- What will become of Saigon's backpacker district after street cleanup campaign?
- Saigon set to clear sidewalks in backpacker district
For those worried about the fate of Bui Vien in the middle of the sidewalk cleanup frenzy, the city has announced a plan to pedestrianize the backpacker street on weekend nights from the end of April.
District 1 officials at a Monday meeting said the 850-meter street will be saved for pedestrians from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
During this time, vendors will be allowed to display their merchandise on the sidewalks, but not the road.
The city will install CCTV cameras and deploy security guards to monitor the area.
Tran Vinh Tuyen, the city’s vice chairman, said at the meeting that the street should add more cultural highlights like live music. “The area should stay vibrant,” he said.
It’s still not clear what will become of Bui Vien during the week.
Earlier this month the city asked shops and restaurants on the street to keep their business off the sidewalks. It has revealed a new plan to turn Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham and Do Quang Dau, other streets that make up the tourist center, into a pedestrian-only area after 6 p.m., but no timeframe has been set.
The famous backpacker precinct, where all the lines blur between private and public spaces, between grill bars and sidewalks, between streets and dance floors, is posing a big puzzle for the city’s sidewalk revolution.
District 1 officials have said the mission to clean up the city’s sidewalks will allow no exceptions. Anyone and anything standing in the way of city’s bid to become a Singapore-esque metropolis has been either reprimanded, pulled down or towed away.
But many have expressed concerns that if the Bui Vien neighborhood is tidied up and all the fun has to be taken inside, the area's appeal will die. Then the tourists will leave, taking their money with them.
Official figures show that the area draws 500 tourists every day, and 2,000 at its peak, pulling in more than VND37 billion ($1.62 million) a year.
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