Like many countries around the world, the 31st of December marks a day of celebration across Vietnam, especially in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang. And while Tet or better known as Vietnamese New Year holds more weight in Vietnam, the Western new year (1st of January) also has great value and sees new year parties thrown across the country and celebrated by both foreigners and Vietnamese alike.
Looking to revel in the joyous festivities taking place and wish your Vietnamese friends a happy new year but haven't fully grasped the Vietnamese language? Read on for some cultural insight and Vietnamese phrases promised to impress your Vietnamese friends this New Year. Hopefully, this will inspire you to learn Vietnamese! Chúc mừng năm mới!
How Do Vietnamese People Celebrate The New Year?
Western New Year’s Day is also known in Vietnamese as “Tết Tây” which literally means Western Tet. In Vietnam, Tet is the most important celebration and is a celebration of the arrival of the New Year based on the Lunar Calendar, with the first day of the year falling in January or February in the Gregorian calendar. It is an important occasion and Vietnamese people usually gather with their families to express their respects for ancestors and usher in new year wishes!
However, under the French Colonial rule, the Western calendar was adopted and Western New Year has since become a joyous occasion enjoyed by many throughout Vietnam. Though not widely regarded as a traditional holiday in Vietnam nor does it have any customs or traditions associated with it, Western New Year often sees many family reunions exchanging festive wishes (often 'good luck' and 'good health) during the new year celebration.
Young Vietnamese on the other hand often gather together for meals, leisure activities, movies and photography. In the weeks leading up to the New Year, popular streets, shops, convention centres and large buildings are flanked with festive decoration and of course, end of year shopping sales to keep Vietnamese people entertained till the moment the clock strikes midnight and fireworks are set off!
When this happens, Vietnamese people join the countdown from 10 to 0, ushering in the new year with joyous greetings "Happy New Year!" or in Vietnamese "Chúc mừng năm mới" between loved ones. In major cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang, fireworks are set off and if you're lucky, you might even catch them!
How to wish someone Happy New Year in Vietnamese
If you find yourself in the company of Vietnamese families, friends or colleagues this New Year's eve, here are some common Vietnamese phrases to tie you through the occasion! It is common in Vietnamese culture to also send gifts to one another especially to those you do business with as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune.
- Happy new year in Vietnamese: Chúc mừng năm mới or Chuc mung nam moi (without tones)
- Dồi dào sức khỏe: Good health
- An khang thịnh vượng: Prosperity
- Phát tài phát lộc: Thriving
- Vạn sự như ý: May all your wishes come true
- Sống lâu trăm tuổi (used by children for elders): longevity
- An khang thịnh vượng: security, good health, and prosperity
- Sức khỏe dồi dào: Wishing you plenty of good health
- Làm ăn tấn tới: Be successful at work
- Cung hỉ phát tài: Congratulations and be prosperous
- Năm mới thắng lợi mới: New year, new triumphs (often heard in political speech)
- Chúc hay ăn chóng lớn: Eat more, grow rapidly (for children)
- Năm mới thăng quan tiến chức: I wish that you will get promoted in the new year
- Năm mới toàn gia bình an: I wish that the new year will bring health and peace to your family
Other phrases that can also be heard during the New Year originate from Sino Vietnamese and are often not used in daily life. Rather, they’re used in more formal situations like in the theatre or books. They include:
- Cung chúc tân niên
- Cung chúc tân xuân
- Cung hỷ phát tài
Where to Celebrate the New Year in Ho Chi Minh City
Whether you're looking to end your year off with a quiet and intimate affair or with a bang surrounded by famous singers and a live DJ, Ho Chi Minh City has a myriad of options for you to choose from. Check them out below:
Saigon's fireworks shoot off near the Bitexco tower, which is located in the heart of District 1, and see hundreds of people crowding the streets around the tower as well as across the Saigon River, just to catch the fireworks. Expect massive crowds, insane traffic, motorbikes and cars as well as streetside stools and tables parked along the highway.
