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Vietnam forum

Tet Festival 2011

Posted by banana8 on 8/8/2010 at 01:24

Hello all,

I've just realised that I will be in Vietnam over the Tet festival (3rd Feb). I've heard that everything tends to shut down over the celebrations and I'm a bit worried about being able to get transport etc.
I was planning on being in Hoi An or Hue over that period- does anyone have any advice in what would be the better location to be in? and how much I would have to get there before the festival starts/ how soon I could get away after? I was also hoping to do a DMZ tour in Hue but I'm not sure if they will run during the festival period?
I think the extra time I would have to spend in Vietnam as a result would also mean that I would be there over a month, so would need a 3 month tourist visa. I was wondering how easy they are to get and how long they take in Phnom Penh?

Alternatively, I was planning on heading to Guilin China (I know it's not technically covered by this board!!) after Vietnam, and so could fly up there early from Ho Chi Minh City and spend Chinese New Year there. Does anyone know how easy it is to get a Chinese tourist visa in Saigon? and how soon after the festival I could catch a bus or train to back to Hanoi via Nanning from Guilin?

Sorry for all the questions! It just seems to have put a bit of a spanner in the works of all my plans, but I'm sure it is an amazing time to be in the region.

Thanks a lot!

#1 banana8 has been a member since 27/7/2010. Posts: 10

Posted by rawjer on 8/8/2010 at 07:50

I was in a similar situation this year, arriving in Hanoi about a week before Tet, and I eventually spent 4 months total in Vietnam.

You really shouldn't have any problems. Tet is mostly a family holiday, and most of the tourist stuff continues with only a slight rest. I was looking for Halong Bay tours at that time, and was surprised when a few of the operators said they were doing tours on Tet itself, and every day before and after. Others did stop for a day or two.

When I was in Hanoi I was worried that most of the city would shut down for a whole week, but it turned out that most restaurants did close on Tet itself (though enough were open that it wasn't a problem), and then each following day more would open back up. So by the 4th day after Tet pretty much everything was open and back to normal again.

One annoying thing is they raise prices on a lot of things for Tet week, including beer.

For the transport it's just a matter of everything being sold out if you can't buy early. Also, prices are raised by maybe 20% for everything during that time. I believe you can book trains and buses online (for an extra fee) so if you did that soon you could go any day you wanted.

If you waited until you got there then most everything will be sold out for about a week after Tet. I bought a Hanoi-Hue train ticket just after Tet and went in a 1st class soft sleeper one week later. If I'd gone with a hard sleeper I could have gone a couple days earlier.

I enjoyed Hoi An much more than Hue, and it has a larger tourist district so there should be more options during Tet, so if you can choose I'd stay in Hoi An then. Those two are fairly close to each other so you might even be able to get a bus between them with a day or two notice.

I was also surprised that hotels seemed very easy to get during that period. I was considering several different options, including Hoi An, and all of them said they had rooms available just a week or two before. The holiday doesn't really affect tourists much at all.

If you can you should get the Visa on Arrival. They are probably easy enough to get in Phnom Penh, but the VOA is cheaper and easier. There are many threads on this board about it.

I've no idea about the China visa thing. Good luck.

#2 rawjer has been a member since 20/1/2010. Posts: 104
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Posted by 69bertie on 8/8/2010 at 16:13

Posted from within Vietnam.

You'll probably have the same sort of problems in China, the two holidays being side by side with transportation etc booked up solid.

Down South (HCMC), nigh on everything, shop wise, grinds to a halt for about 3 days. As rawjer says some tourist things run, others don't. Usually things start to get busy about a week before. But it is the last 2-3 days before Tet that things can get manic. Hotels would tend to be easier to get into (the ones that stay open) as Tet is a family occasion and as such people go home.

One last point, if you are thinking about a VOA for Vietnam, these can only be picked up at the international airports, not at land crossings. If going through a land crossing you'll need to visit an embassy.

Can't help with the Chinese visa.

#3 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90

Posted by banana8 on 9/8/2010 at 02:20

Thank you very much for your help. I think I'll just have to book transport and accommodation well in advance and sit Tet out in Hoi An if I decide to stay in Vietnam. Hopefully it will all work-out ok!

#4 banana8 has been a member since 27/7/2010. Posts: 10

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