Full Moon Lantern Festival – A Spectacle of Lights

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Nestled in the heart of Vietnam, Hoi An transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle of lights during the Full Moon Lantern Festival, an event that captures the essence of a true light festival. 

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Festival highlights

As we delve into the details of this enchanting celebration, let’s embark on a journey through the glittering streets of Hoi An, where timeless traditions and glowing lanterns create a magical atmosphere.

About the Full Moon Lantern Festival

The Full Moon Lantern Festival in Hoi An is not just an enchanting spectacle; it’s a reverent nod to tradition and spirituality. Celebrated on the 14th day of each lunar month, this festival coincides with the night of the full moon, bringing with it a sense of wonder and tranquility. 

As the moon reaches its fullest, Hoi An undergoes a transformative ritual: the city turns off its electric lights, surrendering to the soft, ethereal glow of countless lanterns.

The heart of this celebration, which is deeply rooted in Buddhist traditions, is the releasing of paper flower lanterns onto the water. This simple, yet profound act is laden with symbolism. For the Vietnamese, these floating lanterns are not mere decorations, but are vessels that carry their prayers and wishes. Releasing a lantern under the full moon is believed to bring health, good fortune, and inner peace.

For those seeking an immersive experience, traditional sampans are also available, offering a unique vantage point from the water. Riding these boats, visitors can gently navigate through the river, surrounded by a constellation of floating lights. It’s a great opportunity to see the lanterns up close, to feel the warmth of their glow, and perhaps, to reflect on one’s own wishes and dreams.

The Full Moon Lantern Festival in Hoi An is not just a night of beauty; it’s a moment of collective introspection and hope. As the lanterns drift away, carrying with them the hopes of thousands, the city basks in a tranquil luminescence, a reminder of the simple yet profound joys of life.

Festival Dates

The Full Moon Lantern Festival in Hoi An is a recurring monthly celebration, illuminating the night sky on the 14th day of each lunar calendar month. This cyclical event ensures that no matter when you visit Hoi An, you are never too far from experiencing this magical night. 

However, it’s in February, the month marking the first full moon of the lunar year, that the festival truly becomes a grandiose celebration. This particular month witnesses the largest and most vibrant festivities, drawing in crowds from all over the world.

For those planning to witness this enchanting event in 2024, here are the key dates when the lanterns will adorn the night:

  • January 24, 2024
  • February 23, 2024
  • March 23, 2024
  • April 22, 2024
  • May 21, 2024
  • June 19, 2024
  • July 19, 2024
  • August 17, 2024
  • September 16, 2024
  • October 16, 2024
  • November 14, 2024
  • December 14, 2024

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The captivating lights festival unfolds in the enchanting city of Hoi An, located in Vietnam’s central Quang Nam Province. This historic city, renowned for its well-preserved Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, serves as the backdrop for the festival. The lantern-lit streets, reflecting off the Thu Bon River, create a mesmerizing scene, embodying the spirit and cultural richness of Vietnam.

Traveling to Hoi An: From Air to Lantern Lights

The nearest airport to Hoi An is Da Nang International Airport, approximately 30 kilometers away. From here, visitors have several options to reach the festival:

  • Taxi: The most direct way, taking about 45 minutes.
  • Shuttle Bus: Regular shuttle services offer a cost-effective and comfortable ride.
  • Private Car Hire: Ideal for those seeking convenience and flexibility.
  • Motorbike Rental: For the more adventurous, this option offers a scenic route to Hoi An.

Reaching the Festival by Train: A Guide

For those traveling by train, here’s a detailed guideline on how to reach the festival location:

From Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Board a train to Da Nang Railway Station (approx. 16-18 hours).
  • From Da Nang, opt for a taxi or bus to Hoi An (about 45 minutes).

From Hanoi:

  • Take a train to Da Nang Railway Station (approx. 14-16 hours).
  • Upon arrival in Da Nang, choose between a taxi, bus, or motorbike rental to reach Hoi An.

From Hue:

  • A shorter train journey to Da Nang Railway Station (approx. 2-3 hours).
  • Continue to Hoi An via taxi, bus, or rented motorbike.

From Nha Trang:

  • Board a train to Da Nang (approx. 9-11 hours).
  • Complete the journey to Hoi An by taxi, shuttle bus, or motorbike.

If you’re in Southeast Asia, you can also check out these other breathtaking lights festivals:

Thailand Festival of Lights

i Light Singapore

Festival Hours

As twilight fades into night, the Full Moon Lantern Festival begins its luminous display from 6:00 PM, offering a serene evening experience until 10:00 PM. This time frame allows visitors to fully engage with the festival’s activities, from wandering amidst the lantern-adorned streets to participating in traditional rituals. The early evening hours are perfect for exploring the vibrant cultural landscape of Hoi An, enriched by the festival’s aura.

