Vietnam Lunar New Year 2024: A Complete Guide

Vietnam Lunar New Year 2024: A Complete Guide

The Vietnamese Lunar New Year, called Tet or Tet Nguyen Dan, is a cherished festival in Vietnam, marking the start of the new year based on the lunar calendar. Celebrated nationwide, Tet brings joy and festivities, usually falling between mid-January and late February.

In 2024, the Lunar New Year begins on February 10th, welcoming the Year of the Dragon. In 2025, Tet festivities for the Year of the Snake start on January 29th. Then, in 2026, the Year of the Horse celebrations commence on February 17th.

Tet isn't just a date; it embodies ancient traditions, family gatherings, and cultural richness. From vibrant flower markets to heartwarming feasts, Tet showcases Vietnam's resilience, hope, and communal bond.

The Meanings of Tet


Tet, deeply rooted in Vietnamese heritage, carries legends like "Bánh Chưng Bánh Dày" from the time of the Hung Kings. Ancient texts describe Tet as a joyous celebration with singing, dancing, and feasting, reflecting its historical significance long before northern occupation.

Beyond being a mere festivity, Tet holds profound spiritual values, fostering strong emotional ties and symbolizing the connection between heaven, earth, humanity, and the divine. It serves as a time for family reunions, healing relationships, and expressing wishes for health, abundance, and harmony as the new year begins.

This cherished holiday not only connects people to their heritage but also promotes reconciliation, fostering community harmony. Tet embodies the resilient Vietnamese spirit, offering a moment for reflection, renewal, and the celebration of life itself.

How Vietnamese People Celebrate Lunar New Year

The Vietnamese people, steeped in tradition, meticulously prepare for the revered Tet holiday well in advance. Anticipation for this momentous occasion begins brewing a month, or even one to two weeks, before its arrival. During this time, a vibrant tapestry of special activities unfolds, each meticulously woven to ensure a prosperous start to the new year. From bustling markets overflowing with colorful blooms to homes adorned with festive decorations, the air crackles with anticipation for joy and renewal.

Cleanse and Decorate the Houses

Before Tet, Vietnamese families engage in a profound tradition: a thorough home cleansing. This ritual isn't just about tidying up; it symbolizes the clearing of past year's hardships, making way for a prosperous future. Old items are respectfully discarded, making space for new ones. Homes undergo meticulous cleaning, erasing traces of the previous year.

Accompanied by Tet songs, the atmosphere fills with anticipation. Vibrant decorations, like red couplets with auspicious messages, adorn doorways. "Cay neu," a bamboo pole with symbolic ornaments, safeguards against evil spirits. Tet flowers, each carrying special meanings, bring color and fragrance, crafting a warm and inviting ambiance.

Shop for New Items & Clothes

This joyous tradition transcends mere consumerism; it’s an outward expression of hope and renewal. Adults, in a delightful ritual, take their children to bustling Tet markets, where new clothes are chosen with wide-eyed wonder and infectious glee. These vibrant garments represent a fresh start, a shedding of the old, and an embrace of the new.


At bustling Tet markets, adults carefully select items to adorn homes, prepare lavish feasts, and extend warm hospitality to guests. These markets overflow with fragrant flowers, fresh fruits, traditional preserves, and savory delicacies like chicken, sausage, and bamboo shoots, each purchase symbolizing cherished traditions.

The gift-giving tradition during Tet adds depth to the celebrations. Each thoughtfully chosen present signifies affection, gratitude, and sincere wishes for the new year. Elders gifting lucky money to children and friends exchanging meaningful tokens strengthen bonds, fostering a sense of community and unity.

Make Bánh Chưng & Bánh Tét


Make banh chung

“Bánh chưng” has been part of Vietnamese culture since the time of King Hung Vuong in the 18th century. Making “bánh chưng” is an opportunity for a family reunion when members share the different tasks of preparing the ingredients for cooking. Bánh Chưng is the symbol of Tet in the North while Bánh Tét (same ingredients, but in a different form) is a specialty of Tet in the south and even in the center.

Ask for Calligraphic Words


Ask for calligraphic words

During the Tet holiday in Vietnam, local people engage in a beautiful tradition of seeking “Calligraphic Words,” or “Chữ Thư Pháp,” as their wishes for the new year. These words, meticulously hand-written by skilled calligraphers on red paper, carry profound meanings and aspirations for good fortune, health, and prosperity in the coming year.

Popular calligraphic words are “Phúc” (Happiness), “Lộc” (Prosperity), “Thọ” (Longevity), “An Khang Thịnh Vượng” (Peace and Prosperity), and “Vạn Sự Như Ý” (May All Your Wishes Come True). These words are then displayed prominently in homes and businesses, serving as constant reminders of the hopes and dreams for the new year.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve


Celebrate New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve (Giao Thừa) means the transition from the old to the new year. The Vietnamese people believe that 12 sacred zodiac elements take turns monitoring and controlling the affairs of the Earth. Thus, Giao Thừa is the time when we see the old ruler complete his term and hand over his power to the new ruler.

