Dec 19 2012
Christmas may not be a Vietnamese holiday, but you’d never guess it: Hanoi is already decked with holly and baubles, and for those of you from the northern hemisphere the weather’s the right side of 20 degrees Celsius as well. Enjoy your Christmas in Hanoi at one of the hotels or restaurants or attend a church service.
If you want to indulge in a Christmas feast, try one of the five-star hotels, most of which are hosting a dinner on Christmas Eve and/or the day itself. But don’t expect turkey and roast potatoes: some menus include token traditional dishes – usually with a twist — but most are more eclectic. All offer special prices for children, with a gift from Santa.
On Christmas Eve the Movenpick looks like the best value option, with a buffet dinner for 920,000 VND++ including free flow soft drinks, beer and house wine. Or blow the budget and check out Le Beaulieu at the Sofitel Metropole Legend: a mere US$150 gets you an eight-course meal. It may be pricey but the hotel has gone to town on its (tasteful) decorations and is supporting the Hoa Binh (Peace) Humanitarian Village — a specialist school and medical centre providing relief to child victims of agent orange, dioxin poisoning and other mental and physical disabilities.
Newer addition, the Hotel de l’Opera, is also getting in on the act with a Christmas Eve Gala dinner including free flow wine – optional – and accompanied by flamenco dancing and Christmas carols. A children’s buffet is also available. The Intercontinental on West Lake has a family Christmas Eve party in its Grand Ballroom and a Vietnamese menu in its Saigon restaurant.
On Christmas Day both Le Beaulieu and the Metropole’s Italian restaurant, Angelina, will be hosting lunch and dinnertime sittings for US$60 to US$100. The Sheraton’s evening buffet includes champagne, beer, wine and soft drinks as well as gifts for the kids for 1,420,000 VND /person and at the Hotel de l’Opera you can choose from a sumptuous buffet brunch or an a la carte menu.
The fancier restaurants are also cooking-up special Christmas menus. Don’s on Tay Ho has a Canadian Christmas feast on the 24th and 25th for 750,000 VND++ and Green Mango in Old Quarter is offering a five-course tasting menu with vegetarian option, including mulled wine and champagne — a glass rather than a bottle I presume — for 920,000 VND++. For its first Christmas in operation, Pots ‘n Pans has created a set Christmas menu which is available throughout December and has a Christmas Eve banquet for 850,000 VND++.
Booking in advance is essential for all above locations.
For a cheaper option, try Hanoi Backpackers’ Hostel which will be throwing a Barrels By Candle Light party on Christmas Eve and a Christmas spread for lunch on the 25th. Pop in to 9 Ma May for more details.
If you’re craving Christmas goodies then pop along to Hanoi Cooking Centre on Chau Long, which is selling mince pies, christmas pudding, panforte and brandy butter. Or take the kids to its Gingerbread House cooking class, running on December 22.
For those wanting to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, Hanoi International Fellowship is holding Christmas Eve services at the Fortuna Hotel, Lang Ha at 17:00 and 19:00 with the former being a family friendly service. Hanoi International Church will be holding service on Christmas morning, December 25 at 10:30 at the Hanoi Club on Yen Phu.
Cua Bac Catholic Church at 56 Phan Dinh Phung is holding an English language service at midnight on Christmas Eve and at 10:30 on Christmas day. Activities at St Joseph’s Cathedral on Nha Tho are still to be confirmed.
Finally, if you want to dress for the occasion, head to Hang Ma where reindeer headbands, tinsel and even full Santa costumes are available for sale.
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