Lan Ong Street – the Street of Traditional Medicine

Lan Ong Street – the Street of Traditional Medicine - ảnh 1
An owner of an Oriental Medicine Shop is prescribing a medicine (Source: Internet)

Lan Ong which means Lazy Old Man in Vietnamese, is one of the many criss-crossed streets in the Old Quarter. Although its name doesn’t start with the word ‘Hang’ or ‘Merchandise’, you can immediately guess what the street offers as soon as you arrive in the beginning of this road. Just by standing on the street, you can inhale the typical smell of herbs spreading through the air which can be either pleasant or smelly depends on different people. Unlike some other streets in the Old Quarter, most shops here still keep the traditional craft to sell medicinal herbs despite the time’s gone by and changes of the country’s economy. Shops in the street close together offer various kinds of medicinal herbs which are either displayed in shop windows or packed in big nylon bags. In the past, sellers often used precision scales to make up a prescription of galenical medicine but now change into Roberval balance. The herb processing has also become easier thanks to the application of electric-motor cutting machine. Thanh Nga, a veteran owner of a shop in Lan Ong Street says 'I’ve been involved in the craft for 30 years and handed down from generation to generation. You can find any kind of herbs of the Oriental medicine in the street'.

Apart from selling Oriental medicines, the street is famous for traditional doctors and pharmacists. An experienced physician is the person who only needs to feel a patient’s pulse to prescribe a medicine. Previously, almost all physicians practiced the medicine by learning from the family members. Now physicians often experience professional training courses or even study abroad to do the job. Pham Xuan Noi who has spent his whole life to the traditional herbal medicine shares his work experiences: '

In the Oriental medicine, the diagnosis of a disease often includes four phases – looking, listening, asking and feeling the pulse. Once a physician has a precise diagnosis, he can write out an exact prescription'.

Lan Ong Street – the Street of Traditional Medicine - ảnh 2
Medicinal herbs are on display in front of small shops (Source: Internet)



The trading of the traditional herbal medicine in Lan Ong Street has been much expanded, partly because of many Vietnamese who are “moderately Westernized”, favor a combination of traditional and modern medicine. The latter is effective in the treating of microbial diseases and in surgery while the former is good for non-microbial diseases and general exhaustion.


Bui Hang