Hanoi Train Street in Vietnam has strangely become one of the top places to visit in Hanoi. Even with the dozens of sites in this city that surely have much more to offer travelers who want to learn about it’s history and culture, Train Street draws in hundreds of tourists every day. Here’s everything you you need to know about Hanoi Train Street in 2023.
About Hanoi’s Train Street
In Hanoi’s Old Quarter is an alley between residential buildings that has train tracks. This alley has become known as “train street”, even though it’s not actually a street. The tracks were built in 1902 by the French and is still in use today. Over time, the city grew and homes were built around the train tracks. Eventually, shops were opened on the first floor of these homes and it became a tourist spot.
Why Is Hanoi Train Street So popular?
Like everything these days, social media has made Hanoi train street the most popular “street” in Hanoi. Toursts flock to train street and I think it’s one of the top things on any Hanoi Bucket List. Photos of old crumbling buildings with train tracks in between. Who can resist?!? Maybe it’s the adventure of doing something dangerous like standing inches from a fast train passing by you. Either way, Instagram has made this place popular and it’s just one of those things you have to do when you’re in Hanoi
Is Hanoi Train Street Open?
In 2019 the Vietnamese Government shut train street down. With the popularity growing, the number of tourists was becoming overwhelming and dangerous. Tourists snapping photos on the train tracks with an approaching train heading straight towards them is the main reason. Thankfully there haven’t been any serious incidents but there have been some close calls.
Since covid restrictions have eased and the city opened back up to tourists, train street has also reopened but with new rules in place. You might have seen some past photos of little tables sitting out right next to the train tracks. In the past, that’s where the tables were and when a train was coming they’d quickly move the tables and chairs in until the train passed. Today, there are no tables sitting next to the train tracks.
Rules For Visiting Hanoi Train Street
It used to be that anyone could come and go to train street. You could walk along the tracks, snap photos, and hang out wherever you wanted as you waited for the train to come. Now there are new rules in place. There are two entrances to the popular stretch of tracks and both have guards at them. These guards are in uniform and who knows if they are there officially through the Vietnam Government but they will stop you from just entering at will. If you ignore them they will blow their whistle at you and force you to leave destroying your chances of getting that photo. So, here’s how to visit Hanoi Train Street.
- Walk up to where the guards are. You’ll likely see several people there with the guard.
- Let them know that you’re interested in getting something to eat and drink. This is the key to getting through. You will not be allowed in if you aren’t making a purchase.
- There will likely be a woman waiting to take you to a cafe. If there isn’t one there just wait a few minutes for her to come back.
- Once you have been taken to a cafe, sat down and placed an order (just a drink is fine) then you will be allowed to get up and take photos. Just let the cafe owner know that you’re going to take a photo. It seemed to help when we were seeking approval instead of just doing it.
If you’re trying to plan a trip to Vietnam and are wondering where to go and for how long, check out my Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary.
Hanoi Train Street Location
Train Street is located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Click for the exact location of train street in google maps. You can see on the map below the location as well.
Train street is long but the location where everyone goes, where the cafes all are, is marked in pink below. The main entrance is along the main road but there is also an entrance area up above that. If you walk along the street running north to south below (P. Phung Hung) you will come to some stairs. Walk up those stairs and there is a cement platform where the guard will be.
On the opposite side of the street from the main entrance, train street continues on. However, there aren’t a lot of cafes that way so there aren’t any guards. You can just enter that area freely (as of December 2022). But, it’s not as cute that direction. 🙂
Hanoi Train Street Schedule
There’s a couple different Hanoi Train Street Timetables posted along the tracks. As you can see, they are different. I’m not sure what the exact time is that the train passes. I think the brown one is the closest current version.
The first time we went it was during the week around noon and there wasn’t a train. We weren’t sure what the schedule was so we just showed up. The next time we went, we went in the afternoon around 5pm. The train was supposed to pass around 7pm and it was about 1.5 hours late. So, my best advice would be to show up close to the scheduled time (about 30 minutes early), and sit at a cafe and wait. It will show up at some point.
How To Get To Hanoi Train Street
Hanoi Train Street is located near the Old Quarter which is the most popular area of Hanoi. Most people who visit Hanoi stay in the Old Quarter area. If you’re staying in the Old Quarter you can definitely walk. From the Hoan Kiem Lake you see on the map above, it’s only about a 15 minute walk. Taxi’s are also available everywhere so that’s also an option.
Best Time To Visit Hanoi Train Street
Obviously the busiest time to visit will be in the evenings when the train passes as well as the weekend. I would recommend going during the day and feeling it out. Sit in a cafe and take photos during the day. Then pick a time to come back in the evening when a train is passing.
The first time we went was during the day. We sat in a cafe and took photos and made “friends” with the guard and the lady that escorts you to a cafe. A few days later we came back in the evening. We were at the main entrance by the road and there were barriers, guards, and a crowd of people waiting to get through. Our new friend saw us walk up and she smiled and grabbed us to walk through with her to a cafe.
What To Do At Hanoi Train Street
Once you get through the guards and are at a cafe, you will have a little more freedom to walk around and take photos. Even if there isn’t a train scheduled to pass, you will still constantly be reminded to not be on the tracks. Take your photos and then move off the tracks. Meanwhile, you’ll see small children who live in the buildings playing on the tracks.
How Long Should You Stay?
If you’re waiting for a train to pass then you might be there for a few hours. We came in the evening and as we walked up a train was about to pass. It happened so quickly we didn’t really have time to prepare. But, we also wanted to sit in a cafe upstairs so we could view the train passing from above. So we did that and the train was running late so we were there for several hours waiting. Had it not been our last night there we would have left and come back another evening.
So yes, it’s definitely possible to visit Hanoi Train Street. As long as you don’t try to get by the guards and you follow the rules of getting escorted to a cafe AND you plan to buy something, you’ll be able to take all the photos you want. Just be prepared to have to wait for the train. But, you might not care as you sit at a balcony sipping your drink and people watching.