Tuesday , April 23 2024

Foreign tourists find Hanoi streets too dangerous to walk

It is dangerous to walk in Hanoi as the sidewalks there are crowded with motorbikes, cars and stalls, foreign tourists say.

Many foreign tourists say they feel worried while strolling in the city as most of its sidewalks have been commandeered by local businesses, forcing pedestrians to walk on the street and dodge motorbike drivers.

Sitting on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant in the Ta Hien backpacker street on Tuesday afternoon, Glenn, an Australian tourist, was feeding his small son banh mi, a Vietnamese-style sandwich.

Glenn prevents his son from playing on the sidewalk because he worries it’s “too dangerous.”

Glenn and his son sit on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant in the Ta Hien backpacker district in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi on March 7 2023. Photo by Tu Nguyen

Glenn and his son sit on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant in the Ta Hien backpacker street in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi on March 7, 2023. Photo by Tu Nguyen

He said he had almost “no way” to walk on the sidewalk in Hanoi as all the spaces for pedestrians have been turned into parking areas for motorbikes or seating for coffee shops.

“In Australia, sidewalks are only for pedestrians,” he said.

The Australian tourist said he does not know what it is like in other places in Vietnam, but in Hanoi the sidewalks are always packed and it is difficult for tourists to walk.

“This is really dangerous for tourists with young children like me,” says Glenn.

Anna, a French tourist who has a strong passion for photography, is interested in walking on streets in Hanoi to capture daily moments in the capital.

But she always has to be on high alert because the sidewalks are “almost impassable.” She often has to walk in the roadway to take pictures. Sometimes, a motorbike honking its horn behind makes her “panic.”

Anna said the sidewalks in Hanoi are not as safe as in her hometown in Paris.

In Paris, no motorbikes are allowed to park on the sidewalks and people feel free to walk and take photos.

“Sidewalks should be pedestrian-only,” she said.

Foreign tourists walk on the roadway in Hanoi, March 7, 2023. Photo by Tu Nguyen

Foreign tourists walk on the roadway in Hanoi, March 7, 2023. Photo by Tu Nguyen

Dima, a Russian tourist who has been in Hanoi for four days, said he felt quite pressured on the first day because he had to walk along the street and compete with motorbikes.

“Hanoi is a beautiful city with a rich history and ancient architectural works,” he said. “However, the confusion on sidewalks affects the city’s tourism image.”

VnExpress has noticed that along the axis of the Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen intersection and downtown streets around the Hoan Kiem Lake area are occupied by street vendors that allow their customers to occupy the sidewalks.

Unable to walk on the sidewalks, many foreign tourists are forced to walk in the street, raising safety concerns.

The Hanoi authorities is relaunching its sidewalk cleanup campaign this month by removing obstacles such as billboards and awnings that encroach on streets and sidewalks; resistance will be met with forced removal.

Glenn said he hoped that the campaign will be successful so that tourists like him no longer have to worry about facing danger when walking on the road.

He said with large sidewalks, people can also park their motorbikes there, but that they need to be orderly. With narrow and crowded places such as the Old Quarter, sidewalks must be for pedestrians only.

Hanoi recently ranked fifth out of 20 tourist cities in Southeast Asia in terms of safety according to Numbeo, which claims to be the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide.

Hanoi received 1.5 million foreign tourists last year, just more than a quarter of arrivals in 2019. The capital hopes to attract three million foreign tourists this year.

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