In the middle of Hanoi, there´s a train that travels through it´s busy streets en route to Hoi An. If you were to stumble across these tracks, you would be led to believe they are abandoned, as children play, chickens eat their feed, and grandmothers cook, sitting on the tracks. But, a few times a day, this speeding train will make its way through the street. Travellers are encouraged to come to the Main Street, enjoy a smoothie and wait for the train to go by. As soon as they know the train is coming soon, they frantically pack away your chairs and tell you to push up against the wall. This definitely scared me as I didn’t know how close it was going to be!!
I think I was on the side of the train that had more room, probably an arms length away from the train, but on the other side, people were pushed up against the wall with only a smidgen of room between them and the train!
How to get to ´Train Street`:
Try and get a city map before you leave your hotel/hostel. Most of them will provide you with a free one and circle out the main places you should go (i.e. women´s museum, Vietnamese history museum, Hao Lo Prison – check out my blog on these places, they were amazing!).
The ´train street´as many people refer to it, is in-between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thin street, which is in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. There are a few streets you could go to, some less populated that others, but you´ll know the main one by the amount of houses catering to tourists with their smoothie and coffee shops, and seating outside for you to wait for the train to arrive.
A handy tool for when you don’t have Wifi, is a free app called Maps.me. You can download maps before leaving your hotel/hostel, and use them offline all day. Of course there´s also Google Maps, offline.
Before the train arrived:
Before the train arrived, there were several people, ourselves included, taking selfies on the tracks and photographing the beautiful and quaint street. Generations of families were playing on the tracks, cooking, sitting and enjoying the tourist presence, and posing for pictures!
I couldn’t imagine living in such a place where everything I did would end up on Instagram! The majority of people respected the locals when they told us to squeeze against the wall, although there was one woman who jumped back out to take ´the perfect selfie´…silly woman!
Once we survived:
When the train went past it was SUCH a rush! We were standing right next to the tracks of a train, so close you could touch it, and everyone was taking videos and photos of the train passing through! After it had passed through, everyone was filled with smiles, and you could tell the adrenaline was pumping as everyone let out a sigh of relief that they were alive! The seats came back out and we sat back down and finished our coffees, not that we needed anymore energy after that adrenaline rush, though!
Contrary to what some blogs have noted, there are actually more than 2 trains a day. I believe it was around 5 trains a day during the week, and 7 during the weekend. It is best during the day as there is enough light to catch a nice photo!
This place is a MUST if you´re in Hanoi, it was such great fun and a very differnt, exhilarating experience! The pictures really don’t do it justice, you have to come and see for yourself!!