Hoi An – Full-Moon Festival

An absolute highlight of my travels in Southeast Asia was the Hoi An – Full-Moon Festival.

I sit on the banks of the gentle Thu Bon and write by the silver glow of a round moon. Hoi An Full-Moon Festival, full moon festival hoi an vietnam, full moon festival

A cool breeze blows through my hair taking with it the sweat of the day.

It is the festival of the full moon – the one night a month when the old town of Hoi An, with its red tiled roofs and yellow washed walls, is covered in a cloak of darkness its narrow streets bursting with locals.

The Festival of the Full moon

Nothing but moon-rays and candle flames light the night – with the exception of the occasional blare of fluorescence from a modern restaurant trying to appease its tourist.

Small boats drift like ghost in the darkness in the river below.Hoi An - Full-Moon Festival, full moon festival hoi an vietnam, full moon festival

A small child, thick black hair cut straight at her shoulders, shoves a candle in front of me, its little flame flickering from inside a red cardboard cutout.

“Miss wanna buy candil, flow don river tu mak wis?”

Those large brown eyes plead … I politely decline.

Hoi An Full-Moon Festival, full moon festival hoi an vietnam, full moon festivalHoi An Full-Moon Festival, full moon festival hoi an vietnam, full moon festivalDown the river from me the festival goers are drawn in tight all trying to get a glimpse of a local performance, offering folk music and dance and an enthusiastic game of Vietnamese bingo.

All is bustle and excitement yet strangely calm and peaceful as the darkness softens voices and relaxes the flow of the masses coursing through the narrow streets.

Hoi An – Full-Moon Festival: My Candle Wish

A small flat boat bangs against the bank below my feet and an old woman beckons me into her boat with a broad toothless smile.

I smile back but shake my head and continue to take in the rays of the moon and the flow of people and water alike.

Another small child with a candle comes and another boat with and old woman and finally I give to those big brown eyes and that toothless smile and with flickering wish in hand I clamber gracelessly into the small boat below.

We paddle out in the smooth waters and up along the shore.

The river is full of similar boats, the passengers all clutching there colorful wishes.

I let my candle go, making my wish as I watch is bob away in the moonlight.

Hoi An Full-Moon Festival, full moon festival hoi an vietnam, full moon festivalThe river is now dancing with flickering wishes: blue, red, yellow green; they bob along, their tiny flame fighting against the wind, water and crushing power of the boats.

Those that survive the gantlet find a peaceful bay down stream where hundreds of colorful wishes float calmly, mimicking the starry sky above.

I leave my floating vessel and sucking a local coco-lemon drink from a bag, I walk along the darkened streets.

Vietnamese Folk Music

There are many performances of Vietnamese folk music and activities but my highlight is on the corner by the old Japanese bridge.

Hoi An Full-Moon Festival, full moon festival hoi an vietnam, full moon festivalIt appears to be a small family; they are sitting around a table outside a restaurant. The father is playing a tu – a local stringed instrument – and the rest of the family is singing along. The youngest sings boldly and even louder at her favorite parts.

I am unable to move on and continue to watch them sing and sing, folk song after folk song; always smiling oblivious of the people around.

It is simply beautiful!

The night is late and it is time to go home but I cannot find a ride back to Da Nang.

I begin to ask around and soon find myself shoved between to Vietnamese woman on a tiny motor bike – my new friends take me under their wing and insist on taking me to my door – asking for nothing in return!

What a beautiful land.

What beautiful people!
This video is a beautiful glimpse of the various things happening during the Hoi An Full Moon Festival

This video is a fun look at Hoi An and Da Nang and a little  of Hoi An – Full-Moon Festival…

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  1. Photos are so beautiful…

  2. Wow… this sounds beautiful!
    I will definitely have to put visiting during the Hoi An Full Moon Festival on my bucket list! Is it just once a year that they have the festival -and what day was it on? I love the photos… it looks magical.

    • Thanks Erin! YES!!!! Definitely put it o your list!! You would love it! Some times they have extra special one but they have the festival every full moon/once every month – according to the Vietnamese lunar calendar. When you going? Tomorrow? (:

  3. Anonymous says:

    So, are there literally no electric lights in Hoi An during the Full Moon Festival of Lights? What about cars and motorbikes?
    It seems like from the videos that there are some electric lights in the shops?
    Are all the lights in the lanterns candles? I would think they would be worried that there could end up being a huge fire.
    very cool videos and photos. and your coco-lemon drink sounds yummy -is it a coconut and lemon flavor?
    love all your travels! 🙂 -sara

  4. It seems like the this Full Moon Festival of Lights in Hoi An is like a big community affair? is it a spiritual/ritualistic thing or is it more of a business opportunity for the people there?

  5. Your writing is lovely. This seems like a very beautiful festival -I love the simplicity and candle lights. -Kara

  6. Why do people send the candles down the river? Any special reasons or just part of the fun?

  7. Thank you for this blog, it was just what I was searching for. There is so much information here, so I thank you so much for enlightening my mind.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hoi An looks like a great place to visit. Is it a pretty big town? -Greg

  9. How is the economy in Vietnam -especially now that so many corporations are moving there for cheaper labor? Did you see any of the effects of corporations on the local people?

  10. The full moon festival sounds like a lovely experience 🙂
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  1. Jenna says:

    I think it’s great that you bought a lantern and sent it down the river.
    -it sounds like a very beautiful experience.

    are you supposed to make a wish or do you know why they started that practice?
    Thanks! Jenna

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