Lanterns originated in China during the Han Dynasty around 1,800 years ago, making their way to Vietnam through the beautiful trading port of Hoi An.
Many Chinese merchants came here for business, bringing the lantern with them as a memory of their hometowns. The lantern quickly spread to Ho Chi Minh City, softly glowing amidst the flashing glare of motorbike lights and billboards.
Through the influence of Ho Chi Minh City’s large Chinese community, lanterns are found in abundance in certain pockets of the metropolis. Here are the best places to buy lanterns in Saigon.
Lương Nhữ Học street in District 5’s Chinatown lights up like no other street in Ho Chi Minh City, especially during Tet (Lunar New Year) and the Mid-Autumn Festival (the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar). During these festivities, this street becomes a must-visit, not only to buy lanterns but to just stroll through and enjoy the vibrant colours, watch lion dancing, and eat mooncake – giving you a true glimpse of Chinese heritage in Vietnam.
Here, you are able to buy lanterns of all shapes, sizes and colours, made from materials ranging from paper and rattan to silk. Prices begin from $15,000 Vietnamese Dong (VND) ($0.64 USD) per item and can go all the way up to $150,000 VND.
The bright colours make provide a great background for photo ops. Even if you’re not looking for lanterns, head over to experience a unique part of Ho Chi Minh City and a beautifully vibrant fusion between two cultures.
Ho Chi Minh City’s largest wholesale market for lanterns is also the only place in their entire metropolis where they are made using traditional techniques. Not only does Phú Bình village supply the lanterns to the stalls of Lương Nhữ Học street, but also to many other lantern shops.
Located along Lạc Long Quân street, this village was founded in the 1950s by lantern makers from Nam Định. They brought with them lantern-making traditions passed down through generations. Instead of stretch silk, artisans here use a special type of transparent paper to make lanterns, commonly referred to as glass paper.
It’s worth noting that despite being called a village, it is not one in the traditional sense, but more like a bunch of interconnected streets in the city, with most houses and shops producing the same thing – lanterns. Prices here are even cheaper than at Lương Nhữ Học street. Lanterns can vary from around $9,000 VND to about $50,000 VND. Bigger ones are of course more expensive, ranging from $80,000 VND to more than $150,000 VND.
Buying lanterns from these creators also helps sustain the village and a very ancient practice in Vietnam.
Hải Thượng Lãn Ông street is not only known for being the traditional medicinal herb centre of Ho Chi Minh City, but also for selling decorative items and ornaments – earning a reputation as the ‘decoration market’.
During Mid-Autumn festival, the whole market turns into a picturesque light show, attracting thousands of Saigon residents. The decorations sold here are not only for Eastern cultural events like Lunar New Year, but also for Western holidays such as Christmas and Halloween. Make sure to head over about a month in advance, as stocks run out quickly.
The price of lanterns here fluctuates between $5,000 VND to $100,000 VND, coming in all shapes, sizes and colours.
Huong Dang is a lacquer manufacturing company, renowned for their international export quality. They do not have a store in Ho Chi Minh City, however, you are able to purchase their products online on Alibaba. Custom orders for lanterns are also possible, so if you have a certain design in mind, let them know in advance and your product will be completed and shipped off in no time. Expect a quality product in your hands.
Huong Dang make their lanterns from various materials such as paper, silk, bamboo and rattan. They import internationally, even to China and Japan.