Top 7 Vietnam festivals will bring you unforgettable memories

Embarking on an exploration of Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage, one encounters a tapestry woven with the threads of diverse influences. At the forefront are the ‘Vietnam festivals,’ significant reflections of the country’s unique amalgamation of indigenous, Chinese, and French cultural elements. Across the year, these meticulously observed celebrations pay homage to ancestors, convey gratitude to deities, and fortify community bonds. Immerse yourself in traditional activities, savor local cuisine, and establish connections with the warm-hearted locals.

This article serves as your guide through the major ‘Vietnam festivals,’ ensuring that your visit, timed right, becomes an indelible and culturally enriching odyssey.

Vietnam Travel: Discover the Best of Vietnam in Your Ultimate Travel Guide

Exploring the Mystical Beauty of Vietnam Festivals: Huong Pagoda Festival

The Huong Pagoda Festival or Perfume Pagoda Festival is an annual religious celebration in Vietnam held in the Huong Tich Cave, a mysterious and sacred place in Hanoi’s Huong Son Commune of My Duc District. This festival has been celebrated for over 1,000 years and is one of the most important cultural events in Vietnam.

 Huong Pagoda Festival
Huong Pagoda Festival – Source: Collected

The festival usually starts in the middle of the first lunar month and lasts until the end of the third lunar month, with the main events taking place in the middle of the second lunar month. The exact day fluctuates from year to year due to the lunar calendar.

For Vietnamese Buddhists, visiting the Huong Tich Cave during the Huong Pagoda Festival will bring them good fortune and blessings. Thousands of pilgrims from all around Vietnam travel to the Huong Tich Cave during the festival to pray and make offerings to the Buddha.

Taking a boat ride along the Yen Stream to visit the Huong Tich Cave is one of the most popular customs during the festival. Visitors can also visit the cave, which is said to be the home of a powerful deity filled with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.

Perfume Pagoda Festival
Perfume Pagoda Festival – Source: Collected

Another festival highlight is the opportunity to sample local vegetarian cuisine, which is abundantly supplied during the event. Traditional entertainment, like lion dances, folk music, and martial arts demonstrations, is also available to visitors.

Overall, the Huong Pagoda Festival is a distinctive and mystical experience that gives tourists a look into Vietnam’s ancient spiritual traditions. The spectacular natural splendor of Huong Tich Cave, along with the festival’s rich religious and cultural importance, make it a must-see event for everyone interested in understanding Vietnam’s mysterious beauty and traditions.

Don’t forget to check out those Vietnam holiday to get to know more about the culture.

Exploring the Mystical Beauty of the Hoi An Lantern Festival

Origin and Significance

The Hoi An Lantern Festival, a dazzling spectacle adorning the ancient town, traces its origins back to the 16th century. Amidst bustling trade with Chinese and Japanese merchants, lanterns swayed in front of doors, a practice later embraced by locals for good luck. In 1988, the local government formalized this tradition, organizing a monthly Lantern Festival on the full moon day, becoming a highly anticipated event for both residents and tourists alike.

Hoi An Lantern Festival
Hoi An Lantern Festival – Source: Collected

Symbolism and Meaning

The lanterns in Hoi An hold a profound cultural significance, symbolizing peace and good fortune for every household. At various tourist spots, visitors partake in the enchanting activity of releasing lanterns adorned with sparkling candles onto the Hoai River. This act symbolizes wishes and prayers for a prosperous and joyful life.

Timing of the Lantern Festival

To immerse oneself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Lantern Festival, visitors should plan their trip around the 14th day of each lunar month and particularly on the full moon night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. During these times, the entire town comes alive with the warm glow of lanterns as houses and shops turn off their lights, creating a sparkling and picturesque ambiance.

Attractions of the Hoi An Lantern Festival

Visitors are urged to experience the festival from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., a time when the town transforms into a mesmerizing display of thousands of bright lanterns. With vehicles halted, lights dimmed, and the moonlight shimmering, the old town exudes a poetic charm, providing an opportunity to capture enchanting “virtual life” photos.

