Hop on - hop off bus service has been very much embraced by the public this year. — VNS Photo An Phương
By An Phương
Restriction on social contacts might have changed how HCM City locals are approaching this year's festive season, but the “holiday spirit” has remained about the same.
Dazzling decorations can be seen at every corner in the city centre, especially at shopping malls, shops and cafes. Since safety is being prioritised, locals are advised to always carry face masks and hand sanitisers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many locals’ shopping preferences. — VNS Photo An Phương
Taking photos outside holiday setups at department stores and cafe shops has long been a “tradition” among many locals especially young people in HCM City.
“Diamond Plaza on Lê Duẩn Street and Takashimaya on Lê Lợi Street, without a doubt, have the best displays this year,” Như Phan, 24, told Việt Nam News, adding that she recently took her friends and parents to take photos for social media content.
“The number of locals visiting these places has decreased compared to years ago. I don't exactly enjoy this atmosphere, but I'm glad to be able to take photos without fear of being pushed by other people. Not to mention, since HCM City is relatively hot, it’s cooling and convenient to take photos and shop for presents at the malls during the weekends,” she said.
Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street, an affordable entertainment venue, attracts many visitors during the holiday season. — VNS Photo An Phương
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected business at these malls and many brands have been constantly offering promotions at shocking prices.
A shop owner at Takashimaya said the drop in the number of mall visitors, together with locals’ saving habits during the pandemic, had encouraged brands to think of new ways to clear their stock.
“The 11.11, Black Friday and 12.12 events were perfect occasions to host deep sales without affecting the brand’s image,” he said, adding that he felt lucky to run his business in HCM City where the pandemic has been controlled effectively.
The number of visitors to shopping malls has fallen this year because of the pandemic. — VNS Photo An Phương
In addition to clothing, popular items sold during the holiday season include home accessories and kitchen tools, particularly air fryers, coffee making machines and cold pressed juicers.
These purchases shed some light on how life changed after the lockdown this year. With a significant amount of time by themselves and their family, many locals have started to take better care of their eating habits and lifestyle in general.
Since shopping malls and cafes are going to be very busy later this month, many young locals plan to celebrate the holiday at home.
“Dining in has its own charm, especially when it is not entirely safe heading out to crowded spots at the moment,” said Ngọc Ánh, 27, adding that her closest friends have agreed to bring their own dishes over along with some wine, card games and board games.
“Or we can easily order food from popular restaurants and have it delivered to us. Orders should be made in advance so those restaurants can save us a slot on the big day,” she said.
The Diamond Plaza retail complex on Lê Duẩn Street in District 1 in HCM City has one of the prettiest holiday displays this year. — VNS Photo An Phương
Similar to Ánh, many young working adults have been getting used to staying in since the first outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year.
“The setting for the indoor gathering will indeed be very intimate and memorable. We have also prepared some gifts for a Secret Santa session after dinner. We hope everyone is going to have a great time,” Duy Anh, 28, said.
Watching Netflix or holding Animal Crossing parties where groups of friends gather for a movie marathon or virtual games are also very “in” this season, he added.
Locals have been constantly advised to ensure social distancing, wear face masks and carry hand sanitisers in public places.
On one of the busiest streets at night, Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street in District 1, people can hear instructions from loudspeakers installed along the street to follow epidemic prevention guidelines.
Later this month, the Quang Trung Pedestrian Street in District 10 will open, and is expected to attract a lot of visitors.
“The latest pedestrian street reminds me of night markets in Thailand. The layout of the street is very neat, especially the food hall area," said Thảo Tâm, 25, who was able to experience the market during its trial phase.
“Different from Nguyễn Huệ Street, the new pedestrian street offers a variety of experiences such as dining, shopping and entertainment,” Tâm added.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, many locals nowadays prefer affordable entertainment or just wandering around casual places such as pedestrian or book streets.
“I'm not celebrating Christmas and New Year this year, as I want to make up for several months of lockdown and concentrate on work. That being said, the festive atmosphere is in the air, so it is encouraging me to do something to celebrate it. A pedestrian street has now become an easy option for those like me!” Anh Khánh, 28, said.
He also said he would try out the hop on-hop off bus service that has been very much embraced by the public this year. A 45-minute bus tour, passing by multiple attractions in the HCM City centre, costs VNĐ150,000 per person.
“HCM City is very beautiful this time around, so it is best to have a general look,” Khánh said. - VNS