1 | When does the Hoi An Full Moon Lantern Festival take place?
The Full Moon Lantern festival takes place on the 14th day of each lunar month. By our reckoning that’s the 2015 and 2016 dates listed below but please do make sure to double check before making firm travel plans! We confirmed with our Hoi An hotel before finalising our travel arrangements.
2015 Lantern Festival dates:
October 26, November 25 and December 24 2015
2016 Lantern Festival dates:
January 23, February 21, March 22 2016
April 20, May 20, June 18 2016
July 17, August 16, September 14 2016
October 14, November 13, December 12 2016
2 | Where does the festival take place?
Festivities take place in the old town where motorised vehicles are banned and electricity use is kept to a minimum. Instead, colourful candlelit lanterns providing light on the streets. The action is centered in the area between the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Cau An Hoi Bridge, which connects Hoi An with An Hoi, and spills onto the surrounding streets and river banks. You can’t miss the sea of colourful lanterns if you stay close to the river!
3 | How much do the lanterns cost?
The going price for a lantern is 5,000 VND although some sellers have a starting price of 10,000 VND. It’s 25 cent vs 50 cent so it’s up to you how much you want to negotiate! The lantern sellers have super long poles to help lower the lanterns into the river and their use is included in the price. The picture below was extra of course but worth every VND in my opinion!
4 | How much do the sampan boat rides cost?
The river banks are lined with sampan boats manned by locals ready to navigate the maze of lanterns in the river. The price is around 100,000 VND so negotiate at your peril! A sampan ride is a nice escape from the chaotic streets above the river and it’s a lovely way to release your lanterns into the water. It’s very easy to find a boat. In fact it’s likely that you will spend a good portion of the evening saying ‘no thanks’ to the offers of a river trip!
5 | What time does the Full Moon Lantern Festival start and finish?
The festivities kick off at dusk and the action on the Hoi An side wraps up between 9 and 10pm. An Hoi, on the other side of the Cau An Hoi Bridge, is a little more lively and the fun can continue a little later into the evening. It’s best not to leave it too late to join in so start exploring at dusk to make the most out of the Full Moon evening!
The An Hoi night market:
6 | Where is the best place to watch the action?
Our favourite place was along the banks of the river at the Cau An Hoi Bridge on the An Hoi side. It was a little less crazy than the Hoi An side and there are some small walls that are perfect for taking a break and sitting on. We spent over an hour in this spot chilling out and indulging in lots of lantern and people watching! It was bliss!
Other good view points are the street cafes lining the river near the Japaneses Bridge on the Hoi An side or a balcony seat in a restaurant overlooking the river.
The Cau An Hoi Bridge has beautiful, panoramic views over the festivities but it gets very, very crowded and it’s not the most relaxing spot!
7 | Is the Lantern Festival Crowded?
Yes, yes and yes again! The Full Moon Lantern Festival isn’t just for tourists and locals attend in their thousands to pay homage to their ancestors. The streets are chaotic but it’s all good fun although do make sure to mind your possessions!
With the crowds it’s very easy to get a knock from behind as you take pictures of the lantern filled river and, oops, your expensive cell phone or camera and potentially a memory card full of irreplaceable Vietnam pics will land in the river. We witnessed this happen to one unfortunate tourist on the Cau An Hoi Bridge and he was inconsolable about the loss of both his pictures and an expensive phone.
Crowds lining the river side:
8 | Is access to the historic sights of Hoi An still free on the night of the Full Moon Lantern Festival?
In the past, Hoi An operated a ticket fee which allowed access to certain historic landmarks and temples and this fee was waived on the night of the Full Moon Lantern Festival. However, with the enforcement of the 120,000 VND fee to enter the ancient town of Hoi An (as opposed to previously only being charged when visitors wanted to access the historical sights) this is unlikely to be beneficial as you will still need to buy a ticket anyway.