Vietnamese markets are a major part of Vietnam’s culture and tradition, and every city has their fair share of them. From clothes to electronic supplies, fresh produce and fabrics, these markets can either sell a bit of everything, or specialize in a certain product, like flowers.
Walking into the Quang Ba flower market in Hanoi is like walking into a giant, colorful and bustling garden. It’s almost like a Christmas tree market in the west, but with tropical flowers instead. To catch the market in its full bloom, you need to go early in the morning, around 5:00 a.m.—this is when florists flooding into the market select the best flowers they need for the day.
Quang Ba is primarily a commercial market, supplying floral shops throughout the city, and individual buyers who want to decorate their homes and office spaces. Flowers are used often as offerings in temples, and also in ancestral worship. This is why flower markets get especially packed during Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Flowers play a huge role then. The market also gets more full than usual during full moons.
You will see all kinds of people browsing the market—from florists and vendors, to photographers, bored people who just want to see some pretty flowers, and even young couples seeking a romantic atmosphere. Despite the cold weather, people still put on jackets and walk around, enjoying the colors and aroma.
Pick-up trucks bring in all sorts of plants and flowers from Da Lat and Hanoi’s outer suburbs, such as Dong Anh, Tay Tuu, and Gia Lam.
There are permanent, roofed structures at the flower market, but you will find most vendors setting up their offerings on the backs of their motorcycles, trucks, and carts, or even on the pavement. Most vendors also specialize in just one or two types of flowers, making it that much easier for browsing. You will know exactly where to go to find what you want, and that you don’t have to look for competing prices.
There are so many colors decorating the market, and the colors are warm—plenty of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples. You’ll see all sorts of tropical flowers, such as sunflowers, roses, chrysanthemums, orchids, lilies, hydrangeas, carnations, and lavender. It’s a feast for the eyes and nose.
The flowers are sold either loosely or in ready-made arrangements, presented in beautiful baskets, or bundled together and wrapped in bouquets.
Flowers are not the only thing for sale at the market. Florists also like to add greens, such as palm fronds, into the arrangements. The green adds a nice contrast that allows the colors from the flowers to pop out in a bouquet, and also allows the arrangements to be made in different shapes.
When walking around, try not to linger if you are not interested in buying. Flowers are easily perishable, and vendors want to waste as little display time as possible to earn their daily target.
Once customers have found what they want, they load as much as they can onto their motorcycles. Don’t walk slowly, as these guys are just trying to get out as fast as they can.
Besides the beauty of flowers, you will get a little insight into the lives of locals here, on both ends of the transaction. Transactions may be hasty, but everything is done with smiles, as flowers are significant to the local culture. The market is a unique and beautiful sight to see.