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The beautiful, magical and authentic World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Take a look at its history now!
The biggest city in Central Vietnam with long coasts, white beach and historical places for guests to see
One of the top 20 countries to visit in a lifetime by Conde Nast Traveller. Read more about Vietnam
Located in the Southeastern area of Asia, Vietnam is bordered by Laos, China, Cambodia and the East Sea.
The country history is dated to hundreds of years ago with countless major incidents. According to mythical legends, Vietnamese people descended from the marriage of a dragon and a fairy. Together, King Lac Long Quan and Au Co gave birth to one hundred children, the first 100 Vietnamese in the history, of which the oldest became the first King of Hung Dynasty, which lasted for a thousand years. Throughout its tumultuous history, Vietnam teems with wars both against foreign and internal forces.
The country has seen its capital relocated numerous times in the past due to the political stability. In 1945, Hanoi was officially chosen as the capital of the country, even though Ho Chi Minh City is widely considered the most economically vibrant hub. As a multiethnic country, Vietnam is home to 54 distinct groups, each of which has its own history, culture and language. The majority of these groups reside in the northern and central sectors.
Once one of the poorest countries in the world, Vietnam implemented major political and economic reforms (DoiMoi) in 1986 and gained respectable results. After several decades of impressive growth, Vietnam has emerged as one of the fasting growing economies in the world and a coveted destination for travellers around the world. Whether international guests want to seek a deep journey in a rich cultural and historical heritage, pursue exhilaration of trekking on the mountains, look for an exploration of unique cuisine or simple settle on a tranquil beach beamed with sunlight and pristine beach, Vietnam has it all.
Currently, Vietnam allows citizens of 23 countries to enter the country without a visa for varying length of stay, as shown in the table below
Length of Stay (days) Countries where travellers come from
|15||Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom|
|30||Cambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand|
The visa exemption is subject to terms and conditions and the stay beyond the allowed period indicated above will require application for a visa. For more details and information, please contact your embassy or consulate for more information.
Some useful sources of information on visas to Vietnam:
Hotel Royal Hoi An MGallery by Sofitel strives to be helpful to our guests with the latest information. However, we do not bear responsibility under any circumstance for guests’ use of the information above. We urge guests to be thorough in research and contact your embassy or consulate in Vietnam for the latest and most accurate information.
With a long coastline, Vietnam boasts a tricky weather that varies from area to area, making it difficult to determine a perfect time to visit the country.
In Northern Vietnam, rainy season lasts from November to March while sunny time spans from April to October. In particular, December and January can see heavy frog and mists reducing considerable visibility in certain destinations such as Ha Long Bay or Sapa.
On the other hand, in Southern Vietnam, the rainy season occupies the mid year period from April to October while the rest of the year falls into the sunny term.
Particularly, Da Nang and Hoi An enjoy a favorable weather for a majority of a year with bright sunlight, blue sky and calm sea. From September to December;
however, the area receives considerable rain that can almost last all day and rough sea.
There are five international airports throughout Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang, NhaTrang and PhuQuoc with the two former being the most popular and widely connected.
Da Nang International Airport (IATA: DAD, ICAO: VVDN) is the third largest airport of the country and an indispensable gateway to the central area. Up to 2014, the airport served around 6 million passengers with a new expansion being considered to increase its capacity.
There are numerous direct commercial and chartered flights to Da Nang airport from multiple destinations in the region, including:
Hoi An is a small town located on the coast of the East Sea in Quang Nam Province, in the South Central Area of Vietnam and around 35 kilometers away from Da Nang. The town is a well-known tourism destination rich with culture and history.
In its earlier history, Hoi An belonged to the Cham Empire, which occupied the majority of the central Vietnam. While My Son Sanctuary was the spiritual capital, Hoi An was the economic hub of the empire before the migration of Cham people to
NhaTrang. Late in the 16th century, the Nguyen Lord Nguyen Hoang decreed to establish the town as a trading port. With the support of the Nguyen dynasty and its natural advantages, Hoi An, also known as Faifo, rose to prominence as arguably the best destination for trading in all Southeast Asia from the 16th and 18th century.