A highlight of the festival is the chance to release flower lanterns onto the Hoai River. Priced at a nominal fee of 5,000 VND per piece, each lantern carries wishes for health, prosperity, and the dispelling of sorrows. Participants are guided through the ritual, creating a deeply meaningful and memorable experience.

Dropping Water Lanterns on River In Hoi An
Dropping Water Lanterns on River In Hoi An – Source: Collected

The festival season in Hoi An offers more than lanterns; it’s a time for captivating art performances. From lion dances to folk dances, visitors can witness a cultural extravaganza or actively participate in traditional games like tug of war and chess, enhancing their festival experience.

Beyond visual and cultural delights, the Lantern Festival provides an opportunity to savor Hoi An’s culinary treasures. From the renowned Cao Lau to Quang noodles and boiled water, the streets offer a culinary journey at affordable prices, allowing visitors to relish the local flavors.

Tips for Participants

Given the festival’s popularity, arriving early ensures securing a prime location with the most panoramic view of the lantern-lit streets.

  • Hoi An at night is a sparkling spectacle, but sufficient lighting for clear photos may be lacking. Consider bringing lighting equipment for capturing the festival’s beauty in vivid detail.
  • For the most vibrant and spectacular experience, plan your visit around the first lunar month and the full moon of the Mid-Autumn Festival, when the festivities are at their peak.
  • As vehicles are restricted during the festival, wearing simple shoes or sandals ensures comfortable navigation through the enchanting streets of Hoi An at night.

Embark on a cultural journey through the Hoi An Lantern Festival, where tradition, symbolism, and enchantment converge to create an unforgettable experience for every visitor.

Bà Chúa Xứ Temple Festival: A Spectacular Display of Vietnamese Culture

The Bà Chúa Xứ Temple celebration is a religious celebration held annually in Vietnam at the Bà Chúa Xứ Temple in Chau Doc, An Giang Province. This festival has been held for over 200 years and is considered one of the most important festivals in Vietnamese culture.

Bà Chúa Xứ temple festival

The event is usually held in the fourth lunar month and lasts several days, with the main activities taking place from the 23rd to the 27th of the month. The Bà Chúa Xứ Temple is situated on Sam Mountain, revered in Vietnamese culture.

According to legend, a statue of Bà Chúa Xứ was discovered by local villagers around the 18th century and carried down from the peak of Sam Mountain by nine virgin girls who received instructions to do so from the “co dong” (a spiritual medium). As a result, the villagers constructed a temple to honor her.

The procession of carrying the Bà Chúa Xứ down from the peak of Sam Mountain to the temple
The procession of carrying the Bà Chúa Xứ down from the peak of Sam Mountain to the temple – Source:

Some say that Thoại Ngọc Hầu or his wife issued the decree and assisted in the temple’s construction. Although it is difficult to confirm, the temple was undoubtedly built after this official returned to the area and resumed the office of the local governor in 1824, following the completion of the Vĩnh Tế canal.

While the temple was being rebuilt, Thoại Ngọc Hầu had a vision of a beautiful goddess who told him her name was Bà Chúa Xứ and that everyone who attended her temple would receive good fortune and benefits. Thoại Ngọc Hầu then decreed that the Bà Chúa Xứ Temple celebration would be held on the 23rd day of the fourth lunar month, and the festival has been held every year since.

Another highlight of the festival is the opportunity to sample local cuisine, which is plentiful throughout the event.

The offerings for the Bà Chúa Xứ
The offerings for the Bà Chúa Xứ – Source: Collected

Visitors can also buy souvenirs and offerings, such as incense, candles, and traditional attire, to take home.

Various traditional dishes are served during the Bà Chúa Xứ Festival in Sam Mountain. Here are a few examples:

  • Banh Bo Thot Not: This is a steamed cake with rice flour and sugar flavored with thot not (palm sugar) and coconut milk.
  • Banh Canh: This is a noodle soup made with thick rice noodles and various types of meat, such as pork or shrimp.
  • Nem Nuong: This is a type of grilled pork sausage that is often served with fresh herbs and rice paper, which is used to wrap the sausage and create a spring roll.
  • Lau Mam: A hot pot that is made with fermented fish sauce and a variety of meats and vegetables. It is typically served with rice noodles and fresh herbs.
  • Ca Linh Chien: A type of fried fish often served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce, made with tamarind and fish sauce.

