Expats living in Vietnam shared with Kiwi In Saigon some of their impressions, both positive and negative, about the Lunar New Year, or Tet holiday, in the country.
‘I like to give red envelopes’
I love the decorations and energy of my friends and colleagues during Tet. Everyone is very excited, especially the children at school who are always asking me “teacher, luck money lucky money!”
I also really enjoy going into the markets in District 1 and watching people taking photographs in their traditional ao dai.
I have never celebrated Tet with my Vietnamese friends as it seems to be a very family-orientated holiday, but I like to give red envelopes with lucky money to people who I see regularly and would like to show thanks to.
This year I plan to spend Tet holiday outside of Vietnam, taking my mum to visit the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the city of Bangkok in Thailand. This is the longest holiday I get off work so I like to explore different countries.
Going on holiday during Tet is great because it is the longest length of time most expats get off work – this makes it the perfect time to go travelling! But it’s always nice to spend time at the start or the end of Tet in Vietnam so you can soak up the atmosphere, maybe try some of the traditional Tet foods and give out lucky money. The weather is great in Vietnam during this time of year so I would highly recommend people to stay and travel in Vietnam during Tet.
Last year I spent a few days in Ho Chi Minh City at the end of Tet and found that the city was really quiet! Lots of my local street vendors and restaurants were closed but it was really nice to drive around the city with hardly any traffic and lots of beautiful blue skies.
Some of my friends have travelled in Vietnam during Tet and told me that things like restaurants and hostels tend to stay open in more touristy places like Hoi An, with the exceptions of tours which may not be running.
A downside to travelling during Tet is that you might not be able to do everything you had hoped to due to tour companies and restaurants closing. It’s also a very busy time for travel in Vietnam as many people return to their hometowns so prices for transport can be high!
I would like to wish the people of Vietnam a relaxing Tet, and hope they get to spend time enjoying good food with their families. For the future I would like to wish Vietnam a happy, healthy and prosperous year of the pig!
Impressed by the apricot blossoms
I like the lights and flowers used for decoration quite a lot, especially apricot blossoms.
When Tet nears, anywhere you go, you will see apricot blossoms, but probably the strangest thing for me would be apricot blossoms being sold by street vendors on lorries and pickup trucks.
Vietnamese do not get much time off, while by nature they are very festive and frantic, so Tet is usually one of the few opportunities for people to have fun and celebrate.
In my country, during national holidays we usually drink and relax, instead of going out drinking and partying like most Vietnamese do.
Tet seems crazy in Vietnam since everything is booked out and prices are high, especially for flight tickets and train tickets.
People really enjoy it but it is insane for us.
Generally, the prices of everything in Vietnam during holidays triple or double, which can rarely be seen in other countries since in most countries there is a law preventing such things from happening.
Tom Okon from Australia
Worried about drunk driving
I am the most worried about driving under influence during Tet.
It is a commonly seen thing in Vietnam, but it is even more pronounced during the holidays – before and within Tet.
Year-end parties, new-year parties, and praying are just some of the gathering opportunities during the Lunar New Year.
For Vietnamese, every time there is a gathering, it is an opportunity to drink and Vietnamese usually encourage each other to drink as much as possible.
I hope that this year people start encouraging each other to only drink enough to still be able to drive home, instead.
In Vietnam it seems as if drinking alcohol was an activity that can be done at any time as beer is even sold in coffee shops!
In the United States, people usually just drink on weekends and alcoholic beverages are only sold at restaurants and bars, rather than at any possible place like in Vietnam.
Bryant Bennett Payne from the USA