At the end of the 18th century, the Nguyen Dynasty collapsed, which consequently damaged the prosperity and status of Hoi An as a trading destination. Since then, Hoi An miraculously survived years of wars and the rapid economic development of Vietnam, maintaining its authenticity and remaining untouched.
Its virtually intact buildings and infrastructure reflect the mix of cultural influences, both indigenous and foreign, giving the town a unique heritage swagger. It is such a stunning heritage legacy that makes Hoi An a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. Over the past two decades, the town has welcomed thousands of international tourists from all over the world.
There are multiple ways to reach Hoi An from Da NangBy car
From the center of Da Nang, take either of the major bridges including Dragon, Han or Tran Thi Ly Bridge and head towards the beach. Upon reaching the beach, turn right on Truong Sa Street and travel straight to Hoi An.
When in Hoi An area, for the shorter route to the Ancient Town, turn right to Hai Ba Trung Street. Then, turn right Tran Hung Dao Street, turn left to “10 thang 8” street and the hotel is on the right hand side.
It takes approximately 30-40 minutes by car depending on your starting point in Da NangBy taxi
Throughout Da Nang, you can easily pick up a taxi among multiple service providers. The route is the same as the route described above.Notable taxi operators:
These two operators allow payment by credit cards (Visa or Masters). Please ask the drivers before hand.
The fee is approximately VND 700,000 – 800,000Note:
We urge guests to take the figures above as reference only and negotiate directly with taxi drivers before hopping on any vehicle for the best and most updated fees.By bus
Public buses depart from various stops in Da Nang for Hoi An once every 20 minutes from 05:30AM to 6:30PM. The last bus from Hoi An to Da Nang departs every day at 5:00PM.
The journey will take around 1 hour or more depending on your pick-up point in Da Nang. The last stop of the bus journey is Hoi An’s bus station. Hence, don’t worry about missing your stop if you fall asleep.
A ticket costs VND 20,000 per way either for locals or foreign tourists.Note:
- For more details on the route, please refer to this link:http://www.danang.gov.vn/portal/page/portal/danang/english/tourism/trans?p_pers_id=&p_folder_id=16414380&p_main_news_id=29043957&p_year_sel=
- Remember to bargain and show that you know what the fare is to avoid rip-offBy motorbike taxi
Known also as xe-om, motorbikes can be easily called on from almost everywhere in Da Nang. A round-trip costs usually from VND 350,000 to 500,000 depending on your negotiation.
Since motorbikes in Vietnam are usually small, they are not designed for guests with size or large luggage.By rented motorbike
With only around $5 per day, you can rent a motorbike, preferably an automatic version, to drive around Da Nang and to go to Hoi An. The fastest route is described in the “by car” section.
Remember to fill the tank before embarking on your trip as there is no gas station on the highway along the coast to Hoi An.
If shopping is your pastime, Hoi An is the place to be with a variety of goods available for grabs. Check out our recommended list that you should take home for family and beloved onesHoi An Clothes
With a rich array of clothes in different colors and forms, Hoi An presents an enticing proposition to those who love to dress. Stop by any stall or store in the town, run your fingers through the comforting silk and pick your favorite pieces. Whether it’s a pair of light and soothing silk pants, a traditional Ao Dai with unique Hoi An design or a personalized formal suit, Hoi An has it all to make you shine.Silk Lantern
For those who want to live the local life, none is more appropriate than making lanterns in Hoi An. Along the Hoai river, small and authentic shops that are run by the local artists for generations introduce customized courses to guide tourists into the art of shaping and creating lanterns. Just an hour or two with the deft hands and eager instruction, you can hold in hands the handmade symbol of Hoi An and carry it home to your beloved ones as the trophy of a memorable tripPainting
A keen passage through Vietnamese cultures, Hoi An paintings are a true must-have memento for those who want to bring a bit of Vietnamese vibe back home. Mostly water or oil-based, paintings in Hoi An vividly depict the daily life of its citizens and the culture that has been existing for generations. Touching delicately these artful creations, the audience can feel the soul of local artisans wrapped by fine touches and elegant coloring.Tohe
Alongside the well-preserved pavements of Hoi An that stood the test of time and wars are the diligent Tohe vendors. Made from clay, Tohe stones capture the attention of travellers around the world with its unconventional look and beauty. A complete collection of 12 Tohes representing the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac Calendar would be a unique and fascinating gift for those who wait for some love back homeChopsticks
An indispensable amenity in Asian kitchen, chopsticks originating from Hoi An carry special vibes and cultural values like none other. Prevalent at all stalls and shops throughout the town, colorful chopsticks will be an iconic addition to your kitchenware and envy of your acquaintances.
