There’s quite a bit of conflicting information out there about Hanoi Train Street, including is it currently open to visitors? I visited Hanoi Train Street in September 2023 and I can confirm that YES, Hanoi Train Street is currently open to visitors. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about visiting Hanoi Train Street including the schedule for the trains, rules for visiting, history of Train Street and more!
BY THE WAY, IF YOU’RE VISITING HANOI, DON’T MISS:
What is Train Street?
If you’re visiting Hanoi and you’ve done any research or talked to anyone about the city, you’ve most likely heard of Train Street. And you might be wondering, “What’s so special about Train Street anyways? There are tons of streets with trains around the world…”. But take my word, Train Street in Hanoi is pretty unique.
Train Street runs through a residential area where tourists can sit at cafes and watch the train pass by. There’s essentially nothing between you and the train so you’re very close-up and get a very unique experience. While I touch on safety later in the post, don’t worry – yes, it’s safe. (As long as you follow all of the rules).
History of Hanoi Train Street
The original tracks were laid back in 1902 when Vietnam was under French colonial rule. Unsurprisingly, the tracks were laid long before residents built homes nearby, but as the city grew with people, homes started to get closer and closer to the tracks. Today, tourists flock to Train Street for photos and to experience the unique nature of trains running by.
Where is Hanoi Train Street?/How to Enter Hanoi Train Street
Hanoi Train Street is located at the intersection of Phung Hung and Tran Phu Street. When I visited, the “free entrance” that shows up on Google Maps was not open. If you just ask where the entrance is, locals will either point you in the right direction or tell you that it’s closed. Again, as of September 2023, it is not closed.
The best way that I can describe getting to the correct place is if you go to “free entrance” you’ll notice blockades. If you’re facing the blockades, turn left and walk for a few minutes. Eventually, you’ll find a street that intersects train street. Here you’ll see more barricades barring you from the entrance of the tracks. Locals that live on the street have to come and get you and escort you to their cafe for you to enter. You cannot enter on your own.
There will also be a police presence near the tracks. Again, they won’t let you enter on your own – only when a local comes to get you. If there is nobody there when you arrive, wait around for a few minutes and see if someone eventually notices you and comes to get you.
This seems a little bit chaotic, but trust me when I tell you – everything in Vietnam eventually works itself out! The system might not be what you’re used to from back home, but the system works for the Vietnamese people and in turn, works for you.
IF YOU’D RATHER VISIT TRAIN STREET WITH A LOCAL GUIDE, CHECK OUT THIS TOUR
Hanoi Train Street Schedule
You do not need to purchase any type of ticket to enjoy train street. You do have to purchase a drink from one of the local cafes (this drink can even be a bottle of water), but prices are cheap and you’re not required to order more than one drink if you stay around.
One of the more confusing things about Train Street is that the schedule seems to vary greatly depending on time of year. I was following a blog post from a year back and when I arrived, that was no longer the schedule the trains ran on. As of September 2023, the trains run at:
- Monday-Friday: 0850, 0920, 1150, 1515, 2115
- Saturday-Sunday: 0850, 0920, 1150, 1515, 1740, 1810, 2115
Keep in mind, it can become quite crowded at the times that trains are scheduled to arrive. Plan ahead and show up at least 30 minutes early. I would also keep in mind that the last scheduled trains (2115) is scheduled after sunset. If you’re interested in getting photos/videos, you might want to avoid this time.
When to Visit Hanoi Train Street
Of course, weekends are generally crazier than weekdays. So if you’re planning to visit Hanoi Train Street I would advise to go during the week if you have the option. I would also recommend going earlier in the day or later in the evening when it isn’t as hot. I went at the 1515 time and it was pretty hot. While there were fans to keep us cool, it was uncomfortable, especially if the sun was directly shining on you.
If you’re strictly going for photos and don’t care about seeing the train, again, you can’t go on the tracks without a local. I showed up early for photos before the train came and the police officer told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on the tracks even for a quick photo. So if you’re not planning to stay and get a drink, don’t bother visiting.
Once the local comes to get you and you get your drink, you are then permitted to stand up and take photos on the tracks – as long as a train isn’t scheduled to arrive anytime soon.
How Long Should You Stay?
I would plan to stay for around one hour. I recommend showing up at least 30 minutes before a train arrives (one hour if you want photos), and plan to stay until the train leaves. You really don’t need much time. If you have all the time in the world, maybe go in the morning to see the 0850 and 0920 train.
What to Expect when Visiting Hanoi Train Street
As far as what to expect when visiting train street, here are some general tips to follow:
- Bring cash – drinks are affordable but it’s easiest to pay in cash
- You can expect both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- I did not notice any food being sold on Train Street
- About 15-minutes before a train arrives, you must be lined up at the cafe and not on the tracks at this point; cops are generally watching pretty closely so don’t do anything that will get the cafe in trouble
- There are some seats in the sun, some in the shade – arrive early to get the seat of your choice
- I don’t think that there’s much difference between cafes (i.e. one is better or worse than the other), they are all pretty standard
- Each cafe is someone’s HOME – be respectful
- There are toilets inside the cafes
- Do not take photos on the tracks when a train comes – this is why Train Street had to previously close to tourists
- The trains go pretty slowly, not slow enough that it can’t hurt you, but slow enough to snap some photos and videos
- The train tracks are a few feet from the cafes, but when the train comes (it’s wider than the tracks), the train is about an arm distance from the cafes
Why was Hanoi Train Street Closed?
After a recent incident when a train had to be rerouted as a result of too many people taking photos on the tracks, the government shut down Train Street in 2019 by blocking pedestrian traffic. Many of the cafes and restaurants running adjacent to the tracks have now been ordered to close. It is slowly reopening “post COVID” to tourists.
Is Train Street Safe?
As long as you follow the rules that the locals give to you, yes – Train Street is safe. Stay seated when told to, stand where told to, and don’t get on the tracks when a train is coming and you should be just fine.
CHECK OUT MORE FUN ACTIVITIES IN HANOI
For more information on Train Street, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel by searching “#ppinvietnam” or under my highlights, “Vietnam”
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