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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Merry: People shop for decorations on Vo Thi Sau Street in HCM City, where shops are decked out and stocked up for the season. — VNS Photo Manh Linh

HCM CITY— The special ambience of Christmas has warmed up big cities like Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh. In many corners of the capital, from streets to family homes, from churches to shops, decorations with lights, snow, Santa Clauses and Christmas gifts are appearing.

The Old Quarter of Ha Noi has become one of the most animated places in the city. People are buying gifts in Hang Ma Street or looking for beautiful items to decorate their houses. The traditional goods such as artificial pine trees, flashing lights, bells and lanterns still attract a lot of customers.

Decorative products are also found in other streets of the Old Quarter, including Cha Ca, Luong Van Can and Hang Can. Each pine tree costs about VND600,000-800,000 (US$30-$40). A set of Santa Claus clothes and hats for children are selling for about VND100,000.

Hotels, shopping centres and stores in Ha Noi are also attractively decorated. The Thuy Ta Restaurant, situated by Hoan Kiem Lake, impresses everyone with eye-catching scenery and a snowman, a big pine tree and colourful Christmas gifts under glass. A number of young people rush to take photos.

Many curious couples also go to Parkson Landmark at Keangnam, in Pham Hung Street and the Vincom Trade Centre in Ba Trieu Street to see the snow house installed in front of the building.

Streets, shopping centres and stores in HCM City are beautifully decorated and filled with a wide range of goods in preparation to welcome Christmas.

Shops specialising in selling Christmas decorations on Hai Ba Trung, Vo Thi Sau, Cach Mang Thang Tam, and Hai Thuong Lan Ong streets are displaying all kinds of colourful items, including stone grottoes, lights, lanterns, clothes and gifts.

Prices range from VND6,000 to more than 500,000 depending on size and design.

Stone grottoes with flashing lights sell for at least VND520,000 each, while artificial pine trees 50cm-250cm high are priced between VND250,000 and 1.1 million a piece, depending on materials and size.

Many stalls along streets have also sold different kinds of Santa Claus clothes and hats, with prices ranging from VND45,000 to 90,000.

According to shop owners, prices of products for this Christmas increased by 5-10 per cent over last year.

Thai decorative products and Christmas gifts as well as locally made ones are also available. However, with cheaper prices, Chinese products are still dominant in the market.

Restaurants, hotels and shopping centres in HCM City are bedecked with lights and decorations to welcome Christmas.

Many supermarkets, including Co.opmart, Big C and Metro, have set up their own Christmas stalls for customers and launched attractive promotion programmes to boost sales on the occasion.

Co.opmart, for instance, has offered up to 50 per cent discounts on 750 items, including Christmas decorations, clothes and foodstuffs.

This Sunday, Co.opmart will gift a Santa Claus hat for every bill worth at least VND1 million.

Under its special promotion programme, Big C supermarkets have offered discounts of 5-40 per cent on Christmas products such as Santa Claus cards, Christmas trees, decorations and gifts for children, clothes for both adults and children, and electronic equipment.

Many toy shops have started to launch gift-delivery services on Christmas Day, with average fees of VND50,000 for each address. — VNS