VietNamNet Bridge – Lights, flowers and decorations fill the streets around the capital as Hanoians count down the days to the lunar Year of the Snake.


Ha Noi’s Trang Tien Street is decorated with artificial peach blossoms, flags and banners. Downtown streets in the capital look colourful and splendid during Tet Holiday.

Streets around Hoan Kiem Lake are a collage of reds, pinks and yellows as workers put the finishing touches to the ornamental trees and flower pots that line the pavements around the still waters.

The newly created small gardens and Chuc Mung Nam Moi (Happy New Year) flower displays are a must-see for people of all ages and make a fine photo opportunity. The recent warm and sunny weather adds to the exciting festive atmosphere.

Even the huge amount of traffic congestion can’t spoil the party mood.

“I very much enjoy the atmosphere ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year). It’s busy and noisy, but happy! My friends and I are looking to take great photos of this beautiful scene by Hoan Kiem Lake. We will then head to the flower markets in the Old Quarter,” says Nguyen Phuong Linh, a student of the Ha Noi National University.

Ha Noi is just about ready to celebrate the most important festival of the year, which will last from February 10 to 17 this year.

“We have adorned 56 streets around Ha Noi with lights, flags, flowers and banners to celebrate the Lunar New Year 2013,” says Tran Trong Hieu, head of the municipal Construction Department’s Environment Section.

“Ba Dinh Square and the area around the President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where culture and art performances will take place, have also decorated with lights, flowers and ornamental plants.”
Tet shoppers

People have flooded the streets to make last-minute purchases. Their long shopping lists include traditional food, snacks, drinks, gifts for loved ones, plants, decorations, cleaning equipment and smart clothes.

Following the Ong Cong (the Land Genie) and Ong Tao (the Kitchen God) festival last Saturday, makeshift markets still crop up conveniently at regular intervals, offering all of the above and much more.

Shopping season: A makeshift market opens at the intersection of Hang Ma, Hang Can, Hang Luoc and Hang Dong streets in the Old Quarter and will continue through to the end of the week. Many buyers have been lured from Ha Noi and neighbouring provinces to buy antiques.

Markets are well-stocked with Buddha statues, bananas, mangoes, pomelos, kumquats, and dragon fruit. These goods are required to build up a traditional mam ngu qua (five-fruit tray), which is an indispensable item on the ancestral altar of every Vietnamese family.

This offering during Tet symbolises the admiration and gratitude of the Vietnamese to their ancestors and Heaven and Earth.

Ornamental kumquat and peach trees are also market highlights. People in the north often decorate their house with these two types of plants, while southerners prefer to use apricots.

Once everything else has been bought, it is time to take a relaxing walk through the city’s flower markets and pick out some beautiful decorations for the house.

“Everyday I stroll through Hang Luoc flower market. I love to admire the thick, crystal-like pink peach flowers – the type only-grown in traditional Nhat Tan flower village,” says Le Thi Anh, a resident of nearby Hang Cot Street.

The flower market, which is open from 5am-9pm, pulls in crowds to the already busy Old Quarter. Around the corner, Hang Ma Street sells decorative stuff and envelopes for “lucky money”, while Hang Duong and Hang Buom are crowded with shops selling sweets and treats.

The result is chaotic scenes of traffic, crowds and noise, which show that it’s official, Tet is here at last.

Flower markets

A profusion of big and small makeshift flower markets have sprung up all over HCM City to greet Tet.

The 65 markets attracted a large number of local and foreign visitors as well as residents shopping for flowers to in celebrate the festival.

As in previous years, the most crowded flower markets were in the Gia Dinh, Le Van Tam, and 23/9 parks.

Visitors and shoppers thronged these venues that sold achnar and peach blossoms, daisies, roses, kumquat and many other types of flowers.

The busiest flower market, however, was at the Ben Binh Dong Road, alongside Tau Hu in District 8, where most of the flowers are brought in from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces.

Many shoppers for Tet prefer to buy the blooms directly from gardeners who dock their boats along the Tau Hu Canal.

Countryside memories

The 10th Phu My Hung Spring Flower Festival has officially opened, expecting to welcome more than 1 million visitors this year.

Covering seven hectares of land, the display is separated into several segments including Spring Garden, Srping Wharf and Spring Road, aiming to offer visitors an experience of the countryside in the most urbanised area of HCM City.

At the Spring Wharf segment, 30 boats are loaded with flowers and fishing nets. Images of busy trading that happens at wharves are also depicted. At the Crescent Lake, organisers have placed several fishing boats.

On one large boat in the lake artists will sing the famous quan ho (love duets) songs from the northern province of Bac Ninh, as well as folk songs from other regions of Viet Nam.

A flower market is also part of the festival. As many as 500 booths are selling flowers and ornamental plants while 200 booths are selling foodstuff and other products.

Source: VNS