A Traveler’s Handbook for Tet Holiday in 2024
Known as Tet Nguyen Dan, the Lunar New Year has long been a vital traditional holiday in Vietnam. Not only an occasion when Vietnamese families spend time reuniting & honoring their ancestors, Lunar New Year celebration is a splendid tapestry of traditions, feasts, and cultural rituals.
Despite the official celebration lasting 5-7 days, if you arrive in Vietnam one month earlier, you will undoubtedly sense the Tet atmosphere seeping into every nook and cranny, from the right to the left and to the center. For those keen on learning the manners and customs of this country, there is no better opportunity than to engage in the festivities of Tet.
When is Tet 2024? What is the meaning behind it?
Tet Nguyen Dan, or the Lunar New Year, is the biggest and most dedicated festival of the Vietnamese. In Sino-Vietnamese, the term “Tet” finds its roots in '節' (weather), which means the changing of seasons from spring to summer, autumn, and winter. “Nguyen” signifies the beginning, and “Dan” refers to the early morning. Thus, “Tet Nguyen Dan” translates to the first morning of a lunar year.
Vietnam's Lunar New Year is calculated according to the lunar calendar. Since this calendar is a calendar based on the moon's cycle, the Lunar New Year is later than New Year's Day, and usually falls around the end of January to mid-February. This year, the biggest Vietnamese holiday will last seven days, starting from February 8 to 14, 2024, which means an entire week's worth of consecutive days off, totaling 7 days.
Tet used to signify a new cycle of wet rice cultivation for farmers, praying for a year of good weather and abundant crops. But nowadays, it brings about a more profound meaning: a "renew" day, a day where people can hope for a peaceful, prosperous, and favorable new year throughout the year and put aside all the unlucky things in the old year.
As the Tet holiday of 2024 is around the corner, the preparations are underway weeks in advance of the holiday itself. People buy new clothes, style their hair, cook feasts, and acquire new accessories or furniture to decorate their houses. They also purchase delicious biscuits and sweets to set the best table for incoming guests. Trade flourishes during these days, especially in the ornamental plants market, which becomes more bustling than ever.
How do Vietnamese prepare for Tet?
What kinds of ornamental plants do the Vietnamese favor? The answer is kumquat trees and peach blossoms. Every house, every office will place at least one beautiful plant in a noticeable position, not only to adorn the view but also to subtly indicate that “Spring is coming.” All streets, markets, restaurants, and shops are embellished with the vivid colors of red and yellow ornaments, or pink and orange from trees on the back of every motorbike when Tet arrives.
Nevertheless, the Vietnamese never leave their trees plain for the Tet holiday. All housewives and children are eager to buy ornaments and decorations for the tree. Those could be in the form of New Year’s dangling wishes, or stickers featuring illustrations of the animal that represents the year, along with mini flickering lights. Each year is symbolized by an animal in a 12-year cycle, including Rat, Buffalo, Tiger, Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
Accordingly, Tet 2024 is the year of the Dragon.
>>> What secrets might your zodiac hold? Unravel the mysteries at: Twelve Guardians of Time: A Journey Through the Vietnamese Zodiac
How do Vietnamese celebrate Tet?
Tet officially takes place as the fireworks sparkle above the sky, and adults perform their ritual offerings to their ancestors. On the very first morning following New Year’s Eve, after giving nice wishes to older family members, children will receive beautiful lì xì (lucky money - in red envelopes), containing coins in even denominations or money with eye-pleasing series numbers. Red is a special color that holds special significance and is considered a ward against negative spirits in Vietnamese belief, meanwhile, odd numbers are associated with bad luck.
New clothes are worn, and people stock their kitchens with Chung cake, Tet cake, and other delicious food, then observe various other customs, all symbolizing the hope for the positive things that lie ahead with the upcoming spring.
People avoid arguments or any negative behaviors, treat each other with kindness, and make visits to their relatives or neighbors, asking after their health with the best New Year’s greetings. You can be a part of this tradition by learning some wishing phrases with pronunciation for non-native speakers that we’ve prepared below.
To make your experience even more lavish, join the Vietnamese to go to the pagodas and temples. Here, they pray for a bounteous harvest and set the stage for their business or achieve impressive goals for the next year.
Besides the sacred customs of Tet, Vietnamese people also celebrate Tet and enjoy spring with lots of joyful and healthy festivities such as wrestling, swinging, boating, buffalo fighting, and many other folk games.
Some of New Year’s Greetings and Wishes
As the 2024 Tet holiday is approaching and everyone celebrates the fresh beginnings a new year brings, we believe all of the greetings will allow your goodwill and best intentions to shine through regardless of language.
If you’re interested in Vietnamese culture, you might find those warm words a bridge to foster the global spirit of community, as well as to show respect towards the tradition and optimism for days ahead and share.