New Year’s Eve is also the time when Ong Tao (the God of Cooking) returns to the Earth after reporting to the Jade Emperor. Each family organizes an outdoor ceremony to welcome him in their kitchen.

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First Guest That Counts

Vietnamese people believe that the first visitor a family receives in the year will determine its fortune for the whole year; so, you should never enter a house on the first day without being invited. The act of being the first person to enter a house on Tet is called “xông đất” or “xông nhà,” which is one of the most important rituals during Tet. According to Vietnamese tradition, if good things happen to the family on the first day of the Lunar New Year, the whole following year will also be full of blessings. Usually, a person of good humor, morality, and success will be the lucky sign of the host family and will be invited into the house first.

Visit Relatives and Friends


Visit relatives at Tet

Visiting relatives and friends is a cherished tradition that forms the heart of the Vietnamese celebration. Families embark on journeys to visit their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, often bearing gifts and traditional foods like Bánh Chưng and Bánh Tét. These visits are filled with laughter, heartfelt conversations, and exchanging of blessings for health, happiness, and success in the coming year. Children receive lucky money from elders in red envelopes, symbolizing good fortune and a bright future.

Go to The Pagoda and Temple


Visit temples and pagodas

During Tet, Vietnamese people often visit pagodas and temples to seek blessings, express gratitude, and strengthen community bonds. The serene atmosphere of these places provides a space for reflection and renewal, and the vibrant decorations and traditional rituals create a unique cultural experience.

People offer incense, flowers, and fruits to deities and ancestors, expressing thankfulness for past blessings and seeking continued protection in the coming year. They pray for peace, health, prosperity, and success for themselves and their loved ones, and the communal atmosphere of these places strengthens bonds between families and friends. This is a time for spiritual renewal, seeking blessings, expressing gratitude, and strengthening community bonds, making it a central element of the Vietnamese Tet celebration.

Traditional Vietnamese Foods at Tet

Tet Food in the North

When discussing Northern Vietnamese food traditions during Tet, the focus often shifts to the meticulously prepared dishes adorning the ancestral altar. These offerings, laden with symbolism and steeped in tradition, form a crucial part of the Tet celebrations.


Tet food in the North

  • Bánh Chưng – A Square of Earthly Bounty: This iconic square-shaped cake, symbolizing the earth and representing the unity of heaven and earth, is an indispensable element of the Northern Tet feast. Its laborious preparation process, involving glutinous rice, green beans, and fatty pork, embodies the spirit of family togetherness and dedication.
  • Xoi Gac – A Red Flush of Fortune: This vibrant red dish, made with sticky rice and the fruit of the gac tree, symbolizes prosperity and good luck. Its presence on the altar signifies wishes for happiness and joy in the new year. The rich red hue not only adds visual appeal but also signifies the warmth and abundance that families hope to receive in the coming year.
  • Vietnamese Pork Roll (Giò Lụa) – Harmony and Abundance at the Center Plate: Often occupying the center of the Tet feast, the Vietnamese pork roll (gio lua) represents the core values of family harmony and abundance. Its smooth texture and savory taste, a result of a meticulous preparation process using lean pork and spices, symbolize the desire for a peaceful and prosperous new year.
  • Dried Bamboo Shoot Soup (Canh Măng) – Echoes of Tradition: This traditional soup, featuring dried bamboo shoots in a flavorful broth, reflects the culinary heritage of Vietnamese ancestors. Its simple yet comforting flavors evoke a sense of nostalgia and pay homage to the past while celebrating the present.

These dishes, intricately woven into the fabric of Northern Vietnamese Tet traditions, offer more than just sustenance. They are symbolic representations of hopes, aspirations, and gratitude for the past year, marking the start of a new year filled with blessings and joy.

Tet Food in the Central

Central Vietnam boasts a distinct culinary identity, characterized by bold flavors and rich textures. This is especially evident during the Tet holiday in Vietnam when the festive table becomes a showcase of traditional dishes brimming with symbolic significance and delectable tastes.


Tet food in the Central

  • Bánh Tét – A Round of Completeness: This cylindrical cake, the Central Vietnamese counterpart to the square Bánh Chưng of the North, embodies the concept of fullness and completeness. Its meticulous preparation, involving layers of glutinous rice, savory fillings, and banana leaves, reflects the meticulous attention to detail that defines Central Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Pickled Vegetables (Dưa góp) – A Harmony of Sweetness and Sourness: A symphony of sweet, sour, and crunchy flavors, pickled vegetables are an essential accompaniment to Bánh Tét. Carrots, papaya, and other seasonal vegetables are submerged in a tangy brine, creating a refreshing contrast to the richness of the cake.
  • Vietnamese Beef Roll (Gỏi cuốn thịt bò) – Festive Hues and Exquisite Tastes: Tet celebrations in Central Vietnam are often adorned with vibrantly colored beef rolls. The tender slivers of beef, marinated in spices and wrapped in glistening rice paper, offer a delightful explosion of textures and flavors. Their delicate red-pink hue adds a touch of festivity to the table, symbolizing good fortune and prosperity in the new year.

