Hanoi Train Street.
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Visiting Hanoi’s Train Street: READ THIS FIRST!

Hanoi’s Train Street, as it’s affectionately known, is not your average tourist spot, and you don’t want to walk up here blindly!

It definitely has its quirks and surprises, but its undeniable charm certainly makes it a must-visit (with a few caveats) in Hanoi.

Here’s what you need to know before you go…

A Brief History of Hanoi’s Train Street

Originally, Train Street was just another part of Hanoi’s extensive railway system, designed during the French colonial era to connect the northern and southern parts of Vietnam.

Low angle of the train tracks at Hanoi Train Street while people walk up and down them.
People walking up and down the tracks.

The tracks, laid close to the homes of residents, were a response to the city’s rapid urbanization.

As Hanoi grew, so did the fascination with these tracks. What was once a normal part of locals’ daily routines became a point of interest for visitors.

However, Train Street’s growing popularity brought its own set of challenges. Safety concerns escalated as more visitors flocked to the area, and there have been a few incidents on these tracks over the years.

People sitting in cafes lined along the railway track of Hanoi Train Street.
A chill time at train street.

After closures, new regulations, and challenges, Hanoi’s Train Street is a bit complex to understand if you’re unaware of what’s happening, so I’m going to do my best to help explain.

Hanoi’s Train Street Cafés

First, you might be wondering, don’t I just pick a cafe on Train Street, order a coffee, and wait for this train to come by? What the heck else do I need to know?!

Garrett and others sitting inside a cafes waiting for the train on Hanoi Train Street.
Garrett waiting patiently for the train…

And I feel you, I kind of thought the same. So, let’s start off easy. Here are some of the cafes on Hanoi’s Train Street that you can check out:

  • Railway Cafe Tuan – This is apparently the original train cafe that started the trend!
  • Cat Coffee Restaurant 54 – Coffee, trains, and CATS! Sold! This is where I ended up on a chilly Saturday afternoon because the only thing better than a cafe with a cool train whizzing by is having a cat on your lap while it happens.
  • Coffee 40 – Cute and cozy, just two feet from the tracks! It’s next to the cat cafe, and both of these are slightly out of the chaos and a bit more chill, which I liked.
  • Parallel Cocktail Bar – This sweet cocktail bar overlooks the train street for those catching the late-night trains.
  • Lagoon Rooftop Hà Nội – Another rooftop, more upscale, and a cafe with a bird’s eye view from above.

Are there others? Oh heck yes! There are tons of cafes, so you won’t have trouble finding others.

Fair warning: these cafés are brimming with charm but are less about the food and drink and more about the sheer novelty of dining beside active train tracks.

Don’t get me wrong, our drinks were fine, but you will be paying more for everything, as again, it’s the experience of being on this street.

So maybe, don’t come hungry so you can save those coins for another place with better food and prices.

RELATED: 17 BEST Cafes in Hanoi, Vietnam (DN-Friendly Too!)

Can You Just Choose Any Cafe on Train Street?

Our journey began with a rendezvous point set via text, the coordinates leading us to one of the “entrances” of Train Street. Yes, we had to TEXT the cafe before heading out here.

Eager locals will be waiting at the barricaded and guarded entry points to get you into their cafe, so keep an eye out for the cafe owner of the cafe you want to go to.

Tourists standing at the end of Hanoi Train Street beside a sign that warns people of a fine if they cross the tracks.
The barricade with warning signs.

Somehow… Our cafe lady found us, walked us along the tracks, and seated us at her cafe. She then brought me a box of kittens. Things were great! But back to the rules…

You will not be allowed ON the tracks without an “invitation.”

If you just show up without texting beforehand, you will get a random person inviting you, which is fine, but which cafe are they from, and where will they lead you? It will be a surprise!

Nina in a yellow puffer jackets walking down the railway of Hanoi Train Street between cafes and lanterns.
There are so many cafes to choose from!

So you don’t necessarily NEED a prior invitation, but once you’re in, you’ll have to follow the person to their cafe as you can’t just walk around and choose a cafe.

Coffee, Cats, and… COPS?!

So as we were sitting enjoying our coffee and tea, and petting some cute ass cats, all of a sudden, we were ushered out of our seats and told to go upstairs…

A lookout person warned the shop owners of law enforcement coming, and before you knew it, all the café owners swiftly guided their patrons into concealment and closed their doors.

A security guard in green walking onto Hanoi Train Street.
Security approaches!

We were literally having to hide in their stairwell because the cops showed up?!

There, in the cramped stairwell, we found ourselves in an awkward limbo, not out of fear but out of the sheer oddity of the situation. This was about a 10-minute ordeal… just waiting…

Here Comes The Choo Choo Train!

