As we roll into the end of April and a string of public holidays, there’s a few things you might want to consider. Much like TET, you might need to plan ahead if you’re visiting in the week beginning 27th April. A lot of locals will be making the most of a 6 day break and heading off on a quick break. That means transport and accommodation might be a little tight for the really popular destinations.
Tuesday 28th of April is King Hung’s birthday. Thursday 30th marks 40 years since the Reunification of Vietnam. And, Friday 1st of May is International Labor Day. Many offices will be closed for a 6 day period. So, if you want to do any official business like Visa On Arrival applications, consular visits etc, you may need to plan further ahead than normal. I’ve mapped out some of the special things you can do over this period below. Book your transport, including flights, trains and buses, well ahead of time. Ditto with your accommodation and Tours.
Leave yourself a little extra time if you are headed to the airport from District 1 or need to visit somewhere close to where all the action is happening (the area around the palace etc. Roads have been blocked off and diversions are in place so you may need to go the long way around. Reputable taxi drivers should have worked out the best way around by then.
What’s on Over the Holiday Period – April 28th – May 1st 2015
Most of the big sites around town will remain open but some, like Reunification Palace , the War Remnants Museum, the Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral will have special events either at or in the vicinity. Traffic conditions around both have changed in preparation for the celebrations and you may find them extremely crowded or operating differently to normal.
There’s actually a fair bit going from the 24th April. This Infographic gives a good summary.
April 28th – King Hung’s Birthday
In Vietnamese history there were 18 Hung kings and on the 10th day of the third Lunar month the people of Vietnam remember and pay tribute to them all. Although widely celebrated in the north of Vietnam, this day is more like a holiday from work for southerners.
The main King Hung Festival in Vietnam takes place at the Hung Temple on Nghia Linh Mountain in Phong Chau District, Phu Tho Province, some 85 km northwest of Hanoi. However there are some special ceremonies in Saigon.
Probably the most colourful celebrations will be held at Suoi Tien Amusement Park which is in District 9, about 40 minutes from the centre. The English page is a little garbled but it appears they will have a special parade and performances. The easiest way for you to get there is to take a bus. Numbers 19, 50, 52, 53 or 150 all go there. Ask the driver to drop you at the park. It will definitely be a local experience. Entry is only about 60 000 VND so it’s a pretty cheap day out. I’ve read that City leaders will visit it to show their respects to the ancestors on the 28th.
There are several other King Hung Temples around town where locals will go to pay their respects, including Tao Dan Park and across from the Historical Museum near the botanical gardens. Check out my two walking itinerary’s for exact locations.
A few of the restaurants around town will have special buffets, lunches and dinners in honour of the holiday.One I’ve seen is the cafe on the first level of the Sheraton but I’m sure there’s many others.
Many schools have special performances on the day. You might get lucky to see one if you’re wandering by.
April 30th – 40th Anniversary of Reunification Day
On April 30th, 1975 Vietnam was reunified when the U.S.-backed Saigon regime fell. This year is the 40 year commemoration. quite a bit of the action will be going on in Le Duan Street, close to all the major sites.
At the same time, there’ll be a big meeting with almost 2000 participants. The country’s top leaders, high-ranking officials of Ho Chi Minh City, international guests, and 100 overseas Vietnamese will be in attendance.
Following the parade and march, a music show will be organized with the performance of over 4,400 artists.Be prepared for a HUGE crowd and traffic chaos in the surrounding areas.
2. Fireworks displays
Spectacular fireworks at 8 locations around the city will be held from 10pm to 10.15pm. these will be accompanied by other cultural shows and activities. BOOK EARLY if you want to be in a restaurant with a view of any of these locations.
Venues include Bitexco Financial Tower in District 1; Ben Duoc and Nga Ba Giong War Martyr Monuments in Cu Chi and Hoc Mon Districts respectively; Lang Le-Bau Co Relic in Binh Chanh District; Can Gio District’s Football Pitch; Historical, Cultural Park in District 9; Dam Sen Cultural Park in District 11; and Go Vap District Flower Village.
3. Reopening of newly pedestrianized Nguyen Hue Street
This one I’ll believe when I see it. Last time I looked (a week ago) there was still A LOT of construction going on. Still, it had progressed significantly since the week before so anything is possible!
May 1st – International Workers Day
More celebrations and performances in the evening around Reunification Palace. Starting at 7pm. Head down for a while to soak up the vibe.
If there’s anything you think I’ve missed then please leave a comment below and I’ll update it for everyone.
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