Vietnam – festivals and other events

Vietnam – festivals and other events

Because Vietnam is such a melting pot of different cultures, it is no wonder that there is any number of festivals being celebrated, throughout the country, and throughout the year.


The Tet Festival is when the people of Vietnam celebrate the lunar New Year. This is a massive festival in the country, during which people will travel home to be with their families, taking part in a variety of activities – principally eating, drinking and general socializing. At this time of year there will be something going on to interest visitors in every town and city.


The Lim Festival is held in Lim, near Hanoi, every February. This comprises a celebration of various traditional activities, such as folk music and handicrafts, especially weaving. The Lim Festival is traditionally held on the 13th day of the first lunar month. Folk songs are enthusiastically sung by male singers (known as lien anh) and their female counterparts (lien chi). Visitors are also invited to browse various stalls where weavers perform their intricate activities. The local fishermen and farmers also display their wares, while in the background colourful processions and ceremonies are enacted throughout the vicinity.


One popular festival that takes place every every March is the Perfume Pagoda Festival. This takes place in My Duc, near Hanoi, and features a pilgrimage to the local Buddhist temple. Visitors are encouraged to join in with this pilgrimage, and as well as having the opportunity to become immersed in local culture, it offers some splendid views of the local scenery.

Perhaps a less austere celebration is the Cow Racing Festival, enacted every March in An Giang. Originally imported from neighbouring Cambodia, this event is based on paying respects to departed friends or family members, and features a pilgrimage to a pagoda. As part of the festivities involves the mass-lighting of incense sticks, this is the feast for the nose as much as the eyes! After these activities come the actual races alluded to in the festival's title.


The Chu Dong Tu Festival occurring each April is dedicated to the hero, Saint Chu Dong Tu. This all about promoting an awareness of agriculture, and the importance that it continues to play in Vietnamese life. The festival lasts for three days and culminates in an ornate procession.


Ba Chua Xu takes place over a four-day period in Chau Doc, on Sam Mountain. Because there are many shrines and temples in this vicinity, numerous events are held during their time, to which all tourists are respectfully invited to enjoy the activities.

Another Vietnamese celebration which takes place in this month is Labour Day or May Day. This is celebrated throughout Vietnam with parades, feasts, and colourful (and noisy) firework displays.


The Chem Temple Festival takes place in Vietnam in June, celebrating the momentous events in the country's history. Celebrants recall Ly Ong Trong, a supporter of the Chinese Emperor at the time of a Mongol invasion. This festival has deep religious significance for many Vietnamese citizens.

Another important event in the Vietnamese calendar for June is Buddha's birthday. Celebrated throughout the Far East, especially Vietnam, this event occurs on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month.

Unspoiled Vietnam - exploring the central Highland

Unspoiled Vietnam - exploring the central Highland

Vietnam is one of the world's fastest up and coming tourist resorts. The upside of this is that many of its resorts are now fully geared towards making every visitors' experience as comfortable as possible. The one downside, however, is that a lot of people will have thought of paying a visit to the same resorts that you have. The good news is that if you would really like to get away from it all, there are still many parts of the country that are relatively unspoiled.

The bulk of visitors to this beautiful Far Eastern country tend to head along to the eastern coast, drawn to the beautiful beaches and the limestone islands of the likes of Ha Long Bay. Those who are drawn to mountains usually head northwards to the more spectacular ranges. While the mountain ranges in the centre of Vietnam can't match their northern counterparts in terms of sheer beauty, there is still an immense amount of landscape here waiting for the more intrepid explorer.

The mountains here are shrouded in mist and harbour countless thundering waterfalls. There are a immense longhouses, which are hardly struggling to cope with the demand of tourists clamouring for accommodation! Vietnam's central highlands share their western border with Cambodia, and spread to the high peaks and wide plateaus of the Truong Son Mountains. This region is renowned for its fertile red soils that yield a lot of natural resources. Chief amongst these are tea, coffee, silk, hardwood, and rubber. Although plantations obviously take up a lot of this land, there are still pockets of Forrest dating back to primeval times. Amongst these secretive trees there are elephants gibbons and bears that have managed to survive the advances of civilization surrounding them.

For visitors coming to the central highlands, the first target of choice is often Da Lat. Christened by the former French colonists of this country, this mountain retreat looms above pine-crested hilltops. It does have to be said that it can be somewhat disappointing to arrive here because the architecture is fairly dreamy and it has succumbed to some of the excesses of being a tourist trap. On the other hand, it does contain some charming colonial buildings and if you enjoy bike rides, some extremely picturesque trails. Its market is also overflowing with local delicacies to whet your appetite prior to exploring further in the hills.

North of Da Lat you'll come across Lak Lake. This picturesque body of water is surrounded by tiny villages, whose inhabitants always welcome visitors. Be prepared to be offered all manner of hand-crafted trinkets to be taken away to remind you of your time spent in the central Highlands.

Indeed, one of the keenest memories of this area you are likely to leave with is a snapshot of a varied indigenous mix. Amongst the people living in this hilly terrain are tribes like Jarai and Bahnar. Despite the way that Vietnam has evolved into a contemporary country at the forefront of the new Asian economies, these proud peoples remain relatively cocooned from the worst consumer excesses of the outside world. A glimpse into their charming lifestyles is bound to be heartwarming for any visitor.

