VietNam Travel

Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam: Top 5 Exciting Things To Do

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The Mid-autumn Festival, or Tết Trung Thu, is one of the most important and beloved festivals in Vietnam. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. The festival has a long history that dates back to ancient times, and is associated with many legends, traditions and customs. In this blog post, we will explore the origins, meanings and activities of the Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam, and how you can join the fun.

The story behind the Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam

There are different stories about how the Mid-autumn Festival originated in Vietnam. One of the most popular ones is about a man named Cuội, who accidentally flew to the moon with a magical banyan tree. According to the legend, Cuội had a wife who was very greedy and lazy. One day, she accidentally spilled dirty water on the roots of the banyan tree, which had the power to heal any illness. The tree was angry and started to fly away. Cuội tried to hold on to it, but he was too late. He was lifted up to the moon with the tree, and could never return to Earth. People say that if you look closely at the full moon, you can see his shadow sitting under the tree.

The story behind the moon festival in Vietnam
The story behind the moon festival in Vietnam

Another story is related to the harvest season. In ancient times, Vietnam was an agricultural country that depended on rice cultivation. The Mid-autumn Festival marked the end of the harvest season, when people had plenty of food and time to relax. They would offer fruits, cakes and other delicacies to their ancestors and gods to express their gratitude and pray for good luck. They would also enjoy the moonlight and celebrate with their families and friends.

What does the Mid-Autumn Festival mean in Vietnamese?

The Mid-autumn Festival has different meanings for different groups of people in Vietnam. For farmers, it is a time to thank nature for its bounty and to prepare for the next crop. For children, it is a time to have fun and receive gifts from their parents and relatives. For adults, it is a time to reconnect with their loved ones and to wish for a bright future.

Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam: A Celebration of Children and Culture
Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam: A Celebration of Children and Culture

The festival is also known as the Children’s Festival, because it focuses on the happiness and well-being of children. According to Vietnamese culture, children are considered the future of the nation and the family. Therefore, parents and elders want to give them the best education, care and entertainment possible. The Mid-autumn Festival is an occasion to celebrate children’s innocence, creativity and potential.

How is Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in Vietnam?

The Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam is full of colorful and lively activities that appeal to people of all ages. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Making and eating mooncakes: Mooncakes are round or square pastries that have various fillings, such as lotus seeds, mung beans, eggs, nuts or meat. They are usually decorated with intricate patterns or symbols that represent longevity, prosperity or harmony. Mooncakes are not only delicious but also meaningful. They symbolize the reunion of family members under the full moon.
  • Making and carrying lanterns: Lanterns are another essential element of the festival. They are made of paper or bamboo and have different shapes and sizes, such as stars, fishes, butterflies or flowers. They are often lit by candles or electric bulbs that make them spin or flash. Children love to parade with their lanterns on the streets, singing songs and playing games. Lanterns represent hope, joy and light in the darkness.
  • Watching lion dances: Lion dances are spectacular performances that involve dancers wearing lion costumes and moving to the rhythm of drums, gongs and cymbals. They mimic the movements of lions in a graceful and powerful way. Lion dances are believed to bring good luck, ward off evil spirits and entertain people.
  • Contemplating the moon: One of the simplest but most enjoyable activities of the festival is to admire the beauty of the full moon. People often gather on rooftops, balconies or open spaces to gaze at the moon and share stories, poems or wishes. They also offer fruits, cakes and tea to the moon goddess, who is said to grant their desires.
Mooncake in Mid-Autumn
Watching lion dances
Watching lion dances

How to join the Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam

If you are visiting Vietnam during the Mid-autumn Festival, you will have a great opportunity to experience one of the most unique and charming aspects of Vietnamese culture. You can join any of these activities:

  • Visit a local market or bakery to buy some mooncakes or make your own with a cooking class.
  • Join a lantern-making workshop or buy a ready-made lantern from a street vendor or a toy store.
  • Watch a lion dance show at a temple, a park or a shopping mall, or join a lion dance team if you are adventurous.
  • Find a cozy spot to enjoy the moonlight and the festive atmosphere with your friends or family.
Mid-autumn Festival in Hang Ma, Hanoi
Mid-autumn Festival in Hang Ma, Hanoi

Here are some tips on where to go and what to do:

  • Hanoi: The capital city offers a lively and festive atmosphere, especially in the Old Quarter, where you can find many shops selling lanterns, masks, toys and mooncakes. You can also join a free walking tour with local students who will show you around and explain the customs and legends of the festival. Don’t miss the chance to visit Hang Ma Street, which is famous for its lanterns and decorations.
  • Ho Chi Minh City: The southern metropolis also has a vibrant celebration, especially in District 5 (Cholon), where there is a large Chinese community. You can admire the lantern displays along Nguyen Trai Street and Tran Hung Dao Street, watch lion dances and dragon dances at various temples and pagodas, and taste delicious mooncakes at bakeries and markets.
  • Hoi An: The ancient town of Hoi An is known for its lantern festival, which takes place every month on the full moon night. However, the Mid-autumn Festival is even more special, as the whole town is illuminated by thousands of lanterns hanging from buildings, trees and boats. You can also participate in various activities, such as making lanterns, playing folk games, listening to traditional music and releasing lanterns on the river.
  • Hue: The former imperial city of Hue celebrates the Mid-autumn Festival with a royal flair. You can visit the Citadel and watch a reenactment of how the Nguyen emperors used to celebrate the festival with their courtiers and concubines. You can also enjoy cultural performances, such as puppet shows, opera shows and poetry recitals at various venues around the city.
Mid-autumn Festival in Hoian
Mid-autumn Festival in Hoian

The song of Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam

One of the most popular and traditional songs of the Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam is “Rước Đèn Ông Sao”, which means “Carrying Lanterns to See Mr. Star”. The song is about a group of children who go out at night with their colorful lanterns to look for Mr. Star, who is believed to be the guardian of children. The song has a cheerful and playful melody, and the lyrics express the children’s excitement and curiosity about the festival and the moon.


The Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of this beautiful country. It is also a chance to appreciate the simple joys of life, such as spending time with your loved ones, admiring the moon and eating delicious cakes. Don’t miss this magical experience when you travel to Vietnam! Happy Mid-autumn Festival!

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