Tet Food in the South


Tet food in the South

People in Southern Vietnam also have their specialties for Tet holiday, such as:

  • Bánh Tét – A cornerstone of the Southern Vietnamese Tet celebration, like its counterpart in the Central region
  • Braised Pork Belly (Thịt kho tàu) – A symbol of prosperity and togetherness: Simmering in a large pot, the fragrant aroma of Vietnamese braised pork belly fills the air during Tet. The rich flavors and tender meat evoke the warmth and comfort of family gatherings, creating a truly special culinary experience.
  • Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup (Canh khổ qua) – A refreshing counterpoint to the richer dishes: Its slightly bitter taste symbolizes overcoming challenges and hardship, while the savory filling and flavorful broth signify welcoming happiness and good fortune in the year ahead.
  • Chinese Sausage (Lạp xưởng) – Adding a burst of flavor and aroma: Chinese sausage is a popular Tet dish in Southern Vietnam. Its versatility allows for various preparations, adding a delicious touch to various dishes. From stir-fries to steamed dishes, the distinct taste of Chinese sausage adds a festive element to the Tet culinary landscape.

Where to Feel the Most of the Lunar New Year Festival in Vietnam



During Tet in Hanoi, attractions like museums and public service centers close for the entire week, but visitors can still enjoy New Year celebrations around Hoan Kiem Lake. While some businesses shut down, luxury hotels, shopping centers, and a few restaurants remain open. Arriving a few days before Tet allows for visiting attractions and markets before experiencing the Lunar New Year festivities. Invitations to Vietnamese families enhance the experience through local interaction.

Hoi An


Colorful lanterns during Tet in Hoi An

This charming ancient town in Central Vietnam never ceases to captivate travelers, even the most informed. This 200-year-old city also celebrates the traditional Lunar New Year with several traditional festivals. There is the recitation of Vietnamese poems, the lantern festival, the unicorn dance, and the lottery games. These events attract a large number of participants. Traveling to Hoi An Ancient Town, travelers will experience an excellent atmosphere, totally different from the usual tranquility.

Ho Chi Minh City


Ho Chi Minh City offers a vibrant nightlife scene, making it a lively destination for tourists. On Lunar New Year's Eve, visitors can opt for celebrations in bars or join locals to watch fireworks on the streets. Engaging in the Nguyen Hue Flower Festival and Tao Dan Flower Festival immerses visitors in a local Tet atmosphere with vibrant street decorations, folk music, games, and traditional food. While Tet Nguyen Dan is the most significant festival in Vietnam, it might not be the ideal time for a Vietnam tour. However, for those interested in experiencing the Tet atmosphere, further details can be provided upon request.

Vietnam Mekong Delta

Ngoc Xa Loi Buddha Temple on the Tet holiday - Mekong Delta 1 Day Tour 

Not only the bustling city but also the peaceful countryside is now filled with Tet flowers. As you cycle along the village road, you will probably be able to hear the bustling New Year music or the locals gathering to sing karaoke together. The bustling atmosphere in the village always brings something special that is hard to replace.

You just need to cycle and enjoy the atmosphere. Your day in the Mekong Delta will be memorable.

Our tour guide is ready to guide and accompany you on your cycling journey through the Western village in Vietnam - Mekong Delta Village.

Connecting the vibrancy of Ho Chi Minh City's Tet celebrations to tourists worldwide, I urge visitors to experience the city's dynamic Lunar New Year ambiance. By partaking in events such as the Saigon Walking Tour and exploring the cultural richness of the Mekong Delta through tours from Saigon, travelers can deeply engage with local customs and immerse themselves in the festive spirit of Tet. These experiences not only offer a glimpse into the heart of the city's celebration but also create enduring memories of this vibrant Vietnamese festival.

Moreover, you can also visit the Mekong Delta off-the-beaten-track. Explore the quieter Ben Tre and An Giang provinces for a glimpse into the local way of life.

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1-day Mekong tour from Can Tho | The Myst Mekong

Cu Chi Tunnels & Mekong Rural Life 

Mekong Delta 1 Day Tour - Ben Tre boat and bike experience

Mekong delta homestay 2 days tour with cycling trip in non touristy villages

Mekong delta tour 3 days with homestay - cycling - Cai Rang floating market 

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