You probably have seen the iconic photos and videos of Hanoi with a train track straight through a residential area. This street is also called Hanoi Train Street. For the local residents this is the most natural thing in life, for travelers 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 a street like any other in Vietnam. There is a lively atmosphere, people cook in front of their door, laundry is hung outside, merchants praise their wares 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.
Location of the Hanoi Train Street?
While Hanoi Train Street itself is not difficult to find, it does take some preparation to watch the train pass through this narrow passage. Moreover, the most interesting part is the part where the locals routinely put away their belongings to allow the train to pass. Finding the right place on time is therefore a must! There are two good spots to view the train from.
- Old Quarter: This can be found at the intersection of “Trần Phú” and “Ly Nam De”. Fortunately, this time too, Google Maps makes our lives a lot easier, and just searching there on “Train Street” will also help you find the infamous location. (Google Maps location)
- Le Duan: This location is a little further from the center and can be found between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thin. To find it on Google Maps you can enter Ngo 224 Le Duan on Google Maps. (Google Maps location)
Because the street goes right through the old center, it is easy to walk. Moreover, it is bursting with cozy shops, cafes and interesting street life, so you can spend an afternoon there before actually spotting the train!
Train time schedule
Perhaps the biggest challenge is to be able to spot the train at the right time. In that respect, there is absolutely no guarantee and you may be disappointed for the first time. But seeing a train going through the Hanoi Train Street is definitely one of the highlights.
For Le Duan you can assume that the train travels through the street around 3.30 pm and around 7.30 pm. Because it is already dark around 7.30pm, the 3.30pm train is the most popular option. Get there on time and get a nice spot for photos and videos. It is also nice to be sure that you are on time, because the timetable is not always very exact.
The times for the section through the Old Quarter are slightly different. You can roughly rely on the train running around these times:
- Monday-Friday: 7:00 PM; 19.45; 21.30; 22:00
- Weekend: 6:00 am; 9:00; 11.20; 15.20; 17.30; 6:00 pm; 19:00; 19.45; 20.30; 21:00; 23:00
These are the times listed on a café along the train street in the Old Quarter. However, there is never a guarantee that the train will actually come. There are also quite a few driving while it is already dark, so keep that in mind.
The locals almost always know when the train will or will not arrive, so always ask on the spot whether the train is running today, that can save a lot of waiting. You can also check the website of Vietnam Railway.
The best thing is if you arrive earlier. Clothes hanging outside to dry are brought in and scooters are pushed aside, all so that the train can just pass through. When the train arrives, residents press themselves firmly against the wall or jump in the doorway. The train is only a small distance from the buildings and sometimes there is only a few centimeters of play on either side of the train. When the train is over, the locals immediately continue with the order of the day.
You can see that some tourists are obsessed with taking the perfect social media photo at the Hanoi Train Street. But hopefully it goes without saying that these are real trains and that you don’t take any chances. They will not and cannot stop if you stay on the track for too long. It’s not worth the shot to take the risk, so find a spot on the side of the train track and let it pass without endangering yourself or anyone else.
Important update! The government already closed most of the restaurants and shops along Hanoi Train Street for safety reasons. You can still get to the track, but there is more security.
Other sights around Hanoi Train Street
Hanoi Train Street lies on the edge of the Old Quarter. To the east you will find the Hoan Kiem lake (2.5 km) and the St Joseph Cathedral. To the west, less than 800 meters, lies the Imperial City of Thang Lon, where you can visit a palace and several historic buildings. In this area you will also find the Temple of Literature, with almost 1000 years the oldest university in Vietnam.