10+ Things To Do On Tet Holiday In Vietnam

Tet Holiday, or Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is the most important festival in Vietnam. Tet is the time for a family reunion, so people visit their family, prepare, and enjoy the Tet holiday together.

Do you know what to do on the Vietnamese New Year? Read on to find the best things to do on the Tet holiday in Vietnam.

things to do on Tet holiday in Vietnam

“Refreshing” the house

Tet is the time for new things. Vietnamese usually spend half of the month before the Tet holiday preparing for it.


Cleaning the house before Vietnamese New Year is one of Vietnam’s most important cultural features. Housecleaning before Lunar New Year helps organize the old year, removing old things to remove bad luck and welcome New Year’s fortunes.

Repainting the house, washing mattresses and pillows, trimming trees neatly, etc., can make the house look refreshed and beautiful.

The meaning

According to Vietnamese culture, lucky fortune will visit clean, neat, and tidy houses on the first days of the year.

Therefore, the owners must finish cleaning their homes at the end of the year before the 23rd, the day Ông Táo (The Kitchen God) returns to heaven.

Also, housecleaning makes the owners feel confident when relatives and friends visit. The guests themselves will feel more valuable and respected when invited.

Buying decorations

Vietnamese people love decorating their houses on the Tet holiday.

Lunar New Year is an occasion for members to prepare new items and furniture to welcome a full Tet and a fortunate year.

prepare for Tet holiday in Vietnam

It’s also essential to buy flowers to decorate at home. In the north of Vietnam, Northern Vietnamese usually buy Peach Blossom trees, while people place Ochna trees in their houses in the South.

There are many criteria to evaluate how good an Ochna tree is. People usually assess them based on the number of flowers, the flowers’ shape, and the root shape.

“The more beautiful the Ochna tree is, the luckier the family receives on New Year,” – My mom said.

“Remaking” yourself

Tet is the time for changes. Vietnamese usually try to “remake” themselves by cutting hair, buying new clothes, shoes, etc. Everyone wants to look better on the Tet holiday.

things to do on Tet holiday in Vietnam
celebrate Lunar New Year in Vietnam

Making traditional Vietnamese cake

Tet is the time for tradition. Folding Traditional cake – Banh Chung, Banh Tet is a Vietnamese tradition that started from the 18th Hung Vuong King.

On the 28th – 29th of the Tet Holiday, Vietnamese families often gather and make Banh Chung (square glutinous rice cake) and Banh Tet to enjoy and give to others.

It’s quite challenging to make these traditional cakes, so the makers must be skillful enough to wrap them beautifully and tightly. Otherwise, the cakes will crack and absorb water.

Nowadays, not many families make Banh Chung, Banh Tet anymore, but everyone still eats it.

Worshiping the ancestors

Preparing dishes to worship the ancestors has become a significant activity on the 30th of Tet Holiday.

This beautiful tradition reminds people about their ancestors’ memories and their merits.

In the early morning, the family members prepare the altar and dishes to “invite” their ancestors to come back and celebrate Tet together.

By doing this, Vietnamese people can show respect to their ancestors. Tet banquet becomes the invisible link between the living and the dead.

New Year Eve’s ceremony

New Year’s Eve is the connection time between two years, and it’s time to prepare the altar and traditional dishes to worship the gods.

At the end of the year, old gods give up work for new gods at the transfer between the new year and the past year. Therefore, Vietnamese people celebrate New Year’s Eve to see the old god and welcome the new gods.

People usually prepare the feast to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the middle of the courtyard. The dishes include a five-fruit tray – Cầu (Custard-apple), Dừa (Coconut), Đủ (Papaya), Xoài  (Mango), and Dưa hấu (Watermelon).

things to do on Tet holiday

Tasting Vietnamese traditional food

Tet is the best time to try traditional Vietnamese food. Banh Chung, Banh Tet, and pig trotters stewed with dried bamboo shoots are the main dishes.

Pickled onion, small pickled leeks, roasted watermelon seeds, and dried candied fruits are essential side dishes to try in every house.

Read more: 10+ Traditional Vietnamese food to try on Tet holiday.

things to eat on Tet holiday in Vietnam

Watching Tet’s TV series

Some special TV series are only available on Tet Holiday, and families usually sit together and enjoy them.

One of the most popular series is Tao Quan – The Kitchen Gods, a yearly comedy series. It reports the main issues in Vietnam in that fiscal year with a good sense of humor.

Watching fireworks

You can see the fireworks at many places in Vietnam.

Many families drive their scooters to main attractions, waiting there beforehand to see the fireworks. The roads are crowded, so it creates an exciting atmosphere.

