5 Best Vietnam Traditional Folk Games

Being a part of Vietnamese spiritual lives, Vietnamese traditional games represent a vital cultural feature throughout our history. They have accompanied Vietnamese people for generations. 

Time passed by and these folk games, unfortunately, might be gradually replaced by video games and expensive toys. Nevertheless, many organizations are still trying to bring back the Vietnamese cultural identity and revive the traditional games like what you can easily see at the Museum of Ethnology or Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism.

Let’s catch a glimpse into the rich Vietnamese culture through these folk games below: 

Dragon and Snake (Rong Ran Len May)

The game required a pretty large space and a group of more than 5 people. The secret is the more players, the merrier! In the Dragon and Snake game, one will act as the doctor and the others will form a dragon. So how can the dragon be made? Easy! One person takes on the role of the dragon’s head and stands at the start of the row. The others form the body of the dragon by standing in a row behind the head of the dragon and holding the shirt of the former person.

Dragon and Snake (Rong Ran Len May)

Dragon and Snake (Rong Ran Len May)

How to play Dragon and Snake:

  1. The dragon walks around singing a popular song asking if the doctor is at home: “Rồng rắn lên mây có cái cây lúc lắc, có cái nhà điểm binh, có ông chủ ở nhà không?”. The doctor answers: “No! He is going to the market, going fishing”. The dragon continues to sing until the doctor says “Yes”. 
  2. During the conversation, the doctor will tell the dragon which part of the dragon he wants to take. 
  3. After the conversation, the dragon agrees that the doctor can take the tail and the doctor would say “Pursue at will”.
  4. Next, the dragon must run as fast as possible and the head of the dragon has to spread his arms as wide as possible so the doctor cannot catch the tail. 
  5. If the dragon succeeds in blocking the doctor, it will win. Alternatively, if the doctor catches the dragon’s tail, or the line is, the entire group will lose. Similarly, If the doctor can catch the person who represents the tail, the group will lose and that person will be the doctor in the next round. 

The Dragon and Snake game helps improve the duration and flexibility of children. The song might have variations depending on different regions and their dialect.  

Tug Of War (Keo Co)

Becoming an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity icon recognized by UNESCO in 2015, Tug Of War is often held during village festivals to pray for favorable weather, a good crop, happiness, and prosperity when all ages and genders can participate. It promotes sportsmanship and the power of unity, the spirit of teamwork, and encourages people to take up physical exercise.

Tug Of War (Keo Co) - Vietnamese Traditional Games

Tug Of War (Keo Co)

How to play Tug Of War:

  1. Participants are divided into 2 teams with the same number of members, equal in physical strength to create fairness. They will stand face-to-face along a bamboo rope with a red piece of cloth marking the middle of the rope. Each team is free to choose how to arrange members and standing positions.
  2. The referee will shout 1…2…3 to start then the two teams strive to pull the rope towards themselves as hard as possible in the loud cheers of the surrounding audience. 
  3. The team that can pull the red rope to their side first will win.

The team that pulls the rope before the referee’s signal will violate the rule. If the violation repeats, they will lose. The team whose player falls or loses his hand from the rope is also the loser.

Jump Rope (Nhay Day)

Jump Rope is a pretty simple game that is favored most by girls from elementary and junior high school. This game required a lot of running and jumping activities, thus; we should play this game on a large space plus flat surface without obstacles like the schoolyard, the playground, and the open field.

Jump Rope (Nhay day)

Jump Rope (Nhay day)

How to play Jump Rope: 

  1. Prepare a chain made of rubber bands. Two people will hold the two ends of the chain and stretch it out. 
  2. The easiest form of playing jump rope is jumping over the stretched rope and trying your best not to touch the rope. 
  3. The height of the rope will increase gradually and those who can pass all stages are the winners. 
  4. The players can also make two parallel lines, a triangle or a square out of the rubber chain, and jump around the sides. This version of jump rope can be played by teams. 

Bamboo Jack (Choi Chuyen)

A sharp eye and speed are what you need for this game! The preparation includes a bouncing ball (a plastic ball or tennis ball) and 10 chopsticks (5 pairs). 

Bamboo Jack (Choi Chuyen)

Bamboo Jack (Choi Chuyen)

How to play Bamboo Jack:

  1. Lay all the chopsticks on the ground and throw the ball into the air. The player will have to sing a related popular verse. 
  2. The player has to quickly pick up a chopstick with one hand while catching the ball with the same hand. 
  3. The game continues until the player has picked up all the chopsticks on the ground.
  4. If the player fails to coordinate the two actions at the same time, she will lose and the turn will pass to the next girl.

There are multiple Vietnamese traditional games waiting for you to explore! Preserve our culture while having irresistible funs, why don’t you come to Vietnam and try playing at least one of these Vietnamese Traditional Games? Please contact us now for more information about planning a trip to Vietnam to enjoy these games!

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Amelie Nguyen

Hello, I'm Amélie NGUYEN. I was born, raised in Hanoi and have been to almost all places in Vietnam and Asia. Let me share with you more interesting information about travel !

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