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​Vietnam’s touristy Hoi An losing serenity to annoying music

Friday, December 29, 2017, 20:01 GMT+7

An explosion of noisy dining and entertainment venues has put off visitors to an iconic town in Vietnam, who had hoped to find tranquility in a vintage place.

Many tourists have complained that Hoi An, a small locale on the central coast, had gradually lost its peaceful charm to the loud music of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops.

Hoi An, located in Quang Nam Province, is home to a namesake ancient town recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

According to a receptionist of a hotel on Nguyen Phuc Chu Street, travelers staying at the venue often lose their excitement after their first night.

Some tend to check out early or find another accommodation far away from the ancient town, the employee continued.

Many notes left by customers at local hotels also indicated that the town is too noisy at night, which is completely different from what they had imagined when booking a room, he added.

“We booked a ticket to Hoi An Ancient Town to seek a restful trip. However, the area where we stayed became too rowdy, even after midnight. We could not sleep and had to end our trip early,” a visitor wrote in a note.

Tourists are not the only ones who have been troubled by the rapid changes of Hoi An.

Nguyen Su, former secretary of the Party Committee in Hoi An City, where the namesake ancient town is located, stated that more bars and restaurants have been opened in the touristy destination.

“I have confronted city leaders over the current situation. They promised to fix it,” Su continued.

Another retired official said that many bars, restaurants, and coffee shops in the town incline to play loud music until late at night, upsetting both local residents and tourists.

Annoying night

There are about 100 bars and coffee shops across the ancient town, said Nguyen Van Son, vice-chairman of the Hoi An People’s Committee.

According to the observation of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters, Nguyen Phuc Chu Street, which is adjacent to the iconic Hoai River, was filled with people at around 8:00 pm one night.

Three bars with bright lights and upbeat tunes, accompanied by multiple bustling coffee shops, turned the entire street into an open disco.

A bar on Nguyen Phuc Chu Street. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A bar in Hoi An. Photo: Tuoi Tre

At about 11:00 pm, a Japanese couple was taking a stroll along the street when they were approached by an employee of a bar, who spoke out some English words to invite them to drop by.

The pair tried to avoid the persistent staff by repeatedly changing their path.

The more crowded these places became, the louder the music got, breaking the distinctive tranquility of the whole area.

The Hoi An administration has required that bars and coffee shops in the town close at midnight, while noise should be kept under a specific limit.

However, few seem to abide by this requirement, at least on Nguyen Phuc Chu Street, where some bars and coffee shops open till 2:00 am.

Authorities’ reaction

Nguyen Van Dung, chairman of the Hoi An administration, admitted that the ancient town has changed a lot for the worse, which is attributed to a boom in the number of hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment venues.

“Six to seven bars and coffee shops are located near my house, oozing constant piercing sound. But I can’t do anything about it, as they have not broken any regulation,” Dung said.

Any business that meets all requirements will be permitted to open a bar, the official continued.

Bars and pubs are not allowed to be set up on major streets such as Bach Dang, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Tran Phu, and Phan Chu Trinh, he stated, before adding that some restaurateurs have been running their own bars along these roads.

It is a shame that the unique charm of Hoi An has been ruined bit by bit, Dung said.

Vice-chairman Son remarked that most noisy bars and coffee shops are situated on Nguyen Phuc Chu Street.

The problem is the noise is still within the limit, Son added, citing previous inspections.

Local authorities are exerting much more effort to manage the operations of local entertainment venues.

They are considering establishing an exclusive zone for bars and coffee shops outside of the ancient town.

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