The 5 Best Things To Do In Hanoi, Vietnam During Tet Holiday On A Backpacker's Budget

Nga Do
A lot of people recommend not going to Hanoi during Tet and even recommend not going to Vietnam at all during Tet. Of course, we went anyway, because we already had our tickets. And, to us it actually sounded like a fun timing! Read in this article what you can expect when you are visiting Hanoi during Tet. 

(We recommend good hotel (Hanoi Unique Hotel, address: No 11 Hai Tuong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Near Ta Hien beer street, Dong Xuan market, ...), tips for restaurants and of course fun things to do in Hanoi during Tet.)

And lastly, whether we would recommend going to Hanoi during Tet.

Tet is short for Tet Nguyen Dan and is celebrated on the first day of the first month in Lunar Calendar. The celebration is the longest holiday which can last up to seven days. During Tet the Vietnamese express their respect and remember their ancestors, and also welcome the New Year together with friends and family. Every family will get together and have a big meal, decorate Tet trees and eat traditional food.

To better understand Tet holiday in Vietnam, this article has it all:

The 5 Best Things To Do In Vietnam During Tet Holiday On A Backpacker's Budget
Photo by motiqua

What to do in Hanoi during Tet

1. Preparing the traditional cakes - Banh Chung

In the days leading up to Tet, each family cooks traditional foods served during Tet. Preparations for these foods are quite extensive, especially Vietnam traditional cake – Banh Chung. Making Banh Chung is an indispensable job in every Vietnamese New Year holiday. Family members often take turns to keep watch on the fire overnight, telling each other stories about Tet of past years. 

The 5 Best Things To Do In Hanoi, Vietnam During Tet Holiday On A Backpacker's Budget 1
Photo by Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên

2. Praying at the pagodas

The Lunar New Year season is a busy time for Buddhist. Worshippers typically visit the pagodas in the beginning of the year to light incense and pray to the deities for blessings and good luck in the year ahead, the pagodas are more crowded than ever.

Hanoi has many famous and crowded temples during Tet holiday, temples with attractive architectural works such as Tran Quoc Pagoda, Phu Tay Ho, Ngoc Son temple, Temple of Literature, ...

The 5 Best Things To Do In Hanoi, Vietnam During Tet Holiday On A Backpacker's Budget 2
Photo by Đỗ toanbka Đỗ

3. New Year’s Markets

As the New Year approaches, open-air markets selling decorations, red envelopes, toys, clothes, flowers, potted plants and trinkets are a frenzy of activity. This time of the year also falls under the spring season of Vietnam, so you will see many flowers decorating streets and houses.

The New Year’s market is the most typical place to see the Tet atmosphere of Hanoi capital. Hang Luoc flower market, Quang An flower market, Hang Ma street, ... are the most prominent markets. 

The 5 Best Things To Do In Hanoi, Vietnam During Tet Holiday On A Backpacker's Budget 3
Photo by LoggaWiggler

4. Water puppet show

Water Puppet Show is a form of folk art that originally comes from the Red River Delta in the north of Vietnam.  If you visit a show in Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, the stage is a pool of water and the lead characters are the wooden puppets.

Although the show is in Vietnamese, it’s still worth visiting a water puppet show. It’s a way to enjoy the Vietnamese culture through entertainment. They sing songs, play instruments and the puppets dance on the water.

During Tet the show goes on. You can buy tickets at the entrance or book them in advance online, but it's can sell out fast.

Entrance fee: 100.000 VND (about 5 USD)
Times of show: 15.00 – 16.10 – 17.20 – 18.30 – 20.00 – 21.15What to do in Hanoi during Tet

The 5 Best Things To Do In Hanoi, Vietnam During Tet Holiday On A Backpacker's Budget 4
Photo by dangnambinh

5. Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake

Around Hoan Kiem Lake you can enjoy the flower and holiday decorations and locals in traditional clothing, who are taking lots of family portraits together.

What to wear in Hanoi during Tet holiday?

Hanoi's weather during Tet holiday this year will probably be colder than other years. Wrap up warm!  You'll need a warm jacket and a hat ideally. The shops will be closed during the first days of the new year so it will not be easy for you to buy clothes at a reasonable price.

Don't think of these experiences as extra activities. Although it is an experience that does not cost you money, it is the most unique experience of Hanoi people during the Lunar New Year.

So there you have our top 5 things to do in Hanoi during Tet holiday for backpackers! Check off everything on this list for an amazing adventure that’ll fill up your camera roll without draining your budget.

In summary, Hanoi is still a vibrant and interesting place during Tet but a decidedly different vibe from the rest of the time.  Wrap up warm, give up shopping, commit to finding the best food and drink available, visit the temples, see the water puppet show and you'll be grand.

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