Hue walking streets stand apart with characteristic ambiance

By Vo Thanh   January 16, 2020 | 01:07 am PT
Hue’s walking streets have spiced up nightlife in the former imperial capital in a manner distinct from their counterparts in Hanoi and HCMC.

Two years ago, Tamara and her son visited Hue to see her father who was then working in the central Vietnam town famed for its citadels, royal tombs, pagodas and other soft charms as well as serene scenery.

She was surprised to find that the ancient town had a bustling nightlife with several well lit walking streets, restaurants, pubs, loud music and other entertainment that attracted both locals and foreigners.

Tamara (middle), her son and two friends from Serbia on one of the walking streets in ancient town Hue, central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

Tamara (middle), her son and two friends from Serbia on one of the walking streets in ancient town Hue, central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

Two years ago, Hue authorities decided to convert Vo Thi Sau, Pham Ngu Lao, and Chu Van An into walking streets that remain open late.

Tamara could not be happier. She said she enjoys sitting on the sidewalks, sipping cold beer on streets that remain open as late as 2 a.m. – a big contrast with Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, where all establishments have to close at midnight, except for those in the central district of Hoan Kiem that can open until 2 a.m. in the weekend.

Hue, home to more than 1.1 million people, is just as energetic as other big cities that Tamara has visited, she said.

The Serbian woman actually fell in love with the town, its people and its way of life; and decided to move to Hue with her 12-year-old son.

She rented a house about 3 kilometers from the downtown and began providing English lessons. Tamara’s son has started taking Vietnamese and martial arts lessons. Mother and son have assimilated themselves into the fabric of life in Hue.

A few days ago, the single mother welcomed some of her compatriots to visit her during Tet, the Lunar New Year festival season. The most important festival in Vietnam will be celebrated during a week-long holiday starting January 23. One of the city attractions that highlighted to her friends were its walking streets.

Foreign tourists convene for a chat on a walking street in Hue City. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

Foreign tourists laze around on a walking street in Hue. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

"The street food here is diverse and delicious, my friends are in Hue for the first time and they love it. I have been to the walking street Ta Hien in Hanoi and Bui Vien in Saigon, I feel the walking street here is more orderly and colorful. I like it," Tamara said.

The walking streets made their debut in September 2017 after authorities of Thua Thien-Hue Province green lighted a proposal to create spaces for locals and tourists to hang out at nights.

In the weekend, traffic is allowed on the streets until 6 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the walking streets are open until 2 a.m. On Sundays, they close at midnight.

The move has borne fruit. The streets are now a popular rendezvous for many. Restaurants and shops sprouted like mushrooms. Street performers congregate regularly and sing and dance for passersby. Homestays here have also hosted visitors who rent their accommodation for days and even months.

The area is also a favorite hangout for young people in the town. Business owners have deployed different interior and exterior decoration styles and themes in their shops, cafes and restaurants to cater to the diverse tastes of prospective clients.

A foreign couple walk on one of Hues walking streets. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

A foreign couple on one of Hue's walking streets. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

One of the business owners, Phuong, said since the opening of the walking streets, her restaurant has enjoyed a lot of more customers who like a late night meal or snack.

Nguyen Van Phuc, deputy director of Thua Thien-Hue's tourism department, said between 2,500 to 3,000 people gather at the walking streets every night. Businesses have reaped 30-50 percent more profits.

Hue was the capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty, which ruled from 1802 until the end of feudal rule in 1945.

The town is a top tourist destination, attracting 4.8 million visitors last year, up 11 percent over 2018, 2.18 million of them foreigners.

How foreign visitors go about on Hue's walking streets. Video by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

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