Family reunion

Tet is the time for family. Despite how far they live, Vietnamese people always try their best to return home for a family reunion.

Family members usually gather together at the main house, or they will go around and visit their relatives and friends. People often organize the Tet banquet during these reunions, and of course, there will be a lot of drinking and eating.

Visiting people is a unique and indispensable culture on the Tet holiday, showing the kindness and joy of spring. When visiting, everyone is dressed in beautiful clothes, usually with a red meaning, and brings gifts to celebrate with the owner.

Receiving lucky money – Lì xì

Lucky money is, as its name, a gift from one person to another to wish them a Happy New Year. Lucky money is often placed in a red envelope, as red equals “lucky” in Vietnamese culture.

Usually, kids receive lots of lucky money, and they will need to wish the giver best wishes.

These wishes changes based on the giver, but overall, “Health, Happiness, Luck & Prosperity” are the main components. More specifically, if grandparents give lucky money to their grandkids, the kids will say wishes for health.

If kids receive money from people who are still working, they will give wishes for jobs and money instead.

lucky money on Tet holiday in Vietnam

Anyone who is not married will still receive lucky money. Also, the younger give the elderly lucky money to wish for good health.

Visiting pagodas and temples

visiting pagoda on Tet holiday in Vietnam

Vietnamese usually visit pagodas on the Tet holiday with the desire to find peace, dismiss the anxieties and worries of the old year, and wish for luck and happiness in the new year.

Visiting a pagoda is not only to make a wish, but it is also a moment in which one is immersed in spirituality. People try to visit Pagoda after New Year’s Eve or the first days of Lunar New Year.

Although both genders can visit pagodas, women visit them more often than men.

things to do on Tet holiday in Vietnam

The smell of incense smoke, the beauty of flowers, and the peace of the atmosphere will make people feel more peaceful during New Year. 

Receiving Parallel and Calligraphy pictures

vietnamese girls on tet holiday

Vietnamese people have traditions to receive parallel and Calligraphy photos from the Master (ông Đồ) on Tet Holiday.

When Vietnamese people go to the Tet market, they usually go through the market gate and ask for the Master, who gives a parallel sentence or a single word.

They often ask for the word or parallel to worship, hoping that their children will become good people when they grow up. The most popular terms are Tâm (Kindness), Phúc (Luck), Đức (Virtue), An (Peace), Lộc (Money), etc.

Nowadays, you can receive parallel and Calligraphy pictures on the street next to the Temple of Literature in Ha Noi or other pagodas.

The poem

Here is a poem about Ông Đồ – the Master (English version below)

Ông Đồ

Mỗi năm hoa đào nở
Lại thấy ông đồ già
Bày mực tàu giấy đỏ
Bên phố đông người qua.
Bao nhiêu người thuê viết
Tấm tắc ngợi khen tài
“Hoa tay thảo những nét
Như phượng múa rồng bay”.
Nhưng mỗi năm mỗi vắng
Người thuê viết nay đâu?
Giấy đỏ buồn không thắm;
Mực đọng trong nghiên sầu…
Ông đồ vẫn ngồi đấy,
Qua đường không ai hay,
Lá vàng rơi trên giấy;
Ngoài giời mưa bụi bay.
Năm nay đào lại nở,
Không thấy ông đồ xưa.
Những người muôn năm cũ
Hồn ở đâu bây giờ?

The Master

Peach blossoms bloomed every spring
There again, the old master came
With red paper and black ink
On the street, where the people claimed
They claimed to buy his writings,
And all praised him while buying
“Just a mere move of his hand
Turns strokes into a phoenix dance!”
But fewer buyers came each year
Admirers, where did they go…?
Unused ink laid like black tears;
Red paper dulled in sorrow
That old master just sat there
Among those who did not care.
On the dull red fallen dead leaves;
There fell soft rain with slight grief.
Another peach blossoms’ spring
Yet, the old master is not there.
Oh, where are they wandering
Old folks’ souls, we all forgot?

“Vuong Thu Trang translated the Master” in 2011, when she was a junior high school student (8th grader), with some edits by Prof. Nancy K. Napier. Trang is now a student at Sciences Po Paris, studying international relations and political sciences, with a Central European orientation.

Playing cards & Bingo

Tet is the time to try out your luck! From Bingo to cards, these folk games become an integral part of the Tet holiday. It makes the atmosphere more cheerful and enjoyable.

Visiting flower markets

Tet is the time to wander! The streets are charming with all the decorations and flower markets, so people usually hang out and observe these beauties.

