Locals and expats back Bui Vien pedestrian street expansion
Update: Jan 23, 2018
Local residents and international visitors have shown support for a proposal by the authority of District 1 to enlarge Bui Vien pedestrian-only street in the backpacker’s area before the forthcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday, which falls in mid-February.

Tourists are seen on Bui Vien pedestrian street

As proposed by the district, the current pedestrian quarter in a section of Bui Vien Street would be expanded to cover the entire street and part of Nguyen Quang Dau Street by February 10.

In a letter sent to the HCMC People’s Committee, the district also suggested keeping the pedestrian street operational on Fridays, instead of only Saturdays and Sundays as currently.

In addition, the district is seeking approval from the municipal government to call for investment from private enterprises for cultural and entertainment activities on the city’s second pedestrian street during the five-year period. 

The expansion plan by the nation’s biggest holiday is hoped to provide a bigger space for Tet celebrations, ease overcrowding at the current pedestrian street and prop up the city’s tourism sector. 

Earlier, the district government sought public feedback from local residents and business facilities in the area, with most of them supporting the proposal.

Kieu Thi My Thu, a 36-year-old souvenir shop owner on Bui Vien Street, told the Daily that she is satisfied with the expansion proposal as Bui Vien is currently overcrowded on two weekend days after more than five months of operation. 

However, security should be further tightened to ensure safety for tourists and residents, Thu added.

Hoang Huy, a 27-year-old resident in District 7, says there should be more street food spaces on the pedestrian street to promote Viet Nam’s culinary culture to international friends, instead of a slew of bars and restaurants.

A Canadian tourist identified as Benjamin Mawdsley, who is running private English classes in HCMC, says Bui Vien Street is a perfect rendezvous for those from different cultures around the world where they can hang out with friends and enjoy food at an affordable price.

He expects the city’s second pedestrian street should be open for pedestrians throughout the week in the future to make it one of the top destinations for international travelers to the city.

Earlier, the city spent nearly VND13 billion developing Bui Vien into the city’s second pedestrian street, including two welcome gates, stages for music performances, security guards, free wifi and public toilets.

Bui Vien is closed to traffic from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday night, creating an open space for pedestrians and foreign tourists to enjoy dining and entertainment services and experience the bustling sight of city nightlife in the heart of the city.

2017 was a booming year for the city’s tourism sector as the city has wooed more than 6.38 million international visitors, a year-on-year pickup of 22.8%, and obtained total tourism revenues of nearly VND116 trillion (US$5.1 billion), surging 12.6% against a year earlier, according to the municipal tourism department.

HCMC, the country’s most dynamic and vibrant economic center, looks to lure 7.5 million foreign tourists this year, with total tourism revenue of VND138 trillion.