Hanoi Railway Street, famous for its makeshift cafes along the railway tracks, stretches about two kilometers from Le Duan Street through Tran Phu, Cua Dong and Phung Hung Streets in the heart of the Old Quarter of the capital.
While part of the street was blocked last September for security reasons, another part between Tran Phu and Dien Bien Phu streets is not and foreign tourists have continued to visit cafes in the area to watch the train move.
On the morning of August 28, crowds of tourists were seen in the Phung Hung section of Train Street, drinking coffee and walking along the train tracks to take photos.
The main entrances to Phung Hung on Train Street are guarded by one or two civil defense personnel. But cafe owners openly invite customers and inform them of other ways to enter the area without going through the guards.
So, despite the ban, activities along Train Street have continued to operate normally for several months now.
Travel agencies always organize tours for foreigners to visit Train Street.
Some tourist groups were transported to a level crossing on Tran Phu Street in the Hang Bong district where the train passes, causing heavy traffic jams, posing a high risk of traffic accidents and putting pressure on the railway guards.
Phan Dinh Hue, director of tourism company Vietcircle, said it was “impossible” to ban tourism along the railway street, as evidenced by the many travelers who still visit the site despite its closure.
Therefore, Hanoi should consider developing the area as a tourist attraction and selling entry tickets to visitors, he said. Besides, the number of visitors on the street during the day should also be limited to avoid causing inconvenience when the train arrives, he added.
“Companies must also pay to maintain security forces and must comply with rail security regulations,” Hue said.
Nguyen Tien Dat, general manager of Hanoi-based tour operator AZA Travel, also believes opening the railway would be a good way to boost tourism in Hanoi.
Dat said he has always had a relationship with Train Street since he lived on Hang Bong Street as a child.
His memory of the old train street was that it was a “smelly, dangerous and a little neglected” place. But since family businesses have opened cafes along the railway line, the area has completely changed, and this is a positive sign brought by tourism.
“I think it is necessary to pilot the opening of the railway. Business households are still operating, but with a lack of management, which is even more dangerous,” Dat said.
Nguyen Cong Hoan, general manager of Hanoi-based Flamingo Redtours, said the “rail cafe” is “new and interesting” and should be developed to attract international tourists.
“Relevant parties should sit down together to think about measures to ensure safety. If they find them unsatisfactory, they should ban them altogether,” Hoan suggested.
“If there is a ban, Hanoi needs to think about how many households will be affected by the decision. They have invested so much, who will support them if the decision is banned?” » Hoan said.
For many international tourists, Train Street is a unique destination, unparalleled anywhere in the world. Some said it was “hard to understand” when Rail Street was banned.
Byron, an Australian tourist who visited Train Street on August 28, called the place “unique” and said he had never seen anything like it anywhere in the world.
The tourist hoped that the government would soon make Train Street a safe destination. Byron and his group of friends refused invitations to “secretly enter” from cafe owners, fearing they would be scammed.
Daisy Hayer-Markos, a Dutch tourist, said the train street is a particular attraction for foreigners.
Most foreigners comply with the cafe owners’ instructions as soon as the trains arrive, she said. There is therefore “nothing dangerous” or good reason to ban such a tourist attraction, according to Daisy.
Evaluna Perez Guillen, an Italian tourist, said Train Street is one of the favorite destinations for European travelers in Hanoi.
“It’s a unique destination in Vietnam, I’ve never seen anything like it. This district will help Vietnam attract a large number of tourists from all over the world,” she said.
Railway streets have long existed in Asia and are often tourist gems.
In Thailand, Maeklong Market, which stretches over 100 meters along the railway line near Mae Klong Station, has become a famous tourist attraction with trains running at fixed times.
The old streets of Shifen in Taiwan are famous for their collection of alleys and alleys in and around the Shifen Station area.