Vietnam – festivals and other events. Part2

Vietnam – festivals and other events. Part2

There are many cultural events occurring throughout Vietnam over the second half of each year.


Compared to many of the religious celebrations held in Vietnam over the first six months each year, which rightly call for a degree of formality and veneration, August's Honchien Temple Festival is all about fun. Here the revelers put on imperial costumes as they take part in a vibrant procession near the Perfume River. Tourists are encouraged to participate in the exciting festivities.


The Kiep Bac Festival is one of Vietnam's most important historical celebrations. This is all about marking the moment in the nation's story when the Chinese Nguyen Mang invaders were finally repulsed. Kiep Bac is celebrated in the temple in Luc Dau, and commemorates the victorious Vietnamese general Saint Tran.

Festivities run over a five-day period, featuring a pilgrimage to the sacred temple, when Saint Tran's ancestral tablet is held aloft aboard a golden chair, and transported through bustling streets. Coinciding with this procession is a boat race held in the Luc Dau River.

Octoberace held in the Luc Dau River.

The Keo Pagoda Festival is a wild celebration of Duong Khong Lo. Amidst the jovial proceedings there are traditional pastimes, such as duck catching, cooking of rice and firecracker throwing.


The Oc Om Boc Festival is held in Soc Trang in the south of the country, each November. The main participants are the Kho Me people, who use this festival as a time to pay veneration to the Moon. Amongst the highlights of this festival is a noisy boat race that draws large and enthusiastic crowds to cheer on the rival participants.

Che Ngo is when indigenous Khmers celebrate their new year. This is another colourful event that is wonderful for visitors to witness. As well as noisy music and costumes, there is much feasting and a boat race or two! The skies are also lit with myriad lantern rockets.

The excellent thing about Vietnam's festivals as that they offer visitors a unique insight into local customs. Many of the activities that unfold at these annual events have been enacted for centuries. While Vietnam is certainly a technologically advanced and economically prosperous Asian nation, it is also a very ancient one. As a melting pot, it contains a variety of ethnic groups who can trace their respective developments back over many centuries. The various festivals pay homage to all manner of events and dieties.

While much of the proceedings appeared to be shrouded in deeply religious significance, there is never any hint that what visitors are witnessing is in any way private or sacred. Indeed, newcomers to the country are openly welcomed into the various processions and pilgrimages as active participants.

The festival celebrants become especially sociable in the evenings, once the pilgrimages and visits to the pagodas and temples have been concluded. As the sun sets, the banquet tables become laden with all manner of local delicacies. Against a backdrop of traditional music, visitors are invited to partake in sumptuous feasts. Enjoying the Vietnamese cuisine in this way, as an integral part of longstanding cultural events, is far more meaningful than grabbing a carry-out box from a market stall around the corner from a hotel!

Vietnam – festivals and other events

Vietnam – festivals and other events

Because Vietnam is such a melting pot of different cultures, it is no wonder that there is any number of festivals being celebrated, throughout the country, and throughout the year.


The Tet Festival is when the people of Vietnam celebrate the lunar New Year. This is a massive festival in the country, during which people will travel home to be with their families, taking part in a variety of activities – principally eating, drinking and general socializing. At this time of year there will be something going on to interest visitors in every town and city.


The Lim Festival is held in Lim, near Hanoi, every February. This comprises a celebration of various traditional activities, such as folk music and handicrafts, especially weaving. The Lim Festival is traditionally held on the 13th day of the first lunar month. Folk songs are enthusiastically sung by male singers (known as lien anh) and their female counterparts (lien chi). Visitors are also invited to browse various stalls where weavers perform their intricate activities. The local fishermen and farmers also display their wares, while in the background colourful processions and ceremonies are enacted throughout the vicinity.


One popular festival that takes place every every March is the Perfume Pagoda Festival. This takes place in My Duc, near Hanoi, and features a pilgrimage to the local Buddhist temple. Visitors are encouraged to join in with this pilgrimage, and as well as having the opportunity to become immersed in local culture, it offers some splendid views of the local scenery.

Perhaps a less austere celebration is the Cow Racing Festival, enacted every March in An Giang. Originally imported from neighbouring Cambodia, this event is based on paying respects to departed friends or family members, and features a pilgrimage to a pagoda. As part of the festivities involves the mass-lighting of incense sticks, this is the feast for the nose as much as the eyes! After these activities come the actual races alluded to in the festival's title.


The Chu Dong Tu Festival occurring each April is dedicated to the hero, Saint Chu Dong Tu. This all about promoting an awareness of agriculture, and the importance that it continues to play in Vietnamese life. The festival lasts for three days and culminates in an ornate procession.


Ba Chua Xu takes place over a four-day period in Chau Doc, on Sam Mountain. Because there are many shrines and temples in this vicinity, numerous events are held during their time, to which all tourists are respectfully invited to enjoy the activities.

Another Vietnamese celebration which takes place in this month is Labour Day or May Day. This is celebrated throughout Vietnam with parades, feasts, and colourful (and noisy) firework displays.


The Chem Temple Festival takes place in Vietnam in June, celebrating the momentous events in the country's history. Celebrants recall Ly Ong Trong, a supporter of the Chinese Emperor at the time of a Mongol invasion. This festival has deep religious significance for many Vietnamese citizens.

Another important event in the Vietnamese calendar for June is Buddha's birthday. Celebrated throughout the Far East, especially Vietnam, this event occurs on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month.

