Hoi An Lantern Festival Guide & Dates

Between the colorful Hoi An lantern festival held every month and the local favorite dish Cao Lau, it’s debatable which put this little town on the tourist map. The lantern festival has become popular enough that even if your visit isn’t on the full moon date you can still participate in the Hoi An traditional full moon festival just about any night. Lanterns are lit every night after the sun has sunk in Hoi An. Candles are placed at the bottom of the colorful paper lanterns. The Hoi An lantern festival is a gorgeous tradition.

The lanterns are set into the river as an offering and to worship their ancestors as well as the God of the land. This tradition started centuries ago, where on the full moon people from all over the region would come to participate.

The practice is still alive today and at 8 pm on the eve of the full moon the lights of the town are shut off, and the only light comes from the lanterns being carried down the river.


As beautiful as it was to see, I had visions in my head that the river would be full from bank to bank with colorful light, but it wasn’t. It seems that it has been turned into somewhat of a tourist attraction and the only lanterns afloat were the ones launched by tourist paying to simulate the tradition.

We timed our trip to coincide with a full moon, but the largest event is the first full moon of the lunar new year. We were there during the 2nd full moon of the year and to be honest, it wasn’t that much different than a normal night in Hoi An. I guess I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there during the full moon again (except for maybe the first one), but if you happen to be there it’s pretty to see the town less light up, and a few more lanterns than usual.

Hoi An, Vietnam is a beautiful city no matter what the stage the moon is in: Great food, culture, and just a charming town.


How could you go all the way to Hoi An and not put a lantern in the river during the lantern festival Hoi An?

Well, as pretty as it was, I just got to thinking where are all these lanterns going? Aren’t we just putting more trash into the sea?

Sure there are way worse things going out there on a daily basis than some paper and a candle stub. However, it was more than just the littering, I saw no local people participating in the tradition, and it felt like it was only done for the tourists. I hate things that exist solely for the purpose of tourism. I am sure at one time this was a beautiful event every full moon, but now lanterns are dunked in every night of the month just for the tourists watch, and something about that feels wrong.

Now, Hoi An was our favorite town in all of Vietnam and the experience with the lanterns didn’t wreck it, but just made us think what kind of impact we are having on the world when we travel.

Hopefully, there is a smart little business lady waiting at the end of the river to collect and reuse these lanterns, but I am not sure of that. If there isn’t, there should be, she would be rich!

Source: Getting Stamp

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