Hanoi zoo overrun by crowds on Labor Day

Thousands of Vietnamese, both young and old, flocked to Hanoi's Zoological Gardens on May 1, International Labor Day.

Families from in and around Hanoi have been enjoying the four-day holiday in the capital by getting back to nature with a trip to the zoo.

“It’s my first time in Hanoi,” said 62-year-old Hai from Nghe An Province. “My grandchildren and I have already visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Ho Chi Minh Museum, and now we're taking a look around the zoo.”

“We have three days off, so I decided to bring my two children, nieces and sister-in-law here,” said Vuong Hong Hanh from Son La Province. “I didn’t think it’d be this crowded.”

Hanoi's Zoological Gardens have been packed over the holiday, and visitor numbers soared on International Labor Day (May 1).

This is in part thanks to affordable ticket prices (VND10,000 for adults and VND5,000 for children) and free parking for visitors over the holiday. But the overwhelming crowds also indicate a lack of entertainment spots for people residing in and around the city.

Hanoi Zoo, along with Lenin Park, Hanoi Botanical Gardens and Hoan Kiem Lake, are some of the few open-air locations in Hanoi where children can play safely. Historical sites such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Temple of Literature tend to be more popular among tourists from other regions.

“My children have been to the zoo several times because there are not many other places to go. The children still love it here, so I've brought them here again,” added Hanh, who works as a street vendor.

Others working in the zoo see large visitor numbers as a great business opportunity.

One of them is Tha who sells toy figurines made from colored rice powder.

“I have been selling them at the zoo for more than 20 years,” said Tha. “Business is usually very difficult, but holidays like this mean we are able to sell two or three times more than usual."

But not everyone profits from the long vacation and high visitor numbers. 

Hang, who has been working as a commercial photographer at the zoo for more than 18 years, has been struggling over the holiday. “I have been here since early this morning but haven’t been able to find any customers,” she told VnExpress International.

“People think we can make more money during the holiday, but it's difficult to convince visitors to pose for photos with a crowded background,” she added.

The rise of the smartphone is also a major issue. “Less people are interested in printed portraits. Now they take selfies and have the technology that enables them to take photos to post on social media immediately, which is bad business for us,” she said, pointing to a few other photographers sitting idly on a stone bench.

Vietnamese families flocked to Hanoi's Zoological Gardens on May Day.

Visitor numbers soared on May 1.

Many vendors viewed the crowds as a great business opportunity.

“The children still love it here, so I've brought them here again,” said Hanh, a mother of two.

“Less people are interested in printed portraits. Now they take selfies...to post on social media, which is bad business for us,” said Hang, who works as a commercial photographer in the zoo.

Linh Pham, Bao Yen

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