Hanoi to ban vehicles around Hoan Kiem Lake starting September 1

By Vo Hai   August 25, 2016 | 08:56 pm PT
Hanoi to ban vehicles around Hoan Kiem Lake starting September 1
The capital got its first walking-only street in 2004 when a section of Hang Dao Street was made off-limits to vehicles. In this picture: Ta Hien, one of the walking streets in Hanoi's Old Quarter. Photo by Pham Tien Dung/VnExpress Photo Contest
The plan to free up roads for pedestrians around the iconic lake has been approved.

Hoan Kiem Lake (or Sword Lake) and its surrounding area will be transformed into a pedestrian zone every evening from Friday to Sunday starting September 1.

The pilot program approved by Hanoi’s People's Committee aims to elevate the city’s tourism appeal around one of its most popular and iconic areas. Hoan Kiem Lake was considered the heart of the capital before it expanded in 2008.

Hanoi's Transport Department will limit vehicle access and re-route traffic. It will also put up 17 traffic signs indicating “no-entry” while adding 23 remote traffic control posts to prevent possible congestion. Bus routes and specific access for other types of vehicles will also be adjusted accordingly.

The city will set up 78 parking areas for vehicles, ranging from motorbikes and cars to big tour buses, with a total area of 17,000 square meters, authorities said.

The capital got its first walking street in 2004 when a section of Hang Dao Street was made off-limits for vehicles. Since then, a number of other streets in the Old Quarter - an ancient craft area and a famous tourist attraction - have been pedestrianized over the last decade.


The pilot program aims to create a peaceful place, free of noise and emissions, for people to enjoy their time around the iconic lake. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

From September 1, Hanoi also will lift a midnight curfew on restaurants, bars, cafés, karaoke parlors and others in an effort to provide more nightlife for tourists. They will be allowed to remain open until 2 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

At a conference in late June, authorities laid out plans to gradually reduce the number of private vehicles in the capital and to even ban motorcycles by 2025.

Hoan Kiem Lake is centrally located and a few minutes walk from the Old Quarter. Legend has it that in the mid-15th century, a golden turtle god surfaced and asked Emperor Le Thai To to give back a magical sword, he had been given to drive away Chinese invaders.

The turtle then grabbed the sword and disappeared into the lake. The Turtle Tower (Thap Rua), which stands on a small island near the center of lake, is linked to the legend. There is also the Temple of the Jade Mountain on Jade Island, which is connected to the shore by The Huc Bridge.

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