Saigon's Tet exodus: it's a rush, but real slow

By Quynh Tran, Hoang Nam, Thanh Nguyen   January 23, 2020 | 08:00 pm GMT+7

A sea of humanity is on the move on motorbikes, in vans, buses, cars and even planes as Saigonese return home for Tet.

On Saigons Binh Trieu 1 Bridge, which leads into the Mien Dong Coach Station, vehicles struggle to move inch-by-inch. Several had to encroach onto pedestrian paths on the bridge.Wednesday marks the final working day of the year, with Thursday being the beginning of the Lunar New Year holiday, allowing people to go back to their hometowns in droves. The holiday would last until next Wednesday.

On Saigon's Binh Trieu 1 Bridge, which leads into the Mien Dong Bus Terminal, vehicles inch forward, literally. The pedestrian paths on the bridge are encroached.

Wednesday marks the final working day of this lunar year. A week-long Lunar New Year holiday starting Thursday allows millions to return home and celebrate with their families.

Buses at Mien Dong transport passengers between Saigon and central and northern destinations.

Streets around the station such as Dinh Bo Linh, Nguyen Xi or Xo Viet Nghe Tinh are also crowded with traffic.About half a month before Tet, this area is always full of vehicle from morning to afternoon. To transport passengers through this part is a pain in the neck, said Tran Tien Le, a motorbike taxi driver.

Streets around the bus terminal, like Dinh Bo Linh, Nguyen Xi and Xo Viet Nghe Tinh are packed with vehicles.

"This area starts becoming full about half a month before Tet, from morning to afternoon. To transport passengers through this part is a pain in the neck," said Tran Tien Le, a motorbike taxi driver.

An ambulance is stuck in traffic.

An ambulance stuck in traffic.

A boy rests his weary head on his motorbike journey to the station.

A boy sitting in front of a motorbike on the way to the bus terminal is tired.

A deliveryman drinks in the middle of traffic.

A deliveryman has a drink.

The road is jammed, so I had to get off the bus to walk to not miss my ride. I know traffic jams are prevalent on these days, so I had to go to the station early, said My Phuc, 20, who has to walk a kilometer to reach the Mien Dong station.

"The road is jammed, so I had to get off the bus and walk so I don’t miss my ride. I know traffic jams are common these days, so I had to go to the station early," says My Phuc, 20, who has to walk a kilometer to reach the Mien Dong station.

The station itself and its parking areas are always packed with vehicles and passengers. Buses go in and out of the station all day to transport passengers and goods.

The terminal and its parking spaces are chockfull of passengers and buses.

This year, Mien Dong offers arounf 417,000 tickets during the Lunar New Year Festival, with peak times being from Monday to Wednesday. Most passengers opted for rides from Saigon to provinces and localities in central, northern Vietnam and the Central Highlands. The station has also prepared 20 extra buses in case the number of passengers got out of hand.

This year, the Mien Dong Bus Terminal has recorded sales of 417,000 tickets so far, with sales peaking Monday to Wednesday. Most passengers booked rides to provinces and localities in central, and northern Vietnam as well as the Central Highlands. The terminal officials said they had arranged 20 extra buses to meet demand.

To the Mekong Delta

Elsewhere, Saigonese also flock back home to the Mekong Delta on highways such as the National Highway 1A through Tien Giang Province or the National Highway N2 in Long An Province. Due to narrow roads, traffic could span several kilometers at times. An intersection between National Highway 1A and the HCMC-Trung Luong Highway also sees vehicles severely stuck in traffic.

Saigonese have also begun returning to the Mekong Delta, taking the National Highway 1A through Tien Giang Province or National Highway N2 in Long An Province. Traffic jams were several kilometers long on these roads. The picture above is of an intersection between National Highway 1A and the HCMC-Trung Luong Highway on Wednesday.

On Rach Mieu Bridge, the situation doesnt fare much better. Due to the narrow bridge, a congestion happens every 10 minutes. Traffic police also have to be stationed here to regulate traffic.Several provinces and localities in southern Vietnam has devised measures to alleviate congestions during Tet, such as through upgrading and expanding roads. Restrictions on certain vehicles, such as trucks, have also been employed.

The narrow Rach Mieu Bridge gets congested every 10 minutes.

Several provinces and localities in southern Vietnam have devised measures to alleviate congestions, including upgrading and expanding roads. Restrictions have been placed on certain vehicles like trucks.

Motorbikes, buses and other vehicles also struggle to traverse on a National Highway 1A section through Tien Giang Province. Dozens of traffic police officers have to regulate traffic at the Luong Phu Intersection, but as the number of vehicles is too high, congestion still happens.

On a National Highway 1A section that runs through Tien Giang Province. Dozens of traffic police officers are on hand to direct traffic at the Luong Phu Intersection, but there are just too many vehicles.

At Tan Son Nhat Airport

At the Tan Son Nhat Airport, halls are full of passengers and their luggage at 3 am Thursday morning. Long queues and waiting times at check in counters are inevitable.

At the Tan Son Nhat Airport's domestic terminal, halls are full of passengers and their luggage at 3 a.m. Thursday morning. Long queues and waiting times at check-in counters are inevitable.

Around 15 columns of people nearly a kilometer long each, await their turn for security checks.

Around 15 columns of people nearly a kilometer long each, await their turn for security checks.

Many fall asleep as they wait.

Many fall asleep as they wait.

We came to the airport at 3 am, and it took our family nearly 2 hours to reach the waiting lounge. During Tet, there are too many people, and things are too expensive. A bowl of pho at the airport cost me VND100,000 ($4.3), nearly twice the usual price, said Hung. The family has a flight to Hanoi at 6 am.

"We came to the airport at 3 a.m., and it took our family nearly two hours to reach the waiting lounge. During Tet, there are too many people, and things are too expensive. A bowl of pho at the airport cost me VND100,000 ($4.32), nearly twice the usual price," said Hung. The family has a flight to Hanoi at 6 a.m.

 
 
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