You have probably seen the iconic photos and videos of Hanoi with a railway track running through a residential area. This street is also known as Hanoi Train Street. For local residents, it is the most natural thing in life, for travellers on the other hand, a visit to this train street is one of the best things to do in Hanoi.
At first glance, Hanoi’s train street is like any other street in Vietnam.
There is a lively atmosphere, people are cooking in front of their doors, laundry is hanging outside, merchants are bragging about their goods and many things are transported by bicycle and moped.
Yet several times a day, this street turns into a place where tourists gather to see what makes this street so special: the train that rushes through this narrow passage.
The Hanoi Train Street is a unique attraction in Hanoi that was not designed for tourists at all.
The Hanoi train winds its way through the city. People live and work on the tracks, simply removing their belongings (and their pets and children!) when a train rushes by.
What was once a little-known attraction, known only to locals, has now become popular with tourists.
It’s not surprising: how many times can you say you’ve taken refuge in a doorway to avoid certain death by a speeding train? It’s an experience to put on your Indochina bucket list, for sure.
What makes Hanoi train street so famous?
The interesting thing about Hanoi Train Street is that the local houses are built one metre away from the railway. Many people who came to this place expressed their astonishment that if they took 2 or 3 steps from their house, they would end up on the railway track.
Photos of trains passing through Hanoi’s narrow train street used to create a boom on social media. That’s why in recent years, Hanoi’s train street attracted the attention of people from all over the world.
Many tourists who had the chance to explore this place were able to sit in the cafes of Hanoi Train Street and watch the train pass by closely. Although there is no such opportunity from now on, the highlights of this street will certainly be remembered by many tourists, especially through the photos they took there during their travels.
Where is Hanoi Train Street located?
Hanoi Train Street has two sections where you can watch the train go by. You will have the same experience in both of them, but one of them has more cafes from where you can enjoy it.
Lê Duẩn – this section is further away from the city and has only one cafe from where you can see the train passing. It is between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thien Street. Enter Ngo 224 Le Duan in Google Maps.
The old quarter section – there are cafes, guest houses and shops along the tracks. Enter Hanoi Street Train into Google Maps and you will find two sections to explore on either side of the main Tran Phu Street.
You might expect the second location to be more popular with tourists, but in fact they are quite similar.
Looking at the history of Hanoi’s streets, the single-track railway that runs through the streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter has been around since the 20th century, during the French colonial period. The railway is still active today. The hot spot that used to drive photo enthusiasts crazy is the section of the railway located in Phung Hung, Dien Bien Phu and Le Duan streets.
Train Street in Hanoi schedule
Perhaps the biggest challenge is being able to spot the train at the right time. In this respect, there are absolutely no guarantees and you may be disappointed for the first time. But seeing a train crossing Hanoi’s train street is certainly one of the highlights.
For Le Duan, you can assume that the train crosses the street around 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm. As it is already dark by 7:30 pm, the 3:30 pm train is the most popular option.
Arrive on time and get a good location for your photos and videos. It is also good to be sure you are on time, as the timetable is not always very accurate.
The timetable for the section through the old quarter is slightly different. You can expect the train to run at about these times:
Monday-Friday: 7pm; 7:45pm; 9:30pm; 10pm.
Weekends: 6am; 9am; 11.20am; 3.20pm; 5.30pm; 6pm; 7pm; 7.45pm; 8.30pm; 9pm; 11pm.
These are the times indicated on a café along Train Street in the old quarter. However, there is never a guarantee that the train will actually arrive. There are also quite a few that run when it is already dark, so bear this in mind.
The locals almost always know when the train will or will not arrive, so always ask on the spot if the train is running today, it can save you a lot of waiting. You can also check the Vietnamese Railway website.
It is best to arrive early. Clothes hanging outside to dry are brought in and scooters are pushed to the side, all so that the train can just pass by.
When the train arrives, the inhabitants press themselves firmly against the wall or jump into the doorway.
The train is only a short distance from the buildings and sometimes there is only a few centimetres of clearance on each side of the train. When the train has passed, the inhabitants immediately carry on with the order of the day.
You can see that some tourists are obsessed with taking the perfect photo on social media on the Hanoi train street. But let’s hope it goes without saying that these are real trains and you’re not taking any chances.
They won’t and can’t stop if you stand on the track for too long. It’s not worth the risk, so find a place on the side of the track and let the train pass without endangering yourself or anyone else.
Other sights on Hanoi Train Street
Hanoi Train Street is located at the edge of the old quarter. To the east you will find Hoan Kiem Lake (2.5 km) and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. To the west, less than 800 metres away, is the imperial city of Thang Long, where you can visit a palace and several historical buildings. In this area you will also find the Temple of Literature, with nearly 1000 years, the oldest university in Vietnam.
- Visit the Tran Quoc Pagoda
- Visit Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and presidential palace sites
Visit other royal palaces at the imperial citadel of Thang Long
- Lunch at Bun Cha Hang Quat
- A walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple
- Dong Xuan market, one of the largest markets in the city
- Bach Ma Temple
- Hanoi night market
- Attend water puppet shows
- Dinner at Cha Ca Va Long / Cha Ca Thang Long
- Cold beer at Bia Hoi junction
Watching the world go by is always better with a coffee, right? There are so many cafes and shops for those visiting Hanoi’s Train Street. Here are the best ones:
Hanoi Train Street Cafe
Along the Ngõ 224 Lê Duẩn section, there is only one stop, the Train Track Cafe (an adventurous name, no?) at 224 Lê Duẩn. They sell basic hot and cold drinks, including smoothies and beers.
Caphe Dong Duong (Indochina Station Café)
Just across the street from that yellow mural is this very cool cafe. The interior is the real reason to visit: the chairs are old train seats and there’s even a train door attached to the wall (I’m not sure if it leads anywhere – you’ll have to find out for yourself).
Currently all cafes are 20K VND
While many new cafes are popping up along the tracks, The Railway Hanoi is one of the originals. They offer a wide range of drinks, including cocktails, and even sell banh mis, making it one of the few railway cafes to serve food.
Address: 26/05A Tran Phu, Hoan Kiem District
How to get to Hanoi’s train street?
Train Street is located between Phùng Hưng Street and Lý Nam Đế Street, right next to Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The exact location is 5 Trần Phú.
There is no entrance fee to visit Hanoi Train Street, and you can walk freely along the railway tracks.
If you visit Vietnam, don’t forget to visit Hanoi. This bustling city, with its markets, temples, museums and more, is sure to make for a memorable experience for all types of travellers.
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