And here, we got a little help for your good intentions! Check out our collection of friendly phrases commonly used by Vietnamese to wish others well as the Tet Holiday kicks off for a warm start:
- Chúc Mừng Năm Mới: (pronounced: chook moong nahm moy)
Meaning: Happy New Year, Happy Tet
- Vạn Sự Như Ý: (pronounced: vahn soo nyu ee)
Meaning: May all your wishes come true
- An Khang Thịnh Vượng: (pronounced: an khang ting vuong)
Meaning: Security, good health, and prosperity
- Sức Khỏe Dồi Dào: (pronounced: sook kwee doy dao)
Meaning: Abundant health
- Tiền Vào Như Nước: (pronounced: tee-en vao nyu nook)
Meaning: May money flow in like water
- Chúc Hay Ăn Chóng Lớn: (pronounced: chook high aan chong lon)
Meaning: Wishing you grow like a weed
- Tấn Tài Tấn Lộc: (pronounced: tan tai tan lohk)
Meaning: I wish you a wealthy new year
Top Places to Visit During the 2024 Tet Holiday
Are you seeking for 2024's Tet Holiday events but don’t know where to start? No worries, as we've got you covered with diverse options and details on things to do in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Hanoi, a UNESCO heritage
Here you will have the chance to experience the rich cultural festivities that unfold every year on the first day of Tet at this must-visit spot. Annually, on the first day of Tet Nguyen Dan, if you visit this place, you will have the best chances to partake in various cultural festivities, including the ceremonial offering of incense to ancestral kings and officials with amazing folk music performances and water puppet shows.
TET Markets, Festivals for the 2024 Tet Holiday in HCMC and Hanoi
Tons of markets and festivals will be held on these upcoming days, serving increasing Tet shopping demands. Depending on where you’re located, you can come across several Tet markets like:
The 2024 Tet Festival, which is scheduled for January 18 to 21 at Nguyen Hue Street, HCMC, includes numerous community cultural activities, exhibitions, cooking demonstrations, and art shows.
The 2024 New Year book street festival in HCMC, which takes place from February 7-14. Hundreds of books will be gifted to visitors as a New Year kickstarter.
Hanoi’s Hang Ma Street in the Old Quarter will also leave you with an unforgettable memory of the allure of Vietnamese Tet. Don’t forget to get yourself some paper decorations and toys!
Step back in time to Old Vietnam in Co Lam Village, Hanoi
The 'Vietnamese Village Tet' 2024 program is organized to contribute to promoting the nation's traditional cultural values, creating a beautiful image of the Duong Lam-Son Tay tourist destination for international friends. That’s why it will undoubtedly be one of the greatest events you've ever joined.
Trust us, you won’t want to miss the chance to experience many unique cultural features such as wrapping banh chung, practicing traditional calligraphy, and releasing carp,... all part of the annual Tet program.
If you're looking for more festivals and places to explore during Tet, feel free to check out our top 10 places to visit in HCMC and Hanoi in 2024:
Some must-have tips for your Tet adventure
All the Businesses will be closed:
Tet is the peak travel season since every place receives a huge transportation load, so please plan your accommodations & commuting well in advance. In big cities, buses are still running so you can catch them or get Grab to travel around.
Many businesses close during Tet, including shops and restaurants, and they may close for numerous days. Stock up on essentials in advance and plan other activities accordingly.
Try Tet Specialties:
- Don’t sleep on Vietnamese traditional Tet dishes, including favorites like Bánh Chưng (square sticky rice cake), Bánh Tét, pickled vegetables, deep-fried spring rolls, caramelized pork and eggs, and a delightful array of festive treats such as Mứt (candied fruit), biscuits, and traditional sweets.
- Explore your nearest local markets to enjoy the authentic taste of these delights that make Tet a truly special time in Vietnam.
- Remember to avoid dressing in short or revealing clothes when visiting temples or engaging in other cultural events.
- Although Tet’s in the spring, please be prepared for different weather conditions like the cold and heavy drizzle.
Be Patient with Crowds:
Since everyone is going out these days, there will be larger crowds at popular tourist spots and transportation hubs during Tet.
Be patient and don’t get disappointed because of extra time for travel.
Follow Fireworks Safety Guidelines:
Tet is often associated with loud firecrackers and music.
If you plan to enjoy fireworks, please enjoy the showcase in designated areas and follow safety guidelines to ensure joyful and safe festive days.
If you plan to purchase fireworks, please respect local laws regarding their usage.
Remember, Tet is not just a holiday; it's an opportunity to share in the joy, warmth, optimism and love of Vietnamese culture. So, travelers, plan ahead with us, make the most of the festive spirit and this extraordinary journey during this 2024 Tet holiday. May your Tet be filled with unforgettable moments, lots of red envelopes, cultural discoveries, and the joy of new beginnings of 2024. Our guide is always here to ensure you make the most of this joyous celebration in Vietnam.
Chúc mừng năm mới! (Happy New Year!)