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​Congestion nightmare spreads to Vietnam’s Da Lat during Tet holiday

Friday, February 23, 2018, 16:21 GMT+7

Da Lat, a famous tourist city in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, has become overcrowded during the recent Lunar New Year holiday, frustrating both visitors and local residents.

The situation has been present in Da Lat City, located in Lam Dong Province, over the past two years due to a rapid increase in the number of tourists on weekends and during special holidays.

Crowded places and congested streets have upset many visitors and turned the lives of local residents upside down.

Congestion

A large number of people flocked to the tourist town to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which started on February 16, placing enormous pressure on local streets and infrastructure.

“It feels just like the rush hours in Ho Chi Minh City,” Nguyen Hoang Nam, a visitor from the southern metropolis, said after snaking through the traffic jam near the iconic Xuan Huong Lake.

“I was driving my car in the city center on the third day of the Lunar New Year [February 18] festival. It took me over an hour to finish a two-kilometer journey,” Nguyen Diem Phuong, a Da Lat resident, stated.

A street in downtown Da Lat is filled with vehicles. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A street in downtown Da Lat is filled with vehicles. Photo: Tuoi Tre

According to Hong Van, another resident in the tourist city, the streets were so crowded that many people in her neighborhood had to walk to the market to buy their groceries.

“I went to the Da Lat Market on Wednesday, the sixth day of the Lunar New Year fest, and there was still a traffic jam there,” Van added.

Traffic gridlock often occurs from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, the Lam Dong Department of Transport highlighted, adding that routes around the Xuan Huong Lake suffered the most serious congestion.

Hotel boom is to blame?

According Truong Huu Hiep, director of the provincial transport department, there are over 1,000 hotels in Da Lat, offering some 17,000 rooms to nearly 50,000 visitors on a daily basis.

Homestay services have also mushroomed in the city, Hiep continued.

Such streets as Nguyen Chi Thanh, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Hai Ba Trung, and Phan Dinh Phung are filled with hotels, along with diners, restaurants, and retail services.

“The number of hotels has increased rapidly while expansion can no longer be done along local streets. More hotels mean more vehicles and a higher risk of traffic jams,” Hiep elaborated.

Hotels mushroom in the city center. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Hotels mushroom in the city center. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the number of personal cars in the city rises by 10 percent a year, the official added.

Le Quang Trung, director of the Lam Dong Department of Construction, said that there is a lack of balance in tourism development in Da Lat.

“The downtown area is overcrowded while the suburbs are rather quiet,” Trung said.

Local authorities must first limit the number of hotels in the city center and implement certain policies to encourage the establishment of these venues in suburban neighborhoods, the official suggested.

Ring roads should be constructed as a long-term measure, he added.

The provincial People’s Committee is mulling over the relocation of bus stations to about four kilometers from the downtown area, which will prevent passenger buses to enter the center.

Another solution is turning areas near the Tuyen Lam Lake into a key tourist zone.

About 7,000 hotel rooms are expected to serve 20,000 people every day once the plan is completed.

However, it may take three to five years to solve the congestion in the city, Trung remarked.

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Duy Khang / Tuoi Tre News

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