Hoi An Lantern Festival, perhaps more than any other place or festival in the country, symbolizes the allure of Vietnam. Lanterns and their magical glow are synonymous with Hoi An, and they shine brightly every month during the Hoi An Lantern Festival.
In this article, we will explore the fascinating Hoi An Lantern Festival in Vietnam. Immerse yourself in the unique tapestry of traditions that make the Hoi An Lantern Festival an experience unlike any other. Enjoy colorful boat rides down the river and be captivated by awe-inspiring performances and age-old rituals!
Historical Background Of Hoi An Lantern Festival
Hoi An Lantern Festival, or Hoi An Full Moon Lantern Festival, has changed throughout the years while retaining its traditional core. This is due to its profound historical origins. In this section, we will learn more about the history of the monthly full moon celebrations.
Festival Origins And Traditional Roots
Hoi An Lantern Festival began in the 16th century under the affluent Nguyen Dynasty. It included aspects of devotion, good fortune beliefs, and lantern-making art, influenced by Chinese and Japanese traders. Vietnamese characteristics like music, dancing, and cuisine were also included in the festival, resulting in a unique cultural fusion.
Full Moon Lantern Festival Evolution Through The Years
The Hoi An Lantern Festival has adapted to modern times while keeping its traditional charm. Wars, political movements, and cultural changes have all had an impact on its evolution. Tourism and worldwide recognition have propelled its expansion in recent decades, bringing economic prosperity and inspiring further innovations.
Festival’s Cultural And Religious Influences
Hoi An Lantern Festival reflects Buddhist and Confucian elements. Lanterns represent the quest for knowledge, enlightenment, good fortune, and wealth. Lantern superstitions, such as expressing wishes and prayers, add to the festival’s importance. Ancestral worship is also essential, with families honoring their ancestors by lighting colorful paper lanterns and bridging past and current generations.
Celebration Of Hoi An Lantern Festival
In this part, we shall explore further the Hoi An Lantern Festival’s timeliness and beautiful ambiance. Discover when this captivating event occurs and immerse yourself in the lovely ambiance that emerges as the town comes alive with brilliant lanterns!
Related Article: Discover Hoi An Ancient Town
When Is Hoi An Lantern Festival Held?
Hoi An Lantern Festival takes place on the 14th day of the lunar month, which marks the full moon, from 6 to around 10 pm. Most people prefer to arrive early, often before 6 p.m., so they can enjoy dinner and the sunset before the glimmering colorful lanterns steal the show. The festival is celebrated in and around the old town, particularly in areas near the Hoai River, the Hoi Bridge, and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Although the Hoi An Lantern Festival is a monthly celebration on the lunar calendar, we suggest taking into account Hoi An’s climate and seasons when visiting. The dry season in the region runs from February to September, which is probably the ideal time to visit. Unless you are a fan of tropical storms, the monsoon season (October – February) is not the best time for a visit.
If you’re heading to Hoi An but can’t make the festival, check out some of the best things to do in Hoi An.
How Does The Hoi An Lantern Festival Take Place?
During the Hoi An Lantern Festival, the town takes on a captivating transformation. From around 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., vehicles in the area come to a standstill, and the electric lights in residences, restaurants, and coffee shops are turned off. As a result, the entire neighborhood is lighted by the full moon’s splendor and innumerable lanterns, creating a genuinely magical scene.
You may easily stroll about and immerse yourself in the calm ambiance if you visit during this time. It is also an excellent opportunity to observe amazing performances along the river, including music and poetry recitals. Furthermore, different traditional activities, like folk games, are planned to add to the celebratory ambiance. Your senses will be delighted not just by visual wonders but also by exquisite street dishes that await your tasting pleasure at the Hoi An Lantern Festival.
Best Things To Do At Hoi An Lantern Festival
Step into the enchanted world of the Hoi An Lantern Festival, where ancient traditions and bright colors collide. This section highlights the greatest activities available during this wonderful festival, ranging from candlelit boat trips along the Thu Bon River to enthralling cultural events.
1. Taste Your Buds With Delicious Local Food
Hoi An is home to some of the best food in Vietnam. Although there is a wide range of cosmopolitan options available, as you’re probably in town for just a few days, we suggest going for local fare.
Specialties in the region worth trying include:
- Cao Lau (roasted pork, greens, and rice noodles): The resemblance of Cao Lau to soba noodles in this dish reflects the Japanese historical influence in Hoi An;
- Com Ga Hoi An (chicken rice): This dish, which exemplifies Chinese-influenced cuisine in Hoi An, is much like the Hainanese chicken rice found in nearby Singapore and Malaysia. The only difference is that the chicken is shredded, and it usually features local herbs and greens on the side;
- Mi Quang (rice noodles tossed with pork, prawns, and fresh herbs): one of the classic pork dishes in Vietnam, These noodles come with a delicious broth and local herbs.
If you still have an appetite after dinner, you’re in luck. Delicious street food stalls pop up all over Hoi An in the evening. The following street foods are all readily available at street vendors and busy night markets:
- Banh bao (steamed rice dumplings)
- Banh beo (local steamed rice pancakes with dried pork and shrimp)
- Tasty moon cakes (filled with sweet red bean paste)
- Banh Xoai (mango cake)
- Xi ma (black sesame pudding)
For more information on Vietnamese cuisine, check out our list of 10 Vietnamese dishes you might not know existed.