In addition to its cultural and historical heritage, the beautiful and magical town of Hoi An offers a wide range of experience options that make every second here a moment to treasure. Let’s explore!Walking around the Old Quarter at night
A leisurely walk around the Old Quarter at night gives comfort like no other. Stroll around the streets and small alleys of the Old Quarter, visit the stalls and stores lit up with glimmering lanterns and soak it in the magical ambience that makes Hoi An special.Biking to explore the neighborhood
Among plenty of transportation means around Hoi An, none gives the pleasure as surreal, practically healthy and economical as biking. Hope on a bike that’s suitable to your size and move around attractions in Hoi An at your own will and your own time. Your heart rate will accelerate with the exercise and the authentic beauty of the town.Indulging with local cuisine
Home to some of the most distinguished and special Vietnamese dishes, Hoi An boasts an enviable collection of delicacies that are guaranteed to blow you away. From the original Cao Lau that can’t be found anywhere else, black sesame sweet soup that’s been passed down for generations to typical Vietnamese offerings, there is always something to tempt every taste in Hoi An.Signing up for classes
A true learning experience has to involve true practical learning. Whether you want to pick up photography skills, make your own lantern under experts’ guidance, cook a local dish with your deft hands or become a pottery artist at the Pottery Thanh Ha Village, Hoi An has it all to satisfy your curiosity.Being spoil at the sea
Only a short drive to the beautiful recently opened An Bang beach, Hoi An unveils another aspect of its appeal to international tourists. After hours of exploration in the Old Town, what’s better than retiring to delectable seafood on a white sand beach in a cool breeze of the East Sea?Taking a swing at Greg Norman designed golf course
If golf is your game, Hoi An is definitely a playground that must be visited. A short drive from the town center is what separates the magical beauty of Hoi An from the only Greg Norman designed golf course in the area, Da Nang Golf Course. How about an exciting golf day in your calendar? We totally dig it!
An exciting mix of nature, culture and history is waiting to be explored!
Consisting of five hills made from limestone and marble, Marble Mountain is situated only 10 minutes of drive from Da Nang and 20 minutes from Hoi An. Named after the five elements including metal, wood, water, fire and earth, the attraction sits in the center of an area known for stone-cutting and sculpture.
Adventure through countless tunnels inside the hills and taste the cream of exhilaration upon the mountain peaks with the stunning paranomic view of the East Sea and Son Tra peninsula in the background. Venture down the history lane by examining Buddhism pagodas and the Hell Cave, where Vietnamese soldiers allegedly hid to scout enemies. Finally, tourists’ effort will pay off upon coming to HuyenKhong Cave with its breathtaking attic and structure.Tips:
Looking over Da Nang City at 1,400 meters above the sea in Bai But, LinhUng Pagoda proudly stands as the most magnificent work of its kind in the area, if not the country. Though its debut was in 2010, the history of the pagoda is dated back to 19th century.
According to the local folklore, under the rule of Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century, villagers in the area spotted a Buddhist statue drifted downstream and lying on the sandy embankment of the peninsula. Believing that it was a good sign from the Gods, the villagers decided to build a small pagoda to honor the statue, whose location nowadays is that of LinhUng Pagoda. Since then, the entire region reportedly recorded excellent weather with no storms and fishermen nearby repeatedly enjoyed fruitful catches whenever they sailed.
