The first time I visited Vietnam, I travelled from Hanoi to Hue on an overnight train.
I had no idea that, shortly after leaving the station, the train passed right through the narrow streets of a lively, residential area – Hanoi’s Train Street.
Unlike most areas in Vietnam, you don’t have to worry quite as much about getting run over by motorbikes here… Though it’s still possible, most people are more concerned with the speeding train that passes through the area multiple times a day.
Keep reading to find out more about our day at Hanoi’s Train street, how to get there, and when to go.
Every day, multiple times a day, residents of this teeny tiny street, located in the midst of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, stop what they’re doing, clear the tracks, and make way for the passing train. Before and after that, life carries on as usual.
This summer, instead of passing through on an overnight train, Andrew and I decided to go explore this unique neighborhood for ourselves.
After spending some time walking along the tracks, we grabbed a seat on a couple of little plastic stools outside the Railway Hanoi, a cozy cafe in the middle of Train Street. It was the perfect spot to have a Bahn Mi and have a couple local beers. We shared conversation with fellow travellers aross the tracks while watching life unfold on Train Street.
We saw residents chatting on the tracks, families preparing meals, laundry being hung out to dry, tourists trying to snap that perfect photo, roaming roosters pecking at our sandwich crumbs, and children racing up and down the tracks.
It was all fun and games until the smallest one stepped on a loose railway tie and got a nail through her foot.
Basically, we saw everything but the train.
Train street is located between Le Duan and Kham Thien. You can easily walk there from Hoàn Kiếm Lake or the Old Quarter in about 20-30 minutes.
If it’s too hot to walk, or you’re short on time, use the Grab app to catch a ride there!
When to go
You can wander down train street at any time of day, but if you want to pay a visit to the Railway Cafe, or catch a glimpse of the passing train (which we sadly did not), you’ll have to plan your visit carefully.
The Railway Hanoi is open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. everyday but Tuesday. It’s the perfect spot to have a bite and people watch while you’re waiting for the afternoon train to pass.
From Monday to Friday the train passes through twice - once at 6 a.m. and a second time at 7 p.m.
On Saturday and Sunday it runs more frequently, passing through at around 9:15 a.m., 11:35 a.m., 3:20 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 6:40 p.m., and 7:10 p.m.
Note that these times are all approximate. The owner of the Railway recommends you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to ensure you get a good (and safe) spot to view the passing train.
Have you visited Hanoi’s Train Street? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!
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