It’s common to have some professional photoshoots at these flower markets too.

visiting flower market on Tet holiday in Vietnam

Things NOT to do on Tet Holiday

Here is the list of things you shouldn’t do on Tet Holiday.

  • Sweep the floor on the 1st day: It’s a big NO-NO! If you sweep your floor on the first day of the Tet Holiday, it means that you will sweep out all your luck, money, etc.
  • Throwing trash on the 1st day: If you throw the garbage away, it means that you throw away your luck as well, so you should avoid it.
  • Breaking things
  • Borrowing money
  • Paying Debts

Happy Tet! Wishing you a great year full of happiness, wealthiness, healthiness, and luck!

things to do on Tet holiday in Vietnam

Model: Hoa Truong

Photo credits: Yêu Chụp Ảnh, Ha Truong.

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  1. I really loved reading this post, and what excellent photos too! I wouldn’t mind having a Tet Holiday now, and cleansing out some of the old and replacing it! This sounds like a great holiday, and those traditional Vietnamese foods look delicious too.

    1. Ha Truong says:

      Thank you, Lisa. I’m glad that you like the post.

  2. Abigail Sinsona says:

    I am not familiar with the Vietnamese culture so it was interesting to know about the Tet Holiday. The idea of refreshing the house reminds me of a tradition that we have in our own country. I hope to experience Tet Holiday, or get to experience Vietnam someday.

    1. Ha Truong says:

      I also hope that you can visit Vietnam and enjoy Tet holiday one day :)

  3. What a beautiful holiday. It’s almost like a complete renewal for both your home and yourself for a new start each year. And what a lot of delicious treats to bring in the New Year. You look so happy in your photos :)

    1. Ha Truong says:

      Thank you, Heidi. A person in the photos is my sister. Tet holiday is a great start for everyone :)

  4. Kate Storm says:

    This is such a cool look into a cultural tradition! I had never heard of Tet before, or knew what it meant to Vietnamese people. Some of the items remind me of Christmas traditions in the west–TV specials, refreshing the house (because your relatives are coming!), time for family, etc. Others not so much–no sweeping or throwing out trash on day one–good to know! Lol.

    1. Ha Truong says:

      I totally agree that it’s quite similar to Christmas, when you have many people visiting your home :)
      Both celebrations are amazing!

  5. Dann Castillo says:

    This was such a beautiful post! I have read other articles about the Lunar New Year, but they are usually from the point of view of foreigners, so it was very nice and insightful to read this from a local perspective. I loved all the information you gave about the traditions and the typical food. I also think that watching TV specials with the family is super sweet. I would love to visit some day! Happy New Lunar Year!

    1. Ha Truong says:

      Happy Lunar New Year to you, Dann! I’m happy that you like the article :)

  6. The festivals in Vietnam are so colourful and vibrant. I particularly love the food there, especially banh mi and bun cha. I would love to try banh chung though. :) Cheers!!

    1. Ha Truong says:

      It’s great to hear that you love Vietnamese food. Although Banh Chung is a special cake for Tet Holiday, you can buy it at the supermarket daily.

  7. Lois Alter Mark says:

    I’ve never heard of Tet holiday before but I already love everything about it! It seems like such a special time – and a beautiful way to start a new year. I would love to visit Viet Nam during that time.

    1. Ha Truong says:

      Vietnam on Tet holiday is a bit quiet, but you can visit it after the 1st and 2nd day of Tet :)

  8. Rashmi and Chalukya says:

    The Tet holiday is very much like the Indian festival Diwali back home. We clean the house, discard old things and get new clothes pretty much the same. Banh Chung sounds delicious sad to know that the tradition is fading with no much cake makers remaining. Family Reunion is always of our favorite part of festivals and Tet holiday sounds like one wonderful family celebration.

    1. Ha Truong says:

      Thank you, Rashmi, for sharing. It’s interesting to know about Indian festival Diwali. I would love to experience that celebration one day :)

  9. Francesca Murray says:

    The photos on this post are so beautiful!

    I didn’t know much about how the Vietnamese celebrate the lunar new year. I didn’t even know it was called Tet. I learned a lot from your post. I think it’s interesting how cleaning the house is a big part of ringing in the new year. I like it, it’s like starting fresh.

    1. Ha Truong says:

      Thank you, Francesca. Tet holiday is a time to start new things, so cleaning house is really important for us :)

  10. Lily Nguyen says:

    I accidentally read this article when I was searching for an idea for my test. This is really an article with high cultural value, basic sentences and not difficult to understand all of this. I am Vietnamese I feel very proud of what you have conveyed in this article! Very excellent!!!

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