Friday , May 24 2024

Enlightening Hà Nội’s night economy

By Lê Hương

The Temple of Literature is in downtown Hà Nội on a late autumn night, and the cool weather is pleasant amid the twinkling lights on the big old trees and stones in the relic site. People are amazed at the constantly changing light forming beautiful shapes on the entrance path.

Here and there, tales are told by lights screened on the trees and stones. The overall topic is praising the diligence of Vietnamese people’s learning culture.

The 3D mapping technology is used widely to give visitors a unique experience.

Each detail of the show has been thoroughly cared for, treating the audience to a magical experience with lights and music.

Following the line of people queuing up for tickets, Moyra Torpey from Liverpool, the UK, and her husband and son are curious about the light show.

“We saw the top of the building, the Temple from the road and we thought: Wow, it’s so amazing,” she told Việt Nam News. “We’ve got to see what this is about and learn a little more about the history and culture. So we were excited to see what the show was about and learn about it.”

“I think it’s wonderful because it’s such a beautiful structure, and you wouldn’t know that it’s here if it wasn’t lit up. And people like myself would have no idea walking past this in the dark. I think people want to come and embrace and see what’s happening, and take part and enjoy what Hà Nội’s beautiful culture has to offer.”

The entrance to the Temple of Literature lit at night. VNS Photo Trương Vị

Torpey and her family are among thousands of locals and tourists who enjoy the night show at the Literature Temple.

Since its opening in mid-October, the site has attracted endless lines of people queueing up for tickets.

“The new show has attracted many people to explore, I think this is one more space with a lively atmosphere for the public,” said visitor Lương Quang Vụ. “Such a show is unique to only for locals, but also foreign tourists. This is even more impressive to foreigners than industrial art shows.”

Light effects tell a story at a stone stele at the site. VNS Photo Trương Vị

Lê Xuân Kiêu, Director of the Temple of Literature, confirmed that this is the first time such a night tour has been organised on the site.

“Our big challenge is using modern lighting technology without affecting the historical site,” he said. “We have spent lots of time designing stories to tell in various corners of such a spacious site like the Literature Temple.”

He said in the near future, the site will use the light show to depict notable teachers in the past like Chu Văn An, and scholars and activities of this ancient university in the past.

Kiêu hoped the show would be successful in drawing tourists to stay longer in Hà Nội and use other services to make more contributions to increase the city’s budget and create more stable jobs for labourers.

3D light show at the site. VNS Photo Trương Vị

Bustling night

The show is one of the latest among 15-night activities launched recently in Hà Nội.

Đặng Hương Giang, Director of Hà Nội Tourism Department said: “Many night tourism products have been taking place in some urban areas and tourism centres in the country, including Hà Nội. Especially with the rapid development of the 4.0 industry under the decisive guidelines by the Government and Hà Nội authorities in implementing digital transformation in tourism, promoting media campaigns have offered a favourable condition for night tourism.”

A traditional music show in the Old Quarter. VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng

Among the 15-night tours, some are running, and some are really new and have been launched recently for the first time.

The newly-launched night tour titled Hà Nội Night – Touching Points offers an exploration around Hoàn Kiếm Lake and the Old Quarters, with abundant natural tourism potentials and unique cultural features.

“Night economy has been formed in Hoàn Kiếm District for many years in various forms like pedestrian zones around the Old Quarter, Đồng Xuân Night Market, cuisine streets like Tống Duy Tân, Cấm Chỉ, and Tạ Hiện,” said Phạm Tuấn Long, chairman of Hoàn Kiếm District’s People’s Committee. “Especially at weekend, some night activities have become routines of local residents.”

Nguyễn Công Hoan, CEO of Flamingo Redtours said the newly launched night tours bring positive signs for the capital’s tourism.

“Tourists now have more choices at night in Hà Nội,” he said. “This is better than letting them go to bed too early while there are many things to explore by night. The Literature Temple or the Old Quarter may contain different values in twinkle lights at night. The night tours may avoid summer’s heat as well.”

Foreigners enjoy ice cream in the Old Quarters. VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng

Nguyễn Thị Mai Anh, deputy director of the Hà Nội Promotion Agency, emphasised the importance of developing and networking the night-time economy in various areas beyond the Old Quarter. She stated that focusing on night-time culinary tourism could offer opportunities for households to expand their businesses.

Potentials to tap

Hà Nội possesses various spaces for the night economy mostly in Hoàn Kiếm, Ba Đình, and Tây Hồ districts.

Night art tours have drawn much attention, like performances in Hà Nội Chèo (Traditional Opera) Theatre, Hà Nội Cải Lương (Reformed Opera) Theatre and Thăng Long Water Puppetry Theatre.

“Though it scored a certain growth rate recently, Hà Nội’s night economy has not yet developed,” Giang said. “The income from tourism and the rate of a tourist paying in Hà Nôi have remained low due to the lack of services after 12am. Tourists’ demands for services, entertainment, and art at night is huge, not only surrounding pedestrian zones, night market, karaoke, discotheques or snack bars.”

