The biggest lantern street in Sai Gon opens for the one festival of the year27 September 2018
Once a year, when the Mid-Autumn Festival comes, it is the time for everyone to enjoy a great time with their friends and family. The kids, in particular, are most excited because the Mid-Autumn Festival is considered as their festival, a time when they can hang out with their friends, enjoy every piece of mooncake and join the lion dance. One of the must-have toys from the festival is the lanterns. Lanterns being sold is the sign and the spirit of the festival. Luong Nhu Hoc Street, District 5 is a place where tourists can come to buy lanterns, drums and take souvenir photos.
On the occasion of Mid-Autumn Festival, Luong Nhu Hoc and Nguyen An street in District 5 welcome a large number of visitors from all over the world. Some people come here to buy lanterns, a dragon head piece, drums while others come here just to take photos of themselves with the lanterns and festivities. The shops are open from morning to late evening.
Mid-Autumn festival is only a few days away from now (September 24th), and the amount of lanterns sold here is the same with every other year. “Customers prefer traditional and classic lanterns this year”, said a shop owner on Nguyen An street.
Mrs Sau, an over-60-year-old lady, is one of the very first people to open lantern shop on Luong Nhu Hoc. Her shop has been here for more than 20 years already. “Every year, when the festival comes, I and my relatives will always be here selling these lanterns”, she smiled.
She also said the price of the lanterns this year is not so different from other years. “It’ll be cheaper if people buy in bulks, however, the price for visitors will be higher as they will buy one or two only.”
For the smallest hand lanterns, customers will have to pay 15,000 VND ($0,7) only. The price will go up depending on the sizes and designs.
Mr Lam (42 years old), who lives with his family on Luong Nhu Hoc street, has also been selling lanterns for over 20 years. He said retailers seem to be more interested in lanterns made from bamboo sticks and colored plastic papers this year than previous years.
Hoi An-styled lanterns dominate the market this year since they make an appearance at almost all of the shops. This type of lantern is prefered by young people mostly, some of them even buy a lot of lanterns to decorate their fashion shops.
Mid-Autumn festival only comes once a year. Therefore, despite the fact that many families have been making or selling lanterns for generations, they still have another kind of business to do for the rest of the year.
The shop of Mrs Phung’s (33 years old) has been here since 2013. She sells steamed rice pancakes in the morning then helps out with the family’s lantern business in the afternoon.
There is a huge range of varieties of lanterns at her shop; the star-shaped, fish-shaped and butterfly-shaped lanterns are the best-selling ones. “We also make super-sized and customised lanterns for customers who place pre-orders with us, the price is about 350,000 VND ($17)”, she said.
However, electric lanterns are still in high demand as usual. The price range for this product line is varied from 50,000 VND ($2) to more than 100,000 VND ($4).
It seems really busy because of the huge number of visitors; nevertheless, the amount of lanterns sold is not that great. Most people would come by just to check the festival atmosphere and take photos.
Mrs Van (in pink Ao Dai) and Mrs Tam (in greened-patterned Ao Dai) are the regulars of this lantern street. Mrs Tam usually comes here with her son every year to take photos together, but he is busy today so she is here with a friend.
For the photoshoot, Mrs Van always buys one or two lanterns to use as props. She expressed that she comes here mostly for the atmosphere but she always tries to support the business here by purchasing their products.
Learning from experience of the vast amount of people coming to the street in the evening, regulars tend to go early in the day to avoid the traffic. This is the second year that Tran Dung (who lives in district 7) has come here to enjoy the very “lively and festive” vibes.
The lantern street is also the spot for families with kids to hang out. Many parents choose to “invest” a traditional or modernised Ao Dai for the kids to wear so that they could have a fun and marvellous photoshoot with the lanterns.
Mid-Autumn Festival is said to be one of the biggest festivals of the year in Vietnam. With plenty of street events and activities to participate, or, just to simply enjoy a piece of mooncake would turn your mood to super happy during this time of the year. If you happen to be in Vietnam during this occasion, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t immerse yourself in every moment of the festival.