Vietnam's first eight day Tet ( Lunar New Year) holiday has created favourable conditions for local and overseas Vietnamese to enjoy the longest Tet, starting on February 3.

An increasing number of well-off Vietnamese have chosen to celebrate Tet abroad. That trend is expected to continue this Lunar New Year.

Popular destinations abroad at this time of year when the weather is cool or cold in much of the country are Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Hong Kong – where the weather is more inviting. Meanwhile, those with relations abroad often take the opportunity afforded by the long annual holiday to visit family and friends in the US, Australia and Europe.

My Hanh, who works for a foreign firm in Vietnam, said her four-member family plans to enjoy Tet in Thailand.

"My two daughters and I are shopping addicts so we are very much looking forward to going to Thailand. We plan to spend all day and night shopping during our four days in the country," Hanh said, adding that celebrating Tet abroad offers a welcome escape from domestic chores.
Meanwhile, Hoang Quan, who lives in Hanoi's Tu Liem District, has booked a holiday in Japan where his daughter is studying.

"I had to book a five-day tour to Tokyo at the start of this month to be sure of being able to get tickets in the run-up to Tet," Quan said.

"My wife is a pagoda goer so it's a good chance for her to explore and see how things differ in Japan," Quan said.

Duong Quang Phong and his family from Los Angeles plan to return to Vietnam for Tet.

Phong said he had already booked a seven-day tour to Phu Quoc Island beginning on the second day of the Lunar New Year.

"Spring tours over Tet will be more comfortable and interesting because tourism sites will not be as crowded as during the peak season in summer. The cool weather in the south will make our tour more enjoyable. We are looking forward to exploring the island's natural beauty, as well as relaxing," Phong said.

Like Phong, other overseas Vietnamese plan to return to Vietnam for the holiday. Most have booked tours to popular destinations such as Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, Ninh Binh, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Hue, and Hoi An, said Nguyen Cong Hoan, deputy director of Hanoi Redtour.

"Despite the fact that prices are 5-10 percent more this Tet compared with last year, almost all our tours have been fully booked," he said.

To meet increasing Tet demand, Viettravel, Fiditour and Ben Thanh Tourist have put on extra tours from the 28th and 29th of the 12th lunar month until the 4th of Lunar New Year.

Saigontourist is expecting 15,000 visitors, an increase of 15 percent compared with last year, a company manager said.

But Hoan warned that holiday-makers should be wary of unlicensed tour operators. He said they were typically 20-25 percent cheaper than those offered by mainstream operators, but that standards were suspect.

"Some of them have even tried to ‘resell' their customers to other tour operators for a profit," Hoan said.

Last year, the country's tourism sector welcomed 5 million foreign travellers and 28 million local guests./.