Hanoian Holidays: Christmas and New Year’s in Vietnam

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On Christmas Eve Santa’s are everywhere in Hanoi.

 

So I’m a few weeks late posting this, but forgive me, the holidays nearly killed me. Turns out that being a teacher in Hanoi at Christmas means that you are asked to do a million subs because everyone with some foresight took off work and is heading home to their families #homesick.

 

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Being a teacher in Hanoi over the holidays means being asked to do more Christmas games lessons than you can count.

Lucky for me, I was in Hanoi and doing more cover classes than I’ve ever done in my life, but I did have a few days where I was able to go out and see what Christmas and January 1st is all about in Hanoi. *spoiler alert: It’s about eating, drinking, and going out.

Christmas Eve was a heck of a party night in Hanoi. The clubs were open and jam packed.

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Everyone is on their way to a party.

 

Women were out, dressed in their finest, but with the added festive touch of reindeer antlers or Santa hats.

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Naturally I had to get in on the fun.

Traffic was mind-blowing. Crossing the road meant climbing over motorbikes. A friend of mine tried to catch a taxi into old town on Christmas Eve night and was flat out refused.

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That taxi driver had the right idea to avoid this.

Hoan Kiem (the big lake in the center of Old Town) was gorgeous. There were people everywhere and more street food vendors than I’ve ever seen anywhere.

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So much junk food. I love it!

And the churches put on show! If you’re in Hanoi and do nothing else on Christmas Eve, it’s worth taking a walk to the nearest church just to see what’s going on. Singing, dancing, lights, and decorations… Hanoian churches really go all out at Christmas.

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An awesome Christmas performance.

Christmas day itself is considerably quieter in Hanoi. In fact, if you ask a Hanoian what day Christmas is, their likely to say the 24th. This meant that my Christmas day was spent making mulled wine…

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All ingredients were bought at Dan’s Shop and Bistro.

…Walking around the very subdued town…

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My boyfriend wore the traditional cracker hat all day, despite looking like a complete nutcase, especially after purchasing a broom for the apartment.

…and eating a fancy meal. We decided to forgo the “Christmas dinner specials” that many of the restaurants were putting on and went to Vine Restaurant and Wine Bar instead for a lovely meal.

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Duck, potatoes, and wine felt appropriately Christmassy and were delicious.

So what about New Year’s Eve then?

In Vietnam, New Year’s is celebrated in late January or early February and the holiday is called Tet, but the younger generation have also begun to latch onto the idea of a party night on January 1st.

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The area around Hoan Kiem was closed off for concerts.

To me New Year’s Eve wasn’t quite as crazy as Christmas Eve (maybe partially because I’m used to the idea of New Year’s Eve as a party holiday), but it’s still impressive.

There are concerts, like this one where DJs were playing at Hoan Kiem late.

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The atmosphere was incredible.

Clubs are happening.

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My camera clearly couldn’t handle the lights.

And everyone is friendly. Every group of partiers we met, asked us to join them at the next club, but if you want a more relaxed evening, you can find a quieter bar with a drink.

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…and a view.

Hanoi for the holidays is fun. I thought I’d be horribly homesick and even though I did miss my family and being with them, being in a crazy, busy city helped. Between massive loads of work, extra classes, clubs, concerts, dinners, and Santas on bikes, I had a great time and I’ll definitely remember my 2015 holidays for years to come.

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