Chúc mừng năm mới!
Vietnamese New Year, more commonly known as Tết, is Vietnam’s most celebrated holiday. In Vietnam it is equivalent to major religious celebrations, such as Christmas, Eid or Hannukah, in other parts of the world. Similar to China, the new year in Vietnam is the lunar new year. This year Tết fell on 16 February and marked the transition from the year of the rooster to the year of the dog.
I was thrilled to find out that after just a month and a half of working, I was getting a 10 day holiday and a perfect opportunity to explore some more of Vietnam. If you’ve read my New Year, New Country, New Job post you will know that I’m unfortunately not living in one of Vietnam’s livelier cities. Eager to discover more of what Vietnam has to offer, I booked a trip to visit Hội An, Huế and Da Nang.
Following a short flight from Hanoi to Da Nang, I headed to Hội An to start my holiday. Da Nang and Hội An are not too far apart so it was both easy and affordable to get an Uber for the journey. The day I arrived in Hội An was the day before Tết which I suppose made it the Vietnamese hogmanay!
The ancient town in Hội An is a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its culture and heritage. Back in the day, Hội An was a trading port and received visitors from all over the world. This is reflected by the architecture in Hội An; in particular influences from the French and Japanese. Hội An has been incredibly well preserved exhibiting a distinctive combination of local and foreign influences.
As one of the most distinctive and unique cities in Vietnam it is a beacon for all tourists visiting the country. The riverfront and ancient town are charming and beautiful. They are ideal for a chilled out day exploring, relaxing in coffee shops, people watching and admiring the lanterns that adorn the streets. And this is exactly how I spent my first day in Hội An.
I could not get enough of the lanterns!
The iconic Japanese bridge is a favourite for tourists.
Hội An has to be one of the most charming and beautiful cities that I have visited. The peaceful environment and traditional architecture contrast greatly to the every day hustle and bustle usually experienced in Vietnam.
After strolling around the ancient town and a lot of photo taking, we headed for dinner at Mango Rooms. Mango Rooms serves modern, Asian fusion foods with an emphasis on Vietnamese flavours and ingredients. We shared two rice pancake starters: one topped with duck and the other with butternut squash. I followed this up with a noodle dish called “I Love Seafood”. The noodles were stir-fried with white fish, calamari and prawn in a tomato sauce topped with shavings of parmesan.
The food was sensational. It was both beautifully presented and delicious. Also parmesan on noodles… Not conventional but after that dish I have a feeling it should be!
At night the lanterns are illuminated and they glimmer against the night sky like gems. The effect is mesmerising.
Again, I could not stop taking photos!
When I was finally able to draw myself away from admiring the beautiful lanterns I joined some friends at the beach to start the new year’s celebrations. As the night drew on and we approached midnight, we headed to the river in the ancient town to join Hội An‘s new year’s celebrations. The ancient town was absolutely packed. Excitement filled the air as crowds of people lined both sides of the river awaiting the firework display that would mark the beginning of the new year.
As the clock approached midnight, anticipation grew. When the clock struck midnight there were cheers, a chorus of “chúc mừng năm mới!” and plenty of hugging. The only thing that was missing was the fireworks! Everyone began looking at their phones and watches as the time drifted past midnight. Finally at 00:05 a much anticipated bang filled the sky with sparkles. The firework show ended up being extremely smoky and covered us with a fine sprinkling of ash but it would not be Vietnam without these little idiosyncrasies.
After the fireworks display, the crowds transformed into a massive street party. The bars overflowed onto the street, set up outdoor speaker systems and stayed open till the early hours of the morning. It felt much like a hogmanay party back in Scotland but without having to worry about snow, rain or frostbite!
Dancing on the streets of Hội An was an incredible way to bring in the new Vietnamese year. I’ve managed to have two new year celebrations in two months since being in Vietnam. Anyone know of any celebrations coming up in March!?
More adventures in Hội An to come!
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