TET 2023 - Tips for travellers
Updated: Nov 27, 2022
TET is closer than you think! In fact it's just around the corner.
It's coming early in 2023 and as a traveller there's a few things you should know about it.
TET falls on January 22, 2023. This is a 6 day public holiday in Vietnam, it begins on January 21 (classified as TET
NYE) and runs through January 26. It's the longest and most celebrated holiday in the Vietnam calendar. It can in some cases last up to 10 days as many places allow their staff to take extra leave time to be with family who often may live in remote towns.
The Vietnamese New Year is by far the most important festival of the year. It is a celebration of the upcoming Spring, love, and hope for the year to come. The Lunar Year of 2023 is the Vietnamese year of the Cat that symbolizes tenderness, gentleness, and kindness.
Overall, it is considered that Hanoi is the one of the best places to celebrate TET as a traveler. Both the Quan Su Pagoda and the Ngoc Son Temple offer the opportunity to see locals lighting incense and praying for ancestors. Travelers will also love seeing the elaborate fireworks displays and the vibrant parties thrown by the Hanoi Opera House.
Flowers, small envelopes of money and personal gift giving is an integral part of the TET celebration. Due to the fact that TET is a public holiday, it will affect those traveling in Vietnam as many shops, government offices, and banks close. However, if you want to experience the Vietnamese culture, you may want to consider scheduling your trip around the Vietnamese New Year.
The holiday is all about family and travellers shouldn’t expect a large party. It is a fascinating time to visit the country. It's a time where you’ll find elaborate fireworks celebrations, a time for visiting temples, and to take in beautiful flower arrangements.
While TET is celebrated throughout the entire country, travellers should try to stay in a larger city. In smaller towns everything tends to shut down during the Vietnamese New Year.
Everything either happens before TET or after, but not much during. By that, it’s meant to be a time of relaxation, eating and drinking foods prepared by family members. The cooking preparation starts well before the beginning of TET and everyone including the youngest in the family get involved.
You can expect to see a lot of cleaning, refurbishing and redecorating. This tends to start prior to TET as people believe the way they finish the previous year will influence the way the next year will run for them.
As you walk around the towns you can see shops, homes and streets being cleared away of junk and spaces cleared to make room for flowers and altars. It’s an extremely colourful time of the year as the streets become filled with flowers, colourful fish tanks, and money trees.
6 tips for Travellers in Vietnam during TET
1. Buy your travel tickets for travel during the TET season well in advance or miss out.
2. Be early at the airport, bus station or train as this is the busiest travel period for Vietnamese who travel long distances to visit family and friends and carry lots of luggage.
3. Make sure you bring all your travel documents confirming all your travel arrangements, tickets, and emergency contact details. Check the latest Covid tests required to be completed before flying.
4. Don’t expect to do too much activity wise on the actual National Holidays as many tourist attractions will be closed or at a minimum their hours will be reduced, and they may even charge an extra TAX. Be prepared to just chill out!
5. Check with your hotel or Homestay about what services will be operating for meals and what are the closest alternative eateries open.
6. Check Facebook pages of places of interest, events, hotels and restaurants for most up to date details of their operation over TET, this is usually where they will announce their opening times.
TET is really a celebration of family and friendship and many people will travel all over to catch up with friends they have not seen in a long time and exchange gifts.
It is also the time of year when companies bestow gifts or bonuses to employees, so it's a joyous time for locals. It's not really about us tourists, so if you feel a little left out or disappointed in services not being at their optimal levels, then its probably a time of year to NOT visit Vietnam. However if you can appreciate it for what it means to the Vietnamese, you will get to know their culture even more so, and if you make a friend in Vietnam, you may be asked to their home to share a meal after New Years day. This is considered an honour so think yourself a new family friend.
Final Note: There are those families who treat all the traditions with great reverence and if you think the family you know may do this, then so as to not offend and pay respects, I would recommend doing some deeper research starting HERE