The time around Tết, Vietnam is a special place to be around. On the same date as Chinese New Year, the Vietnamese will enter the first day of lunar new year with the biggest holiday event in Vietnam. It’s New Year, everyone’s birthday(!) and events like our Christmas and Thanksgiving on one day (and the following week after). Tet is a shortened form of Tết Nguyên Đán, which means “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day”. Being in Vietnam around Tet could bring some logistical challenges with it, but overall we found this time a great addition to this part of our trip.
NEW YEARS EVE IN HANOI
New Year’s Eve was great in Hanoi; lovely fireworks at the lake, joyful people and all kinds of interesting rituals being performed out on the streets. People burn special papers and fake dollars, put offerings together and walk around with big sugarcane sticks. Some wishing and hoping for luck and respecting their ancestors but mostly for prosperity for their businesses.
Offering-tables are stocked with fresh fruit (5 different types), softdrinks, candy and also plates of minced meat and cooked chickens in yoga-like positions with a rose in their mouth. Pretty freaky to me and can’t find the exact reason for this one, if you happen to know please enlighten me!
TET AND MONEY
Try not to bargain too much or do so politely. According to their believes their income this period of the year will predict the outcome of the new year, financially. Restaurants mostly raise their prices a bit but the extra toll that lays on the smaller staff (most go back to their families) could be a legit reason for the raise. Vietnamese also try to pay off their debts in advance so they can be debt-free on Tet, so they might be in need of that extra money now! Just stock up before entering this period and get your souvenirs in advance or a bit after Tet.
Read more about Tet and it’s customs on Wikipedia.
If you have planned going somewhere during or after Tet, try double checking if they are open. Some restaurants, shops and public attractions might close for a short time.
So don’t be scared by stories of traffic jams or ghost cities. Plan ahead and take your time to enjoy this time of the year!
“Chúc Mừng Năm Mới” (Happy New Year!)