Unlocking the Mysteries of Vietnam’s Hung Kings Festival

by Huy Huỳnh Ngọc

The Hung Kings Festival, also known as the Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings, stands as one of Vietnam’s grandest and most significant annual celebrations. Each year, from the 8th to the 11th of the third lunar month, millions of people from across the country flock to the northern Phu Tho province to pay homage to the Hung Kings and their pivotal role in shaping the nation. This cherished event, steeped in history and tradition, is a treasured time in the Vietnamese calendar, fostering a deep connection between past and present and instilling a sense of pride and identity in the younger generation. In this comprehensive article, Palm Vietnam Travel is dedicated to providing you with an in-depth exploration of the Hung Kings Festival, offering a wealth of detailed information and insights.

A Glimpse into History

To truly appreciate the significance of the Hung Kings Festival, it is essential to delve into the rich history that surrounds this revered event. The reign of the Hung Kings, often regarded as the forefathers of Vietnam, holds profound importance in Vietnamese history and culture.

While ancient texts suggest that the first Hung King, Hung Vuong, established his kingdom in 2879 BC, archaeological evidence places the origins of their empire between 1000 and 500 BC. The 18 Hung Kings, including Hung Vuong, are credited with laying the foundation of Vietnamese civilization.

During their rule, they introduced advancements in farming, hunting, and horticulture, instilling a sense of patriotism among their subjects by preserving and honoring traditional customs.

The Hung Temple in Phu Tho.
The Hung Temple in Phu Tho.

Witness the Grandeur of the Festival

The Hung Kings Festival encompasses a series of captivating events that take place across Vietnam’s 1,400 Hung King temples. However, the epicenter of the festivities lies within the Phu Tho temple complex, located north of Hanoi.

This revered site attracts millions of pilgrims each year, who embark on a spiritual journey to honor the legacy of the Hung Kings.

The festival attracts thousands of participants.
The festival attracts thousands of participants.
The grandeur of the Hung Kings' Festival.
The grandeur of the Hung Kings’ Festival.

The Procession and Ceremonial Rituals

On the morning of April 2nd, the main day of celebration, the atmosphere brims with excitement as children don vibrant outfits and join their families in a procession towards Nghia Linh Mountain.

The procession, led by representatives from various local villages, weaves through each place of worship until it reaches the highest temple. Accompanied by the resonant beats of bronze drums, the participants commence their prayers and offer incense in a solemn ritual performed by elders, pilgrims, and even state leaders.

The parade featuring local village communities.
The parade features local village communities.

A Multitude of Offerings

The Hung Kings Festival is not only a time for prayer and reflection but also a celebration of Vietnamese culinary traditions. As part of the festival, locals lovingly prepare various food offerings, including an array of fruits and traditional dishes such as banh giay (crushed sticky rice pudding) and banh chung (sticky rice cake). These delectable treats are presented as sacrifices to honor the Hung Kings and pay homage to their contributions.

The traditional dishes offered to the Hung Kings.
The traditional dishes offered to the Hung Kings.

Embracing Traditions and Culture

Beyond the formal ceremonies, the Hung Kings Festival offers a captivating glimpse into Vietnamese traditions and culture. Throughout the festivities, locals engage in a myriad of traditional activities, showcasing their rich heritage and fostering a sense of community.

Folk music performances, bamboo swinging contests, rice cooking competitions, human chess, wrestling, and dragon dancing create a jubilant atmosphere that envelops attendees in the spirit of celebration.

Making Banh chung
Making Banh chung
Making sticky rice cakes, a distinctive cultural practice during the Hung Kings' anniversary.
Making sticky rice cakes, a distinctive cultural practice during the Hung Kings’ anniversary.

An Unforgettable Cultural Experience

The Hung Kings Festival presents a unique opportunity for travelers to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Vietnamese culture and history. Whether actively participating in the festivities or observing from the sidelines, visitors are sure to be captivated by the profound connection between the Vietnamese people and their heritage.

The festival serves as a reminder of the importance of collective contributions to the nation and offers a glimpse into the cultural fabric that shapes modern-day Vietnam.

Discovering Phu Tho Province

While attending the Hung Kings Festival, visitors can explore the scenic beauty and cultural wonders of Phu Tho province. Located in the northern region of Vietnam, Phu Tho boasts an array of attractions and landmarks that provide a deeper understanding of the country’s history.

From the verdant landscapes of Nghia Linh Mountain to the ancient temples and pagodas that dot the province, Phu Tho offers a journey back in time, allowing visitors to connect with the roots of Vietnamese civilization.

Nghia Linh Mountain in Phu Tho.
Nghia Linh Mountain in Phu Tho.

Souvenirs and Delicacies

Apart from the cultural experiences, the Hung Kings Festival provides an excellent opportunity to purchase unique souvenirs and indulge in local delights. Doan Hung pomelo, Tam Dao pineapple, and Phu Tho tea are just a few of the region’s specialties that travelers can take home as mementos of their visit.

Additionally, handicraft products, showcasing the skill and artistry of local artisans, serve as reminders of the vibrant culture and traditions of Vietnam.

Pomelo (citrus fruit) from the Doan Hung area.
Pomelo (citrus fruit) from the Doan Hung area.
Captivate tourists with souvenir products.
Captivate tourists with souvenir products.


The Hung Kings Festival stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Vietnam’s ancient rulers. With its rich history, vibrant traditions, and profound cultural significance, this annual celebration offers a captivating glimpse into the heart and soul of the nation. As visitors partake in the grand ceremonies, witness the jubilant festivities, and explore the historical sites of Phu Tho province, they embark on a transformative journey, immersing themselves in the captivating tapestry of Vietnamese culture. The Hung Kings Festival truly unlocks the mysteries of Vietnam’s past, creating an unforgettable experience that leaves a lasting impression on all who embrace it.

Embark on a Journey of Cultural Discovery and Uncover the Secrets of Vietnam’s Hung Kings Festival. Contact us today to plan your bespoke itinerary and experience the wonders of this ancient tradition.


Huy Huỳnh Ngọc

Written by Huy Huỳnh Ngọc