Hanoi's Train Street: A Heart-Stopping Adventure Through Local Life

By Ngoc Tu Dinh - June 10, 2024
Hanoi's Train Street: A Heart-Stopping Adventure Through Local Life

Hanoi's Train Street wasn't like any other place. It was a sliver of land squeezed between two apartment blocks, so close that the passing trains brushed the walls, shaking the ground and rattling the windows.

Hanoi, a city where history whispers through vibrant streets and charming colonial architecture, holds a secret that draws intrepid travelers from around the globe. It's not hidden in a grand temple or a forgotten alley; it rumbles to life several times a day, a steel serpent slithering between houses so close you could almost reach and touch it. No one actually knows how it has come to attention so fast; maybe it was just one attempt by a cafe that tried to bring customers to their spot. This is Hanoi's Train Street, a truly unique experience that captures the essence of this vibrant city.

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Two Sides to the Track: North vs. South

While often referred to as a single entity, Hanoi boasts two distinct sections of Train Street: the popular North Train Street and the lesser-known but equally fascinating South Train Street.

North Train Street: Nestled in the heart of the Old Quarter, just north of the main train station, this section is a feast for the senses. Normally, if you want to take the train to destinations like Sapa, Hai Phong or many destinations close to the border with China from Hanoi, you will definitely pass by this train street.

train street hanoi
The North Section of Hanoi Train Street (Photo: IZITOUR)

The special aspects of the North train track are how cafes spill out onto the narrow track, their walls adorned with colorful murals and fairy lights. The air thrums with chatter, laughter, and the aroma of strong Vietnamese coffee. Here, you witness the incredible juxtaposition of everyday life against the backdrop of a functioning railway.

South Train Street: This section, starting around Le Duan and Kham Thien streets, offers a different perspective. Wider and less crowded, it provides a glimpse into the daily routines of local residents. You'll see children playing, women hanging laundry, and men sipping tea, seemingly unfazed by the approaching train.

hanoi train street schedule
The South section of Hanoi's Train Street (Photo: collected)

There are two sections of Train Street in Hanoi, but due to safety concerns, the most famous section near the Old Quarter was unfortunately forced to close to tourists in September 2022. Even though you may see cafes and restaurants here, they are unofficially open.

If you're still interested in visiting the remaining section, which is more authentic, here's how to access it:

  1. Location: Train Street (South) is located south of the main railway station and runs parallel to Le Duan Street. It also cuts Kham Thien street so you can search for 1 Kham Thien street.

  2. Access Points: You can freely walk onto the train tracks from either end of the street. Look for a small street leading off Le Duan Street that opens onto the railway tracks.

Responsible tourism is key to preserving the charm of Hanoi and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

The Heart-Stopping Arrival: Hanoi Train Times and Safety

The train weaves through both sections several times a day, usually in the late afternoon and evening. It can vary based on different seasons, especially local big holiday seasons such as Lunar New Year (End of January - Beginning of February), National Liberation Day (April 30 - May 1),...

hanoi train is coming

North Train Street:

  • Afternoon: around 3:00 pm and 3:45 pm

  • Evening: around 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm

  • Weekend specials (Friday - Sunday): 08:50am, 09:20am, 11:52am, 03:15pm, 04:00pm, 05:30pm, 06:15pm, 07:40pm, 08:20pm, 09:15pm, 09:40pm, 10:00pm

South Train Street: 

  • Morning: 06:10 am, 08:00 am, 11:40 am

  • Afternoon: 12:10 pm, 03:30 pm

  • Evening: 07:10 pm, 07:30 pm, 07:50 pm, 09:10 pm

A Word of Caution: As awe-inspiring as it is, Hanoi’s Train Street is not without its dangers. The train runs extremely close to the buildings, and there is limited space to move when it passes. Safety should be your utmost priority.

  • Be aware of the train schedule and plan your visit accordingly.

  • Stay off the tracks at all times, especially when a train is approaching.

  • Listen to the locals. They know the area best and will warn you of the train's arrival.

  • Be respectful. This is a residential area, so keep noise levels down and avoid obstructing walkways.

  • Take photos responsibly. Don't trespass on private property or put yourself in dangerous situations for the perfect shot.

Beyond the Spectacle: What Makes Train Street Special?

While the spectacle of a train thundering through a residential street is undeniably impressive, the true magic of Hanoi’s Train Street lies in the stories it tells.

  • A Window into Local Life: It offers a unique glimpse into the daily lives of Hanoi's residents. You'll see how people have adapted to life alongside the railway, creating a harmonious, if somewhat precarious, balance.

rhythm of life in hanoi train street
The local daily life at the train street (Photo: collected)

  • A Sense of Community: Despite the proximity of the train, there's a strong sense of community spirit here. Neighbors chat across balconies, children play together, and everyone looks out for each other, especially when the train approaches.

life in hanoi train street
Take a closer look at local life (Photo: collected)

  • A Photogenic Paradise: The narrow streets, colorful buildings, and the sheer novelty of the railway line create countless opportunities for stunning photography. Whether you're a seasoned photographer or simply enjoy capturing memories on your phone, Train Street won't disappoint.

take photo at hanoi train street
A popular Instagram-able place (Photo: collected)

While the train itself is a major draw, there's plenty more to discover in the surrounding areas. You can indulge in delicious Vietnamese cuisine and soak up the vibrant atmosphere at one of the many cafes and restaurants lining the tracks. Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of local life at a nearby market, where you can find everything from fresh produce to souvenirs. If you have more time in Hanoi, explore the city's rich history by visiting nearby landmarks like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, and the Hoa Lo Prison.

A Train Journey for the Soul

Once a hidden gem, the Train Street rocketed to Instagram fame in 2019, with over 20,000 photos tagged #hanoitrainstreet or #trainstreethanoi. This surge in popularity fueled skyrocketing property values and rapid commercialization, mirroring trends in Vietnam's developing cities. While it diversified Hanoi's tourism landscape, it also raised safety concerns for tourists and locals alike.

hanoi train street cafe

Despite these risks, a visit to Hanoi Train Street goes beyond a typical tourist activity. It's a sensory experience that stays with you, reminding you that life persists even in the heart of a buzzing city. The extraordinary can be found in the unexpected.

If you choose to visit Train Street, prioritize safety. Tread lightly, be mindful of the locals' lives, and appreciate the unique charm of this place. Remember, responsible tourism ensures this unforgettable destination remains so.

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Ngoc Tu Dinh
Travel Expert
I'm Ngoc Tu Dinh, a local travel expert from Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Exploring Vietnam has been my passion for years, and I've spent 10 years as a tour guide throughout Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. I hope that my understanding of Vietnamese culture, allow me to offer a unique perspective in this blog. Currently, I am based at IZITOUR. If you're planning a trip to Vietnam, I'm here to help you make the most of it! Feel free to leave your comments at the end of the article. Your feedback is important, and I look forward to responding to you.

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  • Nicolas Lowry
  • Nicolas Lowry
    United States

Got to Hanoi Train Street in the evening and nobody stopped me. People were shouting when the train came, but there were no policemen around. I think it's different during the day though.

ReplyJun 9, 2024

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