Christmas In Hoi An 2019

If you’re making the most of the statutory holidays, your travels may well place you in Hoi An for Christmas. Celebrations are a little different here. But the festive season is still alive and well, just in a slightly different format. Remember you’re in the tropics now. So a white Christmas is definitely out of the question You’ll be hard-pushed to find a chimney here either. But Santa has his ways of getting to Hoi An.

This tourist town still embraces the Christmas season. The residents sweep you up with a different Christmas experience though. One that you’re unlikely to forget

Hidden gives you an insider’s guide on what to expect when spending Christmas in Hoi An. What to do, where to go, and more. We also explain a little further the Christmas celebrations in this part of Vietnam.

The Christmas Holidays in Hoi An

Vietnam is predominantly Buddhist with only 8% out of 90 million Vietnamese identifying themselves as Christians. Christmas is understandably then, not the biggest celebration on the Vietnamese calendar.

The highlight of the Vietnamese year is, in fact, Tet. The Lunar New Year celebration in Vietnam, coinciding with the Chinese New Year. Tet is colourful and fun, but the whole country is on the move as everyone travels back to their hometown to be with their family. During Tet, many businesses close. Business hours alter, staff shortages occur along with a slight sense of disarray. Regular working patterns abandoned in favour of celebrating with one’s friends and family. Very similar to what happens over the Christmas and New Year periods in the West. Therefore making travelling during Tet somewhat challenging for tourists.

Hoi An is a tourist town, so it is less affected than in other areas. But prepare for some disruption travelling during this time. In particular, travel during Tet is expensive due to the high demand for seats. Buses and trains book out with Vietnamese travelling back to their hometowns.

What this does mean is that over the Christmas period in Hoi An, it’s pretty much “business as usual.” There are no closures or statutory holidays during this time for the Vietnamese. Therefore your travels will be uninterrupted, albeit infused with touches of tinsel!

Christmas decorations in Old Town
Christmas decorations in Hoi An Old Town. Photo: Heike Thiele

What does Christmas in Hoi An look like?

There’s no doubt you will still know it’s Christmas time when you visit Hoi An. The many hotels in the area embrace the festive spirit with Christmas markets, decorations, and other promotional Christmas activities and specials. Read on Where to Stay in Hoi An and Hotels in Old Town for more information on accommodation during this time.  

Hidden Hint: Once you’ve chosen your ideal spot, we advise that you secure it as soon as possible as this is a popular Western holiday time.

Many of the small stores in the Old Town swap out their regular fare for garlands, Santa suits, wreaths, reindeer antlers, and all things Christmassy.  It’s easy to find things to take back and decorate your hotel room with. Even trinket ornaments to buy as keepsakes for future Christmases back home. It’s also a great time to shop for those late Christmas presents.  Check out our souvenir shopping guide for some unique pieces to bring back home.

Christmas Eve is the Main Event

The main difference of how Christmas is celebrated here compared to in the West is that here, Christmas Eve, instead of Christmas Day, is the main event. Many family meals are held on this day and hotels and restaurants around Hoi An offer special Christmas menus and banquets.  You’ll even find réveillon (chocolate log cake) in many restaurants. A remnant of the French influence here. Many of the town’s bars will have Christmas Eve themed drinks and celebrations. The Old Town and its surrounding streets come alive with Christmas Eve revellers. The beach is lively, too, during this time, with many bars holding festive beach parties.

Hidden Hint: Christmas Eve can be very busy on the streets of Hoi An as many of the youth will ride around on their motorbikes to different celebrations or to check out the lanterns, lights, and various activities.  If you stick to the pedestrian zones of the Old Town, you’ll be able to avoid most of this.

Sound of Silence Coffee Christmas tree
Staff at Sound of Silence Coffee decorate their Christmas tree.

Christmas Day in Hoi An

It’s business as usual on Christmas Day. Yes, the shops are all open, so you can shop for your last minute Christmas presents. In fact, for many local businesses here, it’s one of their biggest retail days.

Weather in Hoi An at Christmas

Now, while we’ve said there’s no snow, be prepared that for some colder, wet weather during December. But don’t let this dampen your spirits.  Hotels, bars, and restaurants all have plenty of activities on offer to help you forget about the weather if it is unpleasant. Many past Christmases here have been celebrated on the sands of nearby An Bang Beach. Swimming at this time would be solely for the very brave, though! If you’d like to know more about the weather during this time we’ve dedicated an entire article to it here.

Christmas Mass in Hoi An

Christmas mass is celebrated at the newly renovated Hoi An Cathedral on the corner of Ly Thuong Kiet Street and Nguyen Truong Street. About a 10-minute walk from the centre of town. The Cathedral itself has stunning architecture, and the religious statues in the surrounding grounds outside are beautiful. The Cathedral is steeped in history as it was, in fact, one of the first places that missionaries chose to stay on their arrival in Vietnam. It has been rebuilt several times and holds the graves of the missionaries and church leaders buried in its grounds.

