Hoi An lantern festival is a special event that attracts not only foreign tourists but also Vietnameses locals, who come to see a more alluring Hoi An when the town is lit up with colorful lanterns. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that travelers should not miss out on in their Hoi An itinerary.
1. When is Hoi An lantern festival held?
Hoi An lantern festival is held on the 14th day of the lunar month, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, from 6 pm to around 10 pm. Many people choose to arrive early, often before 6 pm, to enjoy the sunset and dinner before the glimmering colorful lanterns steal the show. The festival is celebrated in and around the ancient town, particularly in areas near Hoai River, Japanese Covered Bridge, and Hoi Bridge. On this night, Hoi An Ancient Town becomes beautiful in the magical light of lanterns.
2. What to learn about the origin of Hoi An lantern festival?
Hoi An lantern festival dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when Hoi An was a bustling trading post. The Chinese and Japanese who settled in Hoi An brought lanterns and hung them in front of their door as a reminder of their homelands.
As time went by, lantern making became a staple of family businesses, festivities, and celebrations. Vietnamese locals began to hang lanterns out as well, in hopes of bringing good fortune and happiness. The colorful lanterns have eventually been considered a symbol of Hoi An. Around 1988, local authorities made a decision to organize the lantern festival on the full moon day of every month. In particular, residents are encouraged to replace electrical lights with the warm glow of lanterns. Since then, the festival has become one of the most anticipated events for locals and tourists.
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3. How does Hoi An Lantern Festival take place?
On the day of the festival, from around 5 pm to 10 pm, all the vehicles in the town are temporarily stopped. Meanwhile, all the houses, restaurants, and cafes turn off their electric lights. The whole neighborhood is bathed in the light of the full moon and thousands of lanterns, creating a magical glow.
Coming here at this time, you can freely wander around and soak in the peaceful ambiance. This is also the perfect time to enjoy many impressive performances, which are held along the river with music or poetry recitals. Additionally, there are many traditional activities organized, such as folk games. At Hoi An lantern festival, you can not only feast your eyes but also delight your taste buds. A variety of mouth-watering street foods are waiting for you to try.
>>> Read more: Wonderful things to do in Hoi An: The ultimate bucket list
4. Things to experience at Hoi An Lantern Festival
Below are the top things to do when you visit Hoi An lantern festival:
4.1. Admire the shimmering beauty of Hoi An at night
With vehicles and electric lights turned off on the festive day, Hoi An's charming streets are yours to explore. Even if you do not have enough time to see all the attractions, you can still enjoy the magical atmosphere of the town’s biggest celebration by simply wandering around and admiring the hanging lanterns that brighten up Hoi An.
If Hoi An has amazed you with its tranquil beauty during the day, Hoi An on the festive night will don a different beautiful coat, which will promisingly give you a mind-blowing impression.
4.2. Take part in many traditional activities
As you walk through the ancient town, you will see locals playing board games, folk performances, and live music. The music often features beautiful folk singing, poetry recitals, and local instruments such as bamboo flutes, fiddles, and drums.
In addition, during Hoi An lantern festival, Bai choi, a traditional performance that combines music, poetry, and acting, is extremely well-liked. It was listed in UNESCO's intangible heritage list in 2017. The performance includes music and poetry recitals, presenting the pride of the locals in their daily life and work.
In between all the singing, there is a card drawing game that is similar to bingo. You can participate in the game to be deeply immersed in the atmosphere. If not, seeing others play is still enough to feel the festive mood of Hoi An lantern festival.
4.3. Buy and release lanterns on poetic Hoai River
At the riverbank, you can buy paper flower lanterns to release them on Hoai River, which is one of the most anticipated activities in Hoi An lantern festival. The flower lanterns here are made of colorful paper, meticulously cut and folded, and cost about 5,000 VND each. You can get on a sampan, a traditional wooden boat, to travel along the river and release your lantern on the water. Each lantern, under local belief and custom, represents a wish for happiness, good fortune, and inner peace. The floating lanterns will turn an entire stretch of river into sparkling reflections that flutter in the middle of the night.
4.4. Taste lots of toothsome dishes of Hoi An
Hoi An is home to some of the best foods in Vietnam. Coming to Hoi An lantern festival, you should not miss out on tasty Hoi An street food, including:
- Cao lau: This Hoi An iconic dish consists of Japanese udon-like noodles, pieces of roasted pork resembling Chinese char siu, raw greens, beansprouts, crispy croutons, and a unique sauce made by the locals.
- Banh mi: Banh Mi Hoi An is stuffed with various fillings, generally pork, fried eggs, pate, chicken, and homemade tangy sauce. It also has a lot of vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumbers, pickled carrots, and coriander. Every bite into a banh mi is the perfect combination of spicy, salty, sweet, and crispy flavors.
- Com ga (chicken rice): The major ingredients of this dish include seasoned pilaf rice and shredded poached chicken. It is often served with salads of shredded green papaya and carrots, onions, and herbs to balance the flavors.
- Mi Quang (Quang noodles): A bowl of mi Quang often contains flat rice noodles, a little bone broth, slices of pork, beef, or chicken, shrimp, and quail eggs. The dish is eaten with rice crackers, fresh vegetables, and herbs like basil, peanuts, mint, and coriander.
Not only attracting tourists with the unique lantern festival, Hoi An is also known for many famous attractions, such as VinWonders Nam Hoi An, Japanese Bridge Hoi An, Tan Ky Old House, Quan Cong Temple, Cantonese Assembly Hall, Hoi An night market, etc.
To easily travel to Hoi An’s attractions and experience the ultimate comfort, many people opt for Vinpearl hotels and resorts. Vinpearl Resort & Spa Hoi An, located on the gorgeous Cua Dai beach, is only a 10-minute drive away from the ancient town. Specifically, the resort offers visitors deluxe villas and hotels with splendid sea views, luxury spas, modern gyms, and an outdoor infinity pool overlooking the sea.
The Vinpearl hotel and resort system in Hoi An, Nam Hoi An also includes Vinpearl Resort & Golf Nam Hoi An, which is a 20-minute ride away from Hoi An Ancient Town. It impresses visitors with beachfront resorts, golfing at Vinpearl Golf Nam Hoi An, and the enormous amusement park VinWonders Nam Hoi An to enrich your incredible Hoi An trip.
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During Hoi An lantern festival, the ancient town is at its most charming with colorful lanterns sparkling under the light of the full moon. The festival is a great opportunity for travelers to explore the town to the fullest. Together with an array of exciting activities catering to tourists of all ages, Hoi An lantern festival is a great stop for your upcoming vacation!
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