Ho Chi Minh city is an exhilarating, cheerful metropolis that boasts of being the biggest economic center in Vietnam. Located on the banks of river Saigon, this city is home to a variety of festivals and cultures, and comprises of people from various ethnicities. And while the city is known for its historical buildings as well as museums, it is the festivals in Ho Chi Minh city that really attract the tourists.
Dance to the drums and sing along. Showcasing different cultures and traditions, here is a list of 10 breathtaking festivals in Ho Chi Minh city:
1. Whale Festival
In this festival, people worship and respect Whales as god. They believe Whales are the ones that save the fishermen as well as the people living on the coast from dangers caused by strong winds or big waves. The festival consists of various ceremonies, the ‘Gentlemen Greeting Ceremony’ being the most important and popular ceremony.
When: 15th -17th day of the 8th lunatic month
Where: Can Thanh Commune, Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh city
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2. Tết Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival)
This beautiful festival features children all over buying, or even making lanterns for themselves. They can also be seen indulging in activities like lion dances or even setting up food booths selling fruits, sweets, etc. The idea behind this festival is to bring an animal or person down from the moon. Hence, the children lighting lanterns acts as an enlightened path for the animal or person coming down.
When: 15th day of 8th lunar month
3. Tết Trung Nguyên or Lễ Vu Lan (Ghost Festival)
This unique festival is celebrated with a thought of wishing that a dead relative’s soul is exempted of any punishments in his/her next life. It is also known as the annual Wandering Souls day. People visit Buddhist temples as well as the graves of their dead relatives to offer prayers, fruits, flowers, etc. Chilled dishes like banh troi and banh chay are usually eaten in every household and hence, this festival is also called as the ‘Cold Food Festival’.
When: 15th day of 7th lunar month
4. Ba Thien Hau Pagoda
This festival celebrates the birth anniversary of Thien Hau, a deity of the Chinese. Ba Thien Hau Pagoda is an ancient Chinese temple dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea. Many Chinese make two effigies Ong Thien and Ong Ac, which means a good god and a bad god, respectively. These effigies are burnt down as offerings at the end of the festival.
When: 23rd day of the 3rd lunar month
Where: Ba Thien Hau Pagoda
5. Ky Yen Festival
This festival consists of various interesting, exciting ceremonies and activities that manage to attract the local people as well as many of the tourists in Vietnam. It is celebrated over three days where the first day takes you through prayers, rites, martial arts and traditional dances, etc. according to the southern tradition. Whereas, on the remaining two days, all ceremonies are carried out according to northern tradition.
When: 16th to the 18th day of the first lunar month
Where: Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
6. Tet Doan Ngo (Mid-Year Festival)
Also known as the worm-killing festival, this is when almost all the farmers begin killing worms on their fields. After the lunar new year, everyone in Vietnam works really hard until the Tet Doan Ngo. This festival provides people with a much-needed break as they indulge in parties as well as offer various delicacies to their ancestors.
When: 5th day of the fifth lunar month
Where: Throughout the city
7. Phan Cong Hon Temple Festival
This festival is celebrated to worship and respect Phan Cong Hon, who led the people of 18 hamlets of Betel Garden, fighting against an attack on the District Chief’s residence in 1885. And although he died while doing so, he helped the villagers escape from repression and oppression. The death anniversary held every year resembles the genie worshipping ceremony.
When: 25th day of second lunar month
Where: Ba Diem Commune, Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh city
8. Gentleman Pagoda Festival
Gentleman Pagoda is an ancient temple built in 1835 with traditional Chinese architecture. People come here to worship Quan Wu, a general in the Three Kingdom period. Gentleman Pagoda Festival includes comprises of many customs and ceremonies. People in Vietnam indulge in activities like bathing statues, dancing lion as well as performing folk opera.
When: 24th day of the sixth lunar month.
Where: 676 – 678 Nguyen Trai, District 5, Ho Chi Minh city
9. The Earth God Temple Festival
This festival is organized in order to respect and worship Phuc Duc Chinh God along with other folk gods. Ceremonies and activities such as welcoming gods with folk opera, performing comedy, performance by various folk artists, etc. are carried out during this festival. This is a well-known festival amongst all the temple festivals in Ho chi Minh city.
When: 2nd day of the second lunar month
Where: 125 Le Loi Street, Ward 3, Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh city.
10. Tet (New Year)
Tet is an important and one of the most popular festivals in Vietnam. The thought behind celebrating this festival is to begin the year on a good note, with all your loved ones by your side. People return back to their hometowns to be with their families. During Tet, you can see a floating flower market in the city. Also, make sure to stop by Dam Sen during Tet.
When: On the first three days of the first lunar month
Plan your next vacation to Vietnam and experience these vibrant 10 festivals in Ho Chi Minh city. These festivals are a harbinger of joy and light in the life of Vietnamese locals. The locals are more than welcoming of guests during this time and make it a point to ensure that all the guests receive the best hospitality.
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