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.
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?
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; they do a yearly Plastic Awareness Month. But why wait if we can start reducing our plastic use now?
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!
Big chance you’ve heard Jingle Bells or Mariah Carey around town already… This means Christmas is coming to Ho Chi Minh City! Shops are stocking up on Christmas trees and ornaments and we’ll tell you where to find the best.
Here’s where you can buy the most festive Christmas decorations in Saigon!
A real or fab fake Christmas tree
We secretly all want to buy that crispy fresh Christmas tree even though it’s 30+ degrees outside. You can buy a real one online from Green Life or at Urban Garden in District 2, but beware…they sell out quickly! The satisfaction can be as high as the price.
Greenie house has mini Christmas trees. Check out their Christmas wreaths as well- jolly spirits guaranteed!
Going fake? No shame in that these days. The Christmas Shop at 59 Thao Dien (next to Kepi) has beautiful trees that look as real as they come. Uncle Bills in District 2 has an affordable selection. They do delivery as well, so you won’t have to ride around the city on your motorbike with your folded fake tree. While you’re there, stock up on decoration- there’s plenty! Santa’s tip of the day: they sell a cute DIY felt wall tree for kids.
Yep, folding up your Christmas tree in the new year and putting it in a slim box has its perks. Decosy rocks it when it comes to fabulous wooden trees. Their trees are eye candy for Christmas groupies and the decoration items ditto!
Where to buy Christmas decorations in Saigon
Trend-setting concept store and café l’Usine in D1 and D2 offer beautiful Christmas decorations in this time of the year. Also nice to bring back home as presents under the Christmas tree! And even if the Christmas trees at Urban Garden are sold out, it’s still worth while to check their Christmas decorations out. They stocked up well.
The Snap Café premises host various shops where you can find nice Christmas decorations. Kids clothes shop Albetta and toyshop Kepi have some festive decor. After doing your X-mas deco shopping, you can give back as well by making a wish come true at the tree at the Snap cafe.
With stores in more than 8 districts in Saigon, Peony Home is a great shop for Christmas decorations. Original tree lights, ornaments and so on.
Get in the mood at Festive Bazaars and markets
It’s a bit different this year, with most school bazaars closed for non-students or their families. But there are still a few Christmas markets on this month to get in the mood! From December 12-26, there’s a German Christmas Market in Thao Dien. Expect mulled wine and fresh stollen.
The Thao Dien Christmas Market at Saigon Outcast is also a jolly idea to stock up on your Christmas goodies there! Open on December 19 from 12-7 pm.
The LSEF Christmas Market from Le Square Epecier Fin is promising a full day of Christmas festivities; games, Santa Claus face painting, Christmas movies, decorations, music and food. Open on December 19.
The Crescent Mall in D7 is always fun at Christmas time and the best place for your Christmas shopping. This year they’ve set up a giant Christmas tree- ideal for your festive selfie!
Do a Christmas deco tour in District 5
Perhaps a bit of a ride depending on where you live, but Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street in District 5 is packed with shops selling Christmas decorations, and the prices will make you jingle too!
Happy holidays from the Grapevyne team! It’s the season to SPARKLE!
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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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It’s that time of the year again! Not much of a chance on a white Christmas here, but don’t let that stop you from getting into the festive mood. After finding all the Christmas decoration for your house, it’s time to make plans for your Christmas dinner or brunch in Ho Chi Minh City. Let’s get to it: Saigon’s best Christmas brunches and Christmas dinners.
Celebrate Christmas in (buffet) style
We are a fan of the Christmas Brunches at Le Meridien. They will host a whole series of festive events in December, such as their famous yearly Christmas Dinner on December 24 and a Christmas Brunch on December 25. Combine it with their Holiday Stay offer and you can really kick back this Xmas and enjoy a glass of champagne. Bliss!
Another great option is the mouth watering menu at The Deck in District 2. Just voted ‘one of the best bars in the world’, so you’ll know you’ll be at the right place to get festive! Their Christmas menu includes a Seafood and Champagne brunch for 23rd and 30th December, as well as some spectacular Set Menus specially prepared for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve (VND 1,850,000++ per person). Contact The Deck for more info.
A Christmas Eve with stars in Ho Chi Minh
The Social Club inside the gorgeous M-Gallery Hotel (Hotel Des Arts) hosts a five course set dinner at Christmas Eve, as well as on Christmas Day. You can have another go on December 27 at their ‘Festive Epic Brunch’ with free flow bubbly. Staying in Saigon might just be the best idea ever!