Unspoiled Vietnam - exploring the central Highland

Unspoiled Vietnam - exploring the central Highland

Vietnam is one of the world's fastest up and coming tourist resorts. The upside of this is that many of its resorts are now fully geared towards making every visitors' experience as comfortable as possible. The one downside, however, is that a lot of people will have thought of paying a visit to the same resorts that you have. The good news is that if you would really like to get away from it all, there are still many parts of the country that are relatively unspoiled.

The bulk of visitors to this beautiful Far Eastern country tend to head along to the eastern coast, drawn to the beautiful beaches and the limestone islands of the likes of Ha Long Bay. Those who are drawn to mountains usually head northwards to the more spectacular ranges. While the mountain ranges in the centre of Vietnam can't match their northern counterparts in terms of sheer beauty, there is still an immense amount of landscape here waiting for the more intrepid explorer.

The mountains here are shrouded in mist and harbour countless thundering waterfalls. There are a immense longhouses, which are hardly struggling to cope with the demand of tourists clamouring for accommodation! Vietnam's central highlands share their western border with Cambodia, and spread to the high peaks and wide plateaus of the Truong Son Mountains. This region is renowned for its fertile red soils that yield a lot of natural resources. Chief amongst these are tea, coffee, silk, hardwood, and rubber. Although plantations obviously take up a lot of this land, there are still pockets of Forrest dating back to primeval times. Amongst these secretive trees there are elephants gibbons and bears that have managed to survive the advances of civilization surrounding them.

For visitors coming to the central highlands, the first target of choice is often Da Lat. Christened by the former French colonists of this country, this mountain retreat looms above pine-crested hilltops. It does have to be said that it can be somewhat disappointing to arrive here because the architecture is fairly dreamy and it has succumbed to some of the excesses of being a tourist trap. On the other hand, it does contain some charming colonial buildings and if you enjoy bike rides, some extremely picturesque trails. Its market is also overflowing with local delicacies to whet your appetite prior to exploring further in the hills.

North of Da Lat you'll come across Lak Lake. This picturesque body of water is surrounded by tiny villages, whose inhabitants always welcome visitors. Be prepared to be offered all manner of hand-crafted trinkets to be taken away to remind you of your time spent in the central Highlands.

Indeed, one of the keenest memories of this area you are likely to leave with is a snapshot of a varied indigenous mix. Amongst the people living in this hilly terrain are tribes like Jarai and Bahnar. Despite the way that Vietnam has evolved into a contemporary country at the forefront of the new Asian economies, these proud peoples remain relatively cocooned from the worst consumer excesses of the outside world. A glimpse into their charming lifestyles is bound to be heartwarming for any visitor.

Vietnam attractions – Ha Long Bay

Vietnam attractions – Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay Is one of Vietnam's most instantly recognizable tourist destinations. Located in Quang Ning Province, in the north-west of Vietnam, the bay consists of thousands of limestone ‘karsts' (karsts being geological formations, usually formed from limestone, which in the case of Ha Long Bay, have created spectacular cliffs and islands).

The bay itself is part of a much wider geological zone which includes Bai Tur Long, and the Cat Ba ialands. Ha Long Bay has a total area of around 1,500 square kilometres. There are upwards of 2000 islets dotted just off the coasts, and within easy exploration distance for visitors wishing to book boat trips, or hire kayaks. The bay is an incredibly diverse environment, not only for its impressive geological structures, but also for its wildlife. There are over 60 species of animals living in this part of Vietnam.


Anyone visiting the bay is following in impressively ancient footsteps. Ancient folklore describes a family of dragons being sent by the gods to assist the Vietnamese in fighting off invaders. Rather than the traditional western version of breathing fire, these mythical beasts spat out jewels and jade. These transformed into the thousands of islands dotted around the bay.

The vicinity was first settled in prehistoric times. Successive cultures have included the Soi Nhu, who flourished for thousands of years until around 7,000 BC, the Cai Beo, who lasted until 5,000 BC, and the Ha Long who gave the area its name, but who died out around 3,500 years ago. The bay's position has been ideal for human habitation, with its convenient access to the sea and therefore trade routes with other neighbouring civilizations, and the comparative shelter offered by its natural landscapes. Many artifacts have been discovered in the area's limestone caves – with some examples remarkably well-preserved considering their antiquity.


The natural landscapes of Ha Long Bay are amongst the most striking anywhere in the world. Visitors are struck by the sheer spectacle of the monolithic islands, rising spectacularly from the waters. French explorers from colonial times have left graffiti on some of the caves, although today's visitors are far more likely to be impressed by the vast chambers within the islands, containing stalactites and stalagmites.

Communitiesssed by the vast chambers within the islands, containing stalactites and stalagmites.

Two of the larger islnds, Cat Ba and Tuan Chau, are permanently inhabited. Here you'll find excellent tourist facilities, as well as well-appointed hotels overlooking beautiful beaches. Around 1,600 Vietnamese live around the bay are, centred in four fishing communities – Cur Van, Cong Tau, Ba Hang and Vong Veng. Their traditional accommodation consists of floating homes. The locals sustain themselves with fishing, and the cultivation of marine life. There are around 200 fish species in the bay, and over 400 types of mollusk.

First listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 due to its universal aesthetic value, the bay has been welcoming visitors to this part of Vietnam for some time. Tourists have many leisure options available to them, from exploring the islets and inlets from kayaks, to boat cruises along the bay. Larger boats offer restaurants and overnight stays. There are opportunities to fish, or to indulge in watersports such as snorkeling or diving. The more intrepid can try out undersea caving, although this only be done with experienced guides.