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27 November 2019

Culture and Heritage in ASEAN: Thailand and Vietnam

Greetings from Thailand and Vietnam! Travel overland between Thailand and Vietnam for a thrilling Southeast Asian adventure. These countries are extremely popular travel destinations for those looking for an exotic experience away from home. From Thailand’s bright and unforgettable festivals and celebrations to Vietnam’s serene landscape steeped with history and a thriving art village, there is so much to dive into!

 

Thailand

Thailand is one of the world’s quintessential paradise destinations, with gorgeous beaches, spicy food, and rich culture often celebrated with magical festivals. November is one of the best times of year to visit Thailand because of the Yee Peng and Loy Krathong festivals. Although both are beautiful and photogenic, they are separate, distinct coinciding festivals, celebrated by different followers. With planning, however, it’s possible to delight in both.

 

Yee Peng

Yee Peng is one of the most dazzling festivals in Thailand. On the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar, Yee Peng, or the lantern festival, is celebrated in Chiang Mai and most of Northern Thailand by the Lanna people. Lanterns are released into the sky to symbolize letting go of mistakes and misfortunes and making good wishes for the New Year.

 

Launching lanterns at the annual Yee Peng festival

 

Also known as the festival of lights, you will see homes and public places decked out in colorful hanging lanterns and flag decorations. Celebrated when the moon is full, the lantern-lit sky is indisputably breathtaking.

 

It is easy to be mesmerized by the long-held Buddhist tradition as the lanterns called “khom loi” are lifted high into the sky by fire and hot air. An art form and religious symbol, lanterns are made of rice paper and decorated with prayers. Conscious of the environment, efforts are being made to use biodegradable rice paper bag lanterns and limit the number of lanterns released at one time in certain areas. Try to find a good viewing spot to observe the illuminated enchanting sky!

 

Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong is a magical festival celebrated throughout Thailand. It is celebrated by sending delicate floating baskets made of flowers, leaves, candles, and incense down the river to pay respects to the river goddess and Buddha. At the celebration, baskets are released, symbolizing the letting go of misfortunes and bad luck from the previous year. The festival also marks the end of the rainy season. Although it is possible to purchase a Krathong, making your own is a way to show off your creativity and connect with the locals.

 

Loy Krathong Traditional Festival, Thailand / Shutterstock

 

The birthplace of Loy Krathong is a UNESCO World Heritage site called Sukhothai, a great place to join in on the exciting five-day celebration with events, night markets, light shows, and Thai performances.

 

As the largest city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai hosts a large celebration of both festivals with traditional dances, floating parades, and festive performances. Walk around Chiang Mai to feel the enchantment of the Yee Peng and Loy Krathong festivals.

 

Bangkok is also a great Loy Krathong destination. The city has many bodies of water where people meet to set off krathongs. Lore has it that the krathong is a good predictor for couples to see what their relationship future holds.

 

Loy Krathong Festivities in Bangkok, Thailand

 

Let’s head over to Vietnam to learn more about its trove of cultural destinations and ‘big as life’ residential murals.

 

Vietnam

Vietnam is a land of diverse natural beauties, magnificent golden beaches, bustling cities, and cultural complexities. Vietnam’s thriving culture comes in many different forms including religious temples, breathtaking sites, as well as a prospering art scene. The real Vietnam experience is unforgettable because of its immensely rich culture.

 

The Attractions of Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is a hidden gem of Vietnam with plenty of activities to do! It’s great for travelers looking to experience the culture and landscape of this spectacular country without the crowds of tourists. Stunningly beautiful and diverse, it’s famous for its limestone karsts, winding waterways, famous caves, picturesque natural scenery, ancient ruins, hidden temples, architecturally noteworthy churches, and rice fields. A traveler couldn’t ask for more!

 

The Dai Binh Temple

The Dai Binh Temple is a cultural gem not to be missed. Dai Binh Temple Spiritual and Cultural Complex is the biggest Buddhist Center in Vietnam and has hundreds of statues of different sizes spread around the complex. It is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site for people to pay their respects and have their fortunes told by the resident monks. Be sure to explore the large complex!

 

Bai Ðinh Temple Spiritual and Cultural Complex Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam  / Shutterstock

 

Tam Coc

To get the pulse of Tam Coc, take a serene sunrise boat ride on the river, part of Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy the tranquil waters and greenery. Tam Coc is also known as the "three caves" region, which will immediately win you over!

 

Rowing boat waiting for passengers at sunrise, Hoa Lu Tam Coc / Shutterstock

 

Hang Mua Cave

Grab a Vietnamese iced coffee in preparation for a hike up the Hang Mua Cave. Climb the 500 steps up for a memorable panoramic view of Tam Coc and yes there will be goats on the way up! En route, you could explore two impressive pagodas, but make sure to keep going to hit the top to take in the extraordinary 360-degree views that are well worth the journey!

 

Hang Mua (Mua Cave mountain) sunset view in Ninh Binh, Vietnam / Shutterstock

 

Art of Vietnam

 

Mural Village of Tam Thanh

The quiet coastal fishing village has been completely transformed by artists creating murals on the sides of residential buildings. As the first and only of its kind in Vietnam, it is a true standout. This eye-catching mural was created on a residential home in the hidden mural village of Tam Thanh, Vietnam.

 

Mural at Tam Thanh Village / @trinhnguyen0194 / Instagram

 

The goal of the project was to help show that art could be available in everyday life. There are over 100 magical paintings. Although this mural is mystical, many of the murals represent the everyday life of the village including children playing or fishermen in the ocean. One can’t help but smile when wandering the art-infused village streets, making Tam Thanh a must-see art destination in Vietnam.

 

Now that you have heard about the magical festivals of Thailand, must-see destinations and approachable artwork of Vietnam, we hope that you feel inspired to explore yourself! We guarantee a trip of a lifetime while you connect with new cultures and try something brand new!



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