Or bring family and friends for Christmas in Ho Chi Minh to the 5 star Equatorial Hotel in District 5! Delicious (there’s a reason this hotel has 5 stars), but very reasonably priced, you can have your pick between various events such as the Christmas Cocktail Hour or one of their festive dinners or brunches. Make sure to book in advance for Christmas Eve dinner on December 24 or The Christmas Brunch on December 25th. Pssst…rather do Christmas at home? You can order a Christmas turkey with The Equatoral Hotel as well!
Of course Park Hyatt Saigon never disappoints and this year they’re going up an over. In addition to their festive buffets adn set menu’s, they’re offering two fantastic experiences for the whole family.
Magic at The Park is a mesmerizing magic show that old and young will enjoy. Be sure to book in advance as it is a small, intimate setting.
Another great experience for your December calendar is Le Petit Chef. Combining 3d technology, storytelling and fine dining, the encounter with the smallest chef in the world might be the perfect Christmas experience for your family or friends.
Feliz Navidad: Christmas the Spanish way
Spanish tapas restaurant Tomatito (district 1) celebrates Christmas with an 8 course Feliz Navidad Dinner on December 24-26 from 6 pm. Reasonably priced at 780k per person, what better way to celebrate Christmas in Saigon? Dress festively and ¡que te la pases bien!
A very French Christmas
For more inspiration for Christmas dinners in Ho Chi Minh City, we tried some the French kitchen as well. If you’re a fan of French food- who isn’t?-, reserve at Le Corto in District 1. Or book your fancy table at the exquisite La Villa restaurant (district 2). La Villa has a very merry Christmas Eve Dinner on December 24 or lunch on December 25. Check their beautiful classic French menu and let the mouthwatering begin! By the way, we’ve tried and tested more incroyable French restaurants, big and small, check them out here.
Turn up the heat for a Christmas BBQ
Going for a more low key Christmas eve? Jake’s BBQ serves a Christmas BBQ on December 24 and 25 including slow roasted prime rib, oven-baked ham and more yummy dishes. Starting at 5 pm, booking in advance is required. Also great for you Christmas dinner at home, since they do take away and home delivery as well!
Merry Christmas from all of us at Grapevyne!
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What a year it has been! We can’t say this year has gone by faster than Usain Bolt this time, with all of us waiting for some pandemic relieve and open borders. But at least we can enjoy a peaceful Christmas at home. Celebrating Christmas in Saigon with your loved ones under your decorated tree could be the best thing on your wish list!
But how to decorate, what to cook, where to buy ingredients? Do you need some inspiration? We will help you get started.
Decorating your house and dinner table
It all begins with decorating your house and turning it into Santa’s pied-à-terre. You can buy lovely Christmas decorations at so many places in Saigon, time to stock up! And where to buy them exactly we hear you thinking? Here’s where you can buy Christmas decorations in Saigon, go for it! And check out this link if you need ideas on how to set the perfect Christmas dinner table!
Ideas on what to cook for a Christmas dinner
The internet is filled with recipes on Christmas dinners, but sometimes you just want someone to do your homework for ya. Here are some of our favorites and we will tell you where to get the ingredients as well!
Start with salmon
Start with Jamie Oliver’s smoked salmon toasts. Easy to make and always a winner. You can buy the smoked salmon from la Poissonerie, the avocado at Annam and the toast from Saint Honoré. Go to Nam An for the rest of the ingredients like the crème fraîche, herbs and vinegar. Buy your gluten-free bread here.
A Christmas soup in Santa Saigon
It’s the tropics so a cold soup will be appreciated. Ottolenghi’s tomato and watermelon gazpacho will be a hit, we promise! And it’s super easy to make. You can even make it the day before if that makes life easier. Buy great quality tomatoes and watermelon from ByNature and scrumptious bread at Saint Honoré. The rest of the ingredients you’ll find at Nam An.
The main course of your Christmas dinner
Are you thinking turkey? So are we. Cook Donna Hay’s apple and herb brined turkey, it’s amazing. Buy the turkey at Meatworks (make sure you order well in advance to avoid finding empty shelves at d-day). The rest of the ingredients you can find at Nam An.
Do you prefer a delish oven baked ham? Nigella Lawson has a great recipe for a ginger-glazed ham. Go to Meatworks for the ham (again, make sure you order well in advance- you’re not the only ham seeking Christmas cook god(ess) in Saigon). Then head off to Annam to get the rest of the ingredients. Or go easy on yourself and just order it at Jake’s!
