Vietnam has its share of interesting traditions and celebrations. For example, did you notice an increase in the number of altars and burning incense alongside the Saigon streets? This is because of Hungry Ghost, the lunar month in which the ghosts are visiting the land of the living. Say what?
Teachers day: a ‘you rock!’ day for our children’s teachers. In Vietnam it’s on November 20 so let’s show those awesome teachers just how much we appreciate them.
We all know that life changing, cool, sweet, kick-ass teacher who helps our mini-me get ready for the future. Let’s make sure those awesome teachers know how much we value them. Nothing wrong with the common Starbucks voucher but if you can use some inspo, here we are. We made you a list where to get the best thank you gifts in Ho Chi Minh City – and some inspiration for DIY presents too!
Flowers, but not just any
You know what they say; people love flowers and flowers love people. Giving flowers is a lovely symbol of many things and expressing your gratitude is definitely one of them. At Ted & Anna on Xuan Thuy St. in District 2 you will find gorgeous and we mean gorgeous flowers. Let the kids make a nice card for the personal touch: your teacher will love them.
Saigon presents for Teachers Day
As teachers are of the travelling kind, they might like these lovely reminders of Vietnam: Pillow covers with colorful prints of maps of Saigon or Vietnam are such fun gifts. You can buy them for example at the left of the Wish shop on Thao Dien street in District 2.
Prints of ancient maps
Have you considered buying a vintage map of Saigon or Vietnam? They come printed on canvas, wood or paper and they will look great on any wall. You can get them at the Vesta bookstore on Thao Dien street in District 2.
Not your average coffee mug
Not your average Teachers mug but a hidden gem this one. Absolutely beautiful ceramics in different styles and colors is what you will find at Tuhu ceramics. These cups, teapots, plates, vases and so on will look wonderful in any home. Your kiddo’s teacher will love ‘m (and so do we)!
Go Green with bamboo straws
Go with the no-plastic flow in Saigon and buy a set of bamboo straws for your kiddie’s teacher! Green Around the Corner sells these and many more cute green products. A win-win for teacher and nature!
Or visit next door and stock some great jewelry from Hand and Soul. Loved by many female teachers!
Teachers Day: relaxing presents might be best!
Everyone loves a little pampering once in a while and your teacher might need it most! Gift vouchers for a foot massage from Villa Aesthetica or Anna Sanctuary Wellness Spa in District 7, a facial at l’Apothiquaire or a pedicure at the Nail Bar will definitely do the trick. Another great one is to give a voucher for a hair washing massage and hair styling at Quynh.
House of Barbaard
Pampering isn’t something only women enjoy… House of Barbaard has refined the art of creating a man’s haven in the form of a barbershop where men can relax and unwind.
These candles from Workshop Candles are a lovely gift. They look great and the scents of these candles are lovely. A great relaxing present for your teacher. This little shop is located in the small shopping area next to co-work space The Hive in the middle of Xuan Thuy Street.
Movies & popcorn voucher
Giving a cinema gift voucher may sound a bit tacky, but really, it’s not. There are so many good movies in the cinemas, that you can’t go wrong here. Throw in some extra popcorn and love seat tickets and you’re all set.
Trend-setting concept store and cafe l’Usine offers besides a yummy lunch & coffee and hip clothing brands, also cool lifestyle accessories. We’ve always had our eyes on the cool l’Usine posters they sell. But if you can’t choose, no worries, they also do gift vouchers so your teachers can choose for him/her self. Bingo!
Do It Yourself this Teachers Day
Ok guys and girls, making or creating a gift yourself will show your gift comes from the heart without a doubt. So if you’re a creative king or queen, knock yourself out. Check this page on Pinterest to get you started! For those among us who need a little help… A photo album with pictures of all the kiddies, events and teachers is nothing short of a hit. Try www.photobookvietnam.com, the templates are cool and more importantly, the software is super easy. Note that delivery takes a week at least so start early.
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Plastic Fantastic? Not for nature, it isn't. It is high time we do something about our plastic addiction and reduce our usage of plastic here in Vietnam.Countries like Bangladesh, Bali, New Zealand and many African nations like Rwanda have banned single use plastic. Luckily, Vietnam is pledging to get on board as well: from 2025 onwards, it will ban all single use plastics. Yay! In the meantime we all need to improve our personal plastic diet and stop contributing to the problem. The Saigon nonprofit organization Rethink Plastic Vietnam is helping us; this November is Plastic Awareness Month!
