About Hanoi’s 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 back streets of Hanoi and surrounded by high narrow houses packed closely together. These families’ backyards are the railways where the train passes a few times per day.
Even though the train passes through a big part of the town, The Hanoi Train Street is referred to only about a 100 meters long part where it’s the most narrow.
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 20 centimeters away from the homes, and that’s the line you shouldn’t cross when the train is coming. Trust us, as we didn’t expect it to be so close.
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, and we were one of them. But the exact second the train passes, everyone is already running out and across the tracks, as nothing happened.
Drink a coffee in style
It became one of the most popular spots in Hanoi after a local woman opened a shop in late 2017. But, of course, everyone else also made sure to make a business out of it, so many other cafes soon opened their doors along the tracks where tourists could safely enjoy this rare occurrence.
The cafes here are some of the cutest we visited in Vietnam. They are so colorful, full of flowers, art, paintings, and all kinds of decorations. You can sit down just a meter away from the tracks, or you can choose a spot upstairs where you get a higher perspective of the passing train.
We sat in Coffee 74 and enjoyed a hot chocolate and a coconut coffee. Both were so tasty! Next to that, we got some snacks and small mandarins for free! The owner is so lovely, and she made sure we have an excellent spot to watch the train pass. This family also had a lot of small fluffy puppies that became our best friends. Hint: that’s why we chose this cafe amongst all the others (we suppose many others do as well :D).
Another cafe we would recommend is the Railway Cafe. We spoke with the owner a bit, and he’s a really nice Italian guy. Here you get a completely different perspective of the train passing as this area is broader. However, we already saw three trains pass, and we were already tired of waiting for the fourth one, so let us know how it is if you go and if it’s still open! 😀
Is the Hanoi Train street open for tourists?
As of the start of 2021, during a world pandemic, businesses and cafes were 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.
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.
What the future holds for the train street once the country reopens, nobody knows. For a while, there was a weird situation, where you could still visit, but only with an invite of a cafe owner. So maybe that’s the way to do it as it would ensure there are not too many people on the tracks at once.
Why was the Hanoi Train street closed?
Hanoi’s Train Street is Vietnam’s most dangerous and surprisingly most famous street. In October 2019, visiting it as a tourist was presumably 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. As far as we know, no accident has happened so far due to the tourists coming there.
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. We somehow managed to ask them to let us stay at the entrance of one house, as we promised not to cross the yellow line (which marks the safe zone). We don’t think this will be the case in the future, though, but let’s hope they’ll find a way to make this work as this is an icon of Hanoi after all.
How to get to Hanoi’s train street
The train street is located between the streets Phùng Hưng and Lý Nam Đế, right next to Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The exact location is 5 Trần Phú. Find it on Google Maps under the name Hanoi Train Street.
When to see the train
According to the official train schedule we got there, the train passes only a few times every day. So, it always passes late afternoon/evening during the week, but it passes throughout the day on weekends.
However, these things change, so make sure to check it beforehand. Also, all the cafes have the schedule posted outside, so ask the locals there.
When to visit
Even though we usually suggest avoiding the weekends because of the crowds, we have to suggest the completely opposite this time. During our visit on a weekday, the Train street was dead, and the train was passing in the night time which wasn’t ideal for us. However, during the weekends, it was passing throughout the day, and even early morning, so we suggest visiting early to catch the first one when the light is best.
However, keep in mind that we visited when the country was closed, so the situation might be different when the country reopens. Plus, the train schedules will change for sure.
Is there an entrance fee for Hanoi’s train street?
There’s no entrance fee to visit Hanoi’s train street, and you can walk along the train tracks freely.
How long to stay at Hanoi’s train street
If you just want to look at the place quickly, 20 – 30 minutes is enough.
However, if you’d like to see the train pass more times and have a sip of coffee while you’re there, count on 1 – 2 hours.
What do you think of Hanoi’s Train Street?
Is it as interesting to you as it is to us?
Let us know if you visit and if it was open!
To see a bit more of the atmosphere of the train street, check out our video on YouTube.