Visiting The Terrifying Hanoi Train Street

Visiting The Terrifying Hanoi Train Street

There’s a residential street in Hanoi, Vietnam that a speeding train passes straight through twice a day. The street is so narrow that all residents must ensure their bikes and precious personal belongings, as well as their roaming children, are all safely inside the house before the train passes. 

There’s no way I could let myself go to Hanoi so many times without visiting this unique place so I walked there with a friend to check it our with my own eyes when in Vietnam a few weeks ago.

It’s one of the first places the train leaving Hanoi train station and heading South to Hue and Hoi An passes through, so if you’re on that train be sure to look out for it. Just don’t stick your head out the window if you want to arrive with your head still intact.

Hanoi Train street, as I like to call it, is located between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thin street in Hanoi’s old quarter. You can find it on Google Maps here or simply look at the maps I have made below. The show where the tiny residential street is, and how to get there from either Vietnam Backpacker’s Hostel or from the train station.

If you’re planning to travel in Vietnam for a few weeks, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have decent travel insurance – especially if you plan to tour by bike or scooter. I always use World Nomads, as they’re known as the best insurer for backpackers and long term travellers.

Hanoi Train street map and directions

hanoi train street map

directions hanoi train street

If you’re looking to visit, it’s really important that you get your timing right. I would love to say we nearly missed the train, but the reality is we almost got knocked over by the train. We thought it was due at 3.30pm so we were wandering around taking pictures.

#Hanoi #Vietnam #HanoiTrain A photo posted by Manify.nl (@manifynl) on

 

Suddenly we heard the train tooting its horn and coming flying in our direction…. we literally had to jump off the tracks and stand almost pinned against a wall. Even the locals were making crazy hand movements, telling us to get back further which was a little scary. The train literally passed by within a few inches of us, as you can see from the angle of the video I took below!!

Hanoi Train Street video

I recommend you get there at around 3pm and have your camera ready to go if your intention is to get some cool photos and videos. The train will have passed by before you have blinked. The train also passed each evening at around 7.30pm I believe, in the opposite direction, but as it’s dark the photos and videos aren’t as clear.

hanoi-train-street

hanoi-railway-residential-street

While the experience of being pinned up against a wall as a pretty massive train flies past you in the middle of Vietnam’s capital city was pretty thrilling, my favourite part about this street was seeing how locals live there before and after the train passes.

Watching them sit in the middle of the tracks with their neighbours, playing checkers and drinking tea. Watching kids running up and down, playing games while an older lady waters her plants in a flower box outside her home. Life goes on, despite their unusual predicament.

I also think the street is one of my favourite place to photograph in all of Vietnam. Claire and I had such fun posing on the tracks and just taking cool shots of the street, with railway track and houses almost blending into one. I also loved the way so many of the residents proudly display the Vietnam flag outside their homes, something you will see on many streets in Hanoi and around Vietnam. If you’re looking for more fun things to do in Hanoi check out the Travelling Weasels post about Why Hanoi is The Best City in South East Asia.

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Visiting Hanoi Train Street

 

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10 Comments

  1. July 2, 2016 / 12:23 pm

    What an interesting spot. I think it’s liveable because its only twice a day. It’s a unique space for sure. loved your post! the photos are beautiful.

    • July 2, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      Thanks Sonja. I agree, it’s not so bad that it’s only twice a day and they do seem very used to it. Still quite an odd way to live…right in top of the tracks! I wonder if there have been many accidents in the past.

      • July 3, 2016 / 11:14 pm

        would be an interesting statistic to know. I doubt it. I would think it would be … no different than living on a busy street? Or maybe it’s not a busy street precisely because of the train. A trade off of sorts.

  2. July 3, 2016 / 1:05 am

    Oh wow! This is super cool!

  3. July 4, 2016 / 4:24 am

    Was that train the LP5, the 15:20 Hanoi to Haiphong? Assume then it’s between Hanoi main station and Hanoi Long Bien, and will get 3 trains per day each direction.

    • July 4, 2016 / 10:02 am

      No, there’s definitely just two a day I was told. It’s the main train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. One arrives into Hanoi around 3.30pm each day and one leaves Hanoi at 7pm (or maybe it was 7.30..I can’t remember). We actually rode it the next evening for about 17 hours the whole way to Hue. :-)

  4. leahgervais
    July 4, 2016 / 6:58 am

    What an awesome post and idea. Thanks for sharing! Your blog is badass and so are you. How long are you in Southeast Asia? I’m currently in Cambodia! :)

    – Leah at http://www.urban20something.com

    • July 4, 2016 / 10:05 am

      Hi Leah, thanks so much for your comment. I love comments!! I actually just got home from my trip so just catching up on writing all my blog posts now. I know, such a bad blogger. I was there for 5 months. I’m now home for 6 weeks before heading off on a one year overland trip to Africa from Ireland which I’m very excited about. Looking forward to checking out your blog.

  5. July 6, 2016 / 5:01 am

    Thanks for sharing. This is so similar to some stretches of the Heritage train journey in Darjeeling, India. The train traverses so close to the houses which are inhabited. I did ask the locals if they mind the back and forth of the train whistles. They were quite used to it and saw that as an opportunity for revenue with visitors coming in for the heritage ride :)

  6. August 16, 2016 / 2:35 pm

    Brilliant! I’m doing some planning for our trip to Vietnam later this year, I found your post after a quick Google, as i wanted to know exactly where this street was. We went on a similar train that passed through a market in Bangkok, it was amazing watching everyone clear the way for the train. Thanks for sharing and great tips about the times too, I’ve written it all down. Thanks for sharing!