What can I do to reduce plastic in Vietnam?There's a lot you can do! We will walk you through some quick fixes to cut back on plastics. They are easier than you might think and we'll tell you about a few awesome new stores we found that can help us with this. Come on, let's go on a plastic diet together!
One of our favorite cultural events in Vietnam is the radiant Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival. Lanterns, children singing, sharing food- what’s not to love? Good news, it is here! And whether you’re a newbie or a long time resident, this is a festival worth knowing about. So here goes - five must-knows about Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.
Staying here this Tet Holiday and looking for fun things to do with the kids? No need to panic, because the old days of total Saigon shut down during Tet are over. To be honest, having the city to yourself without any school traffic jams sounds rather nice doesn’t it? And to soak up some real Vietnamese traditions during the stunning Tet flower markets plus experience the Lunar New Years fireworks is also a great treat. That said, one could always use some inspiration to keep the little mice occupied during this school holiday!
Best kids things to do during Tet: which venues are open?
More close by we have the interactive climbing wall at level 4 at the Estella shopping mall. Your offspring can choose between 9 interactive walls. Make sure they wear their sneakers though, flip-flops are a no go. If they’re a bit too small for the climbing wall, they might like Tiniworld, which is conveniently on the same level.
Older kids will love Timezone, an electronic gaming hall in Estella Place. Full of interactive experiences and the newest electronic games. Combine it with a lunch at this great shopping mall and you are all set!
And have you spotted the ice rink at Landmark 81 yet? There’s loads to do at the 81 levels of this building, including a great view on top! After ice skating, shopping or the CGV cinema, you can even take the kids for a non- alcoholic drink at the ice bar. They’ll love the ice cold walls and furniture.
Yeahhh! Jump Arena is also open this Tet, only closing for one or two days. Let the kids blow off some steam at one of their trampoline halls in District 2, 7 or 10, while you have a coffee or soda upstairs. Don’t forget the socks!
Fun things for the whole family this Tet
Superbowl in District 1 has regular hours during Tet, so you can practice your strike all holiday long! 24 lanes, modern equipment, fried chicken wings & lots of fun awaits you! Footwear and socks can be rented, so don’t worry about bowling on your Havaianas. We love the special ‘ball glider’ they have for the smaller kids, so they can easily join in the fun.
No time to go skiing in Niseko, but still a need to cool off this Tet? Pack the family and hit the road to Snow Town. This amusement park has been decorated in Tet style with red and gold ornaments everywhere, setting the perfect Lunar New Year mood. Riding your sleigh, check out the selfie corner, do some ice cold climbing – all is possible at this winter wonderland at the other side of the Hanoi Highway. They’re closed for one or two days, so make sure to check before you go. Buy your tickets online.
DIY Lunar New Year crafts and baking at home
Holidays at home are also the perfect time to do some home crafting with the family. You’re rushing the whole year, so let’s ditch that To Do list and get zen. Even if you are not the arts and crafty type, you will surprise everyone (including yourself) with these yummy baked rats and cool Lunar New Year lanterns.
Yes it’s the year of the Rat. Although most of us don’t really fancy rats, in the Zodiac, the rat stands for intelligence, alertness, vitality and cheer. So let’s bake some peanut butter rats, or mice if that sounds better, for lunch or snack time? Or bring these nut-free mice cookies to school for the Tet lunch in class. Admiring looks are guaranteed!
Chúc mừng năm mới!
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Visit these Tet celebrations with the family to get in the Tet mood
Of course Tet is a great period to travel, but if you really want to get the hang of this great Vietnamese tradition, why stay here? Pack up the kids, head into town and enjoy some celebrations!
It’s nice to take the family up and down the always energetic Nguyen Hue street where beautiful Tet displays will be up from January 22-28. This year is all about the rat, so you will be able to see lots of mousy friends. Go early, because it will get crowded.
Also great to do; visit the flower festival at Tao Dan Park in district 3. This Tet festival they’ll have a flower and fish exhibition, games and calligraphy and a traditional martial arts performance.