There is a Catholic Christmas mass service on both Christmas Eve at 7:30 pm and Christmas Day in Vietnamese at 6 am, and in English at 4 pm. The Cathedral has a nativity scene complete with a Christmas play. Many Vietnamese and tourists flock to see this on Christmas Eve. On this night, it is very busy, and the church is packed. So ensure you come early if you’d like to partake in the service. It is quite common for crowds to spill out of the church doors and families gather to listen to the choir singing in the church grounds. You are made most welcome here, though. The Vietnamese Catholic community are very open to visitors and treat you like a long lost friend.

Hidden Hint: Services are held in Vietnamese with a Christmas Day mass in English at 4.p.m. If the only time you can go is a Vietnamese service, the masses contain a lot of singing, so you’ll easily be immersed in the experience without knowing the language.

Hoi An Roastery Christmas tree
Bags of coffee make a novel Christmas tree at Hoi An Roastery. Photo: Heike Thiele

Christmas Dining in Hoi An

For those craving a Western fix with a traditional Christmas dinner don’t worry, the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa has got you covered.  Famous in Hoi An for nearly 20 years for its design, ambience, and heavenly beachfront swimming pool. This resort is laid out as a replica of a traditional fishing village with small streets, water ponds, and village houses. At Christmas time they don’t disappoint because they decorate the resort beautifully complete with a giant Christmas tree. Their colonial-style restaurant with its antique wooden cabinets and classic fans make it the perfect festive dining experience.  The presentation of their food is faultless, as are their efficient staff. Plus you can look out to sea while dining on some amazing festive fare.

Christmas Eve Gala Dinner

The main event held on Christmas Eve is when they host a large “Christmas Eve Gala Dinner”. This comes complete with Christmas delights,  welcome cocktails and the big man himself Santa even drops in with presents! There are beautiful decorations, carol singing, lion dancing, and even a bonfire!  

The Christmas Eve menu is jaw-dropping. We’re talking Nha Trang oysters, steamed crab, herby scallops, smoked salmon, roasted beef wellington and turkey for mains. Then you have to shuffle around to make room for the plethora of desserts. These include the aforementioned chocolate tart, tiramisu and apple pie… the list goes on. The gala dinner starts at 4 pm with Santa’s arrival and ends with a bonfire near the pool around 9:30 pm.

Christmas Day Dining

For those of you that want to celebrate on Christmas Day, the Victoria does it all again on the 25th of December with an international standard Christmas Day Brunch. Running from noon to 3 pm, Santa comes back with more presents for kids, the children of Victoria’s staff will perform for you, and there’s a supervised kid’s club as well. You also can devour Christmas fare along with free-flowing drinks.

Christmas Eve Gala Dinner Costs

Price: 1,987,000 VND (86 USD). 20% discount for children aged 5 to 12 years-old (Children under 5 are free). Booking: Via Email

Christmas Day Brunch Costs

Price: 912,000 VND (40 USD) with free flow of beer and soft drinks; 1,143,000 VND (50 USD) with free flow of wine and sparkling wine. 20% discount for children aged 5 to 12 years-old (Children under 5 are free). Booking: Via Email

Christmas under palm trees
Christmas under palm trees in Hoi An. Photo: Travis Hodges

Christmas Eve Gala Dinner in the Old Town

Another option for celebrating Christmas in the Old Town with a traditional feast is to join the Anantara Hoi An Resorts’ Christmas Eve Gala Dinner. Held at the stylish Lantern Town Restaurant, the Gala Dinner has a red and gold theme to truly get you in the Christmas spirit. 

Here, you can dine in a festive, boutique atmosphere. There’s an expansive buffet with traditional Christmas bites and exquisite flavours from around the world. A magician will circulate with jaw dropping tricks to keep the kids entertained, whilst adults are equally delighted by the selection of free flow bubbles, wine and beer. The Christmas Eve Gala Dinner starts at 6.p.m with a cocktail party in the garden, followed by dinner and festive events, all with live music to get you in the festive spirit!

Christmas Eve Gala Dinner Costs

Price: 4,760,000 VND (207 USD) with free flow soft drinks, beer, and wine. Children aged 7 to 11 receive a 50% discount (Children under 7 are free). Booking: Via their website

Luxury Christmas Dinner in the Old Town

If you are looking for something extra special in Hoi An’s Old Town this Christmas then you should definitely consider The Hoianian Wine Bar and Restaurant. A contemporary Vietnamese restaurant and wine bar situated within the Old Town, The Hoianian has a meditteranean inspired ‘Wine and Dine’ Christmas menu available on both the 24th and 25th December. 

