HANOI, a metropolis located in the northern region of Vietnam, is known for a score of things – coffee, culture, and charm.
In particular, the quaint city is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French influences.
The main names that will turn up in search results when you Google “tourist attractions in Hanoi” include (but not limited to) the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, water puppet theatre, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, The Perfume Pagoda, Ngoc Son temple, Dong Suan market, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi Opera House, Ba Vi National Park, and the Temple of Literature.
Let’s not forget the heart of Hanoi, the chaotic but endearing Old Quarter, where Hoan Kiem Lake (Turtle Lake) is. And also, the popular train street.
Located in between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thin street, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, it is where a speeding train would pass through a narrow street twice a day where people live, work, and play.
The train, which connects Hue to Long Bien train station, would speed through every day at 3:30pm and 7:30pm. Every once in a while, a train that connects Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city can be spotted rumbling through at 5pm.
This street was once Hanoi’s best-kept secret and local residents have become accustomed to it despite the dangers it poses. Residents can be seen playing checkers on the tracks one minute and the next, they’ve scooped up their belongings and moved their tables back into their front door as the train snakes past just inches away.
It is easy to see the appeal and camera-wielding tourists often flock to the hotspot to snap social media- and travel bragging-worthy shots. However, due to safety reasons, the Instagram-famous tracks are now being blocked off by the local authorities.
Hanoi’s police have erected barricades to avoid accidents, much to visitors’ disappointment. New signs have been installed warning passersby not to take photos or videos in the “dangerous area”
Dozens of other tourists were turned away, though some managed to get onto still-open sections of the railway, moving out of the way as an afternoon train chugged past. “I’m very frustrated because today I can’t go in and take a picture,” Malaysian tourist Mustaza bin Mustapha told AFP.
Of course, the closure does not affect trigger-happy tourists alone. Cafe owners complained that business would be hurt thanks to the new regulations and that tourists always moved out of the way for oncoming trains.
“There have never been any regretful accidents here,” said Le Tuan Anh, who runs a cafe from his home along the tracks. “Compared to traffic density elsewhere in the city, this is much safer,” he said, referring to Hanoi’s chaotic, motorbike-clogged streets.