Welcome to Vietnam
Since the length of Vietnam stretches over 15 latitudes, the weather varies significantly from one region to another, for example the mountainous far north area experiences a cold and frosty winter while the subequatorial warmth is available throughout the year in the far southern Mekong Delta.
Vietnam country is divided into three separate parts with different climate zones.
The North of Vietnam has two main different seasons. The weather in winter gets colder from November to March and substantially warmer in April. Additionally, it is often cloudy and drizzles during the season. In contrast, the whole region is quite hot and humid in the summer. July to September is often the wettest months of the year and they uncommonly suffer typhoons and heavy rain during this period.
The Central Vietnam has combination weather between the north and the south. It has hot and dry weather from mid January to late August and rainfall during the rest with peak levels in October and November. The central highlands with two biggest towns Dalat and Pleiku are ideally cool throughout the year. The coastal lowlands in the south, on the contrary, experiences steamy hot weather all year round.
The South of Vietnam is typical of humid tropical climate. The temperature remains constant (about 32-35°C) through the year and there are only two simple seasons: rainy and dry. The wet season lasts from May to early November with the highest rainfall of the year from June to August; downpours are expected to happen nearly every mid-afternoon, resulting in flooding on streets in and around Ho Chi Minh City. The dry season begins from November and a slightly hotter and higher humidity is from February to May.
In conclusion, you should consider the best time to visit each destination to enjoy the great trip:
- Mountainous Far North such as Sapa, Ha Giang: March – May “Green Rice Season” & September – November “Golden Rice Season”
- North Vietnam such Hanoi – capital of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh: September – November (autumn)
- Central Vietnam such as Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang: Feb to August (dry season)
- South Vietnam such as Ho Chi Minh City, The Mekong Delta & Phu Quoc: December to March
Most of Vietnamese festivals are held in lunar calendar and different each year. Therefore, you are advised to check the latest information before your visiting.
Vietnam International New Year (1st January)
This international festival is widely recognized through the country. Everyone is allowed to off from work on the first calendar day of New Year and it is a great chance to hang out, meet and chat with others and enjoy exciting atmosphere on streets. On this special event, countdown parties will be taken place on midnight of 31rd December old year in some places like Opera House (Hanoi), etc.
Vietnam Lunar New Year Festival or Vietnam TET holidays (January or February)
It is the most essential festival of the whole country and falls from 30th December old year to 3rd January New Year according to the Lunar Calendar, expected late January to early February Solar Calendar.
It is the best chance for family’s members to reunite to say goodbye to the past year and welcome a happy, prosperous and successful new year together. Vietnamese think it is very important to choose the first person (normally a man) to visit their family after New Year’s Eve since he will hold the entire luck and success of the family in New Year. After that, everyone will visit relatives, friends and wish them best wishes in New Year. They can also visit pagodas/temples to pray for lucks in this year.
Buffalo Sacrifice Festival (January to April)
The most important cultural festival among ethnic minority community in the Central Highland of Vietnam is taken place in some days from the last lunar month of the previous year to the third month of the New Year depending on each minority and each place.
On this day, everyone queue up around 4 corners ground of the Communal house of the village. A healthy buffalo chosen before was led to the centre and tied to a Gingga Pillar. A young man starts playing Gongs and drums; then people gather to cheerfully talk to each other. The ceremony is leaded by an elder in the village called “Riu Yang”. He stands next to the tied buffalo, begin to pray for a prosperous harvest. After that, young people start dancing energetically. After dancing performance, the buffalo sacrifice performance starts. Who can kill the buffalo with a single stab will receive great praises and honor. People keep dancing and drinking through the night in the boisterous and harmonious sounds of gongs, flutes, and drums.
Lim Festival (Feb or March)
In order to develop Quan Ho folk singing which is one of Vietnam’s intangible cultural heritages, a festival is annually celebrated on 12th-13th day of 1st lunar month in Lim Village, Bac Ninh province – the hometown of this traditional music type.
This festival welcomes a huge number of guests who come to enjoy performances between "lien anh" and "lien chi" (Vietnamese word to refer to male and female vocalists). The artists must have a deep knowledge about the special tunes of the songs as well as culture and history.
Besides, visitors can experience other activities of the festival such as weaving-Quan Ho singing competitions, human chess playing, swinging, and wrestling.
Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival (February – April)
Bai Dinh festival is in the imperial capital Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh province and the festival is organized annually from 6th first month to the end of third month lunar calendar.
Joining this festival, tourists can experience a traditional festival atmosphere including 2 parts: ceremonies and entertainment.
The rites part of Bai Dinh festival includes many religious systems in Vietnam: the natural worshipping, religion, Buddha, and Confusion. In contrast, entertaining activities make anticipants feel interested such as visit tourist sites or caves in entire structures, playing folk games, and enjoying performances of Cheo, Ca Tru or Xam – Vietnam traditional music type.
Perfume Pagoda Festival (February – April)
This festival is is among the greatest Buddhist festivals in the north of Vietnam and take place on the same time with Bai Dinh pagoda festival. Huong Pagoda is far around 70 kilometers away from Hanoi center.
The festival is divided into two sections. The ceremonies comprise of incense offering parade and Zen ceremony in which anticipants offer incense, blooms, candles and fruit. In contrast, the entertainment includes vessel journey along Yen Stream to enjoy beautiful view, climbing mountain and discover caves. It is said a great successful life is a gift if you can climb up the top of Huong Tich Mountain.
“Cau Ngu” Festival (March)
Whale is considered as the companion of fishermen during their trip on dangerous vast ocean. It is not a normal fish but a fish god because they have thinking, feelings and especially spirituality like human being. A temple is build up in a village where whales’ body normally drifted into when they died. This temple is called Nam Hai Whale Temple (Lang Ong Nam Hai) and the village seafarers will worship the temple throughout the year, especially in the spring or fall, a “Cau Ngu” festival will be organized solemnly to venerate whales, pray for a wealthy and happy life.
