The Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will keep a check on public order, tidiness, hygiene and overcharging at 21 festival venues during the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival, starting on January 22.

During the season, festivals are organised everywhere, especially in pagodas and temples. Vietnamese usually visit Buddhist pagodas and Taoist and Confucian temples to wish for a happy, lucky and prosperous year.

The venues in focus include Tay Ho Temple in Tay Ho District, Huong (Perfume) Pagoda in My Duc District, La Khe Pagoda in Ha Dong District and Hat Mon Temple in Phuc Tho District.

This year, to prevent residents from spreading small heaps of money offerings in traditionally auspicious places, more collection boxes will be set up, said deputy director of the department Le Thi Tan Trang. The money will be used for pagoda or temple charity work.

When Vietnamese visit pagodas and temples, they often leave offerings of real coins and notes at the base of trees or besides wells - as well as making offering of "ancestor" money to help the departed.

Where boxes cannot be placed, such as in a well or stream, authorities will arrange for nets to be hung to collect offerings.

Trang said authorities will also check hygiene and the food at food stalls. They will block people from selling wild-animal meat around pagodas, especially at the Huong (Perfume) Pagoda.

Inspectors will also crack down on public gambling at some venues, such as at Tram Gian Pagoda in Chuong My District and Tay Phuong Pagoda in Thach That District - and keep an eye on the prices being charged for parking motorbikes and cars.

The culture department said Hanoi has more than 1,090 festivals a year, adding that they are not always easy to control. "Almost too many," said Trang. "They take place everywhere."

Meanwhile, the deputy chairman of the My Duc District People's Committee, Nguyen Van Hau, said to better manage the Huong (Perfume) Pagoda Festival, 4,300 ferry owners in the district have pledged not to ask for tips from passengers.

The annual Huong (Perfume) Pagoda Festival in My Duc district will begin on the sixth day of the first lunar month. The biggest and longest festival in Vietnam , it lasts for three months and welcomes more than 1 million pilgrims and tourists each year.

Hau said telephone numbers of festival board members will be posted around the pagoda for tourists and worshippers to call if any ferry owner demanded tips.

The regulation fees ferry owners can charge are 45,000 VND (2 USD) per passenger per trip.

District authorities will operate a waste-treatment system, worth 10 billion VND (476,190 USD), to prevent the waste from polluting the environment.

Three mobile inspection teams, plus environmental police and cultural inspectors, will roam the district throughout the long festival to punish violators, including those dropping litter.

Fines will range from 100,000-300,000 VND (4.7-14 USD).

Last year about 1.4 million tourists came to Huong Pagoda, and the total money collected from ticket fees was 40 billion VND (1.9 million USD), he said./.