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In an effort to increase its appeal to both visitors and residents, Hanoi will allow bars and restaurants to remain open later and ban vehicles from the Hoan Kiem Lake area on weekends.

Thanh Nien reports that city officials have agreed to allow businesses in Hoan Kiem District to stay open until 2am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Currently, all restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and karaoke parlors in the city must close at midnight.

Nguyen Duc Chung, Hanoi’s chairman, was quoted as saying that “certain bars have been breaking the midnight curfew, so giving them two extra legal hours will facilitate management and make sure tourists are properly served.” It is possible that the extension will be applied to weekdays in the future, depending on what the response is to this trial phase.

In related news, according to VnExpress, the capital will also limit vehicle access to Hoan Kiem Lake every Friday to Sunday evening starting September 1, creating a major pedestrian-only zone. The city's Transport Department will set up 17 signs blocking access to roads around the lake, while also adjusting bus routes and access for specific types of vehicles.

In order to accommodate visitors to the lake, 78 parking areas covering 17,000 square meters will be set up. Hanoi’s first walking street opened in 2004, when vehicles were banned from part of Hang Dao. Since then, several other streets in the Old Quarter have been pedestrianized, though none cover such a large area as Hoan Kiem.

As part of yet another upgrade to the area, the Vietnam Posts & Telecommunications Group (VNPT) will install free Wifi access to the new pedestrian streets, reports Dan Tri. Visitors will be able to access the service from September 1, the same day on which the new opening hours and walking streets will be unveiled.

[Photo via Trover user RobertM]


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