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[Photos] Saigon’s New Pedestrian Promenade Is Open For Business

Work has been completed on schedule for Saigon's new US$20 million pedestrian promenade on Nguyen Hue Street.


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One of the street's two fountains.

According to the city’s Transport Department, the 60-meter wide street will be free from vehicles between 6pm and 11pm on Saturdays and Sundays and on holidays. Ngo Ba An, vice director of the department’s Urban Traffic Management Zone No. 1 said that the plan is to eventually make the promenade a pedestrian-only area 24 hours a day.

Entrance to the subterranean bathrooms.

The men's room that lies beneath the street.

“After people get used to the pedestrian street and the street boasts diverse activities and teems with life, it will be turned into a pedestrian-only square every night throughout the week, while it remains open to traffic on the two lateral sections in daytime,” he told Tuoi Tre, adding that it will only become a full-time walking street when it is connected to “several future pedestrian streets in the vicinity.”

We found a stroll along the promenade to be a pleasant one though we were fortunate to pick a day with cloud cover. A lack of shade combined with Saigon's sweltering heat would have us seeking cooler options on a sunny day.

As refreshing as it is to have walking street downtown, it seems to lack a certain character and buzz. There isn't anything particularly Vietnamese about the thoroughfare (save for the soviet-era propaganda songs blaring from speakers) and there is a noticeable absence of street vendors.

Rows of smart pillars can be lowered to allow for vehicles (that have special permission) to cross the boulevard.

While there seems to be consensus that Saigon needs more walking streets, some have recently criticized the location, saying that Bui Vien would have been a better choice.

“At first glance Nguyen Hue is similar to a walking street in Shanghai, but it's actually very different. The Nanjing Street in Shanghai is specialized in trading and services, while Nguyen Hue has mostly office towers and hotels,” said architect Ngo Viet Son.

“Meanwhile, Bui Vien also satisfies [sic] all criteria for a walking street with shops, services and sidewalk eateries,” he told the newspaper.

Hopefully the city will come up with some activities to liven up the street to give locals and tourists a reason to visit more than once.

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