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Hoi An Full Moon Festival


I stumbled across Hoi An's Full Moon Festival by chance, as I had originally planned to spend longer in Saigon, and then continue to do a whistle stop tour of Da Nang and Hoi An whilst en route to the North of Vietnam. However, after the chaos of Bangkok and a busy few days in Chiang Mai, I decided that I wanted to experience a different side of South East Asia, rather than spending my entire trip travelling its big cities! Looking back, changing my initial plans was one of the best decisions of my trip; Hoi An deserves more than one night, and the town looks even more magical during its famous Full Moon Festival.

Hoi An holds its Lantern Festival on the 14th of every lunar month, with the focus on celebrating and honouring Vietnamese ancestors with the hope of prosperity and good luck. Locals fill the town with offerings of flowers and fruit, fires fuelled by fake money, and candle lit ceremonies, with the festivities by the river involving releasing lanterns out onto the water. 

The centre of the festivities is at the heart of the UNESCO old town, where the use of electricity is banned for the evening, and the streets are lit with thousands of multicoloured lanterns and candles. The busy streets which are normally dominated by scooters are closed completely to bicycles and motorised vehicles; although the festival is popular with both tourists and locals, so the streets certainly aren't quiet! 

The festival starts at dusk and continues on until about 10pm, with the party continuing onto the other side of the river in An Hoi. I headed down to the river as nightfall began, and gradually the water began to fill with candlelit lanterns as the festivities developed. Locals sell lanterns offering 'good luck and prosperity' along the riverbank for 5,000 VND (20 cents); but it didn't feel like an original part of the festivities as I couldn't help notice that the vendors were only talking to tourists! I headed slightly away from the action to find a quieter part of the river to watch the World go by and take some photographs as the evening became busier, or if you wanted to escape onto the water Sampan boat rides started at around 100,000 VND (€4) to travel alongside the lanterns.
As you wander alongside the river, there's no shortages of offers of boat trips, lanterns or flowers, but I loved the atmosphere and enjoyed watching the world go by. I wish I had headed down a little earlier and got a table with a view in one of the coffee shops or bars to take in the atmosphere with a glass of wine or local beer! 

If you want to explore Hoi An's Full Moon Festival this year, check out the dates below:

8th June
7th July
5th August
4th September
3rd October
2nd November
1st December

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