The Bà Chúa Xứ Temple Festival is a beautiful showcase of Vietnamese culture and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe Vietnam’s deep spiritual traditions.

The spectacular natural beauty of Sam Mountain, along with the festival’s deeply religious and cultural significance, make it a must-see event for anybody interested in learning about Vietnam’s unique traditions and customs.

Discovering wonderful destinations in Vietnam during your trip.

Uncovering the Mysteries of the Mid-Autumn Festival

Tết Trung Thu, or Mid-Autumn Festival, is a traditional Vietnamese holiday held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (typically in September or October). The holiday is firmly embedded in Vietnamese culture and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and excitement throughout the country.

The Mid-Autumn Festival has a long history and is very important in Vietnam. It is a time when families gather to enjoy the harvest season. Children play an essential role in the celebration, typically carrying bright lanterns as they parade through the streets. Traditional toys and activities, in addition to lanterns, are popular during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

children and mid autumn festival
source: dailybanhtrungthu

Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the most important customs linked with the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam. Sweet or savory contents such as lotus seeds, red bean paste, or salted egg yolks are used in these spherical pastries. Mooncakes are an essential celebration emblem and are frequently offered as gifts to friends and family members.

If you travel to Vietnam during the Mid-Autumn Festival, you must try the mooncakes.

The Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is observed by colorful parades and entertainment, in addition to mooncakes and lanterns. Throughout the country, traditional dragon and lion dances are performed to accompany drums and cymbals. In honor of the occasion, children also perform traditional dances and sing songs.

Chú Cuội Cung Trăng is a popular Vietnamese folktale related to the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The legend tells about a guy named Chú Cuội who was sent to the moon for destroying a sacred banyan tree. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chú Cuội can be seen on the moon, where he is said to be gathering firewood or tending to his banyan tree. This narrative is taught to children in Vietnam as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, and it is a well-known piece of Vietnamese folklore.

Chú Cuội Cung Trăng
Source: Collected

The Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is a time of immense joy and celebration. The festival is a beautiful opportunity to explore Vietnamese culture and traditions, whether in the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City or the calm countryside. So grab a light and some mooncakes, and join in the fun!

A Tour of the Customs and Traditions of the Hungry Ghost Festival

Lễ cúng Cô hồn, also known as the Ghost Month Festival, is a traditional Vietnamese festival that takes place in the seventh month of the lunar calendar, which is around August or September.

The Ghost Month Festival is a traditional Vietnamese celebration with Buddhist and Taoist traditions. The festival is held in the seventh month of the lunar calendar and is a time to respect and make tributes to the souls of those who passed away.

The festival is founded on the concept that the gates of hell open during the seventh lunar month, allowing the ghosts of the deceased to roam the world. As a result, offerings are offered to appease and honor the spirits, as well as to ensure that they do not bring disaster to the living.

Offering food, incense, and other items to one’s ancestors and spirits is one of the customs and traditions of the Hungry Ghost Festival. People frequently visit temples and pagodas to pray and give offerings.

Some Vietnamese believe that if the offerings are not consumed by the hungry ghosts, it indicates that the spirits are uninterested in them or are dissatisfied with the offerings.

ghost festival
Source: Collected

As a result, during the Ghost Month Festival, some people perform a rite known as “giựt cô hồn” or “giựt ma.” This entails surreptitiously collecting some of the offerings for the spirits to see if the ghosts have consumed them.

If part of the items is missing, it is said that the spirits have accepted the offerings and that the living will be blessed. If the offerings remain undisturbed, it may indicate that the living needs to make more offerings or alter their behavior to appease the spirits.

It’s important to note that not all Vietnamese people practice “giựt cô hồn” and that the government or religious organizations do not officially endorse it.

Additionally, some people believe that taking offerings from the spirits is disrespectful and may anger them instead of appeasing them. As with any cultural tradition, it’s important to approach it with an open mind and a respectful attitude.