Quan Chưởng Gate is lit by 3D light at night. VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng

“Hà Nội has an advantage in cuisine, which can be compared with big cities in Thailand,” she said. “But in the pedestrian zone in Hoàn Kiếm District, street food is mostly supplied by street hawkers, who cannot ensure food safety.

“Products at night markets are of low value. Markets are open by residential areas, so it’s hard to ensure security in the areas.”

For these reasons, no area in Hà Nội can meet all demands to operate the night economy in a sustainable way, experts said.

Many of them proposed setting up night entertainment areas in districts like Long Biên, Đông Anh, and Gia Lâm, where big vacant land lots can be suitable for building complexes of accommodation services, art performances, games, entertainment, shopping, and health care open 24 hours.

Giang said the recent festivals and night tours have not only opened a way to develop the night economy in Hà Nội but also helped confirm Hà Nội as a friendly destination.

Việt Nam’s Travel Agencies Association Deputy Chair Phùng Quang Thắng suggested night economy activities need a mass joining of various sectors and people, which requires a suitable policy for night economic activities.

“It’s not simple like taking tourists to eat out, travel agencies should develop the activity into a Hà Nội cuisine culture tour,” he said. “Companies should co-operate with relic sites and museums to create unique experiences for tourists rather than purely taking tourists to this and that destination.”

According to Nguyễn Anh Tuấn, Rector of the Tourism Development Research Institute, planning should be first and foremost together with a proper policy for this form of economy.

“Planning solutions here include building a new economic form for the area, judging the potential of night economy, and defining the most effective investment source, which should match well with other kinds of economy,” he noted.

He suggested Hà Nội authorities expand night tourism products along both banks of Hồng River and build a modern shopping mall near the centre like an underground shopping mall at Thống Nhất Park.

Phùng Xuân Khánh, Director of Tiên Phong Tourism Company, said authorities should permit services to remain open till at least 2am.

“Restaurants and shopping areas have not been gathered in special areas, which should be connected by shuttle buses,” he said.

Foreigners at a cafe in the Old Quarters. VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng

Deputy Director of Hà Nội Centre for Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Nguyễn Thị Mai Anh said the city’s service should be expanded in many areas, not only in the Old Quarters.

Other experts suggested technical and infrastructure support like street lighting systems and traffic design.

Bùi Hoài Sơn, a member of the National Assembly’s Culture & Education Department, in an interview with the National Assembly website, implied that night tourism will challenge tourism management.

“Night tourism will need special care on safety and social security, to limit negative effects on local residents’ life,” he said.

Night tourism requires a proper lighting system, public facilities, and traffic design, which needs more investment from the authorities, communities, and travel agencies, he said.

“Night tourism activities may cause noise and light pollution affecting the environment and locals’ lives.

He also said tourism personnel’s skills should be enhanced to meet new requirements for the new tourism time.

“I hope each light ray at night will be a new opportunity for Việt Nam to shine on the world’s tourism map,” he said. “From paths lit by sparkling lanterns to streets dazzled with luxurious lights and bursting with life and rhythm, Việt Nam will be an attractive destination not only at dawn but also when the sun sets.” VNS


Highly recommended night activities in Hà Nội

The Quintessence of Tonkin live show, Sài Sơn Village, Quốc Oai District, 7.30-8.45pm, Sat & Sun

Hỏa Lò Prison Tour, Hỏa Lò Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, from 7pm

Pedestrian zones, from 6pm, Fri-Sun: in Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Hoàn Kiêm District; in Trịnh Công Sơn Street, Tây Hồ District;

Sơn Tây Ancient Citadel, Sơn Tây Town; Cuisine Street in Đảo Ngọc – Ngũ Xã, Ba Đình District and Trần Nhân Tông Street, Hai Bà Trưng District.

Water Puppetry Show at Thăng Long Water Puppetry Theatre, Hoàn Kiếm District

Royal Citadel Night Tour, Thăng Long Citadel Complex, Ba Đình District

Night tour at Việt Nam Literature Museum, 275 Âu Cơ Street, Tây Hồ District

Cuisine tour in Tống Duy Tân – Tạ Hiện – Đồng Xuân Night Market, Hoàn Kiếm District

City tour on the double-decker bus around downtown

Đồng Xuân Tram Car tour, Hoàn Kiếm District

Cyclo tour, Hoàn Kiếm District

Flag lowering ceremony, 9pm, Hồ Chí Minh Mausoleum

Hà Nội Book Street

Live show The Legend of Youth, 8-9pm, final Sat & Sun of each month, Việt Nam Women’s Museum, 36 Lý Thường Kiệt Street, Hoàn Kiếm District

Thăng Long – Hà Nội bicycle tour, 7.30pm everyday

Temple of Literature light show, from 7.30pm, Wed, Sat & Sun

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