Most public holidays in Vietnam are to honor important historical events or to celebrate cultural values among Vietnamese. Some holidays vary from year to year due to the time difference between the lunar and solar calendar. Vietnamese people follow the standard 12-month calendar in daily life. Most village festivals and holidays in Vietnam follow the traditional Chinese calendar, which counts 355 days and adds a “leap month” every three years to keep track of the sun calendar. Following the Chinese lunar calendar means that most holidays correspond to the full moon. This also means that holidays fall on different calendar dates every year.
JanuaryWinter temperatures can be bitterly cold in the far north, with even snow possible. The further south you go, the milder the weather. Tet parties take place at the end of the month (or in February).
Dalat Flower Festival
It is held early in the month and this is always a great holiday, with huge extensive flower displays. It has become an international event with music and fashion shows and a wine festival.
North of Danang there are cold winds with mostly gray, cloudy conditions. Conversely, sunny warm days are the norm in the southern provinces.
Tet (Tet Nguyen Dan)
The biggest holiday of the year! Vietnamese New Year falls in January or early February. Traveling is difficult at the moment, because buses and planes are all fully booked and many companies are closing.
Wrestling competitions, lion dancing and human chess take place in Hanoi on the fifth day of the first lunar month in Dong Da Mound, location of the uprising against the Chinese led by Emperor Quang Trung (Nguyen Hué) in 1788.
Gray skies and cool temperatures have an effect everywhere north of Hoi An, but the thermometer starts to rise towards the end of the month. The dry season ends in the south.
Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival
Caffeine addicts should go to the highlands in March, because Buon Ma Thuot is the holiday of an annual coffee festival. Growers, grinders, blenders and addicts root in the main park of the city and local entertainment is offered.
Overall an excellent time to discover Vietnam and there are some excellent festivals and holidays. Flights are usually reasonably priced.
Holiday of the Dead (Thanh Minh)
It is time to honor the ancestors with a visit to the graves of deceased relatives to clean up and sweep tombstones. Flowers, food and paper are sacrificed. It is held on the first three days of the third moon.
Hue Festival (Biennial)
Vietnam’s largest cultural event (www.huefestival.com) is held every two years, with events in 2016 and 2018. Most of the art, theater, music, circus and dance performances are held at Hue’s Citadel.
Danang Fireworks Festival
The riverbank of Danang explodes with sound, light and color during this spectacular event with competing pyrotechnic teams from the US, China, Europe and Vietnam. Is held in the last week of the month.
A good time to explore the center and north, with a good chance of clear skies and warm days. The sea temperature warms up nicely and it is a fairly quiet month for tourism.
Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death (Phong Sinh)
A big celebration in Buddhist temples with lively street parades and lanterns used to decorate pagodas. Complexes such as Chua Bai Dinh near Ninh Binh and the Jade Emperor Pagoda from HCMC organize exuberant parties. Fifteenth day of the fourth lunar month.
Nha Trang Sea Festival
Falls at the end of May (and early June) and includes a street festival, photo exhibitions, embroidery shows and kite competitions.
A good time to visit Vietnam as it is just before the peak season. The humidity can be very high at this time of the year, so plan to spend some time on the coast.
Summer Solstice Day (Tet Doan Ngo)
Keep epidemics at bay with sacrifices to the spirits and the God of Death on the fifth day of the fifth moon. Sticky rice wine (ruou fake) is drunk in industrial quantities.
The peak month for tourism with domestic and international tourists. Book flights and accommodation well in advance. The weather is warm and hot.
Children’s (or Mid-Autumn) Festival, Hoi An
Dit is een groot evenement in Hoi An en Hanoi, wanneer de lokake mensen de volle maan vieren, maancakes eten en op de drums slaan. De processies van leeuw, eenhoorn en drakendans worden uitgevoerd en kinderen zijn volledig betrokken bij de vieringen.
Wandering Souls Day (Trung Nguyen)
De tweede in de pikorde van Tet is deze oude Vietnamese traditie. Enorm veel eten wordt achtergelaten voor verloren geesten die, naar men gelooft, op deze dag over de aarde zwerven. Gehouden op de 15e dag van de zevende maan.
Excellent time to explore the entire country. The coastal towns are less crowded and fewer people are traveling. Temperatures and humidity are decreasing.
Independence Day / National holiday Vietnam (2 Sep)
Large parades and events are being held on September 2 in Vietnam. Celebrated with a rally and fireworks on Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi (in front of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum) and there are also boat races on Hoan Kiem Lake.
A good time to visit the north, with a good chance of clear skies and mild temperatures. Winter winds and rain begin to affect the center, but in the south it is often dry.
Mid-Autumn Festival (Trung Thu)
A good time for gourmets, with moon cakes of sticky rice filled with lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, peanuts, yolk of duck eggs, raisins and other delicacies. It is celebrated across the country on the 15th day of the eighth moon and can fall in September or October
Cham new year (Kate)
This is celebrated at Po Klong Garai Cham Towers in Thap Cham on the seventh month of the Cham calendar. The festival commemorates the ancestors, Cham national heroes and gods, such as the peasant goddess Po Ino Nagar.
Khmer Oc Bom Boc Festival
The Khmer community of the Mekong Delta celebrates on the 15th day of the 10th moon of the lunar calendar (late October or November) with colorful boat races on Ba Dong Beach in the Tra Vinh province and on the Soc Trang river.
The month starts quietly, but from mid-December the popular tourist places become more crowded. Book well in advance to have a room during the Christmas holidays. Humid in the south, but can get chilly in the north.
Christmas Day (Giang Sinh)
Not a national holiday, but is celebrated throughout Vietnam, especially by the significant Catholic population. It is a special time to be in places such as Phat Diem and HCMC, where thousands attend the midnight mass.