The highlight of the night occurs at around 8:00 PM, when a transformative moment sweeps across the city. Hoi An gracefully dims its electric lights, surrendering to the ancient glow of myriad lanterns. This enchanting transition not only enhances the festival’s mystical ambiance but also symbolizes a profound connection to heritage and tradition. During these hours, the lanterns’ soft radiance casts a spellbinding charm, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in an experience that blends the past with the present.

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An image inspired by the majestic beauty of the Full Moon Lantern Festival in Hoi An, Vietnam

How Much Does It Cost to See the Full Moon Lantern Festival

Experiencing the mesmerizing sight of lanterns at the festival is entirely free, allowing everyone to enjoy the spectacle without any cost. The streets lined with glowing lanterns and the overall festive atmosphere can be savored by all, making it an inclusive celebration. This accessibility ensures that the beauty of the lanterns and the cultural richness of Hoi An are open to everyone, reflecting the welcoming spirit of the festival.

For those desiring a more hands-on experience, the festival offers the opportunity to release a paper lantern into the river. This act of setting a lantern afloat, accompanied by a wish or a prayer, is a deeply personal and moving experience. 

Each paper lantern costs approximately 50 cents, a small price for a moment that creates lasting memories. 

Additionally, for a comprehensive festival experience, visitors can opt for a sampan ride. Priced around $5, these traditional boats provide an intimate view of the floating lanterns, allowing guests to be at the heart of the festival’s magic on the river. 

These additional experiences, while optional, offer unique perspectives and deeper engagement with the festival’s traditions.

Weather and What to Wear

The weather in Hoi An, Vietnam  varies throughout the year and it influences what visitors should wear to comfortably enjoy the Full Moon Lantern Festival each month. Here’s a breakdown of the monthly weather patterns and recommended attire:

  • January: Cool with temperatures around 20°C to 25°C. Light layers and a jacket for the evenings are advisable.
  • February: Similar to January, with cool and pleasant weather. A light jacket or sweater is ideal for evening strolls.
  • March: Warmer, averaging 22°C to 28°C. Light clothing for the day and a thin layer for cooler evenings are recommended.
  • April: The start of the warm season, temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C. Comfortable, breathable clothes are best.
  • May: Hot and humid, with temperatures often above 30°C. Light, airy clothing and sun protection are essential.
  • June: The heat continues, frequently exceeding 30°C. Opt for loose, light-colored clothes and hats for sun protection.
  • July: Similar to June, very hot with temperatures often above 30°C. Stay hydrated and wear light, sun-protective clothing.
  • August: Hot and humid, with temperatures around 28°C to 35°C. Loose-fitting, breathable attire is recommended.
  • September: The weather starts to cool slightly, around 25°C to 31°C. Light layers are comfortable for evening activities.
  • October: Mild with temperatures around 23°C to 28°C. Comfortable, casual clothing with a light jacket for evenings.
  • November: Cooler, averaging 20°C to 25°C. Ideal for light layers and a comfortable jacket in the evenings.
  • December: Cool, with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 23°C. Dress in layers and bring a warm jacket for nighttime.

Where to Sleep – Nearby Hotels

In the heart of Hoi An’s enchanting ambiance, several nearby hotels offer the perfect retreat after a day spent under the glow of lanterns. Each of these accommodations combines comfort with the charm of Hoi An, ensuring a restful and immersive experience.

Hoi An Riverside Resort and Spa

A 4-star sanctuary nestled along the scenic banks of the Song Do River. Guests can indulge in the tranquility of this resort, which offers elegantly furnished rooms with traditional Vietnamese touches. Amenities include free breakfast, an outdoor pool surrounded by lush gardens, and a spa offering rejuvenating treatments. The resort’s prime location allows easy access to the ancient town and the Full Moon Lantern Festival.

Hoi An Four Seasons Villa

This charming 3-star hotel, set in a serene location, offers a peaceful escape from the festival’s hustle and bustle. With free parking and complimentary breakfast, guests are assured of convenience and comfort. The villa’s architecture blends modern aesthetics with traditional Vietnamese elements, providing a cozy, homelike atmosphere. Its proximity to the festival venue makes it an ideal choice for those seeking both accessibility and tranquility.

Hoi An Reverie Villas 

Another 3-star gem, these villas offer an intimate experience in the midst of Hoi An’s natural beauty. Each villa is designed to provide a relaxing and authentic stay, complete with modern amenities. The on-site restaurant serves a variety of local and international dishes, complemented by a free breakfast for guests. The tranquil setting, combined with the warmth of Vietnamese hospitality, makes the Reverie Villas a delightful choice for festival-goers seeking a blend of comfort and cultural immersion.

Where to Eat

Hoi An’s vibrant culinary scene is as diverse as its culture, offering a delightful array of dining options that cater to every palate. From traditional Vietnamese fare to contemporary vegan dishes, the following eateries promise an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

Nhan’s Kitchen

This charming restaurant offers a blend of local and international flavors, including vegan options. Located conveniently within the heart of Hoi An, it features comfortable outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying the city’s ambience. Signature dishes include the savory Pizza Marinara and the delectable Fried Rice with Vegetables, catering to a variety of tastes and dietary preferences.

