You asked (07-02-2012)
I plan to spend a week travelling around the northern provinces of Viet Nam later this month. I have got to know your country's festive season but I am overwhelmed by all the information available on the internet and some travel agencies.
Due to my limited time, could you tell me some of the most popular festivals in northern provinces that I should attend? Where are they? How much do I have to pay for each? Could you give me some suggestions on how to best enjoy these festivals? In the case of an emergency, who should I contact for help?
Jessie Yang, S Korea
You are correct to say that this is Viet Nam's festive season because thousands of festivals are taking place nationwide during the first month of the Lunar New Year.
Based on the advice of cultural expert Nguyen Lam An and the duration of your visit to Viet Nam, we suggest the following festivals for your consideration:
1. Huong Pagoda Festival in Ha Noi's Chuong My District – 75km from the centre of the capital:
Tourists must pay for two separate tickets: one for the pagoda entrance at VND50,000 (US$2.4) per person including accident insurance, and one for the boat which provides transportation to the pagoda at VND40,000 ($1.9) per person.
If you want to stay overnight, you can expect to pay about VND250,000-300,000 ($12-14) per room or VND50,000 ($2.3) for a bed in a shared room for one night. You can contact this number 0463296578 for more details.
2. Yen Tu Pagoda Festival in Quang Ninh Province's Uong Bi District – 140km from Ha Noi:
Tourists do not need to pay any fees to attend this festival but if you want to use the cable car system, you must pay VND320,000 ($15) per person for a return ticket.
The pagoda offers tourists free accommodation if you wish to stay overnight.
3. Bai Dinh-Trang An Festival in Ninh Binh Province – 97 km from Ha Noi:
Tourists do not have to pay any fees to enter the pagoda but it costs VND100,000 ($4.7) per person to travel around Trang An by boat.
4. Hung Temple Festival in Phu Tho Province – 100km from Ha Noi:
Tourists pay VND10,000 ($0.5) per person to enter the temple.
When enjoying these festivals, you should:
– prepare some snacks in advance because the price of food and drinks in the festivals are two or three times higher than usual.
– If you wish to buy anything or use any services, you should try to bargain with the vendors.
– You should wear comfortable shoes and casual clothes to climb up to the pagodas which are located on the mountains.
– Due to the large crowds, you should remember to keep an eye on your belongings.
If you encounter any security problems, you should call 113 for emergency help, preceded by the appropriate local code as follows:
If you are in Ha Noi, dial (04) 113; Quang Ninh Province: (033) 113; Ninh Binh Province: (030) 113; Phu Tho Province: (0210) 113.
In the case of a health problem, dial the local code +115.
You are also welcome to contact us at 04.39332322 if you need help.
We hope you enjoy our festivals and would greatly appreciate if you tell us about your experiences in Viet Nam.