In Vietnam around Christmastime, sparkling decorations and Vietnamese-dubbed Christmas carols are everywhere. Like many other Asian countries, Vietnamese people love Christmas. And spending your Christmas in Vietnam is not a bad idea at all. In a tropical country where it’s sunny and not snowy at Christmas, there are lots of things to do for you to enjoy this special occasion of the year.
In this article, we will introduce some lovely ideas to spend your Christmas in Vietnam as well as other necessary information for your Vietnam tours.
Vietnam weather in Christmas
You can expect a pleasant Christmas experience in Vietnam in December. About Vietnam weather in December, the average temperature in the North Delta is from 8 to 14 Celsius degree. It’s perfect for roaming on Hanoi street, cruise on Halong Bay, or take a row trip in Ninh Binh.
Meanwhile, it gets more sunny towards the south as the temperature ranges from 26 to 28 degree Celcius. With this summer and fall’s temperature, you probably do not need winter socks, snowproof jackets, scarves, and wool hats anymore. Sound unfamiliar yet?
But if you opt for a genuine winter-like experience, mountainous northern Vietnam is your best bet. In places such as Sapa, Ha Giang and Mu Cang Chai, the temperature may drop to about 0 degree Celcius. There will be snow occasionally.
>>Suggested Ha Giang tours: Explore Unfold Ha Giang 5 Days
Christmas traditions in Vietnam
In Vietnam, Christmas is for everyone who enjoys the holiday spirits.
Christmas spirits in Vietnam starts as early as at the beginning of December. At this time, all of the locals’ trending songs are already replaced by Christmas songs at the mall. From Jingle Bells to Last Christmas, jolly tunes are all over the street. Not all Vietnamese understand the lyrics (if there were no Vietnamese versions), but they love them anyway.
As Christmas is not a public holiday in Vietnam and people still have to work on December 25th, the highlight of Christmas is the midnight mass, not Christmas day.
During midnight mass in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, thousands of people gathered at Saint Joseph Church and Notre Dame Cathedral (Which is the Christian symbols in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City respectively). The locals enjoy the Christmas vibe, go shopping and take pictures. If you are in Hanoi (or Ho Chi Minh city), please expect the road to be much crowded than usuals. Especially in Vietnam, there will be certain areas that are packed with scooters.
Vietnamese children love Santa as well. So much that they want to dress like him. As a result, towards the end of the year in Vietnam, you can find many tiny Santas on the street. Also, just like in Western countries, they are also excited to receive lots of gifts from the red-suit man.
Vietnamese people enjoy doing gift-exchange as well. The tradition is not only celebrated among families, friends, and colleges but also in a broader community. Christmas is an occasion to give away for the less fortunate.
Christmas Food in Vietnam
For Christian people, their Christmas traditional includes the midnight mass and a Christmas dinner afterward. Same as French people, some affluent families celebrate reveillon. They also eat bûche de Noël – a log-like Christmas signature cake.
It’s difficult to find turkey in supermarkets. Therefore, you should go to hotels and western restaurants to have Christmas dinner. Although prices may vary, for a meal at a 5-star hotel, it would cost about US$100. The meal comes with a turkey, traditional stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes. And you can book it in advance too.
Most major hotels in cities will serve Christmas dinner. And if you are in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city, there are many Western restaurants offering the dinner as well. So you need not worry about Christmas food in Vietnam.
Christmas decorations in Vietnam
Christmas in Vietnam can make you feel like home since Christmas ornaments are everywhere. It is very Christmasy in malls or in many clothing and coffee shops. Many churches also decorate nativity crib scenes with life-size statues of Mary, Joesph, Jesus, and the animals.
If you are in Hanoi during Christmas, remember to take a look at Hang Ma street. The whole street is for selling decorations. And during this wonderful time of the years, it is sparkling with Christmas bells, pine trees, snowflakes. So many Christmas ornaments at a place that even you may be surprised.
However, as festive as it can be, most Vietnamese people do not understand the meaning of Christmas. Thus, there are not many families decorations for Christmas in their own house. Christmas decor is mostly for the public sphere: schools, malls, shops and such.
>> Suggested Hanoi tours: Hanoi Walking Tour
Things to do and the best place for Christmas in Vietnam
There is plenty of things to do in Vietnam on this special occasion of the year. If you are planning for a Christmas holiday in Vietnam, here are our suggestions to make the best out of it.
