Vietnam's largest port city plagued by severe lack of parking space

By Le Tan   March 30, 2024 | 03:00 pm PT
Hai Phong, one of Vietnam's five largest cities, has so little public parking space that many people leave their vehicles on sidewalks and even roads, blocking traffic.

On Sunday morning Ngo Anh Quyen of the city's An Duong District took his wife and children to a place near the Hai Phong Opera House in the downtown Hong Bang District for breakfast but had to struggle for over an hour to find a parking spot.

Roads running for more than five kilometers around the central flower garden -- Tran Hung Dao, Quang Trung, Nguyen Duc Canh, and Tran Phu -- where parking is allowed, were fully occupied.

A free 10,000-sq-m parking lot on Nguyen Duc Canh Street was also completely full.

The free parking lot on Nguyen Duc Canh Street is always overloaded. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tan

The free parking lot on Nguyen Duc Canh Street in Hai Phong is always overloaded. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tan

"It is not just weekends; parking in the city center is difficult always," Quyen says.

"Sometimes, when in a rush, I have to risk leaving my car in a no-parking zone."

A survey by the city Department of Transport found the seven downtown districts have 6,300 parking spots, of which 2,500 are temporary street and sidewalk spots.

The three central districts of Le Chan, Hong Bang and Ngo Quyen have 1,200 spots, which only meet 4% of demand.

Hai Phong, Vietnam's largest port city, has over 242,000 cars registered, 25,000 of them in the three central districts.

The number increases by 8-10% a year on average in the northern port city, one of Vietnam’s largest along with Hanoi, HCMC, Da Nang, and Can Tho.

Given the shortage of parking space, vehicle owners resort to parking on sidewalks and roads, blocking traffic and pedestrians.

In 2023 over 10,000 people were fined for parking violations, according to the city police.

In a meeting held to discuss building of parking lots on March 11, government agencies said vehicle owners do not want to pay for parking space.

Besides, the parking fees are too low, which dissuades investors, they said.

In 2017 parking cost VND20,000-40,000, while the maximum monthly tariff was VND3 million.

The traffic police admitted they do not strictly crack down on improper parking since they are sympathetic to the fact there is a lack of parking space in the city.

City chairman Nguyen Van Tung recently said that, from April 1, the police would impose the highest fines on people who park or stop their cars improperly in accident-prone areas and sidewalks.

A police officer places a ticket on a car parked on the sidewalk of Dien Bien Phu Street, Hong Bang District. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa

A police officer places a ticket on a car parked on the sidewalk of Dien Bien Phu Street, Hong Bang District, Hai Phong. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa

From April 1, 2025, cars cannot park on roads, especially in the city center, and can only stop to pick up and drop off people.

The city government has exhorted car owners to quickly renovate their houses to create parking space or rent spots at parking lots.

Businesses are encouraged to renovate and upgrade their facilities or collaborate with parking lots to ensure parking space for their customers.

New businesses must have enough place for their customers to park cars.

The administration has promised to simplify procedures to encourage investment in parking lots and called for the construction of underground and multi-story parking lots and the use of smart technologies to maximize land use.

Private parking lots are allowed to set their own prices to ensure profitable operations.

Tran Anh Dung, chairman of Otofun Hai Phong, a community of drivers, believes that building new parking lots and renovating houses require long-term plans and are costly.

"For now the city should review central areas for proper signage, possibly prohibiting parking at certain times to avoid congestion, and allowing partial sidewalk parking in central areas instead of just banning and fining."

On major automotive forums, car owners call for allowing parking on streets for a fee, saying this would increase the city's revenues and partially solve the parking problem.

Some cities like Hanoi, HCMC and Vung Tau allow cars to be parked on streets.

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