With just days before the Chinese Year of the Horse begins, businesses in Lao capital Vientiane are filling with red lanterns and golden figurines to attract customers as well as good fortune for the coming year.
In Vientiane's Sanjiang Chinese Market shopkeepers are busy selling lanterns and decorations for people to decorate their homes and businesses. The market is a hive of activity as people ready themselves for the Lunar New Year celebrations. Food vendors have set up shop to sell traditional Chinese food and the area is permeated with delicious aromas.
"We have many people who want to buy decorations for the Lunar New Year," said one storeowner. "There are Chinese people but also Lao business people who want to make their business have more customers. The most popular is the red lantern which people can use for the Lantern Festival," he concluded.
As the economic boom in Laos continues the Chinese business presence in the country has grown. The capital abounds with authentic Chinese cuisine and many delicacies can be found in the Chinese enclave of Sanjiang Cheng (Three Rivers City) located on the outskirts of the city.
While many Chinese people during "Chunyun" (Spring Festival travel season) undertake a long journey to be reunited with their families on Lunar New Year's Eve, those who remain in Vientiane will find no shortage of culture and celebration on display. Locals and visitors alike are excited for the festivities, which begin on January 31, and last for 15 days.
Many Lao restaurants, hotels and bars are keen to cash in on the Lunar New Year Celebration. "We look forward to the Chinese New Year because of the importance it has to people," said local restaurant manager Khamphay Inthara. "Each year we put up the Chinese lanterns in hope that we will attract the Chinese people to come and eat here," he said. "Of course, if we can get good fortune for the next year, this helps also."