After we were allowed back outside and back in our chairs, we finally got word that the train was coming by! Woo!

Nothing quite prepares you for the sight and sound of the train thundering down the tracks. Its speed is startling, its proximity astonishing. You’re just a couple of feet away… barely!

Nina in a yellow jacket petting a cat in a cafe with two other people while the Hanoi train drives past.
Just me and a cat while the train passes by. I didn’t mean to match!

This isn’t a leisurely chug along the countryside; it’s a full-throttle dash! For those brief seconds, as the train blurs past, you’re caught in the moment.

It was definitely fun and quite the experience!

What’s The Train Schedule?

  • Monday – Friday: 7:00 PM; 7:45 PM; 8:30 PM; and 10:00 PM
  • Saturday – Sunday: 6:00 AM; 9:00 AM; 11:20 AM; 3:20 PM; 5:30 PM; 6:00 PM; 7:00 PM; 7:45 PM; 8:30 PM; 9:00 PM; 11:00 PM

So, the weekends are likely your best bet, mostly because you can be there during the day, but also, you’ll have more time options.

However, with all these said, I happened to be at another cafe in Hanoi, the Drop In Cafe, on a Thursday, and I saw the train pass around 11:45 AM!

So there are actually more train possibilities; however, there is no further info about those times anywhere, and I noted not as many cafes were open either.

Two men sitting in a cafe while a blue, red and white train drives past along Hanoi Train Street.

With that said, I not only recommend the Drop In Cafe because they have excellent coffee, but they are a cool cafe just across from Train Street with ZERO dramas because they are not on the tracks.

Tips Before You Go:

Before you head out here, let me offer you some more tips and recommendations.

  • Timing is Key: Arrive around 20 minutes before the train is due. An early arrival might secure a good spot, but it also means more chances for the unpredictability of a cafe hideout like I had to do.
  • Expect the Unexpected: Be prepared for sudden changes—whether it’s a dash to hiding or the abrupt yells of guards (they yelled at me at one point, and I had no idea why?). It’s all part of the Train Street experience, although not really fun.
  • Just Pop By: You may just want to check out Train Street, take a quick pic, and leave, and you can do that. But only from behind a barricade. You can go here or here and take a pic, but you can’t get on the tracks, and you will be hounded by people trying to get you into their cafes.
  • Wander The Tracks: If you’re at the cafe of your choosing, as long as the train is not nearby, you can walk along the tracks for a quick pic. The guards seem to randomly yell at people, though, with no rhyme or reasoning.

Is Visiting Hanoi’s Train Street Worth It?

It’s a question with no straightforward answer. Do you think it’s worth it from everything you read?

Cafes lining both sides of Hanoi Train Street while people sit inside drinking coffee and waiting for the train.
People waiting around for the train.

If you’re seeking a unique activity with a dash of the unusual, then yes, come on by. But just know there are some dramas in visiting Hanoi’s Train Street and some preparedness you need to keep in mind.

I enjoyed my time. I thought it was pretty cool, and I got some fun pictures, but would I go again? Not so sure.

Quick FAQ of Train Street:

Where is the famous train street in Hanoi?

Generally speaking, Điện Biên Phủ, Trần Phú, and P. Nguyễn Thái Học are the main areas and entrances of Train Street. They will be blocked off and guarded from the street.

Is the train street in Hanoi illegal? Is it closed?

Not exactly? It’s semi-regulated and policed but not closed.

What time does the train come down Train Street in Hanoi?

Monday – Friday: 7:00 PM; 7:45 PM; 8:30 PM; and 10:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday: 6:00 AM; 9:00 AM; 11:20 AM; 3:20 PM; 5:30 PM; 6:00 PM; 7:00 PM; 7:45 PM; 8:30 PM; 9:00 PM; 11:00 PM

Can you visit train street in Hanoi?

Yes. Just remember to text the owner of your selected cafe first or get escorted by a random cafe owner if you just show up.

Final Thoughts

I understand the need to keep tourists safe, but I also feel bad for the cafe owners. I spoke to the cafe owner, and they struggled quite a bit during the closures a few years ago.

A man in green walking down a train track between buildings along Hanoi Train Street in Vietnam.
A rather empty section of the street.

As tourists, it’s important that you’re not in this “bubble” where you think you can’t get hurt and are blasé about your surroundings. Don’t be that tourist who ruins it for others, especially the shop owners. This has become their livelihood.

I understand the restrictions, as unfun as they are, so when you come, be respectful, enjoy, be SAFE, and take care of yourself along the tracks.

I hope this helped you plan your visit to Hanoi’s Train Street!

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