After a two-month travel ban, tourists are free to travel to Jammu and Kashmir
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Let’s play a game of word association. If we throw the phrase ‘lunar cycle’ at you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it werewolves? The occult? Or perhaps E.T pedalling across the moon? For many travellers and locals in Vietnam, these words can only point to Hoi An’s lantern festival. Also known as the Full Moon Festival, it’s an enchanting practice held by townsfolk on the 14th day of every lunar month. As twilight shifts to dusk, fluorescent fittings in the Old Town are replaced by the soft glow of silk lanterns. Residents indulge in music and poetry, and honour their ancestors at shrines and the Thu Bon river. Tourists, of course, aren’t left far behind. They throng the quarter’s warmly-lit markets and alleys, photo-happy, as older townspeople occasionally glance up from rounds of traditional Chinese chess.
Lanterns were introduced to Hoi An centuries ago by Chinese and Japanese settlers, back when the area was still called Fai-Fo. Their significance as a city-wide ritual, though, only began with a town order in 1998. Take a walk down the Old Town’s cosy promenades and you’ll find several shops dishing out replicas; the real deal, though, made with rare woods and sophisticated designs, rests in local homes.
To catch the Lantern Festival in all its glory, head for Quang Nam province on October 12, November 10 or December 9 this year. The Cau An Hoi Bridge and the Japanese Covered Bridge are excellent vantage points to view and send the lanterns down the river, but make sure you reach early. For other festivals in Hoi An, see hoianworldheritage.org.vn
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