The highlights of the Pagoda consist of 18 statues of Arhats greeting guests at the entrance and the remarkable 67-meter high statue of the Goddess of Mercy, the highest of its kind in Southeast Asia. Standing on one of the 17 floors of the statue, tourists can extend their view to the boundless sea and well-preserved forests nearby.Tips:
An extraordinary architectural ensemble, My Son Sanctuary reflects a vivid picture of spiritual and political life that spanned over 10 centuries in the history of Vietnam. As the religious capital of Cham dynasties under Hindu influence, the site hosts over 70 temples that were dated back to the period between 4th and 14th century. The temples were built to honor the god Shiva. In 1999, UNESCO declared My Son Sanctuary as a World Heritage Site in recognition of an important Asian civilization that is now extinctTip:
Da Nang City offers public shuttles with a small fee from the city to My Son with the pick-up points listed below:
Central Bus Station – ĐiệnBiênPhủ - LêDuẩn – HoàngHoaThám – LêĐìnhLý – HàmNghi – Nguyễn Tri Phương – TrưngNữVương – DuyTân – NúiThành – CáchMạngTháng 8 (in front of Metro Shopping Center) – HòaCầm – 1A Highway – 610 – My Son and vice versaBa Na Hills
Owning four Guinness records, Ba Na Hill is a hill station and resort located in Truong son Mountains. Established in 1919 by the French, the resort used to be home of more than 200 villas, only a few ruins of which remain. A few decades ago, access to the top of the hill was onerous by sedan chair through around 20km of rough mountain road.
The advent of the world’s longest cable car in 2009; however, really facilitated access and allowed for a stunning trip through the dense jungle with picturesque scene in the background. Waiting at the top of the hill is the castle theme park that offers a variety of entertainment options.Tips:
Remember to choose a clear day to visit Ba Na hill because of the chilly atmosphere on the hill summit.
Multiple travel agencies offer day-trip packages that include home pick-up, cable car ticket and lunch. Such packages cost around VND 750,000 per guest.Hue
Once the capital of Vietnam under Nguyen Dynasty’s ruling, Hue is a must-go destination for history lovers and culinary gourmets. Many temples, pagodas, tombs and other buildings from the past Emperors’ reigns stand proudly scattered around the city, offering vivid evidence of colorful history. A tour around monuments such as The Imperial City, Gia Long Tomb, KhaiDinh Tomb and Minh Mang Tomb will bring tourists back in time to the highlighted period of the country.
Towering over the scenic Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the former imperial capital and among the four most important pagodas in the country.
Home to the most popular dishes in Vietnam, Hue is the paradise for food lovers. From beef noodles, sweet soup to delectable sea food, Hue has it all to please every taste.Tips
Rainy season in Hue lasts from November to February every year. It’s advisable that tourists avoid such a period to have the best weather
During sunny season, shades, hats and sun cream are recommended items
To help ensure that your experience in Hoi An is as great as possible, we suggest a few things that may be overlooked, but in fact very important. Scroll down and feel free to take note of our recommendations.
1. Wake up early to avoid traffic, lines and bring the best out of Hoi An
Although delicious cuisine can be found anytime in Hoi An, mornings are still the times for the best tastes. Many more local stores offering highly rated dishes only operate from the first sunlight till noon. Hence, get off your bed early and venture out to the amazing streets of Hoi An for the best of what it can offer.
In addition, waking up early can help avoid long lines of visitors at attractions, saving time and leaving room for more exploration.
2. Shades, hats, sun cream and light clothing are highly recommended
Apart from the rainy season that lasts from October to February, Hoi An is teemed with sunlight. Daylight in the morning or late in the afternoon is mild while the sunbeam around noon usually goes sultry and extreme to a point that sensitive tourists can get sunburn easily. Hence, stock hats, shades and sun in your luggage to protect yourself from the extreme sun.
