A recent plan by the Ho Chi Minh City administration to transform downtown Bui Vien Street into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare on weekend evenings is expected to enhance tourists’ experience of the vibrant entertainment hub.
Bui Vien Street, located in the heart of the city’s popular ‘backpacker area,’ will be turned into an evening-only weekend walking street starting from July 15, the city’s leaders confirmed during a meeting last Thursday.
The new, pedestrian-friendly conditions will be enforced between 7:00 pm and 2:00 am every Saturday and Sunday, said Tran Vinh Tuyen, deputy chairman of the municipal People’s Committee.
After a two-month pilot period, Bui Vien Walking Street is then set to be launched officially in September, when it becomes pedestrian-only for the entire week.
Bui Ta Hoang Vu, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, said the makeover would include upgrading restaurants and bars on either side of the street and re-paving the sidewalks to create a more user-friendly atmosphere.
Hotels and other shops would also undergo re-organization to make it easier for tourists to navigate, Vu said.
Regular performances and culinary events would be held to give visitors the opportunity to experience a more authentic side of Vietnam, he added.
While Nguyen Hue Walking Street is oriented toward the needs of locals, Bui Vien Walking Street would be established with foreigners in mind, as it would combine entertainment services, shopping experiences and an immersion into Vietnamese culture, Vu said.
The deputy director added that his department would begin training courses for shop owners on Bui Vien Street to improve their ability to communicate with tourists.
As for street performances, Vu said the department would work with bar owners to maintain their current activity once the walking street opens.
“Once the pavements have been cleared, there will be art performances produced exclusively for Bui Vien,” Vu stressed. “The careful planning of the area will make it more appealing to a significant number of foreigners by offering them a more immersive experience of the city.”
“During holidays such as Christmas, New Year and Lunar New Year, [Bui Vien Street] is always packed with tourists who sing and dance merrily, making the area livelier than the city center,” said Le Huu Luan, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Art Performances and Cinema Organization.
Luan was also certain that the appeal of the street would improve if street performers were freed from the bureaucracy surrounding the approval of open air performances.
“If street performances are not political, religious and do not violate Vietnamese custom, they should be encouraged,” Luan said. “It would dramatically improve the quality and diversity of Bui Vien.”