Christmas celebration in Vietnam with a DMC

Christmas is a celebration that crosses cultures and borders and is celebrated in many countries of the world, including Vietnam. How did a predominantly Buddhist and communist country accept this Christian celebration? Where to experience Christmas in Vietnam? What are the typical features of Vietnamese Christmas? Here are some tips to help you discover this unique holiday. And remember that a DMC agency can take care of you and your customers.

Cua Bac church, in Hanoi with its beautiful crib - Photo : Internet


Although Christmas is a relatively recent holiday in Vietnam, many Vietnamese, especially in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, celebrate it with enthusiasm.
It may be interesting to use a local DMC agency, a professional receptive specialized in the organization of tailor-made trips, to fully enjoy the festive atmosphere of Christmas in Vietnam. A local DMC agency can offer tours that match your desires, your budget and your available time by allowing you to discover the cultural, natural and historical riches of Vietnam. By offering you a personalized and quality service, a local DMC agency can also help you book your accommodation, transport, guides, air tickets and activities.

History and origin of Christmas celebration in Vietnam

In Vietnam, Christmas is called Lễ Giáng Sinh, which literally means "birthday". It is a religious holiday that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God in the Christian tradition, as everyone knows. From the 16th century, Portuguese, French and Spanish missionaries introduced Christianity to Vietnam, but some of the successive emperors persecuted it for a long time. After the division of Vietnam into two zones, the communist North and the pro-Western South, celebrating Christmas, encouraged by the French, will slowly spread until it fully blossomed after the arrival of the French colonialists in the 19th century.
Thus, Christianity will develop freely in the South since 1954, with the support of the United States and the Saigon regime. Christmas celebrations as they are now known began to develop in the late 1980s, under the influence of the policy of renewal known as Doi Moi, which allowed the Country  of the Blue Dragonto liberalize and open up to the world. Today, about ten percent of the Vietnamese population are Christians, the majority being Catholics. Moreover, the figures indicate that Vietnam is the second most Catholic country in the world, just behind the Phlippines.
The celebration of Christmas in Vietnam was strongly influenced by French culture, which dominated the country for nearly a century, from 1858 to 1954. This is why in Vietnam there are typically French Christmas symbols, such as the christmas tree, the crib, Santa Claus who brings gifts to the wise children, or the Christmas log, a cream cake. However, Vietnam has also adapted Christmas to its own culture, adding local elements, such as purple lanterns, lotus flowers, fruits or traditional songs.
Because of the global movement, Christmas in Vietnam has become a commercial and social holiday, attracting more and more Vietnamese, whether Christian or not. Christmas has become an opportunity to gather with family, friends or as a couple, exchange gifts, decorate home, go to church or enjoy the festive atmosphere in the streets.
Learn more about Vietnamese Traditional Festivals

Hang Ma Street, in Hanoi's old quarter - Photo : Mr Linh's Adventure

How and where to celebrate Christmas in Vietnam

There is no lack of choice if you want to experience Christmas Celebration in Vietnam, because each (big) city and each region has its own way of celebrating the birth of the divine child. Here are some tips a qualified DMC can give you:

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, which is considered the Christmas capital of Vietnam, is an option if you like busy big cities. The most beautiful decorations and illuminations are present there, especially in the Nguyen Hue district, where a huge Christmas tree stands, or in the Pham Ngu Lao district, where bars, restaurants and hotels are concentrated. You can also attend shows, concerts, fireworks or Santa Claus motorcycle parades. Don’t forget to visit the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Saigon, which is the symbol of the city and receives thousands of faithful for the midnight mass.

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is an option if you prefer historical and cultural cities, as it offers a more authentic and more confidential charm. Hang Ma Street is a street dedicated to festive decorations, even if traditionally votive papers are sold, and you can admire the sober and elegant decorations of Hoan Kiem Lake. Be sure to visit one of the city’s many churches, such as Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, the country’s oldest, or Cua Bac Church, which hosted US President Barack Obama in 2016. Christmas markets, ice rinks and rides are also available.

Da Nang, one of the 5 largest cities in Vietnam, is located on the central coast and is a modern and dynamic city. Every evening, the bridges of the Dragon, the Han River and Tran Thi Ly are illuminated in different colors thanks to their original and colorful decorations. In addition, the beach, sun and sea offer a striking contrast with the winter atmosphere of Christmas. Finally, you can explore Marble Mountain, which is a sacred place where caves, pagodas and Buddhist statues are found.
Note that thoses destinations are among the best DMC/MICE in Vietnam.

The provinces of Ninh Binh or Nam Dinh, located south of Hanoi, are ideal for a traditional and rural Christmas. Catholic families are present there, representing a significant minority in these regions considered the cradle of Catholicism in Vietnam. They can help you to make the crib, pick flowers, make rice cake or repeat hymns. In addition, you will have the opportunity to attend the midnight mass, which is celebrated in modest but vibrant churches. Finally, you can explore the cultural and natural riches of these regions, such as the Halong Bay on Land, the temple of Hoa Lu or the impressive stone cathedral of Phat Diem.

Celebrating Christmas in Vietnam - Photo : Mr Linh's Adventure

Typical features of a Vietnamese Christmas

Christmas in Vietnam has both similarities and differences with Christmas in the West. In particular:

The Christmas meal: in Vietnam, there is no specific menu for the Christmas meal; the menu varies according to the region, the family and the preferences of each. Traditional Vietnamese dishes, such as banh chung (sticky rice cake, mung beans and pork), thit kho (caramelized pork), nem (spring rolls) or Ga luoc (boiled chicken, usually served with garlic and ginger sauce) are available. Often the Christmas meal is served with wine or beer and ends with a cake or fruit.
Christmas decoration: in Vietnam, Christmas decoration is very common, especially in big cities, where shops, hotels, restaurants and houses are adorned with garlands, balls, bells or stars. The Christmas tree is also very popular, but it is often artificial, made of plastic or metal, and decorated with flowers, fruits or lanterns. The crib is also an important element of Christmas decoration, especially on the forecourt of churches.


With a local DMC agency, living Christmas in Vietnam is an unforgettable and unique experience that will allow you to spend magical moments and share the joy of the Vietnamese.

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