Nonetheless, the spirits are high and everyone is still jolly. However, if this is not your cup of tea, fret not as there are plenty of restaurants, bars and hotels where you can catch a view of fireworks from the safety and comforts of your own space.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street
During the new year, motorbikes and cars are not allowed on Nguyen Hue Walking Street. This makes the iconic street, which stretches from the beautiful People’s Committee Building all the way to the Saigon River, a popular destination for many Vietnamese young couples and teens to hang out and catch the fireworks. This is usually followed by some card games accompanied by some delicious street food, of course. Here, you can catch a pretty decent view of the fireworks albeit not the best but you won't be disappointed with the eclectic mix of street performers and live music!
A great view of the fireworks, playful cocktails and a buzzing atmosphere in the company of your friends and loved ones, what more can you want? Thankfully, Saigon is home to a host of rooftop bars with different budgets drinks and locations. For this reason, a rooftop bar party is one of the best ways to usher in the new year in Ho Chi Minh City. Keep in mind that you will probably need to make a reservation for most of these places, so call early and book ahead! Some offer alcohol promotion and food packages as well!
- Recommended: 10 Best Rooftop Bars in Ho Chi Minh City
River Boat Cruises
Saigon's river boat cruises are a truly fabulous way to see the city’s top spots. The Saigon River is a destination in itself and one that allows you to take in the sights of famous landmarks such as Vinhome Central Park, Saigon New Port and Dong Tay Boulevard along the way. On New Year's eve, a riverboat cruise is a front-row seat to the spectacular fireworks show and needless to say, you'll be spoiled for choice with footage for your Instagram.
Whether you're a hopeless romantic or simply looking to indulge in a unique and memorable experience this New Year's eve, a cruise along the scenic and iconic Saigon River is the way to go. Once again, be sure to book in advance as this popular option tends to fill up!
- Les Rives Authentic River Experience, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngô Đức Kế, District 1 +84 128 592 0018
- Bonsai Cruise, 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, District 4 +84 836206265
- Saigon Boat Company, 15B/24 Le Thanh Ton, District 1 +84 90 984 48 13
Daycation or staycation, you should definitely book a room somewhere downtown or near the river and do it as soon as possible! With travel restrictions still happening, hotels are boasting some of the lowest rates making this once 'unaffordable option' very reasonable for many now.
Lucky for us, Saigon has many fantastic hotels of different types and budgets for you to choose from. From chic boutique hotels to luxurious heritage hotels, cosy up under the sheets with your other half or have an urban getaway and party the night away with your friends. Even just for a night, we highly recommend booking a room to avoid being caught in Saigon's infamous New Year traffic which has been known to leave people stranded for hours!
- Hotel des Arts Saigon - MGallery Collection
- Park Hyatt Saigon
- InterContinental Saigon Hotel
- The Reverie
For more recommendations, check out our list of staycation hotels in Ho Chi Minh City.
New Year's Eve Dinner and New Year Day Brunches
If you're like us and planning to ring in the new year with our spirits high and bellies full, you'll be pleased to know Vietnam’s biggest and most exciting city has got you covered. After the tough year we all had, we're all looking to indulge in some guilty pleasure (and stuffing) and what better way than to end the year with a nourishing and indulgent meal with close ones.
After many months of no dining at restaurants, it's time to let the good times roll. Whether you are looking for a sit-down dinner with loved ones or something more jubilant, we have got just the event for you.
Before you ring in the new year, don't forget to...
We've finally made it into 2022 so pat yourself on the back, hug your loved ones, tell the people who matter you love them and celebrate the night away. Whether it's in the comforts of your own home, along Nguyen Hue Walking Street or next to the DJ deck on the rooftop of Le Meridien Hotel, make sure to shout 'Chúc mừng năm mới' when the clock strikes midnight! With your masks on, of course. You know, it's a brave new world and all that.
If you are more interested in Tet holiday, check out Vietnamese traditional flowers and plants and what they mean in their culture
No matter if this is your first time or you are a local, our guide to Saigon is the first step when conquering this crazy city. Check it out now to see what you've been missing!
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