Two weeks prior to Mid-Autumn Festival, Saigon’s lantern street Luong Nhu Hoc is abuzz with visitors.
With every full moon festival, Luong Nhu Hoc Street in District 5 is lit up with all kinds of festive merchandise.
For many Vietnamese, the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on lunar August 15 (October 1 this year), is the second most important festival after the Lunar New Year holiday (Tet).
The festival is an occasion for a children’s night out and family gathering. Children enjoy performances like singing and lion dances, light up the night with colorful lanterns and enjoy mooncakes.
Muoi’s store specializes in selling handmade cellophane and battery lanterns in many shapes and colors. He has been in the business for 20 years.
But this year, business didn’t go well for Muoi and many other traders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Sales were nearly halved compared to last year. Fortunately near the Mid-Autumn Festival, the situation is getting better as there are more and more visitors to the shop,” he said.
Each shop has its own type of lanterns with different decorations, all handmade.
“I’ve been doing business here for more than 30 years, mainly selling handmade paper lanterns,” said Tran Phu, a store owner.
Ly Ngoc Hien wears a stylized Chinese hat to attract buyers. She said although there are many people stopping by, not many actually bought lanterns or decorations for the festival.
The traders said this year, the best selling products are Vietnamese handmade paper lanterns, priced at about VND30,000 ($1.2) each. Other types of lanterns in larger sizes or meticulously crafted could cost hundreds of thousands of Vietnam dong.
Nguyen Nhu Quynh from Thu Duc District said: “Lantern street provides a bustling atmosphere. I go here on weekdays, but it’s quite crowded, making it difficult to get a beautiful angle for photos.”
A girl poses with a colorful lantern.
This year taking photos is much easier as many stores no longer prohibit people to pose with their products.
Vinh Nguyen and Phuong Uyen had their photos printed right on the lantern street.
Trang, 38 years old (middle), said: “This is the first year I visited the lantern street, I liked it very much. I even rented outfits to take pictures. I also bought lanterns to support the store owner so I could comfortably take my photos.”
Most of the visitors in the street do not wear face masks. Local authorities said the Covid-19 outbreak in the city has been put under control. No community transmissions have been recorded in Saigon in 54 days.
A boy is mesmerized by the traditional colorful lanterns.
After walking around, Pham Ngoc Anh chose to buy his daughter a traditional lantern.
Luong Nhu Hoc lantern street opens from morning until late night. To explore the street, you can park your motorbike on Tran Hung Dao Street for VND20,000 (less than $1) and walk around.