Bus stations in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi were packed with home-coming passengers, whereas major streets connecting the cities with neighboring provinces were heavily congested on Friday, when the Tet travel rush began in Vietnam.
Tet, or the Lunar New Year, falls on February 16, and celebrations are normally ongoing during the week before and after the date.
The travel rush, whereby students, workers and people working in big cities return to their hometown for the biggest family reunion of the year, began on Friday when it was less than a week away from the holiday.
In Ho Chi Minh City, long lines of vehicles were spotted inching on such streets as Hanoi Highway, Nguyen Xi and Dinh Bo Linh, as the nearby Mien Dong (Eastern) Bus Station was packed with a sea of passengers with a ticket home.
The congestion only worsened when motorbike drivers crossed into the automobile lanes and the sidewalks.
|A street leading to Mien Dong Bus Station in Ho Chi Minh City is seen packed with vehicles on February 9, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Inside the station, where people take passenger buses to central and northern provinces, not a single bench in the waiting hall was unseated, while coaches repeatedly left and arrived at the venue.
Traffic on the streets surrounding the Mien Dong Bus Station quickly became congested as passengers, complete with their huge luggage and family members who came to bid them goodbye, stood wherever they could.
|Passengers are seen at the entrance to Mien Dong Bus Station in Ho Chi Minh City on February 9, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
“People began rushing home from today and this sudden peak of passengers would result in gridlock in and outside the station,” Nguyen Hoang Huy, deputy director of the bus station, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
The bus station has dispatched all of its staff members to assist traffic police to relieve the congestion.
|Tired passengers are seen while waiting to buy tickets at the Mien Dong Bus Station in Ho Chi Minh City on February 9, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
In Hanoi, thousands flocked to the Nuoc Ngam bus station from late afternoon and waited in long lines to buy tickets to get home in the north-central and central regions.
Some said they did try to book tickets beforehand over the phone but bus operators that run to Nghe An or Ha Tinh Provinces all rejected pre-bookings.
Passengers had no choice but to come to the station early to queue, hoping to be able to buy a ticket home.
|People flock to the Nuoc Ngam Bus Station in Hanoi on February 9, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
“My bus departs at 8:00 pm but I had to be here since early in the morning,” a woman hailing from the north-central province of Ha Tinh, told Tuoi Tre, while waiting in the line.
“What’s worse is that I’m not sure if I’ll be able to buy the ticket, now that the bus operator is nowhere to be seen.”
Hunting a ticket home for people big cities is never easy. Besides the seeming endless lines in front of the ticket offices, most bus operators tend to increase fares dramatically for the Tet travel rush.
Major streets in the Vietnamese capital, such as Kim Ma, Van Bao and Dao Tan, also suffered from heavy congestion on Friday.
|A sea of vehicles is seen on Dao Tan Street in Hanoi on February 9, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Hanoi will have some 24 ‘black spots’ prone to traffic jams during Tet
The municipal traffic police said it will dispatch hundreds of officers to be on duty during the holiday to ensure traffic orders.
|A sea of vehicles is seen on both directions of Kim Ma Street in Hanoi on February 9, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
|Motorbike drivers are seen mounting on the pavement on Kim Ma Street in Hanoi on February 9, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|