In Vietnamese tradition, the Lễ Cúng Cô hồn Festival is a time of sincere respect, appreciation, and remembering. The festival is a wonderful opportunity to explore Vietnam’s diverse cultural traditions.

Vietnamese Women’s Day

Vietnamese Women’s Day, celebrated on October 20th, holds a significant place in Vietnam’s social fabric, commemorating the founding of the Vietnamese Anti-Imperialist Women’s Association in 1930. Recognized and approved by the Communist Party of Vietnam, this organization has played a crucial role in the nation’s development. Over time, the date became a solemnly celebrated anniversary at various levels, from central to local, demonstrating its deep integration into Vietnamese social life.

Women Day in Vietnam
Women Day in Vietnam – Source: Collected

Vietnamese Women’s Day is marked by various activities that celebrate and honor women. This includes award ceremonies recognizing women for excellence in different fields, cultural programs featuring renowned singers performing songs on themes of women and love, and promotional campaigns in supermarkets and shopping centers offering discounts and prizes for women. The vibrant and diverse gift market, particularly in fresh flowers and jewelry, adds to the festive atmosphere.

To elevate the celebration, cultural programs are organized with great care. Renowned domestic singers are invited to perform songs resonating with the theme of women and love. In addition, there are dedicated spaces like the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi and the Southern Women’s Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, embodying the nation’s commitment to preserving and showcasing the achievements of women.

One of the most common traditions involves the exchange of flowers, particularly roses, as tokens of admiration. It is a customary practice, especially among men, to express appreciation and affection by presenting flowers and thoughtful gifts to the women in their lives. Public spaces often host events or campaigns focused on women’s rights, gender equality, and social issues affecting women. These initiatives aim to raise awareness and foster positive change within society.

In a notable development, on October 20, 2007, the HTVC cable television system launched “HTVC Women,” Vietnam’s first television channel dedicated exclusively to women. This initiative further underscores the recognition of women’s roles and interests in the evolving landscape. Technological advancements have also led to increased congestion in major cities, particularly during the evenings, as people rush to express their appreciation through gifts and festivities.

Lễ Phật Đản: Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday in Vietnam

Lễ Phật Đản, commonly known as the Vesak Festival or Buddha’s Birthday, is a major Buddhist celebration celebrated with great enthusiasm and respect throughout Vietnam. The event commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death, as well as the teachings of Buddhism.

Lễ Phật Đản is traditionally observed in Vietnam on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month, which falls in May. The festival is observed in Buddhist temples and pagodas around the country, characterized by several ancient rites and customs.

The bathing of the Buddha statue is one of the most important practices related to Lễ Phật Đản. Pouring water over a statue of the Buddha represents the purifying of the mind and body.

the bathing of the buddha statue
Source: Collected

In addition, processions, chanting, and meditation sessions are frequently held in temples and pagodas throughout Vietnam.

Source: Collected

Another significant aspect of Lễ Phật Đản in Vietnam is the custom of offering presents and donations to the poor and needy.

This is considered a means to express compassion and generosity, fundamental Buddhist ideals.

In Vietnam, Lễ Phật Đản is a time to commemorate the Buddha’s teachings and to reflect on the value of compassion, charity, and mindfulness in one’s life.

Lễ Phật Đản is an opportunity to partake in the ceremonies and learn more about this rich and intriguing event, whether you are a Buddhist or simply interested in experiencing Vietnamese culture and traditions.

Releasing floating lanterns
Releasing floating lanterns is a tradition that you should experience at least once when traveling to Vietnam on this day – Source: Collected


In conclusion, Vietnam unfolds a rich tapestry of cultural events, providing visitors with a unique window into the nation’s traditions and history. From the Mid-Autumn holiday to the Vesak Festival and Ghost Month celebrations, each event carries its own set of rituals, offering glimpses into the values and beliefs of the Vietnamese people. Engaging in these festivals, alongside connecting with local communities, allows travelers to deepen their understanding of the country’s culture.

Recommending this immersive experience, not only does it offer appreciation for Vietnam’s rich heritage, but it also ensures the enjoyment of the distinctive qualities inherent in each festival, creating enduring memories for those who partake.