HCMC strongly pushes passenger transport associated with waterway tourism

HCMC has currently 101 local canal and river routes with a total length of 913 kilometers featuring advantages for developing water transport associated with tourism. 

The city needs specific mechanisms and policies, and appropriate products to exploit its strength.

Attracting visitors

Visitors take a river bus tour to see the beauty of HCMC. (Photo: SGGP)

In 2017, water bus route No.1 was put into operation and is expected to open a new type of public passenger transport in the city contributing to reducing congestion, diversifying types of public transport, and developing tourism in HCMC.

River bus route No. 1 has a total length of 10.8 km, departing from Bach Dang Wharf, crossing through Thanh Da Canal and returning to the Saigon River then arriving at a pier on the Binh Quoi River in Thu Duc City’s Linh Dong Ward. It takes 30 minutes to complete the route, accounting for one-third of the total hours of road bus. A water bus ticket costs VND15,000 (US$0.6) per person. River bus route No. 1 is currently operational with 50-52 trips per day and an occupancy rate of 90-100 percent.

The dining and sightseeing boat tour at night on the Saigon River is one of the highlight tourist products in the city. The new service gives a chance to visitors to enjoy the city’s beautiful attractions in the glow of the evening lights.

On weekends, Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 sees many visitors who wait for boat tours at night on the Saigon River to explore HCMC in the evening, enjoy the experience, and feel the culture of the southern metropolis.

Mr. Nguyen Kim Toan, director of the ferry operator Thuong Nhat Co Ltd, said that the launch of the river bus service not only contributes to passenger transport but also strengthens the value of the landscapes of the Saigon River and HCMC.

HCMC has great potential to develop its waterway tourism with the inland waterway system that has a length of nearly 1,000 kilometers. Currently, the city has 251 inland waterway piers and ports, including 151 cargo ports, 73 tourism and passenger wharves, and 27 river piers creating an advantage for receiving large vessels with a huge number of cruise tourists to visit the city, he added.

Experts and many travel businesses propose HCMC continue to review regulations on the management and use of canal and river corridors to create a mechanism to attract investment; and policies for public land lease and water surface rent to develop waterway infrastructure to serve tourism as well as enhance management of passenger transport vehicles’s activities to ensure waterway traffic safety.

More five cruise lines associated with tourism to be opened

Foreign tourists enjoy a sightseeing boat tour in HCMC. (Photo: SGGP)

The city needs a port system connecting roads and waterways to develop its worthy waterway system. Thuong Nhat company proposed HCMC allow businesses to build piers and wharves to serve waterway services, Mr. Nguyen Kim Toan said.

The city has recently decided to invest VND245 billion (US$10.1 million) to lift Binh Trieu Bridge 1 on National Road 13 and Binh Phuoc Bridge 1 on National Road 1 to make room to allow large boats to pass. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Transport Bui Hoa An said that in 2024, the city plans to invest in completing two inland waterways linking Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 and Ngoi Sao Viet Pier in District 7, Cu Lao Xanh Port in Nha Be District with a total length of 13 kilometers.

The city also plans to open three more trans-provincial routes connecting with neighboring provinces, including Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Tien Giang.

Accordingly, the waterway route to Binh Duong and Cu Chi is around 79 kilometers long, departing from Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 and running through Thu Dau Mot City in Binh Duong, Ben Dinh, and Ben Duoc wards in Cu Chi District.

Additionally, the Department of Transport of HCMC agreed with the exploitation of a high-speed boat route connecting HCMC and Con Dao Island in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province with a total length of 225 kilometers. The project’s investor said that the ship's passenger capacity is around 1,100 passengers

A waterway ferry service connecting HCMC and the neighboring province of Tien Giang is expected to be finished in 2024. The 12-kilometer route from Long Hoa Commune in Can Gio District of HCMC to Vam Lang Town in Go Cong Dong District in Tien Giang Province will be put into operation in the 2024-2025 period.

Vice Chairman of the HCMC People's Committee Bui Xuan Cuong said that HCMC is very interested in developing passenger transportation associated with waterway tourism products in all inland waterways in the city, and inter-provincial routes connecting with the neighboring provinces.

The municipal People's Committee will coordinate with departments and units to examine and create favorable conditions for businesses to launch tourism waterway products; develop passenger transport associated with waterway tourism; implement a seaport system development plan; strengthen the implementation of projects; and give priority to projects lifting bridges to make rooms for ships to pass through, construction projects of a port in Can Gio District and an international passenger port in Mui Den Do Park in District 7.

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