Cho Hoa Quang An (Quang An flower market in Tay Ho district) is Hanoi’s largest and best known flower market. It takes on a special significance during the Tet Lunar New Year period when it transforms into a giant garden full of energy and vibrant colors. People visit not only to buy flowers but also to enjoy the whole experience and happy atmosphere. One needs to be an early riser to catch the flower market at its best. It opens between 03:00 and 04:00 when florists select the best blooms to sell in their shops during the day. Individual customers also buy flowers for their homes and work places. In particular, over Tet flowers play a very important role in ancestor worship when families place them as offerings in pagodas, temples and communal houses.
Flowers sold at the market (loose or in readymade arrangements and bouquets) come from Hanoi’s outer suburbs and as far away as Da Lat 1,400km away. Almost every type of flower is found here – including cherry blossom, lilies, roses, carnations, orchids, chrysanthemums, tulips, hydrangeas, sunflowers, Gerber daisies and so on. Often sellers specialize in one type of flower, making it easier to make a choice. However, two species sold have a deep and poignant significance at Tet. Peach blossom heralds the arrival of spring while the Kumquat tree signifies reunion – both these elements underpin the meaning of Tet.
The weather is significantly cooler at this time of year so people wrap up warmly as they wander among the colorful flower displays. Everyone, young and old, loves the atmosphere that pervades this flower market. Motorbike riders dodge in and out of the displays as they drive away with bunches of flowers strapped to the back of their bikes.