See the traditional flower markets for Tet
It’s a Tet tradition to visit one of the beautiful flower markets in Vietnam and there are more than 125 this year! They open from January 28 till February 4. One of the biggest flower markets in Ho Chi Minh is in district 1 at 23/9 Park on Pham Ngu Lao Street (near Ben Thanh Market). Another traditional market is Dinh Park, on the corner of Nguyen Kiem Street and Nguyen Thai Son Street.
If you want to go a bit off the beaten track and see an old flower market, popular with locals, check out the Ben Binh Dong Flower Market in district 8. The flowers here are brought from Mekong Delta by boat and sold on the riverside.
In district 7, the area around the Crescent Mall is always bustling: the Crescent Tet Flower Street & Market is open from 7 pm on during Tet week. Next to flowers, there will be traditional Tet food and a Vietnamese traditional music performance every night.
The best spots to watch the fireworks in Ho Chi Minh
Are you here this Tet? Lucky you! You will be able to enjoy the beautiful Tet fireworks in Ho Chi Minh.
The prime 15-minute fireworks will be set off midnight New Year’s Eve at the Landmark 81 building and the Thu Thiem Tunnel that links Districts 1 and 2. Ther will also be fireworks at the Dam Sen Park in District 11.
So make sure to have some drinks at one of the great rooftop bars that Ho Chi Minh has to offer and sit front row to the fireworks show!
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Or go back to HOME
Yes, it’s only just been Christmas, but Tet celebrations are already knocking on our Vietnamese doors! You can tell that Tet is approaching when Vietnam is getting into celebration mode and decorations are popping up all over town. Many venues will close down for the holidays, but we found several things to do with the kids this Tet holiday. But for now, the year of the Rat is coming, what is this all about? Let’s take a crash course together!
Tet celebrations mark the start of the new year
Tet is short for “Tet Nguyen Dan”, meaning “The Feast of the First Morning of the First Day.” Not a day to think light of, because it marks the beginning of the New Lunar Year, the start of spring, and it’s basically the official birthday of everyone (yes everyone) in Vietnam.
For some of us, TET celebrations mark our week of leave days and taking off on that big family vacay, but for the Vietnamese, TET is the start of beginning the year. It’s about home cooking and visiting your loved ones. And if you want any luck the coming year, you should do a thorough clean up and replace your old furniture. This will encourage the good spirits of your ancestors to visit your home. It’s also important to settle your debts and disputes. New beginnings for everyone please!
Tet celebrations: bamboo trees and fireworks
After cleaning and redecorating your home, enter the bamboo tree. Every Tet, Vietnamese families will have bamboo trees decorated with nice red paper ornaments, red lucky envelopes and bells. The color red stands for fire, which represents warmth, light and good luck. After the 7th day of Tet celebrations, the tree is removed during a special ceremony.
Another tradition is to make lots of noise to scare the bad spirits away on the night of Chinese New Year. People used to light firecrackers themselves, but this has been regulated by the government in 1995 and is now organized centrally with beautiful fireworks.
Important do’s and dont’s this Tet
Tet celebrations are not about filled stockings, but involve good old cash. All younger family members will receive red envelopes with lucky money, or li xi, as they call it here in South Vietnam. Your most senior members of the household should also receive them, to bring them good health for the coming year. Make sure you stuff the envelopes with an even number of notes, preferably in crisp, new bills.
Set an animal free during Tet celebrations
Aside from revamping your house, the Vietnamese believe that during Tet, you should set an animal free. At the local temples, birds are sold solely for this purpose. But it might be a great idea to go to ARC instead and adopt a cute kitten or dog. They’ll probably prefer your welcoming home to total freedom.
Where to buy your Ao Dai
Also important during Tet celebrations; wear red. Or at least, avoid black and white, as they are associated with bad luck during Tet. Wearing the beautiful Vietnamese traditional dress, the Ao Dai, is not necessary but often much appreciated. There are Ao Dai’s for kids as well as adults. You can buy them at Ninh Khuong, which has a store at 34 Le Loi and at the Vincom Mega mall in district 2. Next to Meatworks in district 2 is a small shop which also sells ao dai’s and of course you can find them at the Ben Thanh market.
So, there you go, you are all set for Tet. One last tip; make sure the first person you receive in your home in the new year is a nice person, because the Vietnamese believe that the karma of your first visitor will become your own. Chuc mung nam moi!