A very merry Vietnamese Christmas: What to expect when visiting Vietnam during this festive season

Have you seen three Santa Clauses riding a scooter? If the answer is yes, then you must be in Vietnam during December.

Although the majority of Vietnamese are Buddhists, Christmas has become an unofficial holiday for many and a very special time of year, however rather than celebrating on Christmas Day, festivities are mainly enjoyed on Christmas Eve.

Churches in some of the metropolitan cities including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh display nativity scenes, while shopping malls and hotels beautifully adorn their Christmas trees with twinkling lights and sparkling decorations for all to enjoy.

These vibrant cities come to life at night, with festive revelers spilling out onto the bustling streets. Local children are filled with joy as they witness delivery teams donning Santa Claus outfits weaving in and out of the frenzied traffic on their scooters to hand deliver special gifts to loved ones – a truly priceless sight.

One of the most memorable places to watch the Christmas excitement unfold is at St Joseph’s Church in Hanoi. This stunning 19th-century neo-gothic church can be found in the Old Quarter close to Hoan Kiem Lake. On Christmas Eve thousands of Hanoians head to the Old Quarter with friends and family to march towards the church to join midnight mass.

We asked Hien Cao our Sr. Trade Sales Coordinator who hails from Vietnam, for her top tips on the best things to see in Hanoi during December.

  • As mentioned above St. Joseph’s Church is a must-see. The striking 19th-century Gothic Revival church serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi. The cathedral was named after Joseph, the patron saint of Vietnam.
  • Hang Ma Street is a small, vibrant street in the Old Quarter that transforms from selling lanterns and paper decorations into Christmas trees, Santa Claus costumes, festive decorations and lights.
  • Indulge in the six-course feast with wine pairing in the classic French style Hotel Metropole Hanoi.
  • Plus, you must ask one of the Santa’s on a scooter for a festive photo, a memory to treasure forever.