V is for Vietnam (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

Christmas in Nha Trang

Vietnam A-Z Blogging Challenge Generally speaking, if I want Christmas I stay home in December. Let’s face it, it’s not the best time of year for travel to most places. In some countries, they literally do celebrate the twelve days of Christmas with every shop, restaurant, and hotel taking any combination of the days off. So there ends up being a lot of downtime. If you’ve only got 2 weeks to begin with, then it’s almost wasted money to go to some countries. Vietnam seemed like a safe bet. A communist country, I didn’t think Christmas would even show it’s jolly face. Imagine our surprise when we rolled into Nha Trang  midway through our Vietnam winter break trip and arrived at our hotel to find a gigantic Christmas tree made entirely out of Heineken beer bottles! Really, it was massive. It took over the entire front of the multistory building. Of course, the interior was decked out in holly, poinsettias, and garlands. We thought they had really laid it on for the western visitors. As it turns out, it was probably as much for the locals. A steady stream of mopeds paraded past the hotel, through the drop off drive way, and stopped for a quick picture in front of the tree. Young men taking their girls out for a ride, they were almost all wearing a Santa hat and a big cheesy smile. There were hundreds of them; this went on from around 4 PM till midnight. It was fascinating, but since this is a communist country after all, none of the shops, or restaurants closed down early or stopped any services. We loved Nha Trang, but not so much for the overdone holiday decorations as much as for the nearby sea-side fishing villages with smiling, friendly people like our new friend in the photo above. Vietnam A-Z Challenge


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Where have you traveled that Christmas seemed to follow you?


  1. I love this – a beer bottle tree really appeals. My only similar experience is visiting Singapore in November when they had giant plastic snowmen out in the blistering heat. It just didn’t make sense!

  2. Haha! I love the idea of a Heineken bottle Christmas tree! I’ve never been to Vietnam, but I imagine that this sudden burst of western holiday decorations did seem a bit surreal. I’m glad to hear that it was part of their tradition too, and not just put on to please outsiders. I’m really enjoying all your travels!

    ~Tui Snider~ Dropping by from the A to Z challenge! 😀
    @TuiSnider on Twitter
    My blog: Tui Snider’s Offbeat & Overlooked Travel
    I am also part of the #StoryDam team, a friendly writing community!

  3. Do you have to do extra things to go to a Communist Country? I mean I thought (thinking back during the wall in Germany time), that people couldn’t travel freely in Communist Countries.

    1. Sandy, Sometimes, depending on the country you have to have a letter of invitation to go with your visa application. These can be a pain unless you take a tour where they provide them for you. There are still some countries that follow this practice today.

  4. Now that’s a country I would like to visit! …That’s a great pic of that lady, Corinne . I don’t mind traveling at Christmas time- for me it’s more about having the people I love around me – can make Christmas anywhere. Home is also nice:-)

  5. I’ve been stuck in the Christmas mecca that is Germany the past 4 years and now can’t imagine a Christmas without markets and gluhwein. We are hoping to visit family in the Philippines next year and I am so looking forward to a warm Christmas, a Christmas that will bring me back to my own childhood memories. Anyway, you have a great point of staying home to have a Christmas, and avoiding Christmas travel crowds by going to places that will “celebrate” the holiday with a beer tree. Love the photo you have here, too.

    1. Ann, Yes, living in Germany is special around Christmas, especially sipping gluhwein in the frigid air! Going to the Phillipines at Christmas will be a blast. I hope you all have a roasted pig!

  6. We were in Singapore once over Thanksgiving and I was stunned by all their Christmas/December sales especially on Orchard Rd. I guess commercialization knows no boundaries especially in a shopping crazy country like Singapore. On an aside-I loved Hanoi when I visited in Jan. Vietnam exceeded all expectations and I can’t wait to go back. 🙂

  7. My college friend is from Vietnam, but she left when she was two years old. She goes back from time to time to visit the country, and back in the 1990’s she won a trip to England and some money for college about an essay she wrote about her grandma back in Vietnam. At that time technology with cell phone had not connected everyone like it does now, so her grandma did not know they were selling Coca-Cola in the stores again, so my friend wrote her grandma a letter to tell her about this so she could go buy the drink she used to love as a kid. My friend won the prize for writing a story about that. I have never been to Vietnam, but I do love the cuisine that my friend makes for me. We also like to go get pho soup, which is the best stuff, in my opinion.

  8. We found Nha Trang to be interesting but also a little too commercialised for my liking. However, I’d lbw amused at seeing the over the top attempts to please us – wrong but amusing

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