Each year, Vietnamese celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival and the country is full of colorful lanterns. If Hanoi has Hang Ma Lantern Street, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) has Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street with nearly one hundred of shops and stalls selling lanterns and festive accessories. On the days closing to the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, the area of Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street is turned into a pedestrian zone. The area is full of people coming for taking photos, buying lanterns, walking and having fun.
Location of Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street
Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street is located on:
- The Luong Nhu Hoc Street segment starting from the crossroads of Nguyen Trai and Luong Nhu Hoc Streets to the crossroads of Tran Hung Dao and Luong Nhu Hoc Streets.
- The Nguyen An Street segment starting from the crossroads of Nguyen Trai and Nguyen An Streets to the crossroads of Tran Hung Dao and Nguyen An Streets.
- Phu Dinh Street.
Generally, the lantern street is bordered by 4 streets: Nguyen Trai, Luong Nhu Hoc, Tran Hung Dao and Nguyen An. In this area, every house become lantern shops. There are also some lantern shops on Luong Nhu Hoc Street. 3 days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, motorized vehicles are abandoned in the area and it turns into a pedestrian zone which is a safe place for visitors to walk.
What is the best time to visit Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street?
The closer to the 15th August of the lunar calendar it is, the more crowded Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street is. It is the most crowded at the Mid-Autumn Festival. If you would like to stay away from the crowd and have great photos and videos, you can go there from one week to 3 days before the days.
At night, the streets cover a new twinkle coat, colorful lanterns light up the entire area. In the evening, street food stalls and game stalls open so that it will be fun then. The shops are less busy during the day because the sun is strong from 9:30 to 15:00. Certainly, this special street is overwhelmed with people at night and at weekends when they do not go to work or schools. If you do not work at offices, it is better to visit Luong Nhu Hoc from 16:00 to 19:00 when the sun is not strong or goes down. In fact, Vietnamese people like to go to places with lots of people. That is the reason why they gather in the area of Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street although they may be jammed together.
What to do at Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street?
Choose and buy lanterns
Lantern shops are open for selling lanterns so that most customers go there to buy lanterns. There are many kinds of lanterns in these streets for your choice.
Cellophane lantern is the most popular Vietnamese traditional lanterns. Most the kids like cellophane lanterns because they look beautiful and has many shapes including stars, carps, rabbits, dragons, chicken, butterflies, steamboats, lotus flowers. It has a bamboo frame, covered with colorful cellophane paper wraps, sometimes decorated with feathers, paper flowers. They usually light this kind of lantern with candles. Players should hold the lanterns carefully and skillfully so that they are not burned. The prices depend on the sizes of the lanterns. Medium-sized cellophane lanterns cost less than 100,000 VND.
Beer can lantern is made by cutting slices around a beer can, then pressing so that the slices jet out. The lanterns are also made from soft drink cans. These creative recycled lanterns were handmade popularly in the past when life was still hard. In recent, it is less attractive, some people buy it as something special in childhood. The plus of this kind of lantern is that it could not be burned easily and low cost. A beer lantern costs less than 50,000 VND.
Paper lanterns are made from bamboo, sometimes metal and covered with paper. There is a wide range of choices. Paper lantern is one of the most elegant and fashionable. So that they are not only used as toys at Mid-Autumn Festival but decorations in houses, restaurants, hotels. In comparison to fabric lanterns, paper lanterns are less durable. Water and rain can ruin them. In Luong Nhu Hoc Lantern Street, you can find hot-air balloon, ball, Pikachu ball, butterfly ball, fish ball lanterns in different colors.
Fabric lanterns have structures made from bamboo and covered with fabrics, usually silk and brocade. They are also in many shapes and used to decorate restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, houses and others. They rarely make fabric lanterns in animals shape but ball, garlic, diamond, lotus shapes.
Electric lanterns shine lights, play music and have shapes of cartoon characters, animals and vehicles.
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Which lantern to buy?
If you are looking for souvenirs which should be light and easily packed in your luggage, paper and fabric lanterns are good choices. If you are looking for lanterns as gifts for children, you can choose cellophane lanterns, electric lanterns.
Should buyers bargain?
In my experience, buyers should ask for the price which is about 70% of the asking price.
Admire the beauty of lanterns
If you do not want to buy any lantern, wandering the streets lines with lantern shops and stalls and seeing thousands of lantern illuminating and warming the atmosphere is worth doing. It is a chance to get lost in a wonderland and forget all your problems in your life. Just immerse yourself in local life and have fun like locals. It will be great if you go with some locals.
Take nice photos and videos
Lots of Vietnamese people make up and go to Luong Nhu Hoc for the greatest photos. Countless lanterns will be perfect backgrounds for photos. Most of them like take photos with paper, cellophane and fabric lanterns.
Play traditional games
Some traditional game stalls are open and they are fun to play. You can try to play and find your luck. The prices are reasonable and you can get some gifts if you won the games.
Taste street foods
Street foods in the area can make you mouth-watering. Let me tell you what to eat and there. Prices are cheap and they taste great. A skewer of grilled beef in wild betel or sausage balls costs from 10,000 to 15,000 VND. Cakes, candies and drinks cost less than 30,000 VND.
Buy nice souvenirs and jewelry
They also sell souvenirs including key chains, necklaces, brace laces, rings, earrings, etc. However, all of them are not high-quality in my opinion. If you would like to buy, do not forget to bargain and wander around before buying.
How to be safe in the Lantern Street?
- Leave your valuable things including passport, jewelry, credit cards at home.
- 1 million VND is enough for you in lantern street.
- Watch out for your belongings (wallet, phone, camera) to avoid snatch theft and pickpocket.