Vietnam attractions – Ha Long Bay

Vietnam attractions – Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay Is one of Vietnam's most instantly recognizable tourist destinations. Located in Quang Ning Province, in the north-west of Vietnam, the bay consists of thousands of limestone ‘karsts' (karsts being geological formations, usually formed from limestone, which in the case of Ha Long Bay, have created spectacular cliffs and islands).

The bay itself is part of a much wider geological zone which includes Bai Tur Long, and the Cat Ba ialands. Ha Long Bay has a total area of around 1,500 square kilometres. There are upwards of 2000 islets dotted just off the coasts, and within easy exploration distance for visitors wishing to book boat trips, or hire kayaks. The bay is an incredibly diverse environment, not only for its impressive geological structures, but also for its wildlife. There are over 60 species of animals living in this part of Vietnam.


Anyone visiting the bay is following in impressively ancient footsteps. Ancient folklore describes a family of dragons being sent by the gods to assist the Vietnamese in fighting off invaders. Rather than the traditional western version of breathing fire, these mythical beasts spat out jewels and jade. These transformed into the thousands of islands dotted around the bay.

The vicinity was first settled in prehistoric times. Successive cultures have included the Soi Nhu, who flourished for thousands of years until around 7,000 BC, the Cai Beo, who lasted until 5,000 BC, and the Ha Long who gave the area its name, but who died out around 3,500 years ago. The bay's position has been ideal for human habitation, with its convenient access to the sea and therefore trade routes with other neighbouring civilizations, and the comparative shelter offered by its natural landscapes. Many artifacts have been discovered in the area's limestone caves – with some examples remarkably well-preserved considering their antiquity.


The natural landscapes of Ha Long Bay are amongst the most striking anywhere in the world. Visitors are struck by the sheer spectacle of the monolithic islands, rising spectacularly from the waters. French explorers from colonial times have left graffiti on some of the caves, although today's visitors are far more likely to be impressed by the vast chambers within the islands, containing stalactites and stalagmites.

Communitiesssed by the vast chambers within the islands, containing stalactites and stalagmites.

Two of the larger islnds, Cat Ba and Tuan Chau, are permanently inhabited. Here you'll find excellent tourist facilities, as well as well-appointed hotels overlooking beautiful beaches. Around 1,600 Vietnamese live around the bay are, centred in four fishing communities – Cur Van, Cong Tau, Ba Hang and Vong Veng. Their traditional accommodation consists of floating homes. The locals sustain themselves with fishing, and the cultivation of marine life. There are around 200 fish species in the bay, and over 400 types of mollusk.

First listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 due to its universal aesthetic value, the bay has been welcoming visitors to this part of Vietnam for some time. Tourists have many leisure options available to them, from exploring the islets and inlets from kayaks, to boat cruises along the bay. Larger boats offer restaurants and overnight stays. There are opportunities to fish, or to indulge in watersports such as snorkeling or diving. The more intrepid can try out undersea caving, although this only be done with experienced guides.

Vietnam adventure holidays

Vietnam adventure holidays

Vietnam has so much to offer its visitors, from tours of its beautiful landscapes, to full-on adventure experiences for the more intrepid individuals. Where the latter are concerned, here is a run-down of some of the more popular Vietnamese adventure activities.


Whether you are a hardened canoeist, or just someone who fancies dabbling around shores in a kayak, you are spoilt for choice in this beautiful countryside. There are some wonderful bays, marshes and rivers in Vietnam. These offer amazing water visibility, as well as an abundance of marine wildlife to be uncovered. To the north east of Vietnam lies Ha Long Bay, a long stretch of coastline that is world-renowned for its limestone cliffs and islands. This area is a magnet for kayakers, who enjoy the combination of tranquil waters, and the inlets and caves that can be most readily explored by boat. The one not of caution is that some of the natural geology of this area lends itself to unpredictable passages – so travelling with a guide to some of the more obscure islands or cliffs is the recommended option.

Horse riding

Traveling across the countryside on horseback is a very popular pastime in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Hmong is a ubiquitous animal beloved of native riders, and is popular with trekkers of all nationalities. Whether you are wishing to undertake a gentle tour of the interior, or a more vigorous canter along Vietnam's long beaches, horses are ideal. Riding rates are usually charged by the hour, although if you are planning to embark on a full day's sightseeing with your trusty steed, then you can rent accordingly.

Hiking and trekking

The famous Ho Chi Minh trail is a popular visitor draw. This comprises an intricate series of paths, trails, and even tunnels that were used by Vietcong fighters during the long war of resistance against America and their southern government allies in the 1960s and 70s. This trail runs from the north of the country to the south, bypassing the Truong Son mountain range, and concluding in neighbouring western Laos. Nearby Ho Chi Minh you'll come across the extensive Cu Chi underground system, and there are also Vinh Moc tunnels. While the portion of the trail that runs above sea level will take you over some of Vietnam's most breathtaking landscapes, the locations below the ground, while certainly worth a visit for interested parties, can be a problem for claustrophobic visitors.

Water sports

Boasts over 1,800 miles of coastline. This equates to a vast area of beaches with scope for water sports. Near the Mekong Delta to the south of Vietnam, you'll come across Vung Tau and Nha Trang. These resorts have been well geared towards visitors, and contain some of the country's most popular and extensive beaches. Whether you wish to dive beneath the seas, or simply explore the turquoise waters with a snorkel, you can hire equipment from any number of outlets.

Phan Thiet in central Vietnam is another magnet for water sport enthusiasts, while Mui Ne is renowned for its sand dunes. Many visitors gravitate to Ha Long Bay in the north, for its veritable maze of islands and inlets to be explored.