Although Tet (Lunar New Year) is the largest and lengthiest public holiday in Vietnam, signifying a time for local people to reunite with their families and loved ones, many expats argue that it is perhaps the least favorable time to visit or stay in the country.
The festive Tet celebration, occurring in February this year, manifests in various forms like family reunions, visits to pagodas, the donning of new outfits, engaging in lion dances, participating in parties, exploring fairs, and embarking on tours.
Leading up to Tet, locals engage in shopping for foodstuffs and festive decorations, undertake house cleaning, and individuals working or residing far from home make the journey back to their hometowns to celebrate the holiday with their families.
As Tet approaches, the influx of people returning home results in a significant decrease in the usual hustle and bustle of major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
During this period, most businesses and shops shut down for approximately one week, creating a somewhat inconvenient situation for certain expats living in these areas.
Besides, Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Phu Quoc were not considered among the top five must-visit Vietnamese cities during Tet according to many foreign readers, who responded to Tuoi Tre News’ recent stories ‘5 cities in Vietnam listed among top Asian destinations for Tet holiday’ and ‘Hate it or love it: Is Tet the best or worst time in Vietnam?'
A reader called Micheal Bullion expressed his disagreement with the suggested five cities and said he did not recommend these destinations to foreigners.
“The best thing to do is to leave Vietnam during Tet. It's overpriced and boring for a foreigner,” Bullion commented.
He suggested foreign tourists should visit the country after Tet when daily activities return to normal and prices are not exorbitant.
Likewise, a Facebook user named Travis T Costa expressed reservations about considering Vietnam an ideal destination to visit or reside during Tet, citing it as the least favorable time to experience the Southeast Asian country.
“Everything is more expensive, hotels are crammed and all the tourist spots are even more overcrowded than usual,” Costa commented.
He further mentioned that during Tet, local residents predominantly return to their hometowns, and many service providers temporarily suspend their operations.
Thus he advised international visitors to consider visiting Vietnam at other times of the year for a more vibrant and accessible experience.
Rohan Barks, hailing from Australia, agreed that Tet was the worst time of the year to visit Vietnam.
For long dwellers like Christophe Van Kriekingen, another reader who claimed to come from Belgium, “Tet is the perfect time to get out of the country.”
These five Vietnamese cities, especially Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, were also dubbed ‘ghost towns’ during Tet by several other readers.
The most prevalent reasons cited were the scarcity of services in major cities, overcrowding, and exorbitant prices in popular tourist destinations.
In contrast, a few foreigners praised the upsides of Tet in the comment section under the stories.
To a reader named Daniel Sternberg, Ho Chi Minh City during Tet is perfect for riding a motorbike, for there is little traffic in this southern city.
John Fawcett, an expat in Ho Chi Minh City, commented that the city becomes quiet with little traffic and less pollution during the holiday.
“I would say the best overall,” Walter Yousseph expressed his opinion about Tet in Vietnam.
Frank Nadler, coming from Germany and currently staying in Hanoi, revealed in his comment that he had prepared envelopes with lucky money to give to those in need during this Lunar New Year festival.