Traditional Vietnamese games have played an important role in Vietnamese culture over time. These traditional games remain deeply attached to the ancestral tradition, to agriculture and the history of the country and reflect the social life and the daily life of the inhabitants. They always arouse the curiosity of passing travelers who do not know them. Joining Vietnamese traditional folk games with the locals will be an experience not to be missed during your travel to Vietnam to learn more about the traditions as well as the spiritual life of the Vietnamese.

The places you can experience are the pedestrian streets on weekends. And if you have the chance, we suggest that you try these folk games at least once.

1. The “O An Quan” – Mandarin locker game

Vietnamese Traditional Folk Games

Different teams playing O An Quan at Hanoi Walking Street area

You can play this popular game in pairs, 3 or 4. It is a strategy game for children promoting the ability to calculate in which stones are distributed in rows of squares. Often drawn on the ground, these squares include 10 square peasants’ squares and 2 semicircular mandarin squares at both ends. Each player has a series of 35 stones, 25 of which are distributed among the 5 peasants’ squares and 10 in the mandarin box. The 10 pebbles in the mandarin box are often replaced by a larger stone than the others.

The object of the game is to get more stones than your opponent. Indeed, you have to move stones from your camp or capture those of your opponent.

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How to play?

The first player begins by taking the contents of a farmer’s square of his choice and redistributes the stones one by one in the following squares, respecting a left-right or right-left direction. He repeats this operation with the box following the one where he placed the last pebble and until he arrives on a box which precedes one of mandarin, or until he ends up with 2 consecutive empty boxes. At that moment, the hand passes. If all the squares in a series are empty, the player who owns them must pay 5 stones which he replaces in the squares. If it does not have one, the other player must lend it to them. The game ends when there is a drop of Mandarin, that is to say, the Mandarin squares are empty. The players count their stones. The winner is the one who has collected the most stones during the game.

2. The “Rong Ran Len May” – Dragon-serpent game

The interesting Rong Ran Len May with a lot of laughters

The interesting Rong Ran Len May with a lot of laughters

This is the game of the dragon-serpent rising towards the clouds in French, is a variant of the trap-trap game. The game encourages the skill of teamwork and collective solidarity in children, which is a perfect game to experience for family members on your family tour to Vietnam. There are two characters in this game: the catcher and a dragon. The long dragon consists of more than 5 people aligned, while only one person plays the role of the catcher.

How to play?

To start the game, When the dragon arrives at the catcher’s house, they sing a song to call the catcher. After the song ends, the receiver will say “chase”, trying to catch the person standing at the very end, representing the tail of the dragon. The dragon’s head (standing in front of the line) will have to move, stretching the arms to protect the line. And everyone in the line should move in the same direction as the head to avoid breaking the line. If the catcher catches each of them or the dragon-like line breaks, the catcher wins. If the dragon succeeds in making a circle before the catcher pursues, the dragon will win.

3. The “Choi Chuyen” – Game of sticks

Vietnamese Traditional Folk Games

A group of Vietnamese girls playing Choi Chuyen together

This traditional game of bamboo sticks is particularly popular with girls. Choi Chuyen is often practiced in the rhythm of the words of a nursery rhyme. A pile of chopsticks lies on the ground and a ball thrown into the air. The goal of this game is to collect as many sticks as possible before catching the ball.

How to play?

The rest of the game is played with a pile of ten sticks, the player throws the ball then has to transfer the package from one hand to the other as many times as possible before retrieving the ball from the palm of his hand. If he fails he passes the hand to the other player.

4. The “Meo Bat Chuot” – Cat and mouse

Meo Duoi Chuot is a very interesting game for bonding and training physical health

Meo Duoi Chuot is a very interesting game for bonding and training physical health

This game consists of more than seven members in a team. They stand in a circle, hold hands and raise their hands above their heads to create a barrier. Then they choose one person to play the cat and another to play the mouse. The two stand back to back in the middle of the circle. It is among the best Vietnamese traditional folk games.

How to play?

On the count of three, the mouse begins to run in the circle and the cat must chase it. The cat wins the game when catching the mouse. At the start of the game, the people in the circle also begin to sing a song, usually a folk song.

5. The “Da Cau” – Steering wheel game

Da Cau, a game of quick response of your body and mind

Da Cau, a game of quick response of your body and mind

This one of Vietnamese traditional folk games dating from the 13th century is very popular in Vietnam. “Da Cau” looks a bit like badminton but there is no racket.

How to play?

To practice this game, you just need to get a feathered wheel mounted on a spring. The players throw it back with their feet over a net. It’s a game of skill and you don’t have to give up the wheel to win the point.

6. The “Bai Choi” – Vietnamese bingo game

Vietnamese Traditional Folk Games

A special card of Bai Choi game

Practiced for over four hundred years, Bai Choi is a traditional game from central Vietnam very present in Hoi An. This is also one of the most popular Vietnamese traditional folk games that you will fall in love right at the first round!

How to play?

The rules are simple: just choose three wooden boards on which are engraved a drawing and a word in Vietnamese. A singer draws a bamboo wand with a word written on one side, then begins to sing a folk song or simply say a word. At this moment a person will pass in front of all the participants with the word and the design corresponding to the song. If you have the right combination, the facilitator will give you a small yellow flag. The goal of the game is to successfully validate the three combinations of your board before another player.

7. The “Co Tuong” – Vietnamese chess game

Vietnamese Traditional Folk Games

Co Tuong, a challenging but very interesting game to train your mind

Among the Vietnamese traditional folk games, chess is very popular in Vietnam. Indeed, it is not uncommon to come across groups of players by the lakes, on benches or sidewalks. This is among Vietnamese traditional folk games that will bring you amazing experiences and interesting challenges.

How to play?

Travelers often confuse it with checkers. In Vietnam, we play on a board of white boxes with Chinese inscriptions in the center and the figurines are replaced by tokens decorated with Chinese ideograms. The rules of the game are with a few exceptions the same as for a western chessboard.

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Bich Ngoc

As a true Vietnamese enthusiast of music, books and coffee, Bich Ngoc loves researching into those typical cultural characteristics of Vietnam as well as exploring further destinations in the country of thousand years of civilization.

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