In the third month of the lunar calendar, numerous flocks of people from different parts of Vietnam gather in Phu Tho to celebrate Hung King Festival, which is to worship the Kings who founded the nation.

Hung King Temple Festival is hence one of the most attractive and worth-visiting places for Vietnam culture tours. This national festival offers a great opportunity for visitors to hear the stories about the Kings as well as to get closer to Vietnam’s culture and tradition.

Legends about Lac Long Quan – Au Co and the Hung Kings

Legends have it that thousands of years ago, Lac Long Quan, who was a god of the country of Lac Viet had superpowers and good strength. He succeeded his father to become the King of Lac Viet. One day, he met a beautiful fairy called Au Co while she was paying a visit to his land. They fell in love and then got married. Au Co got pregnant and gave birth to a sac of a hundred eggs, which later hatched one hundred people.

The procession on 10th March

The procession on 10th March

As the son of the ocean, Lac Long Quan always longed for the coasts while Au Co wanted to stay in the highlands. Therefore, they separated but promised to support each other when one had misfortune. 50 children followed their father to the coast while the rest was with the mother in the highlands.

The children of them were the ancestors of Vietnam. Vietnamese people, hence, is called “Descendants of Dragon and Fairy”, which states that they all have the same origin. The promise of Lac Long Quan and Au Co in the legend becomes a bond of unity for all the Vietnamese people.

The eldest son who followed Au Co to the mountain established his own nation called Van Lang and made Phong Chau (the southern part of Phu Tho province today) its capital. Starting from 2879 to 258 BC, the reign of Hong Bang Dynasty lasted for 18 generations.

The Hung Kings is believed to be the forefather of Vietnam, who built the very first foundation of the society. In honor of the Hung King’s contribution to the country, Vietnamese people choose the first King’s death – the tenth day of the third lunar month as the national anniversary. Hung King Temple, where the festival takes place, has become an appealing destination for Vietnam culture tours.

Hung King Temple Festival

The festival is held annually from the 8th day to the 11th day of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar. The main festival occurs on the 10th when the whole country takes a day-off to commemorate the death anniversary of Hung King. Hung King Temple on Nghia Linh Mountain (also known as Hung Mountain) in Phu Tho Province, just about 85km from Hanoi is where the festival occurs. In front of the mountain stands Bach Hac Crossroads where 3 big rivers of the North meet: Red River, Da River, and Lo River. From the summit of Nghia Linh Mountain, travelers can take a bird’s eye view over the whole exquisite natural settings of mountains and rivers.

Ceremony at the Upper Temple

Ceremony at the Upper Temple

During this period of the year, people from all over the country, as well as foreigners who travel to Vietnam, come to the Temple to celebrate this ceremony.

The procession is a typical feature of traditional festivals that Vietnam culture tours cannot include. From the afternoon of the 9th day, the villages which are responsible for preparing and operating the procession gather at the mountain. They prepare all the necessary things for the parade such as palanquin, lanterns, foods, and flowers. Of course, incense sticks are must-have stuff in this important festival. On the 10th, there will be a competition between the processions of different villages. Then the incense-offering ceremony will be held at the Upper Temple (Den Thuong). The sacrifice to the King includes five-fruit trays, various specialties of different areas, and couples of “Chung Cake” and “Day Cake”, which represent the Earth and the sky.

“Chung” Cake-making competition

“Chung” Cake-making competition

Some other places to offer incense and flowers are at the foot of Nghia Linh Mountain and at Gieng Temple. The procession is directly broadcasted on the national channel so that Vietnamese citizens in other regions can watch.

In addition to the significant procession, Hung King Temple Festival also consists of many interesting traditional activities and games such as rice cooking competition, lion dance, wrestling, bamboo swings (“danh du”), and human chess. These are the most recommended things to do in North Vietnam for those who are eager to learn more about the culture of this country.

Xoan singing

Xoan Singing – a UNESCO Heritage

More interestingly, visitors will have the opportunity to listen to the “Xoan” singing – a traditional music that has been designated as a UNESCO World Intangible Heritage.

Hung King Temple Festival is undoubtedly an interesting occasion that not only Vietnamese but also those who are taking Vietnam tours should pay a visit.