Saigon’s Backpacker Street Bui Vien to Be Turned into a Pedestrian Zone

Daily News - Saigon/HCMC: March 23, 2017

Saigon’s (in)famous backpacker street and nightlife hotspot Bui Vien is going to be a pedestrian zone on weekend nights. Within this restricted time frame, street vendors will be allowed to sell their wares and offer their food on the sidewalks. This measure is to be put into effect as early as on 30 April 2017.-

How Attractive Is Bui Vien Without Chaos?

The “sidewalk reclamation” changes the face of the city. This is all the more true for Bui Vien, Saigon’s thriving nightlife centre, where locals, travellers and expatriates meet in a chaotic mix of street food stalls, booming bars, crowded restaurants and odd live performances. Much of this is happening outdoors.

Bui Vien At Night

Earlier this month, shops and restaurants were ordered to clear the sidewalks of Bui Vien by 10 March. Many have expressed concerns that this could negatively affect one of the major attraction points of the city.

City-Planned Fun

According to VnExpress.net, the decision was made by municipal authorities on Monday, 20 March 2017.

The plans are to turn Bui Vien into a pedestrians-only zone on Saturdays and Sundays, from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. During this time, the street will get back to its original state: vendors will be granted permission to display their products on the sidewalks. According to the city’s vice-chairman, Tran Vinh Tuyen,”The area should stay vibrant.” This includes live music performances.

There will also be CCTV cameras and security guards to keep an eye on the area.

However, the question remains what will happen to the area during the week, and what a city-planned Bui Vien street will look like.

Bui Vien Sidewalk Reclamation

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Regarding Bui Vien, Saigon city officials are stuck between a rock and a hard place: On the one hand, for traffic and safety reasons, the city has decided to “reclaim the sidewalks” without making exceptions – not even for Australian diplomats. On the other hand, Bui Vien attracts thousands of backpackers and tourists every day, spending VND37 billion ($1.62 million) per year, precisely because of its animated street life.

The measures taken show that the municipal authorities take the matter seriously. It remains to be seen if they will find lasting solutions.