What to make for a Christmas Dessert
The ultimate classic, a Christmas Pavlova wreath is our answer, because it’s sooo good. Happy guests guaranteed with this recipe. You can buy fresh or frozen mixed berries (yes, frozen berries keep their delicious taste) and the other ingredients at Nam An.
Christmas baking fun with the kids
Are you up for it? If you’re not, which we totally understand after this already exhausting year, here are some alternatives:
Book a table at one of the great places we lined up for you to celebrate a Christmas brunch or -dinner in Saigon.
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Mother’s Day Saigon is coming up soon (May 10)! While she probably loves the hugs, kisses and occasional pasta-necklace best, some spoiling is in order for this special woman in your life. So let’s do a little brainstorm of how you could pamper her. From the best gifts to brunches, flowers and me-time for mom, we’re making a list. Pssst moms, feel free to forward this one.
Get her flowers for Mother’s Day, but not just any
Let’s start with giving mom some lovely flowers this Mother’s Day in Saigon. At Ted & Anna on in District 2 you will find the most beautiful blooms. Do as we do and show them an image of the bouquet you like and they will make sure mom will wake up and smell the roses on Mother’s Day morning! Rather order online? Padma de fleur is a florist and flower cafe in one and they do beautiful bouquets. If the woman in your life loves plants, visit the lovely Greenie.
Arrange a care free morning (certificate) for Mother’s Day at these great spas
Although Ho Chi Minh has its fair share of great spas, beauty salons and massage studios who can provide the pampering mum needs, due to Covid-19 they’re not allowed to open in the coming month. But you can make them a certificate for when they do open. Mum will be in much need then of a no kids, no fuzz, just me-time and relaxing hour! Or check out the lovely pampering products at L’Herbanyste or Lai Day.
For great massages try Spa La Sen or Villa Aestetica. In district 1 we love to go to the Intercontinental. And a gift voucher from the stunning spa Apothiquaire will definitely get you some bonus points.
Get fancy with brunch this Mother’s Day
If your mom is anything like us, she’ll love edible pampering! Get fancy and take your mum for brunch. In district 3, the Hotel des Arts does a great Champagne brunch that your mom will surely love. In district 2, we love L’Herbanyste for their yummy food and lovely atmosphere. Or head down to Mad House and order the brunch platter. There’s also a vegetarian one. Sleeping in? Take mom to one of these great lunch places instead.
Even more fancy; pamper mom with a high tea
We’re in celebration mode this Mother’s Day so let’s go all in. Scones, muffins, sandwiches and cup cakes, all these things sound like music to our ears! Villa Royale provides all the ingredients for a perfect high tea with mom. Or take your mom to the line up of yummy cupcakes at Sweet + Sour and let her have her pick.
Spoil mom with this ultimate DIY gift
Of course boys and girls (and dads), there’s nothing that says I love you more than that self-made gift. And although most moms love your pasta-necklaces and hand prints on a tile (often still slightly wet) this is what moms really like: a photo album with pictures of all those family moment together. Not only do we love to flip through them together, but this To Do has been on our mom list forever! 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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Meanwhile Dad can take the kids to these great in- and outdoor play areas
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 troops 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!
Or visit the indoor playground of Kiwooza Planet. They will be closing for a few days, but that leaves the offspring enough jumping and playing hours in this kids heaven in D7.
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 option 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 cute cow plates or these cool Lunar New Year lanterns.
Yes, it’s the year of the Ox. In the Zodiac the ox stands for strong, reliable and fair people, inspiring confidence in others. So let’s make some cow plates! Your kid can bring them to school for the TET celebrations there. Admiring looks are guaranteed!
Lunar New Year is all about lights and lanterns and how cool is it to make your own? The kids will love to craft these pretty lanterns made from colored paper by thetruesea.com, perfect for all festive holidays.
Chúc mừng năm mới!
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We love Easter! Egg hunts, Easter family brunches, being surrounded by chocolate bunnies, it’s all a joy! But how to celebrate Easter in this new COVID reality? This year we’ll have to celebrate in a different way for sure. But that doesn‘t mean you can’t have an egg-ceptional Easter in Ho Chi Minh City!
(Virtual) Easter family brunches
Easter is the perfect excuse for egg-stra long brunches! Of course, having friends over for Easter festivities is a no go this year, but celebrating it intimately with just the family can also be nice. Or set up your Google Hangouts, Houseparty or Zoom meeting with friends and fam and have a virtual Easter Feast together.
