Tourists seeking the authentic traditions of Vietnam’s Tet Lunar New Festival are expected to help tourism outfits in the central province of Binh Thuan weather the economic downturn after a slow year, experts said.
Over 7,000 tourists were expected to check in at resorts along the Ham Tien – Mui Ne coast between this Friday and next Tuesday, which is Lunar New Year’s Day, according to Binh Thuan Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Arrivals from countries like Russia and Germany were on the increase this year, said the department. Le Ngoc Ha, vice chairman of Binh Thuan Tourism Association, said many tourists were traveling to avoid the winter in their home countries and to see and enjoy a vibrant Vietnamese Tet.
The celebrating programs have already included a banh chung (traditional square rice cakes) making contest for foreign tourists at Seahorse Resort in Mui Ne. Tran Viet Ha, the resort’s managing director, said more than 60 families from countries like Russia, Germany, US and France had attended the event, where the contestants made the cakes under instructions by local chefs. It was a “fun and different approach to Tet,”said Ha. Karin Kierdorf from Germany, who won the first prize, said she had celebrated Tet two times, but it was the first time she had a chance to make banh chung. Phu Hai Resort, meanwhile, brought Tet to tourists by decorating its grounds with cau doi (parallel sentences, a kind of traditional poetry) in both Vietnamese and English, and apricot and peach tree blossoms.
During Tet, guests will also be given the sentences and li xi (lucky money) as the customary Tet gifts. The resort will also provide tours to local villages where travelers can see families make banh chung and prepare for their New Year. The number of international tourists expected to visit Phu Hai this Tet showed no sign of decreasing, despite a relatively slow year, said Sales Director Le Thi My Hanh.
Reported by Que Ha