Holiday crowds pack Hanoi tourist spots, Saigon zoo

By Tu Nguyen, Quynh Tran   September 2, 2023 | 06:09 am PT
Major tourist attractions in Hanoi were consistently crowded on Saturday, and some visitors had to wait for an hour to enter.

The situation was the same at the Saigon Zoo, one of Ho Chi Minh City's greenest spots.

The Hanoi neighborhood surrounding the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, was congested from around 10 a.m.

A temple manager said it received 5,000 visitors on Friday, the first of the four-day National Day break, and more than 3,000 on Saturday.

"We handed out tickets non-stop, there were too many visitors."

Hoa Lo Prison, used during the Vietnam War to detain U.S. prisoners including late Senator John McCain, also attracted large crowds in the capital city.

The prison's ticket booths had lines of around 25-30 people waiting at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Inside the prison's museum, visitors had to move very slowly in narrow corridors, given their large numbers.

Museum managers said it did not have a number of visitors yet, but it was "surely big" because they kept comiong from Friday morning.

As visitors to the prison tend to take their time reading descriptions on the walls and closely examining the exhibits, staff members at some parts had to urge them to move along quickly to avoid overcrowding.

Also in Hanoi, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum received thousands of visitors on Saturday.

"I've been waiting for around one hour, many people have waited longer," said Hoang Anh, 34, as he walked forward in a long line outside the mausoleum.

"I know the mausoleum is crowded every National Day but I still came to have a complete feeling of this special day."

The Hanoi Tourism Department and the mausoleum management board handed out 20,000 portions of water and cake to visitors in the morning, a National Day service they have been providing since 2018 to reduce discomfort during the long wait.

Saigon zoo

In HCMC, the Saigon Zoo in downtown District 1 received a large number of visitors on Saturday, including families from nearby provinces Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Tay Ninh.

Many visitors had to wait for half an hour to get their tickets.

Thanh, 26, traveled 10 km from HCMC’s Go Vap District to the zoo, only to wait for nearly 20 minutes to buy tickets for herself and her two children.

"This is the first time we have visited the zoo. We knew that it would be crowded but we're only free during these holidays."

Nguyen Toan and his 3-year-old daughter traveled from Binh Duong Province for a day at the zoo, one of a few places in HCMC where people get close-up views of wildlife.

Nhung sat on her father's neck most of the time to ensure that the big crowds did not disturb her views of the animals.

"She's seen a lot today. Elephants and camels were her favorites," Toan said.

The Saigon Zoo was built in 1864 and is the eighth oldest in the world.

It is now home to 1,000 members of 125 fauna species, and more than 2,000 large trees, as well as large numbers of orchids, bonsai and cacti.

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