As a nice stroll around the lovely streets of Hoi An is the most popular activity, beware to don casual and light clothes for the best comfort.
3. Look up for the full moon date calendar
Known as the town of lanterns, Hoi An looks the best at night when lanterns glimmer in front of houses and stalls. During the full moon nights, as a long-standing tradition, local citizens flock to Thu Bon River and gently lay small shining lanterns on the beautiful water to wish for luck and health.
Numerous Hoi An’s signature pictures are taken on such nights. Make sure you look up for the full moon calendar and attend one of those surreal moments
4. Haggle fervently and passionately!
Rip-offs happen everywhere in the world, not just in one city and admittedly Hoi An is no exception. Don’t forget to haggle and bargain aggressively for hand-made items that small vendors fervently try to sell. Whether it’s a coconut, a pair of slippers or local garments, never accept it without a hard bargain.
5. Divide and store your money into different places
Investment bankers usually say: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. We would say: stash your cash to multiple places. Hoi An is a safe destination with an admirably low record of thefts and crimes. However, it’s advisable that tourists stash cash to wallets, luggage, pants and even room safes since prudence is never excessive.
6. Sign-up for classes to learn more about local culture
A land rich with cultural heritage, Hoi An offers a variety of activities that can acquaint international guests with the local lifestyle and traditions. Whether you want to sign up for a cooking class to produce a local dish on your own, make a lantern with your deft hands under experts’ guidance or pick up farming skills at Tra Hue Vegetable Village, there is always something to excite you in Hoi An.
This event is annually held on the 2nd of the Lunar January every year. Originally, it was organized to arouse a cheerful atmosphere for a new year and to pay tribute to the God of Water in hope that the God will give them a prosperous harvest. Nowadays, it also becomes a common sports usually played in local festivals to demonstrate collective efforts.
Cau Bong Festival
In case you stay in Hoi An on the 7th of the first Lunar month every year, make sure you attend Cau Bong Festival. Held at Tra Que Vegetables Village, the festival is organized to honor the town's ancestors who founded the vegetable planting business and to pray for an abundant crop ahead.
Hundreds of local families gather at the event with significant offerings to worship and pray for a bumper crop and prosperous life. Traditionally, after the oldest villagers open the ceremony, others come to the altar with flowers, fruits and spring chickens among many items to show their gratitude to the God. In addition, it’s common practice to have a competition in which combatants dig a hole and plant vegetables.
The event also allows farmers to introduce new produces and tourists to experience the local culture.
Nguyen Tieu Festival
Held annually on the 16th of the first Lunar month, Nguyen Tieu festival is one of the most important events in Hoi An communities, especially for Chinese people. Tet Nguyen Tieu originates from Chinese and has become an adopted official festival of Vietnamese.
As Nguyen means "first" and Tieu refers to "light", Nguyen Tieu Festival, also called Lantern Festival, is the first night of a full moon year. According to legends, the first night of a full moon every year used to see a Crowned Doctoral Candidate or Trang Nguyen in Vietnamese summoned to the capital to make poetry to the King.
During the festival, locals, particularly Chinese folks, go to pagodas, offer incense, pick fortune lots and pray for health, wealth and abundant crops. The town, meanwhile, is soaked with traditional games, glimmering lanterns, martial art demonstrations, calligraphy shows and of course tremendous cuisine.
Valentine’s in Hoi An
After celebrating the first day of the arrival of Spring, just around the corner is Valentine’s and thus a holiday combination of Joy, Celebration and Romance unfolds. What a better place to celebrate in the land of romance and poetry than Hoi An. The shade of the cobbled path reflected on the surface of Thu Bon River; tiled roofs faded… couple’s lost in wonderland magic. Floating a small boat and pray with flower petals, bear witness to your love. The night falls, the old town shimmering and magical, creating moods of passion and romance, you drift away in a sensation of love, peace and calmness. For an experience as unique as it is unexpected, Hotel Royal Hoi An’s Memorable Moment Package is the perfect offer to experience this season of love whilst ringing in the new year.
