What does the Mid Autumn Festival in Vietnam originate from?

The Mid Autumn Festival is an important cultural celebration in many Asian countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, and various other places. The festival typically falls on September, exactly the 15th day of the 8th lunar month when the moon is full and radiant.

moon festival in vietnam

The Mid Autumn Festival

The Full Moon Festival has been a part of Vietnam's culture for a long time. According to archaeologists, the imagery of the Mid-Autumn Festival has been found on the surface of Ngoc Lu bronze drums, suggesting that it is a harvest celebration, a time for farmers to rest and enjoy themselves after a season of hard work. 

Furthermore, in Vietnamese culture, the image of the moon holds deep spiritual significance. The full moon and the crescent moon symbolize joy and sadness, reunions and farewells. This is why the 15th day of the 8th month, the day of the brightest full moon in the year, is considered a symbol of reunions, and the Mid-Autumn Festival is often referred to as the Festival of Reunion.

On this joyful day, following Vietnamese customs, all family members come together. As night falls, the entire neighborhood gathers to drink green tea, enjoy mooncakes, admire the moon, and partake in a feast together.

How do the Vietnamese celebrate it?

There are many activities held to celebrate the Moon Festival in Vietnam. Would you like to learn more about the preparations and the course of the festival? We will describe all the main activities in more detail below.


In the weeks leading up to the Mid Autumn Festival, the streets are adorned with vibrant colors. You will see mooncake stalls springing up everywhere, bustling with buyers. Occasionally, you may even join in the lion dance performances on street corners.

moon festival in vietnam

Hang Ma Street is vibrant with a variety of lanterns

On the central city streets, shops have already prepared to display a variety of toys, lanterns, and colorful masks. Red star-shaped lanterns made of translucent paper are quite popular and are sold all across the streets in Vietnam.

During the festival

  • Moonlit celebrations:

The tradition of lantern procession has become a beautiful cultural aspect in the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. Each lantern carries its own meaning, symbolizing wishes for luck and peace for every household. In addition, the Mid Autumn Festival lantern procession tradition also signifies warding off evil spirits and dispelling misfortune.

moon festival in vietnam

Children eagerly go lantern procession amid the joyful atmosphere

During the full moon night, children with vibrant lanterns come together to create lively parades, wandering through their neighborhoods while singing catchy tunes. 

  • Lion dancing on the street:

Lion dancing, also known as “múa lân”, is a crucial part of the Mid Autumn Festival in Vietnam. Kids gather with their red lanterns, singing familiar cheerful songs. The excitement peaks when distant drumbeats announce the arrival of a mythical lion with a big head and a wiggly body, carried by agile dancers.

moon festival in vietnam

Lion dances liven up the excitement of everyone on the streets

The lion looks funny and impressive with its open mouth and big eyes. The dancers get closer to the crowd, making the kids laugh and scream with their playful moves. Under the bright full moon, the lion's shiny red body sparkles as it dances. For Vietnamese children, there's nothing quite like this dazzling performance on the night of Trung Thu.

moon festival in vietnam

The Earth God is an indispensable character in the Lion Dance troupe

Among the performers, a male wearing a moon-faced mask leads the way and encourages the lion dancers to entertain the crowd with his humorous moves. This character is known as the Earth God (Ông Địa), symbolizing the Earth's abundance and serving as a reminder to express gratitude for its blessings. He never fails to bring joy and bring a smile to the faces of Vietnamese children.

  • Savoring mooncakes 

Another experience that cannot be missed during the Vietnamese Full Moon Festival is having a cozy tea at home. In Vietnam, families come together on this day, placing a plate of five different fruits and mooncakes from their ancestors' altar. They pray to commemorate their ancestors and then enjoy mooncakes under the moonlight.

moon festival in vietnam

The perfect combination of mooncakes and hot tea

These mooncakes come in various shapes, from round to square. They're beautifully decorated with designs like flowers, carp, and geometric patterns. The two most popular types are "bánh dẻo" (similar to mochi-like sticky cakes) and "bánh nướng" (cakes with a thick wheat crust). Vietnamese mooncakes offer a wide range of sweet and savory fillings, including candied fruits, nuts, pork fat, chicken floss, salted egg, minced mung bean paste, and lotus seed paste.

You can get a box of mooncakes for yourself or as a gift for your Vietnamese friends and hosts to enjoy. A recommended place where you can buy and try is "Bánh Trung Thu Bảo Phương."

  • Address: 201A Thuy Khe, Thuy Khe Ward, Tay Ho District, Hanoi City

  • Price range: 25,000 VND - 55,000 VND ≈ 1.10 USD - 2.42 USD

And, to make the experience even better, don't forget to brew a pot of green tea – it goes perfectly with mooncakes.

To gain more insights, navigate to our post about Travel guide to Vietnam!

Where to Enjoy the Mid Autumn Festival in Vietnam?

Despite not being an official public holiday in Vietnam, the Mid Autumn Festival is among the most significant celebrations of the year. If you're looking for the ideal spots to immerse yourself in the authentic charm of the Vietnamese Full Moon Festival, consider visiting these top three destinations.


If you find yourself in Hanoi in the lead-up to the Mid-Autumn Festival, make sure to explore the vibrant streets of Hang Ma and Luong Van Can. These bustling lanes are adorned with an array of toys and lanterns, setting the stage for the upcoming festivities. 

Another must-visit in Hanoi is 87 Ma May, where you can witness skilled artisans crafting festival decorations. On the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival, head to the Youth Theatre on Ngo Thi Nham Street or the Children's Palace on Ly Thai To Street to enjoy enchanting children's musical performances.

moon festival in vietnam

Hang Ma Street on the Full Moon Festival

Hoi An

Hoi An is renowned for its enchanting, lantern-lit scenery. This picturesque riverside town leaves an indelible impression on anyone who sets foot here. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, locals and tourists alike flock to the Old Town. The Thu Bon Riverbanks come alive with groups of boats releasing lanterns into the melodic night. 

moon festival in vietnam

The lantern-lit streets of Hoi An

Dancers and drumming troupes weave through the streets, delivering captivating performances in front of pagodas and businesses. At the Mid Autumn Festival in Hoi An, you can join in fun traditional games like "Bài Chòi" (a Vietnamese version of bingo commonly played during festivals and special occasions), blind man's bluff, bamboo jacks, mandarin square capture, and many others.

Ho Chi Minh City

During this time, many streets in Ho Chi Minh City, such as Luong Nhu Hoc, Nguyen Trai, Tran Hung Dao, and Nguyen An became bustling. They were beautiful like paintings when adorned with charming and intricate lanterns. Moving around these streets is easy because the local authorities have designated this area exclusively for pedestrians three days before the Mid-Autumn Festival. You can also savor local delicacies and participate in traditional games.

moon festival in vietnam

A unique lantern-shaped stall on Luong Nhu Hoc Street

One of the famous locations you can go to is the shop at 109 Trieu Quang Phuc Street. It has been the go-to destination for lion heads, sought after by the city's finest dancers. For a more unique experience, venture to Chinatown (Cho Lon) and witness the Mid Autumn Festival celebrated by the Cantonese-Vietnamese community.

The Moon Festival in Vietnam presents an incredible opportunity for tourists to immerse themselves in the rich culture and local way of life. This article has provided you with valuable insights to prepare for your upcoming cultural journey.

Whether you're a local or a foreign traveler, you are warmly welcome to be a part of this special festival. Join the lively crowds, witness the joy of children parading with lanterns, indulge in delectable cakes, and receive the heartwarming gifts of celebration during the Mid Autumn Festival. It's an experience you won't want to miss on your visit to Vietnam!