Saigon streets jammed as migrants rush home for Tet

By VnExpress   January 22, 2017 | 07:27 am PT
A road in Ho Chi Minh City experienced a seven-kilometer long traffic jam.

Saigon's infamous congestion was brought to a whole new level on Sunday as migrant workers packed their bags to return home for Tet, or the Lunar New Year. 

Xo Viet Nghe Tinh road leading to Eastern Bus Station was jammed since early morning hours with thousands from the Central Highlands and the Central Coast rushing home. 

A long line of vehicles stuck in jam

At 9 a.m., the route from Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Street to Eastern Bus Station was filled with long lines of vehicles which could barely move.

A bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Binh Dinh are surrounded by motorcycles and cant move an inch due to congestion

A bus heading from Ho Chi Minh City to Binh Dinh Province in Central Vietnam couldn't move an inch.

On Highway 50, which connects Ho Chi Minh City and Long An Province, migrant workers heading to the Mekong Delta were joined by thousands others flocking to Da Phuoc Cemetery to sweep the dust from their ancestors graves in preparation for Tet. The result was a seven-kilometer long traffic jam. 

The two-lane road now turns to four-lane road.

Cars and motorbikes could barely move on Highway 50 connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Long An Province.

The two-lane road of Highway 50 connecting Ho Chi Minh City - Long An now turns to four-lane road.

The two-lane Highway 50 turned into a four-lane road as vehicles were desperate for space.

While some people head home, others head to their ancestors home

While some people headed home, others headed to their ancestors' home. Vietnamese people have a tradition of sweeping their ancestors tombs on 24th and 25th of the last lunar month of the year, which in 2017 falls on January 21 and 22.

Le Ngoc Thanh, 48, has been stuck in the highway 50 for 3 hours so far

Le Ngoc Thanh, 48, had been stuck on Highway 50 for three hours. He and his family are returning to Long An for Tet.

Those "lucky" to have made it to bus stations today faced another kind of jam.


Thousands were waiting for buses to arrive at Eastern Bus Station. “My family’s been here for two hours already. We’ve got another two until the departure time. We knew it would be crowded here but Saigon roads are so congested, we were afraid we’d late and so we’d rather wait here,” said Mr. Luong from Quang Ngai Province whose family of six migrated to Saigon to sell sweet desserts.

Those people are heading to the Central Highlands. Their bus will depart at 2 p.m. however for fear of missing the bus because of the traffic congestion, theyve arrived at the station since 8 a.m.

This group is waiting for a bus to Dak Lak in the Central Highlands. Nam (the man pictured) said he came at 8 a.m. even though the bus departs at 2 p.m. He couldn't risk missing the bus due to congestion. 

They are exhausted of waiting

And of course, they were all exhausted after waiting for about six hours. Most brought sandwiches and water with them. Going outside for food would guarantee them losing a seat in the waiting room.


Saigon Central Station was also filled with commuters who sacrificed their sleep to arrive hours before the departure time. Phan Thi Hong from central Nghe An Province came to the station two hours early. "As I arrived here, I realized many people were worried just like me. The staff here said many had missed the train," Hong said.


Those who couldn't get a seat, spread bamboo mats on the floor to rest. Pictured is Vo Kha Vi, whose family arrived at dawn.


It's a long way home for many Vietnamese. The Year of the Rooster will start on January 28. The country will celebrate with a seven-day break from January 26 to February 1.


Compared to last year, the number of passengers has actually fallen by 10-15 percent, according to Nguyen Hoang Huy, vice director of Southern Bus Station. "In the next two days, our station will receive around 50,000 people each day," said Huy adding that 3,000 buses stand ready to bring people home for Tet

Related news:

Congestion: Hanoi vs. Ho Chi Minh City

Grab your bags and run: How Saigon airport congestion triggers holiday stress

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