This is the biggest festival of coastal community in South Central Vietnam (from Quang Binh to the South including Phu Quoc Island) and the festival is taken place on different dates in each place, but normally in 1st lunar month or March.
Elephant Racing Festival (April)
Elephant is the precious animals of people living in Tay Nguyen area. To express the close relationship between human beings and this loyal animal, Elephant Racing Festival, one of the biggest festivals in this central area, is held annually in the third lunar month.
On this day, elephants from surrounding towns concentrate at Don Village (Ban Don). Ten elephants will attend in each match and run one or two kilometers on a flat and broad ground. They are guided by the sound of “tu va”, a type of horn. Who comes the final destination first is the winner and prizes are sugar canes and bananas from audiences. It is not the end. Other games are football and tug of war or they will continue to move to Serepok River for swimming competition.
By the end of festival day, all attendants gather at Ban Don’s community house for meal, drinking, and dancing in a joyful atmosphere under gongs and drums sound.
Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings (April)
It is said that thousands of years ago, the Vietnam was founded by Emperor Hung Vuong (Hung King) and this dynasty lasts for nearly 3000 year under 18 Hung King generations. The Kings laid the foundation for an improved country with forging national characteristics, for example, community sense, mutual understanding, and nationalism which are key factor for the Hong (Red) River human advancement and the pre- Dong Son societies developed. Therefore, Vietnamese hold a national festival annually on the 10th day of the third lunar month at Hung Temples (Phu Tho province) to memorize their merit and people are allowed to off from work on this festival.
A procession is begun from the foot of the mountain; pass to each small temple before reach the High Temple. The entire procession is loudly reported and can be live broadcasted on the TV so that each Vietnamese can experience the meaningful spirit of this occasion. Besides ceremony, the festival also includes entertainment activities such as Cheo singing, Quan Ho singing, Xoan singing and other games of chess, rice cooking and chicken kicking.
Danang International Fireworks Competitions (29th – 30th April)
From 2008, a fireworks competition is held annually in Da Nang at the end of April. It attracts competitors from many countries such as China, Japan, or Canada. The main purpose of this festival is to introduce this city’s image to the world as well as develop Vietnam tourism. Beside many colorful firework performances, people can enjoy concerts and cultural shows.
Ha Long Tourism Week (end of April – May)
From 2011, Halong Tourism Week is organized annually in Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province within one week of April or May. The event is a treasure opportunity for foreigner customers to discover and enjoy carnaval atmosphere in this beautiful city. Overall, this festival is a combination of modern and traditional styles, including variety activities of cultural, tourism, and sporting activities, art performances and food festivals.
Le Mat Festival (April or May)
Le Mat is a small village in Long Bien district, Ha Noi and well-known for its traditional profession of catching snakes and cook delicious food from this reptile. To respect such a long standing career, a festival is annually taken place from 20th to 24th of the 3rd lunar month.
In the early morning of the main festive day on the 23rd, representative of 13 camps on the West of the ancient Thang Long carries 13 trays of offerings from the capital to the village. The ceremony starts with water procession and carp procession to Thanh temple (central temple of the village). This is followed by a unique snake-dance in the temple yard (the snake is made of bamboo and fabric). Besides, the cooking competition attracts many citizens to join. Some specialists of this village such as "Three snakes’ congress” (containing 3 snake types of cobra snake, kraits, rat snakes), "Five tigers flanking forest" (deck 5 frogs), etc
Khau Vai Love Market Festival (April or May)
This special festival is held every year, from the late night of the 26th day of the third lunar month to the end of following day in Khau Vai Commune, Meo Vac District, Ha Giang Province.
This market does not sell any goods like normal markets; however, it is the place for ex-lovers who really love each other, but for some reasons could not have a happy ending. On this day, they get together to talk, inform about each person's own life, and remember ex-feelings. There are lots of couples come together but each has the own chatting with friend. They are not jealous, not frustrating, but respect each other, respect wife/ husband’s friends. They think it as a sacred duty and responsibility for the marriage life.
This well-known festival attracts many local ethnic groups like Nung, Giay, Mung. Going to the occasion, tourists have precious opportunities to experience Vietnam northern mountainous minority’s culture and custom, including cuisine, dance and entertainment games. Additionally, they can witness the power and treasure of love which is the key element for this unique market.
Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival (September)
Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival is a traditional event in Do Son District, Haiphong City, held on 9th of the eighth lunar month. The festival starts from conviction of the locals that buffalo fighting is to express respect to their guardian gods and pray for safe voyages, plentiful crop, health and wealth.
The buffalo fighting event is held in the arena of Do Son district. From the early morning, twenty four healthy young men queue up into two rows, perform flag dance strongly in loud and vibrant sound of drums and cymbals. This exciting atmosphere in the arena makes “Sir Buffalo” to fight more drastically. At about 8.00 am, the “Sir Buffaloes” (buffaloes attending the flight) officially join the battle of pair. Each uses trained tricks to attack enemy until one runs out of the arena. The games continue until finding out the final winner. The locals believe that the village owns the winner buffalo will have a new year full of good luck and success.
Mid-Autumn Festival (September)
This national festival is held on the full noon of 8th lunar month. This festival is popular in many countries in Asia such as China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, etc. Streets are decorated by traditional lanterns or lights. This festival is a perfect opportunity for family when all members can get together to eat moon cakes and gazing at the moon.
Children love this festival since they are given gifts such as star lights, masks, toys and can eat moon cakes. Traditional games, lantern marching and dragon dance are held to in the evening to bring the exciting and traditional atmosphere to everyone.