2. Visit Hoi An’s Famous Landmarks And Pagodas
Hoi An is home to several renowned landmarks that showcase the city’s diverse cultural influences, and these sites truly shine during the Lantern Festival.
- The Japanese covered bridge, an iconic attraction dating back to the 18th century, exudes romance and beauty. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture a photo here, even if you’re visiting solo.
- Tan Ky Old House, which is considered the most beautiful and ancient house in Hoi An, is a must-see. Here you’ll get insight into how the locals live in harmony with Hoi An’s historical architecture.
- The Cantonese Assembly Hall, constructed in 1885, reflects Hoi An’s strong historical ties to China. Although initially built for trade purposes, the hall is now filled with historical artifacts and paintings, and it operates as a pagoda-cum-meeting point for local Hoa (overseas Chinese) people.
- The Quang Cong temple is situated in the heart of the ancient town. Adorned with auspicious gold and red colors, the complex houses ancient statues, paintings, and artifacts. During the full moon festival, you’ll witness Vietnamese traditions as locals pay homage to shrines and partake in rituals believed to bring good fortune and health.
Observe locals burning fake money bills, illuminating vibrant lanterns, and offering fruits and incense as a way to honor ancestors and invite prosperity—a common sight that reflects their cultural practices.
3. Enjoy Local Arts And Music Performances
As you wander through the enchanting ancient town, you’ll be delighted by the vibrant activities taking place. Locals can be seen engaged in lively games of Chinese chess, captivating folk performances, and mesmerizing live music. The traditional music, often featuring bamboo flutes, fiddles, and drums, accompanies beautiful folk singing and poetry recitals.
A highlight of the Hoi An Lantern Festival is the immensely popular Bai Choi, a local traditional performance that combines music, poetry, and acting. This captivating show showcases songs and poetry that depict the local pride in traditional life and work within Quang Nam province. It was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage in 2017.
Amidst the melodic performances, spectators can also participate in a card drawing game reminiscent of bingo. Whether you decide to join in or simply soak up the joyful atmosphere, the presence of good-natured fun and games adds to the overall festive spirit of the Hoi An Lantern Festival.
4. Buy Handmade Lanterns Locally
Lantern making in Hoi An has been a cherished tradition for over four centuries, with over 30 lantern workshops and 200 shops dedicated to selling these exquisite creations.
In contrast to lanterns found in Japan, China, or Thailand, which are often made of nylon and flammable paper, Hoi An lanterns boast a more luxurious and vibrant finish, thanks to their cloth and silk construction. Skilled artisans meticulously craft the lantern frames using dried-aged bamboo, shaping them into various designs, including iconic animals from Vietnamese culture and mythology like dragons and phoenixes.
The result is a marvelously delicate, intricate, and one-of-a-kind lantern that is worth considering purchasing. Prices for these lanterns typically range from 10,000 to 20,000 VND, depending on the size. Hoi An lanterns make exceptional gifts for family and friends, and they provide an immersive way to participate in the traditional full moon festival celebrations.
Did you know that you can also have custom-made clothes in Hoi An? Check out our article on tailor-made clothes to learn more.
5. Take A Sampan Ride On The Hoai River
The sampan, a traditional wooden boat found throughout Southeast Asia, offers an ideal way to immerse yourself in the magical ambiance of the Hoi An Lantern Festival. Renting a sampan is easily accessible; simply approach one of the boaters and negotiate the rental. By following our tips on Vietnamese culture and negotiation, you can expect to pay approximately 100,000 VND for an hour.
Don’t forget to bring your own lantern on board. You can gently release it onto the water, where it will gracefully float among a captivating sea of floating lanterns. It is believed that lanterns released on the Hoai River bring good fortune and love. As you relax and appreciate the tranquil surroundings and the shimmering candlelit water, you will likely understand the enchantment behind this belief.
6. Snap A Picture Before You Leave!
With the restriction of vehicles, bicycles, and fluorescent lights after 8 p.m., you have the freedom to wander the charming streets of Hoi An. Even if you don’t manage to visit all the sites, strolling through the ancient town and admiring the captivating lanterns that illuminate Hoi An will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of this grand celebration.
Whether you are a skilled photographer or not, capturing moments of Hoi An’s lantern festival is a must. As one of Vietnam’s most picturesque destinations, even amateur photographers would find it challenging to take a bad photo here, so don’t hesitate to capture the magic with your camera.
For more information on Hoi An and the surrounding region, check out our guides to Danang, Hue, and Hoi An.
Ready To Explore Hoi An Lantern Festival?
Finally, the Hoi An Lantern Festival is a remarkable festival that enchants tourists with its wonderful ambiance and cultural depth. You will be charmed by the beauty, tradition, and sense of community that pervades the festival as you walk around the historic town, observing the lit streets and engaging in time-honored customs.
Hoi An Lantern Festival offers a memorable trip through the heart and spirit of this charming Vietnamese town, whether it’s releasing lanterns on the river, touring historical monuments, or indulging in local specialties.
Excited To Discover Hoi An?
With our special day trip, you will embark on a memorable journey through the enchanting streets of Hoi An. Our knowledgeable guides will weave intriguing stories while giving unique insights into Hoi An’s rich past.
Don’t pass up this chance to discover Hoi An’s beauties in a single day, generating memories that will last a lifetime. Join us on these wonderful day tours and let the magic of Hoi An enchant your senses.