Tourism guru plants the seed for floral canal in Saigon
‘Saigon’s iconic annual flower street along Nguyen Hue Boulevard has fulfilled its mission.’
It is high time for Ho Chi Minh City to say goodbye to its signature flower street in the downtown area and take advantage of its canals, a seasoned tourism expert has suggested.
Nguyen Van My, founder of Saigon-based Lua Viet Tours Co Ltd, said the city has plenty of waterways and should map out a plan to tape them for tourism development over the next 20 years.
“Saigon’s iconic annual flower street along Nguyen Hue Boulevard has fulfilled its mission,” My told the city’s authorities at a meeting on Tuesday. “Year after year, the city spends big sums transforming the boulevard into a flower street with artificial decorations. I think we should have a floral canal in Saigon to replace the flower street.”
He suggested Ben Nghe Canal that runs along Vo Van Kiet Boulevard and Ben Van Don Street in District 1 as an ideal location.
“Along the banks of the canal we could have stands selling traditional Vietnamese food and craftwork,” My said. “If the plan works, Saigon will have a unique flower canal that cannot be found anywhere else.”
The city’s transport and tourism departments said they will report his proposal to the city’s government.
Since 2004, the flower street on Nguyen Hue Boulevard, featuring giant statues, artificial plants and real flowers, has been a top destination for both local and visitors during Tet, Vietnam’s Lunar New Year. The event draws around one million visitors every year.
HCMC has been looking at how to develop its waterways for tourism for years but not much has been done to take advantage of its canals and the Saigon River. The most recent attempt is the city’s new river bus service.
Saigon has more than 1,000km (620 miles) of inland waterways, but it doesn’t make use of them, Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the city’s transport department, said in August.
The river bus service should ease traffic jams and attract more tourists, he said.
After multiple delays, the first river bus opened to passengers on November 25 connecting Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 and Linh Dong Station in Thu Duc District, and passing through District 2 and Binh Thanh District.
A second route from Bach Dang Wharf to District 8 is scheduled to open in early 2018. The two routes will cost an estimated VND120 billion ($5.28 million).