Secret Garden Hoi An 

Tucked away in a serene setting, this eatery is a hidden gem offering a peaceful outdoor dining experience. It serves a variety of dishes, including vegan options. Highlights from their menu are the Hoi An Chicken Rice, showcasing local flavors, and the Sour Sweet Fried Wonton, a perfect blend of tangy and crispy textures. This spot is ideal for those seeking a tranquil dining atmosphere amidst the hustle of the festival.

Morning Glory Original 

Renowned for its authentic Vietnamese cuisine, Morning Glory Original is a must-visit for food enthusiasts. This restaurant serves an array of vegetarian dishes, capturing the essence of traditional Vietnamese cooking. Notable menu items include Stir-fried Bitter Melon with Green Onion and Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Chili, offering a true taste of local culinary artistry. Its central location and vibrant atmosphere make it a popular choice among visitors and locals alike.

More Things to Do in the Area

While the Full Moon Lantern Festival is a highlight, Hoi An and its surroundings brim with attractions and activities that promise to enrich your visit with cultural depth and scenic beauty.

An Bang Beach 

Located just 4 kilometers from Hoi An’s city center, An Bang Beach is a serene escape from the bustling festival streets. This pristine beach is known for its soft, white sands and clear blue waters, offering a tranquil setting for relaxation and sunbathing. Water sports like swimming and surfing are popular here, and the beachside cafes and bars provide the perfect spot to enjoy fresh seafood and local specialties while gazing at the horizon.

Old House of Tan Ky 

Situated in the heart of Hoi An’s Ancient Town, the Old House of Tan Ky is a well-preserved example of 18th-century merchant housing. This historical site provides insight into the architecture and daily life of Hoi An’s past. Visitors can explore the intricately carved wooden furniture, antique ceramics, and the unique architectural design that has withstood several centuries. The house also serves as a cultural repository, showcasing the fusion of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese architectural styles.

Hoi An Market 

For a taste of local life, Hoi An Market is a bustling hub located in the central part of the Ancient Town. This vibrant market is a treasure trove of fresh produce, aromatic spices, handcrafted souvenirs, and tailor shops. Visitors can immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere, sample local street foods, or even take part in a cooking class. The market is also an ideal place to interact with locals and learn about the regional cuisine and culture.

An Illuminating Conclusion: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Visit to the Full Moon Lantern Festival

In conclusion, the Full Moon Lantern Festival in Hoi An offers a mesmerizing blend of cultural heritage, spiritual traditions, and natural beauty. From the gentle glow of lanterns illuminating the ancient streets to the diverse culinary delights and serene nearby beaches, the festival presents a unique, unforgettable experience. 

Whether participating in the lantern release, exploring historical sites, or simply soaking in the festive atmosphere, visitors are sure to carry home lasting memories. This enchanting festival not only lights up the night sky but also ignites a deeper appreciation for Vietnam’s rich cultural tapestry.

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An image inspired from the Full Moon Lantern Festival

FAQ

  • Is there parking available near the festival area?
  • Yes, there are designated parking areas around Hoi An, but spaces can be limited due to the festival’s popularity. It’s advisable to arrive early or use public transportation.
  • Are there any smoking restrictions at the festival?
  • Smoking is discouraged in crowded areas and near the lantern displays for safety reasons. Visitors are advised to smoke in designated areas, respecting the festival’s environment and other attendees.
  • Can I bring my pet to the festival?
  • While pets are not prohibited, the festival can be crowded and noisy, which might be stressful for animals. If you bring a pet, ensure they are comfortable with large crowds and that you can maintain control over them at all times.
  • What should I do in case of an emergency?
  • There are medical and emergency services on standby during the festival. In case of an emergency, approach the nearest festival staff or security personnel for assistance.
  • Are there facilities for people with disabilities?
  • Efforts are made to accommodate visitors with disabilities, including accessible pathways in some areas. However, due to the historical nature of Hoi An’s streets, some parts of the festival may be less accessible.
  • Is photography allowed during the festival?
  • Photography is not only allowed but encouraged. However, please be respectful of others when taking photos and avoid using flash photography near the lanterns.
  • What payment methods are accepted at the festival?
  • Most vendors at the festival accept cash, and some may accept credit cards. It’s recommended to carry some cash for small purchases and in areas where cards are not accepted.
  • Are there any dress codes for the festival?
  • There is no specific dress code for the festival, but comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing is recommended. It’s also advisable to wear comfortable footwear as there will be a lot of walking.
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An image inspired by the breathtaking beauty of the Full Moon Lantern Festival

Sources:

https://vinpearl.com/en/hoi-an-lantern-festival-the-most-brilliant-time-of-the-ancient-town

https://sonasia-holiday.com/sonabee/hoi-an-lantern-festival-vietnam

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