Whale Worshipping Festival
For centuries, the Whale Festival in Quang Nam has been the most important and biggest water festival in Quang Nam. Held for two days in the second week of the Lunar March, the festival is organized to pay tribute to the Whale God and wish for safety and prosperity of the entire village.
On the first day of the festival, the elderly of the village are responsible for extending peace at the Whale Temple with non-seafood offerings. At dawn the following day, there is a procession of boats set in a formation on the sea in a show of sincere gratitude to the Whale God. Another notable component of the festival is the Vietnamese classical opera in which actors and actresses portray fishermen’s activities on the river with their acts.
As the most important sea festival, the event is so significant that all the fishing boats and villagers are expected to return to participate in the celebration, regardless of their location on the sea at that time.
Lady Thu Bon Festival
Lady Thu Bon Festival takes place annually from dawn to late evening on the 10th of Lunar February in Duy Xuyen district, Quang Nam province. The event is held to pay tribute to Lady Thu Bon, who is associated with love and protection from disasters and calamities.
Lady Thu Bon, also known as Lady Bo Bo, has long been considered a significant contributor to the agriculture and prosperity of the province. According to one legend, a man came to Thu Bon Temple to beg Thu Bon to help his wife during her difficult delivery. Sympathized and moved by his beseech, Thu Bon Lady turned into the man’s body, rushed quickly across a large field, arrived at the man’s home and touched the wife’s belly. The woman suddenly gave birth immediately and successfully.
There are many activities that take place during the festival. Participants can take part in worshipping ceremony, vehicular procession, human chess, “bai cho” art, folk song competition, sports tournament, cake making contest, tug of war fixtures among others. In the last night of the festival, locals and visitors alike can enjoy torch parade ceremony, lantern festival, campfire and Vietnamese opera performance.
However, none can draw interest and attention more than the star of the festival: the boat race. Before the race, all contestants attend a worshiping ceremony, kowtowing, offering incense and praying to the mausoleum of the lady at Thu Bon Temple.
Besides the Lunar New Year, “Doan Ngo” Festival is the second most significant festival in Vietnam, through which one can learn more about Vietnamese values and spirit.
Also known as May Festival or Insect Killing Festival, the event is annually held on the 5th day of the 5th Lunar month. The name “Tet sau bo” derives from the fact that farmers, on this day, get rid of all pests to start growing their crops for the new season. Therefore, creatures and people must become stronger in both their health and their souls to overcome this. On this occasion, the whole family have to get up early and eat fermented sticky and fruits. The worshipping is held at noon, hour of Ngo. The tradition of eating dumplings, especially lye water dumplings, extends from the belief that the dumplings will cleanse one’s body of any unwanted “parasites”.
There are two traditionally irreplaceable dishes eaten during the festival: “Banh U” and “Rice Wine”. “Banh U” refers to pyramidal sticky rice cakes covered in banana leaves. Inside the cakes, beans and banana leaves’ essence are included to create a tasty flavor.
On the other hand, “Rice Wine” describes balls of fermented rice soaked in wine, a dish that is allegedly years old. According to an old tale, a long while ago, there were two intelligent and kind orphan brothers living together in a small village. Inhabiting in the same village, there were two snakes “Green Snake” and “White Snake”. Falling in love with the brothers, the snake spirits transformed into beautiful ladies and married to the brothers.
After the marriage, the evil snake spirits eroded the brothers’ health, causing the locals to suspect devilish presence in the house and worry about the two men. One day, a Taoist hermit passed by the village and heard about the situation. He conducted some spirit type tests and found out that the men’s house had a case of the evils. He then told the locals to feed a wine potion he brewed himself to the men. The brothers must eat the potion’s solids and liquids in the early morning of the next fifth day of the fifth lunar calendar. As soon as the men tucked into their special breakfast, their wives were turned into their real appearance of snakes, before disappearing in a puff of smoke, freeing the brothers. Since that day, people have eaten “ruou nep” on Killing the Insect Day, in the hope of driving away vile spirits.
