Going to the full moon lantern festival in Hoi An was been something I have wanted to do for years. The moment finally came when we went to Vietnam and it was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some. Around forty-five minutes scooter ride from our home base Da Nang, Hoi An is a stunning little slice of peaceful paradise. We had a long weekend handy, and luckily our time in Vietnam fell around the time of the festival, so I knew we had to go. When we got there, our Airbnb had bikes you could take out for free, so we rode out of the main town to the rice fields and back before heading into old town for the festival that night.
The full moon lantern festival happens once a month, and it is essentially a celebration of the moon. It happens on the fourteenth day of every lunar month. This is when the moon shines at its brightest and moves through the sky at its fullest. As the sun goes down, the streets of Hoi An’s old city light up with thousands of lanterns, people come out to celebrate, and the moon casts a calm glow over everything.
And that isn’t even the best part. The waterways that run through the old city are lined with boats, and you can jump in one and let off floating lanterns from your position as you cruise through the old city. If it sounds like that scene from Tangled where Rapunzel, Flynn, and Pascal…it essentially is. It was magical, and unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. There is something humbling about being part of something that means so much to the locals and the town.
Floating down the river on a little boat, we were given floating lanterns to place into the water, and our guide explained some more detail about the festival and Hoi An’s history. Of all our moments in Vietnam this trip, Hoi An full moon festival was undoubtedly one of my favourite memories of all. It still is. I do not think I will ever forget experiencing the festival from the water, while Josh and I lit out lanterns and watched them float away down the channel. We had some drinks, ate some delicious food, bought some lucky coins, and threw ourselves into the whole experience.
After an incredible night at the full moon festival, we walked home under the moonlight. On our way out of Hoi An the next day, we veered off the main road and out through the rice fields again, on our scooter this time. This was the first time that either of us had ever seen rice fields, and they are this brilliantly vibrant, bright green. I had never seen anything in the world like it. It was the perfect way to round out our time in Hoi An, and our second stop on our way out of this special place.
After we left the rice fields, we headed to the main beach of Hoi An to see what it was like in comparison to Da Nang. Immediately it was obvious that Hoi An was more of a tourist hotspot than Da Nang, and it showed (but only in the best ways). Sometimes, working overseas means that you have to prioritise your to do list and risk missing out on some things. Of all the things we did, I am so happy that we made the time to experience Hoi An and the full moon festival.