Not only does the menu offer festive twists such as Christmas pudding ice cream, you also receive a complimentary glass of mulled wine to get you in the festive spirit! Additionally you can opt to have your meals paired with fines wines to bring out the most of your food.

Wine and Dine Christmas Menu Costs

Price: With wine pairing 1,419,000 VND (59 USD) per person, without wine pairing 1,050,000 VND (43 USD) per person. Booking: Book via Email 

Simple Christmas decorations: Christmas in Hoi An
Christmas decorations in Hoi An can be simple and subtle. Photo: Heike Thiele

Christmas Eve Parties at the Beach

Why leave celebrating until Christmas Day, when you can join The Shore Club’s wacky, wild Christmas Eve party on An Bang Beach. Not only does this event have free entry but also has non-stop entertainment from 5.30.p.m till late. With live bands, DJs, drinking games and dance competitions, this party is the perfect event to bring Christmas in early. There’s a special a la carte christmas dinner menu, epic drink specials and food stalls. If this isn’t enough, there is even a flair fire bartending show! The best part, is that this event is completely free and even contains a free welcome drink with any advanced bookings. Whatever the weather, this celebration is sure to bring a fun-packed evening. Booking: via Email

Vietnam Backpackers Christmas Wonderland

Vietnam Backpackers are hosting 12 days of festivities in the lead up to their main event to be held on Christmas Day. These events include ugly sweater contests, making a gingerbread house, a Christmas movie marathon and many more. Their main event, ‘Hoi An’s Christmas Winter Wonderland’ on the 25th of December starts with a three-course festive lunch and four hours of free flow. The day will be packed with Christmas tunes, live DJs and even includes a crazy santa giveaway – bound to get you in the Christmas spirit! 

Hoi An’s Christmas Winter Wonderland Costs

Price: 600,000 VND (26 USD) per person. Booking: Via Email or their Facebook page

Christmas at the Beach with the Family

For a more family-friendly beach option, why not join the Salt Pub family this Christmas at Salt Pub and Restaurant?  They promise to show you a good time with their traditional Christmas Buffet Lunch! Salt Pub is one of the best-thought-out venues along the beach, with festive games, a visit from Santa, live music and even pig racing along the beach! They have a large garden with a play area for the kids and two decking areas which are perfect places to relax and enjoy Christmas.

You’ll get a Christmas welcome drink and a full three-course Christmas meal with all the trimmings. Accompanied by free flow local beer, as well as house red and white wine, from 12.p.m to 3.p.m. A 50% deposit is required to secure a ticket and there is a 5% discount on early bookings when you purchase the full package, so book early.

Salt Pub and Restaurant Buffet Lunch Costs

Price: 550,000 VND (23 USD) per person for the Christmas Buffet Lunch and 900,000 VND (39 USD) per person including free flow beer, soft drinks and wine. Children under 12 receive a 50% discount (Children under 5 are free). Booking: Via their Facebook page

Hidden Hint: Book as soon as you’ve made your decision on where to spend Christmas. These events are increasing in popularity each year.

An Irish Christmas and New Year at The Shamrock Irish Pub Hoi An

Looking to get in the festive spirit in Hoi An’s Old Town? The Shamrock Irish Pub Hoi An has you covered with both Christmas Eve and New Years Eve parties. Both have free entry, a welcome drink and live music from 3 p.m. until late. This is the one place you can guarantee a good party atmosphere, along with a perfect riverside location. For those after a proper Christmas roast, The Shamrock has a three-course menu with either turkey or beef. This is available any day between Christmas Eve and New Years Day for 650,000 VND (28 USD) including a wine or craft beer. Follow their Facebook for additional info.

Hidden’s Thoughts

Christmas in Hoi An is not going to be like Christmas in the West. That’s not to say one is better than the other—it’s just different. What Hoi An does offer during this time is the all-around good feeling about time with family, great food and the bonus that you’re on holiday, too —that’s always a plus.

A significant lure to Hoi An during Christmas time is its simplicity. Don’t underestimate how enjoyable a Christmas day without all the stressful build up can be. You can step back and get someone else to cook for you here. Sit down and relax without putting your back out over the Christmas turkey! Imagine a Christmas where you can enjoy each other’s company without someone sweating over the stove and worrying for weeks in advance about menus and gifts. Indeed, the Vietnamese have it sussed, back to basics about what Christmas should be all about. Time spent with family and friends without all the commercial hype.

Every year, Christmas gets bigger here as tourist levels continue to rise and the Vietnamese further embrace Western festivals. The Vietnamese do it in such a colourful, fun, all-encompassing way that however you choose to celebrate Christmas, it’s likely not going to be one you’ll quickly forget.

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