Five spectacles that make Vietnam a summer special

A hotter summer won’t dampen a Vietnam visit, given the celebration of some very memorable and unique festivals.

An explosive time

Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

Organizers have promised that the highly popular Da Nang Fireworks Festival this year will be an even bigger spectacle than previous editions.

This year, seven teams – Italy, Russia, Brazil, Belgium, Holland, the U.K., China and the home team of Da Nang will compete through firework displays.

The festival, a month-long event (June 1- July 6), will have firework competitions every Saturday night wherein the teams try to tell the beauty, history and culture of typical rivers in their countries through pyrotechnic displays.

After four nights of competition, the two most outstanding teams will be chosen for the final night scheduled for July 6. 

Apart from the fireworks, many other cultural events including concerts, street carnivals, dance and art shows will be part of the event.

Da Nang held the first International Fireworks Competition in 2008. In 2017, the transformation of the event from a two-day competition to a two month-long festival helped maintain its status as a leading tourism hub in the Asia-Pacific region.

Last year, Da Nang received 7.6 million tourists, 2.87 million of them foreigners, a 23.3 percent increase year-on-year.

Earlier this year, the New York Times ranked the central coastal city among 52 best places to go in 2019, dubbing it "the Miami of Vietnam."

Time to fly high

The former imperial capital of Hue, with its citadel, royal tombs and the Perfume River, does something different in summer. It hosts the Hue International Balloon Festival. The April 27-29 festival is a party of colorful hot air balloons that fly at altitudes of 100 to 300 meters within the radius of five kilometers from the takeoff point. Festival participants are Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, the Netherlands and hosts Vietnam.

The festival is a chance for visitors to take a hot air balloon ride and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Hue, headquarters of the Nguyen Dynasty, which ruled Vietnam from 1802 until the end of feudal Vietnam in 1945.

It is part of the 8th Hue Traditional Craft Festival that will last until May 2.

Hue received nearly two million foreign arrivals in 2018, surging 30 percent from a year ago. It’s one of the few places in Vietnam where life proceeds at a leisurely pace and the ambience is predominantly peaceful.

Last February, British travel magazine Rough Guides included Vietnam’s ancient capital Hue in its list of six lesser-known Asian destinations.

Lang Co Beach is one of the top holiday destinations in Hue. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh

Whale worship and more

The Nha Trang-Khanh Hoa Sea Festival is a biennial event, so if you miss it this year, you have to wait until 2021.

The sea festival, to be held from May 11-14, also features a range of cultural performances, modern art shows and street carnivals. What makes it unique is the whale worshipping ritual, a long-standing tradition among Vietnamese fishers who see the whale as a divine entity who can grant good weather, bountiful catch and protection from the elements while at sea.

The festival has added to the popularity of Nha Trang which was visited by around 2.8 million foreign tourists last year, up 38 percent from a year earlier, accounting for one fifth of total foreign arrivals in Vietnam. China and Russia are the two largest visitor-generating markets for Nha Trang.

The coastal town is known for its sandy beaches, pristine islands, vestiges of the Champa Kingdom and old Buddhist temples.

Run for fun, run for a cause

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Pham

The VnExpress International Marathon on June 9 will take participants through the most sunny and beautiful beaches along the central coastal town of Quy Nhon, capital of Binh Dinh Province.

Four distances are on offer: 5 km, 10 km, 21 km (half marathon) and 42 km.

So far, the race has attracted more than 3,500 applicants and the organizers hope that the number will go up to 5,000 this year.

This is also a run for charity. Organizers will donate 10 percent of the ticket sales proceeds to VnExpress’ Hope Foundation that works to improve learning facilities for disadvantaged students.

The marathon’s goal is also to spread the sporting spirit and strengthen the sense of community.

Quy Nhon is a town that witnessed the rise and fall of the Champa kingdom. The beach town was named among the top 10 destinations for a winter escape in 2018 by the U.K.’s The Guardian.

In 2015, the U.K. travel publisher Rough Guides also listed Quy Nhon as one of the top nine authentic escapes in Southeast Asia.

Wonderful wonder

Photo by VnExpress/Meo Gia

Ha Long Bay, perhaps the most visited travel destination in Vietnam because of its spectacular scenery, has added a carnival to its calendar that makes a summer visit added zest.

The Ha Long Carnival 2019 has the theme “From wonder to wonder.” It opened on April 28 with music and art performances and street carnivals as part of efforts to get more people to visit the UNESCO heritage site.

Many visitors have remarked on the festival as one that adds to the enjoyment of the UNESCO natural world heritage, with many activities introducing them to local culture.

Story by Nguyen Quy