In the middle of the chaotic city of Hanoi, Vietnam you’ll find a tiny, narrow street – a canyon between tall buildings housing people’s homes, food vendors and local shops. It’s your typical alleyway in Hanoi except for one thing – it has a train line running straight through the middle of it. This is Hanoi’s train street.
What is the Hanoi Train Street?
While you may look at this and think it’s an old street that got the short end of the stick when technology came along, you’d be wrong. The train line that passes through the Hanoi’s train street was built in Hanoi’s Old Quarter in 20th century French Colonial rule – but the buildings that tower impossibly close on either side were actually built after.
At approximately 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., a train bound for Ho Chi Minh City barrels through the narrow street and it’s just become part of daily life for the locals who live there.
Where is the Hanoi Train Street?
The Hanoi train street is essentially just a train line that runs through Hanoi’s Old Quarter, so this means there are actually quite a few places where you can get your train street shots as long as you follow the train line on the map.
However, I’ve put pins in the map below demonstrating the best places to see the Hanoi train street based on my personal experience, as well as where the Hanoi train station is. The most popular place to see it is actually at the pin below the train station, but instead, I chose to go to the two points at the top of the map.
In recent years, thanks to Instagram, the train street has increased in popularity, but I think visiting a lesser-known part of the train line gave me a more authentic experience because I didn’t see anyone else besides us and the locals who lived there.
When I initially saw photos of the Hanoi train street (which to be honest was on Pinterest), I just knew I had to visit it. What struck me the most wasn’t how impressive it was that an actual train was going to pass through this narrow road, but rather how normal it was and how the local families living there just carried on with daily life.
Kids played in the street, cats wandered around, clothes hung drying, people were sitting on mini stools outside local shops selling sugar cane juice, coffee and tea and just enjoying their day.
I didn’t actually plan to be at the Hanoi train street at the same time as the train was passing through, rightly or wrongly. I think it would have been really cool, but we only had one full day in Hanoi and there was a lot I wanted to see and planning to be there at the same time of the train would have caused some constraints.
Ultimately, I don’t think visiting the train street without the train really impacted my experience. It was still just as impressive and shocking, with or without the train actually barreling through.
Make Sure to Stay Safe
The locals who live on this residential road would probably scoff at this, but just make sure you’re careful when visiting the Hanoi train street. When the train passes through, there’s no more than a couple of feet of extra space on either side and if you’re not paying attention, there’s the potential to get seriously hurt.
Since the train comes at set times, you’ll know when to get off the tracks and when it’s safe to cross or take a quick photo, but just make sure you’re aware of the time and stay off to the side when it does pass.
The Hanoi train street is a spectacular sight and was just as striking as I expected and was honestly one of my favorite parts of Hanoi. Aside from there being a train line straight through a tiny residential alley, what really shocked me was how quiet it was. Hanoi is an incredibly chaotic, bustling city with more than 7 million inhabitants, and as soon as I stepped into the train street it’s like all the noise and excitement faded away.
If you’re visiting Hanoi, Vietnam, then taking a trip to the Hanoi train street is an absolute must.