Christmas in Vietnam is both hilarious and confusing, because, really, it’s just another day. Vietnam is officially an atheistic country, so nobody gets the day off — but you’ll hear Christmas carols everywhere you go and many businesses put up elaborate decorations. For most Vietnamese, Christmas is more of a curiosity than a religious holiday. Luckily, Christmas falls in the middle of the peak tourism season so there’s plenty to do.
Enjoy a feast
Many high-end restaurants put on specials around Christmastime, offering buffets or set menus with all your traditional favorites — turkey, ham, roast or even some tasty Vietnamese cuisine. Call the restaurants in your area and ask what they offer. Most will at least point you in the right direction if they don’t offer a Christmas meal.
Buy a Santa outfit and sing carols
Shop owners in Vietnam certainly aren’t blind to opportunity, which means you’ll have no problem finding Christmas-themed items as the big day approaches. You can even get complete Santa outfits for under $20. You’ll also be amazed by how many Christmas carols Vietnamese know, even though the holiday isn’t actually celebrated. While they might not understand the words, they’ll sure belt them out with you. There’s nothing quite like singing Jingle Bells in a crowded seafood restaurant on the beach.
Since you won’t be getting presents under the tree when you wake up Christmas morning, you should indulge yourself and head out to pick up some new toys. Electronics are about the same price in Vietnam as they are in the West, but just about everything else is cheaper.
Have a look at some of the churches
There are many beautiful churches around Vietnam to check out. Catholics are a minority, but they still make up approximately 7% of the population. You could even take in mass, but you’ll probably have to stick to humming along with the hymns unless you know some Vietnamese.
Get a tailored outfit
There are quality tailors around no matter where you are in Vietnam, and what better way to add to the Christmas cheer than to get a hilariously tacky suit or dress made up. Splurging for a custom-made outfit in Vietnam won’t set you back too much, so have some fun and get something you can wear for years to come at Xmas parties back home.
Enjoy a massage
This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you’re bummed out that you’re missing another Christmas at home — and especially if it’s your first — then take your mind off things with a massage. You could even go for a manicure and pedicure or a foot massage. Be warned, though, foot massages in Vietnam are sometimes thinly disguised torture sessions.
Go to the beach
You’re never more than a half-day’s journey from the beach in Vietnam, and this country has thousands of kilometers of picturesque coastline waiting for you to enjoy as you sip on your favorite drink, singing carols to yourself while the sun dips into the ocean and night brings laughs and good company. O holy night, the waves were gently lapping…
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