Step out of the confinement boredom and decorate your table festively with freshly baked breads, eggs and fruit. The best ciabattas and other fantastic bread for your beautiful brunch at the Micro Boulangerie in Thao Dien. And off course it’s only Easter when you have some hot cross buns for brunch; Cafe Tartine is baking them fresh and you can order online.
For Easter basics, Annam Gourmet Market is open and well stocked with at their various locations in D1, D2, D7 and Estella Place. Bakery Saint Honoré as well as the Crumbs bakery in district 7 provide you with delicious breads and quiches. By the way, at Saint Honoré and Crumbs you can order online as well. Smoked salmon and other seafood can be found at La Poissonerie. Having a gluten-free Easter brunch? Check out this article on the best stores that deliver gluten-free options.
Easy DIY Easter Brunch dishes
Ready, Steady, Bake! Great to make with the smallies this Easter are these cute Bunny Gingerbread cookies. To further smarten up your brunch, add some of these easy peasy (but tasty) brunch dishes: this chorizo zucchini quiche by Donna Hay is always a winner in our house. For a vegetarian Easter brunch, replace the chorizo by goat cheese. Your guests with a sweet tooth will love this chai spiced carrot cake. After all, it’s not Easter without carrots. 🙂 Add your Easter branches or some fresh flowers to the table and you’re sorted. What an Egg-cellent Easter in Ho Chi Minh City!
Make some egg-stra cool decorations
Let’s start the Easter mania a few days before with some awesome decorations. Since we have all the time in the world now- let’s get creative. We made these simple but adorable Easter bags last year and they are fun to make with your little ones. Take a paper bag, cut out some ears, add some whiskers and eyes and your first bunny bag is a fact!
These eggholders are also perfect for DIY beginners and will look adorable on your brunch table. But the best Easter craft must be decorating eggs! Whether you paint them green, yellow and blue or go to the next level and make emoji and chick easter eggs, this is the time to do it.
It’s not Easter without our friend the Easter Bunny and his egg hunt! Centrally organized egg hunts are off limits this year but we can organize a Do It Yourself egg hunt at home. Not to worry, it’s not too complicated. Just load up some chocolate eggs, have the kids arrange their own baskets (or make them at the spot – great confinement activity) and you’re done. Make sure the kids spot all your chocolate eggs before they melt or even better, replace them with plastic ones for the time being. This blog on Easter hunts is full of extra tips if you want to up your game.
Hoppy Easter in Ho Chi Minh City from all of us at Grapevyne!
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Starting to feel red rosy already? Valentine’s Day in Ho Chi Minh is around the corner and soon the red roses and fluffy heart pillows will start popping up all over the city! Whether you’re a fan of Valentine’s Day or not, in either case it’s a great chance to surprise your McDreamy with a romantic dinner at one of Ho Chi Minh’s finest restaurants. We’ll fill you in on our fav sweetheart spots!
Valentines Day in Ho Chi Minh: head to District 1
Smooth operator or not, youll be fine with a romantic dinner at French Bistrot Atelier des Rêves. They’re hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner with a mouthwatering 6-course menu called ‘Recipe For Love’. It might be just what you need. Good thinking Frenchies, we’re on board!
And what better place to cosy up than a restaurant with a spectacular view overlooking Smoochy Saigon? At Japanese restaurant Sorae they know how to do it right. Try the smitten sushi, the tender teriyaki and the snuggly sake. And book a window table.
Listening to Italian music while sharing a pizza or pasta is the recipe for an intimate night. Italian is the language of love after all. At Namo they know how to set the perfect atmosphere with their cozy interior and beautiful food & wines. Now how’s that for romantic?
Celebrating with your sweetheart in District 2
The Deck is one of our fav places to have any dinner any time, but for Valentines we feel the picturesque Villa Song Saigon is also a great option. You sit outside watching the stars and large amounts of bushes floating up and down the Saigon river while enjoying yummy food and a vino or two. You’ll have one helluva romantic Valentine’s Day dinner!
Feel Valentine Day romance in District 7
We love this romantic gem. Jane’s Bistro in District 7 is not only the perfect place to gaze into each other’s eyes all night, the food is more than delish and made with luvvv. Reservations only!
Veggie Valentines Day
Yes, you can have a romantic date with your other half and with nature at the same time. Vegetarian restaurant Hum is the place! Hum is intimate and cozy and what’s more romantic than veggin’ out on your couch together after your dinner of sweet potatoes and kissable kale?
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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 Ox 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.
In the ‘old days’ TET celebrations marked our week of leave days and taking off on that big family vacay, but this year, as for most 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 don’ts 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!