Vietnamese Tet Holiday 2018

By Thu Huong.

The Vietnamese follow two calendars: Gregorian and Lunar Calendars. While Gregorian Calendar is for official work, the Lunar Calendar is mostly for traditions, spiritual life and events, and for agricultural work.

Gregorian Calendar has 365-366 days per year, the Lunar Calendar has only 355-356 days per year. Every year, the Vietnamese enjoy two New Year Celebrations; the Lunar New Year is called Tet. Tet dates vary from one year to another, but normally in January or February.

Peach flower fields at Nhat Tan, Hanoi, Vietnam
Peach flower fields at Nhat Tan, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

 

The Old Quarter of Hanoi before Tet
The Old Quarter of Hanoi before Tet

 

 

A street near Hoan Kiem Lake before Tet
A street near Hoan Kiem Lake before Tet

 

 

Street restaurants in the Old Quarter of Hanoi before Tet
Street restaurants in the Old Quarter of Hanoi before Tet

Tet is a very special time for every Vietnamese: the New Year celebration, time off from work, time for family reunion, time for fun with friends and relatives, change of fortune, cultural village festivals... Tet is a public holiday in Vietnam and the country comes to a halt during Tet holidays.


The Old Quarter of Hanoi before Tet

 

 


The Old Quarter of Hanoi during Tet

For 2-3 weeks before Tet, the traffic in Vietnam starts getting more and more chaotic: local buses travel days and nights to catch more and more clients; flights are always fully booked, especially for those from southern cities to northern cities; there are more local trains and more trains between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), of which those heading north are stuffed with passengers... Flights to Vietnam from abroad before Tet are often booked out, as there are many Vietnamese workers and overseas Vietnamese traveling home for the Traditional New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan Co Truyen).


The French Quarter of Hanoi during Tet

Traditionally, the Vietnamese have four days for Tet: the last day of the old Lunar Year and the first three days of the new Lunar Year. The last day of the lunar year is for preparing food for Tet and for worshiping to invite the deceased ancestors to come home for Tet. Some families would come to the cemetery to pay respect to the deceased members and invite the spirits to come home for Tet. The last day of the Lunar Year is a very busy day with the traffic nation-wide as people would like to conclude all work, so that Tet is more a relaxing time. People also have to get all things necessary for the next 3 days, so traffic jams are all over the country, both in cities and in the countryside.


Saigon right after Tet

The first day of the Lunar Year is for family only and normally the streets in cities are empty. People start going out visiting relatives and friends from the second day. Shops are open again after the third day of the new Lunar Year, but it may depend on each individual year as the owners tend to choose the auspicious day to start their business again.

While temples, pagodas and tourist attractions are open during Tet, banks and public offices are closed. Be sure you have enough cash traveling in Vietnam during Tet and try to avoid ATMs to withdraw money. It happens to many travelers that their credit cards are swallowed by the ATM and they have to wait until the bank staff resume their work after Tet holiday to get their credit card regurgitated. Some restaurants for tourists may be open after the first day of the new lunar year.


Dong Khoi Street right after Tet

For 2-3 weeks after Tet, people go back to work and traffic from northern cities to southern cities are chaotic again. If you plan to travel to Vietnam right before, during or right after Tet, then it is important to know the local habits so that you have a better travel experience. And it is always best to check with Vietnam based tour operators and travel agents for the detailed advice on how to travel wise during Tet.


Ho Chi Minh City People's Comittee Building after Tet

In 2018, the First Day of the Lunar Year is on 16-February-2013 and the Vietnamese are to have 7 days for Tet vacation: From  15-February through 21-February. The reason for long public holiday is due to that some days of Tet in 2018 fall onto weekend holiday and the Vietnamese get extra days off from work (observed holidays), which makes it a very long vacation time.