The brewing process of Com Ruou is straightforward, but onerous. Firstly, farmers must harvest rice from a paddy, dry and pound the rice to keep intact its most nutritious part. Following is the steaming task. Rice is steamed for 30 minutes and left to cool down. The next part is to mix the steamed rice with yeast and the compound is allowed to ferment for two or three days.
Long Chu Festival
Deeply rooted in both cultural and religious beliefs, Long Chu Festival is one of the more fascinating events in Hoi An. The Festival is usually held on the 15th day of the 7th and 8th Lunar months of a year when the old season is leaving to pave a way for a new one. Long Chu or Royal Barge refers to a dragon-shaped boat that was used by Vietnamese Emperors during their leisure or patrolling tours. Dragon is the symbol of Emperors and Royal Family and also one of the four religious animals worshipped by the elderly.
A religious practice to protect the village from evil spirits, the Festival is uaully performed by Priests or Shamans. Their main responsibilities include touring the town to sticking superstitious charms on places where evil spirits allegedly inhabit, burning incense, putting amulets in the ghosts’ abode and casting the magic spells on the ghosts which are later on discarded into the sea.
Once the rituals are completed, parades and processions begin. Participating families enjoy a meal together, a variety of games and especially the Procession of Long Chu. The Procession refers to the transportation of a giant dragon shaped boat from the village to the sea so that it can be set afloat to be carried away by the tides. The move is said to signify the removal of evil spirits and ghosts from the village.
Mid Autumn Festival
Tet Trung Thu, as it is known in Vietnam, or the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, is a wonderful ancient festival that revolves around children. The festival, held annually on the 15th of Lunar August in Hoi An, helps create the most charming and picturesque night of the year, but the origin of the festival remains largely unknown.
The 15th day of the 8th Lunar Month traditionally witnesses the festive arrangement and the moon’s lowest position on its orbit to Earth. As a result, the moon on this day appears brighter and larger than usual, making watching it at night a joy to behold. According to some ancient manuscripts, the Festival dates back around 14,000 years to a reign of a Chinese Emperor. The Emperor was said to often wish to visit the Palace on the Moon and with the help of a magician, he was taken to the Moon and welcomed by a lot of beautiful fairies. Admiring their dance, which is called Thuong Vu Y, he realized that there were similarities between Nghe Thuong Vu Y and Ba La Mon styles. Consequently, he combined the two dances and introduced the new style to everyone in countries under his ruling. The tradition of watching the moon, accompanied by the dance and songs, later became a traditional event in the Mid-Autumn celebration.
On the night of Lunar August 15th, the streets are teeming with people wandering around and buying festival treasures. Children parade on the streets, singing and carrying colorful lanterns of different sizes and shapes. There are fish, rabbits, carps, stars and butterflies spinning away when candles are inserted in the lanterns, representing the Earth circling the Sun. In well-off families, the mid-autumn banquet is also an opportunity to show off their nubile girls’ cooking abilities.
A crucial component of a Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival is lion dance. “Lions” performed by male athletes perform in front of houses as a wish of luck while the Lord Earth, or “Ong Dia” in Vietnamese, dances around the dragon to urge it on.
Besides the lion dance, it is customary to offer Banh Trung Thu (boxes of moon cakes) to family and special friends. The cakes, which are traditionally very rich in taste, are filled with lotus seeds, ground beans and orange peels and have a bright yoke in the center to represent the moon. “Banh deo” is the white cake, made of sticky rice and filled with a sweet mixture of lotus seeds, pumpkin seeds or green beans. “Banh nuong” is the brown cake and has a salty taste, it is made of a mixture of egg, pork fat, fried onion, peanut and lemon leaves. Both can be in round or square shapes.
Whether the Mid-Autumn Festival is organized in the city or countryside, its preserved tradition is reflected in the preparation of food trays to contemplate the moon, in lantern marching, lion and unicorn dances, and even in the way the children play different games, such as hide-and-seek. In the bright moonlight, clear sky and fresh environment, everybody is relaxed and filled with pure and detached joy.