Hanoi’s Train Street is Vietnam’s most dangerous and surprisingly famous street. Tourists were banned in October 2019, but as of April 2022 it is reopen to tourists and below is everything you need to know.
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WHAT IS HANOI TRAIN STREET?
The Hanoi Train Street is one of the most famous and adventurous tourist spots in Hanoi. It’s a tiny narrow street hidden in one of the millions of back streets of the capital City and is surrounded by high narrow houses packed closely together. These families’ backyards are the railways where the train passes through everyday.
Even though the train passes through a big part of the town, The Hanoi Train Street which attracts the majority of tourists is only around a 100 meters long part. There are plenty of places to watch and experience the thrill of the training steaming past you and you can opt for a more rustic spot further up the line from the hustle and bustle of the tourist trail.
The reason why it’s so interesting for tourists is that the train passes literally a meter away from the houses. The safety line (marked with yellow color) is only about 20cm away from the homes, and that’s the line you shouldn’t cross when the train is coming. Trust me, as we didn’t expect it to be so close. George was a little shocked initially!
It’s an exciting place to visit because right before the train comes, locals are rushing into their houses, making sure that their kids, pets, motorbikes, or any other belongings are safe inside. Nothing can be left outside. The ones who don’t make it inside the houses are hugging the walls. But the exact second the train passes, everyone is already running out and across the tracks, as nothing happened.
IS TRAIN STREET OPEN?
As of July 2022 when we visited, businesses and cafes are allowed to operate once again. However, due to the lack of tourism, only a few opened their doors again. Therefore, only those with the best position along the tracks remain, which makes it sound like there isn’t a lot of options but we struggled to find a seat! As more and more people begin to visit post-pandemic more cafes and businesses can hopefully reopen to cater for demand.
We visited the Train Street on two occasions, once during the weekday and once during the weekend. During the weekday, the street was dead, everything was closed, and there was nobody around. We were honestly disappointed with the atmosphere and couldn’t get the hype about this place. But we decided to give it another chance and visited early morning on the weekend. That time everything was alive, there were actual tourists around, and locals were all hanging out outside. The cafes were open, and the atmosphere was terrific. We also saw three trains pass, and it was so worth it! We’d honestly be really sad if the Train Street would close forever.
WHERE IS TRAIN STREET?
There are two sections of Hanoi Train Street where you can watch the train pass. You’ll get the same experience in both, however one has more cafes and seats to enjoy it from.
- Lê Duẩn – this section is further out of town with just one cafe to view the passing train from. It’s between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thin street. Enter Ngo 224 Le Duan into Google Maps.
- The Old Quarter section – this has cafes, homestay and shops along the tracks. Enter Hanoi Street Train into Google Maps OR enter Ngo 224 Le Duan (the name of the street) into google maps and letting that guide you.
You’d expect the second location to be busier with tourists but actually, they’re pretty similar. If you are looking to get insta worthy shots, try to visit ahead of train times as this is what draws the crowds in.
WHEN TO VISIT HANOI TRAIN STREET?
The train travels down Ngo 224 Le Duan twice a day as it makes its way from Hue to Long Bien railway station. I recommend getting there early but make sure that you are in a safe spot for when the train passes. The train isn’t likely to stop if you are caught in the middle of the track when it passes. For the Old Quarter, during the week the train only passes through in the evening. Weekend are your best shot, Saturday and Sunday.
HANOI TRAIN STREET TIMES
Through the Lê Duẩn section:
It will be dark during the second passing so try for 3.30pm.
Through the Old Quarter section:
- Weekdays: 7.05pm, 7.15pm, 7.40pm, 8.20pm, 9.05pm, 9.40pm, 10pm.
- Weekends (Saturday & Sunday): 7.45am, 8.50am, 9.25am, 11.35am, 3.20pm, 4.20pm, 5.30pm, 6.20pm.
Blogs I read before visiting suggested arriving 30 minutes before the train time but this isn’t necessary! The road closes about two minutes before the train comes so you can arrive as late as up to five minutes before, but you may struggle to find a good spot.
IS IT DANGEROUS?
Hanoi’s Train Street is Vietnam’s most dangerous and surprisingly most famous street. In October 2019, visiting it as a tourist was banned because of the railway operators’ previous problems. What caused the final ban was when the train had to make an emergency stop to avoid hitting tourists.
Seeing videos of how it looked like with hordes of tourists makes it clear why the place was closed in the first place. The cafe owners made sure that everyone was off the tracks before the train came when we were there. Chairs were moved to ensure they were behind the yellow lines. If you are heading to a more secluded spot to watch the train, ensure you are safe and even though it might make a great picture, putting yourself in harms way isn’t worth it.
DO YOU HAVE TO PAY AN ENTRANCE FEE?
There’s no entrance fee to visit Hanoi’s train street, and you can walk along the train tracks freely. You may get approached by street sellers, and at the entrance to the street don’t be intimidated by the group of locals trying to get you to buy stuff.