Full Moon Lantern Festival

An enchanting experience

Photo of , , Hoi An

What we say: 4.5 stars

If you happen to be in Hoi An on the 14th day of any lunar month, you'll be treated to central Vietnam's version of a full moon party.

Totally unrelated to Thailand's rave party full moon events, the Hoi An lantern festival is an age-old tradition that sees the entire old town shut off electricity, close to traffic and transform into a magical melange of flickering candles, multi-coloured lanterns and lively gatherings.

Locals come together from all over the area for the event, which is a time for them to honour their ancestors by offering fruit, flowers, candles and incense to them in exchange for good luck and prosperity. This is a great time for a temple visit -- each of the town's pagodas are awash with activities, all free of charge. Fujian Assembly Hall on Tran Phu Street hosts an inspiring gathering of local fishing families honouring Lady Thien Hau, goddess of the sea. Other entertainment includes local street musicians playing traditional instruments, poetry readings, Chinese chess matches by candlelight and other traditional games and theatrics.

The festival is also a great opportunity to sample cheap and delicious vegetarian street food, including moon cakes, which consist of a mix of green bean and lotus seeds and are tastier than they sound. If wanting to understand everything you're seeing, take advantage of Hoi An Free Tours, a group of local young people who offer free tours simply as a way to practise their English. The festival is a crowded affair so be prepared to be bumped into a bit, dress appropriately so as to respect the local customs and of course watch for pickpockets.

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After years of camping in her back garden in the New Forest, Caroline Mills’ parents went wild and jetted her off to Morocco where her dream of becoming a traveling belly dancer was born.

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