
Traveling during this time does not come without its difficulties. Trains and buses are sold out in advance so travel plans cannot wait until the last minute. Hotels do not usually sell out since most Vietnamese travel home rather than stay in hotels, but it still helps to have your room booked in advance as well. For up to five days museums and shopping areas can be closed which can really impact sightseeing plans, so make sure you have things to do to keep you occupied.
All in all, if you want to witness Tet celebrations in Vietnam and do not mind four to five days of downtime in your schedule, traveling to Vietnam during Tet is worth it.
Make all travel arrangements in advance, especially those for one week before and one week after Tet. Prior to Tet everyone is trying to get home, mostly by motorbike, bus, and train. Planes are used less frequently since they are more expensive. Be prepared for higher costs for travel at this time since there is a much greater demand for it. Trains and buses may be overbooked, with people sleeping on mats in the aisles.
The worst days to travel are two days before Tet and three days after Tet. Unless you have your own transportation, I would plan on staying put in one place during this time. If you arrived in Hanoi four days before Tet, you will have plenty of time to get in our sightseeing and to get to know the city before museums and businesses closed.
The weather during Tet Holiday usually dry, bright weather is expected across Vietnam. Temperatures in the north (Hanoi, Halong Bay) will be relatively cool (avg temp: 17 °C) but higher in central Vietnam (Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Nha Trang, etc) and South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta) (avg temp: 25-28 °C).
Do not plan on doing much for one to two days before Tet and for three days afterwards, as many tourist sites close during this time. Stay in a hotel with a DVD player or download some movies on a computer or iPad so you have something to do if boredom sets in. There are shops in Hanoi selling DVDs for as little as a dollar a piece.
Compiled by Vietnam Insider staff