Blend in the Christmas atmosphere in Saint Joseph Church in Hanoi
20 bucks are what you have to pay for a Santa outfit in Hanoi. And you might want to consider having one if you are enthusiastic about Christmas.
In Hanoi, the midnight mass happens around the Old Quarter area. Get ready to wander around Saint Joseph church as well as Hang Ma street to see how lively it can be. If you wish for a more serene experience, you may want to rest in a coffee shop in the Hanoi Old Quarter. This way, you can feel the hectic Christmas moment out there while sipping your favorite Vietnamese coffee.
Visit the Christian community in Saigon
In terms of bizarre Christmas celebrations, Saigon is even more than Hanoi. Thus, you can totally enjoy a midnight mass in Saigon streets. Some popular hiking spots are Notre Dame Cathedral, Ben Thanh market, Crescent Malls, Bui Vien walking streets, etc.
However, a more local thing-to-do is to visit the Christian Community in Pham The Hien street. Lots of Christian in Saigon gathered here and there are three churches on the street alone. It is decorated with sparkling decorations and intricate nativity displays. People there also perform crib scenes – a not-so-popular activity in Vietnam. They have a strong faith and they would love to make their street look holy at Christmas.
>> Suggested Saigon tours: Saigon After Dark On Vespa Tour
Enjoy the real cold of winter in Sapa
As the weather is colder than Sapa, and in some years, there is even snow, you can expect a cold Christmas experience there.
During Christmas, Sapa people often gather in the square in front of the Sapa church, which is also the symbol of the city. They would sing, dance and sell traditional brocade in a holistic yet tribal ambiance.
But if you want to escape the frenzy of Christmas, there are always other interesting stuff to try in Sapa. How about staying in the tribal house and talk to the locals from ethnic minority groups? Or have a taste of local cuisines and listen to Sapa’s traditional music performance.
However, as Sapa is a popular destination for domestic travel during Christmas, there may be lots of people in this city around the 24th, 25th of December.
In this case, you may want to be quick at hotel booking before all rooms are reserved. Helps from travel consultants are always useful because we would know which hotels/ homestay suits you best.
>> Suggested Sapa tours: Exploring Sapa 3 Days By Land
Have a cozy Christmas dinner in Halong Bay Cruise
December is the ideal time to visit Halong Bay – Vietnam’s wonder of nature. You can immerse yourself in the geological paradise of water, islets, and sky of Halong Bay, visit different stunning caves and beaches, and take part in fun outdoor activities such as kayaking or swimming while doing Halong bay tours.
Moreover, it is common for cruise members in Halong to set up a Christmas themed dinner on board at Christmas. Thus, it seems to be a perfect experience to celebrate your Christmas traditional dinner in the stunning setting of Halong Bay.
Visit church and temples in Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is well famous for its stunning landscape of mountains, rivers, and temples. Embark on your rowboat and you will find yourself on an unprecedented journey through lush paddy fields and beautiful caves.
On your trip, you can visit Phat Diem church. The church’s architecture is mesmerizing with the unique combination of French and Chinese architecture. Be there on Christmas night, you can enjoy the holy spirits in Phat Diem church, which is even better since it’s surrounded by nature.
>> Suggested Ninh Binh tours: Exclusive Trip Pu Luong To Ninh Binh 4 Days
Do beach hop in Nha Trang
It’s sunny and warm in Nha Trang in December. And you can spend your whole day relaxedly lying around in Nha Trang’s beautiful beaches. Christmas meals are also easy to find in Nha Trang because the city has lots of hotels and resorts. These hotels often have menu options for Christmas with tasty wine and good food.
But if you do not care so much about Christmas dinner, you can relish seafood in local restaurants. After all, it is a coastal city and the seafood is fresh, delicious and various.
What’s more? Since Nha Trang has a big Christian community, you can find lots of churches in the town and enjoy a local Christmas atmosphere there.
“Merry Christmas” in Vietnamese
That’s pretty much what you need to know about Ho ho holiday in Vietnam. Christmas is a magical time and it’s gonna be even more magical while you are traveling. Whenever you are, traveling or not, our team of Indochina Voyages wishes you a wonderful Christmastime and a Happy new year with your loved ones. Or as this is how we say Merry Christmas in Vietnamese:
Giáng Sinh an lành
/zɑŋ sɪŋ ɑn lɑŋ/
Suggested Vietnam tours 2020
Chi Tran – Travel Specialist