Governed by tradition, taboos and legends, Tet Nguyen Dan welcomes the Lunar New Year and spring’s arrival. People honor their ancestors and make offerings at family altars. Custom dictates that actions and thoughts at the start of the lunar New Year influence one’s fate and prosperity for the coming 12 months. A number of factors, which could impact on a trip to Vietnam during Tet, should be taken into account as this is the nation’s most important festival and major six/seven-day public holiday. Significant religious sites such as the Perfume Pagoda and Bai Dinh Pagoda become inundated with Vietnamese visitors. While this is an interesting local experience it also signals travel nightmares, congested roads and jam packed sites.
At Tet people visit families and pay their respects to the ancestors. As such, many businesses close over the three official days of Tet. These include museums, family run restaurants, banks, state enterprises etc., while opening hours of numerous tourist sites will vary during this period. Public services are limited and/or extremely crowded with a high volume of domestic travelers. Tickets for trains, planes, intercity buses sell out well in advance while prices rise steeply, sometimes by as much as 30%. While Tet is a good time for shopping, with reasonable prices, as sellers want to start the new year off well, one should avoid aggressive bargaining which is considered to bring bad luck for the year. An important tradition to take note of is Vietnamese people believe that the first person to visit one’s home on New Year’s Day dictates the coming year’s fortunes. Therefore, this individual should be successful with a good character and moral values. One should not visit Vietnamese families on this day unless invited to. On the plus side, on the first day of Tet one has the luxury of enjoying normally noisy and crowded places, such as Hanoi’s Old Quarter, in complete peace. Wander the unusually empty, quiet streets bereft of people, cars and motorbikes and see the quiet side of Vietnam.
Tet 2019 calendar 6 days statutory holiday
4 February – Vietnamese New Year’s Eve
5 February – Vietnamese New Year’s Day
6-9 February inclusive – Tet holiday