|The pedestrian zone around Hoan Kiem Lake in downtown Hanoi|
Streets around Hoan Kiem Lake such as Dinh Tien Hoang, Le Thai To, Hang Khay, Hang Bai, Trang Tien, Dinh Le, Nguyen Xi, Le Lai, Le Thach, Tran Nguyen Han, Hang Dau, Lo Su, Luong Van Can and Bao Khanh have been turned into walking space on the weekends. They are closed to traffic on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7pm to 2am in summer and 6pm to 2am in winter.
A variety of cultural, tourism, and service activities are taking along the streets to meet demand for recreation. Those include photo exhibitions, dragon dancing, performances of traditional musical instruments, traditional singing, and calligraphy writing.
In July, the Department of Culture and Sports and the Centre of Preservation and Development of Theatre Art organised the Tinh Hoa Hanoi-Hoi Tu va Toa Sang (The Quintessence Hanoi-Converging and Shining) in the pedestrian zone, the biggest festival held in the area.
Drawing the participation of 800 artisans and thousands of people, the event created an exciting atmosphere among Hanoians and visitors to the capital. It was an opportunity to honour the cultural heritage, promote local tourism potential and attract more tourists to the city.
Tsubasa Maeda, a tourist from Tokyo (Japan), said she felt it interesting to experience traditional games, and street arts in the waking zone. She believed that the pedestrian zone is a cannot-miss destination when visiting Hanoi.
Thanks to the attractiveness of the waking streets, the number of visitors staying in Hoan Kiem district has increased significantly. More than 1.7 million people made stay in the downtown district in 2017, up 33 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, the figure recorded in the first eight months of 2018 was over 1.4 percent, up 18 percent from the same time in 2017.
The results make significant contributions to Hoan Kiem district’s budget collection. The district earned VND5.2 trillion (US$223.6 million) from tourism services in 2016 and the collection amounted to more than VND6 trillion (US$258 million) in 2017, and is expected to reach over VND7.5 trillion (US$322.5 million) in 2018.
Although the street has offered a new sense of tranquility and aroused applauses from tourists, not all of the feedback is positive. Parking lots with high fees, illegal street vendors and litter dropping, among others remain formidable challenges for the local authority.
Vice Chairman of the district People’s Committee Dinh Hong Phong affirmed that the district will work with relevant agencies and departments to install camera system along the streets, and set up general planning for the business and tourism service zones.
The district is making efforts to beautify and upgrade areas around Hoan Kiem Lake, he said, adding that it is asking the municipal People’s Committee for allowance to expand the walking space to Dinh Liet street from this October 10.
Also, it is studying to expand the pedestrian area to the east of Hoan Kiem Lake to connect with the Opera House, the Vietnam History Museum, and the Museum of Revolution, he said.