This Lantern Festival Is One You'll Want To Plan Your Trip To Vietnam Around

Anytime travelers have the opportunity to take a trip to Vietnam, inspiring and rich cultural experiences are within reach. The country is bordered by Laos and Cambodia to the west with China encompassing its northernmost boundary. According to Info Please, Vietnam is no more than twice the size of the state of Arizona with Data Reportal noting the country is home to just under 100 million people. While it may be relatively small, Vietnam remains a destination brimming over with fascinating sights and stops to explore.

Destinations like Cat Tien National Park offer visitors access to a full oasis of local wildlife. Bustling locales like Ho Chi Minh City host landmarks such as the stunning Saigon Opera House. However, travelers looking to enjoy a truly magical moment will want to be sure to plan their Vietnam visit around the Hoi An Lantern Festival.

Hoi An is a city located in Vietnam's central Quang Nam Province and according to UNESCO, became a classified National Cultural Heritage Site in 1985. Today, it's also a prime place for locals and visitors to celebrate the Hoi An Lantern Festival. This illuminated event takes place every full moon of the lunar calendar and is a truly unique experience to add to an itinerary.

A dazzling display of lights, culture, and spirituality

Witnessing the Hoi An Lantern Festival is a visually dazzling experience for visitors year-round. It's also an opportunity to take part in an event with strong links to Vietnam's Buddhist population. The festival is held on the full moon day of each lunar month which holds religious significance for Buddhists. According to BuddhaSasana, followers of the faith believe Buddha came into existence on a full moon day.

Light offerings used during the Hoi An Lantern Festival are also an integral part of Buddhism. According to the Samye Institute's report on Buddhist philosophy, a light offering is representative of wisdom, well-being, and the removal of confusion from the dark. Those offering a lantern during the festival are invited to do so with good intentions for themselves and those around them.

Hoi An Now estimates that upward of 70% of Vietnam's total population practices some sort of Tam Giao. This approach to spirituality mixes Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism alike. Of this group, the same report estimates 12% of the country strictly practices Buddhism. This dedicated following makes the Hoi An Lantern Festival that much more integral to the area's rich culture and heritage.

Make the most of the festival experience

Colorful and illuminated lanterns are the highlight of the Hoi An Lantern Festival experience. The festival fun begins when the sun starts to set so the colors can be viewed at their most vibrant. According to Vietnam Is Awesome, a few of the best places to see these cloth, silk, and paper lanterns float away are at the bank of the Hoai River as well as from the Hoi Bridge.

Visitors can also choose to take in the sight of the glowing lanterns from a place on a sampan. This is a traditional wooden boat available to rent at a negotiated price from vendors along the Hoai River's edge. Lanterns are available for purchase throughout the city so visitors can contribute their well-wishes by releasing one into the water as they float along.

Beyond the lantern releases, the Hoi An Lantern Festival includes live music and traditional dance performances. Visitors will likely encounter poetry readings and hear folk singing too. During the festivities, fluorescent lights, vehicles, and bicycles are prohibited in the old quarter after 8 p.m. according to Sonasia Holiday. This makes Hoi An a prime destination for photographers looking to capture this colorful festival moment on camera and an easy place to roam and relish the sights.