It’s ‘về quê’ time again! Or is it? While Tet has traditionally been the season for Vietnamese to travel back to their hometown for the big family reunion, newly released Agoda data suggests that they are increasingly choosing to spend Tet further afield.
Indeed, Agoda’s data shows that for the first time this year, three overseas destinations (Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur) have made the cut in the top ten rankings, as travelers buck tradition to spend the holiday season abroad.
Furthermore, Bangkok has usurped Ho Chi Minh City’s crown for the most-booked Tet destination, a title Ho Chi Minh City held for at least the last two years.
|Top ten TET destinations|
|1||Ho Chi Minh City||Ho Chi Minh City||Bangkok|
|3||Phan Thiet||Hanoi||Nha Trang|
|4||Nha Trang||Da Nang||Phan Thiet|
|5||Da Nang||Vung Tau||Da Nang|
|7||Vung Tau||Phan Thiet||Vung Tau|
|8||Dalat||Dalat||Phu Quoc Island|
|9||Phu Quoc Island||Hoi An||Kuala Lumpur|
|10||Hoi An||Phu Quoc Island||Ho Chi Minh City|
For travelers looking to spend Tet overseas, there is no need to entirely shrug off the Lunar festivals or springtime celebrations when Tet rolls around. Agoda has put together the following list of ‘alternatets’ where families can combine a getaway with a chance to learn a little about the ways in which other nations usher in the new season.
Bunkyo Plum Blossom Festival, Japan
Did you know that cherry blossoms aren’t the only flowers worth seeing in Japan? Get acquainted with Japan’s lesser-known – but equally beautiful – Bunkyo Blossom festival, which runs for five weeks this year, beginning early February. At the Yushima Tenmagu Shrine, built during the Edo period, visitors can take in the gorgeous scenes of thousands of blooming trees; enjoy fascinating art performances; and experience the nation’s famous traditional tea ceremonies.
Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo provides rooms with luxurious amenities and you will be amazed by blossoms in the garden right beside the hotel. Courteous and helpful staff are on hand and have been widely praised for their attentive Japanese hospitality.
River Hongbao Festival in Singapore
Among the top three most booked overseas cities for Vietnamese travelers, Singapore is also celebrating the Lunar New Year as one the biggest celebrations on the event calendar. The River Hongbao is a Chinese cultural event that holds Marina Bay captivated each year since 1987. 2019 will see the weeklong festival run between 3 and 10 February, with spectacular fireworks shows wrapping up the proceedings. Hong Bao – the Mandarin word for red envelopes containing traditionally ‘lucky money’ given by older people to their younger relatives and friends in the season – provides the name and the inspiration for this Singapore-styled celebration of the Chinese culture.
There is simply no better vantage point for this than the breathtaking Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The iconic building, with its signature rooftop triple-Olympic-size pool, overlooks Marina Bay and offers stunning views of the festival as it unfolds.
Pingxi Sky Lantern festival in Taipei
Dubbed one of the ‘World’s Best Festivals’ by both Discovery and National Geographic, the century old Pingxi Sky Lantern festival attracts visitors to Taipei every February. The festival encourages visitors to write a wish upon a red lantern, set alight its inner torch, and watch it sail to the heavens for its realization overseen by ones deceased ancestors.
The Pingxi village, where you may either stay throughout the festival or is otherwise accessible by shuttle throughout the festival from Taipei, light up the night sky and create an unforgettable experience early in a new Lunar Year.
Guests looking to embrace the experience of the Ping Xi townsfolk across the Sky Lantern festival could look to them Xi Yin Zhi Shu B&B. Catering primarily to family-sized groups, the B&B include a long dining table and a beautiful balcony to take in the bright skies.
Boun Pi May festival in Laos
While Bangkok topped-the-list of international destinations for Vietnamese over Tet, and supersoaker-wielding-backpackers flock to Thailand’s annual Songkran Festival each year, we thought we would look at Thailand’s lower profile neighbor – Laos – for an interesting alternative to the hordes on Khao San Road.
Laos certainly also knows how to get wet and wild to ring in the new year by their traditional calendar. Though this means Laos’ yearly festival falls well outside the Tet holiday dates in April, it’s worth making the trip to experience this new year celebration!
Laotian lore dictates that ‘the wetter you get, the luckier you’ll be in the year ahead’ at their annual Boun Pi May festival. With the water seen as washing a previous year’s bad luck away, the streets of Vientiane will be awash with revelers and drowning in the spirit of the season. Lao people will also head to the pagoda, building sand-castle tributes to the monks there, and tend to use perfumed or floral waters in all of the activities over the season.
Those looking to jump into the deep end of Boun Pi May in Vientiane can look to The Deluxe Homestay- La Residence Mandalay. The cozy traditional décor will offer a welcome respite from the frenetic water-fights that await outside.