Hanoi Must See: The Railway Street

Are you going to Hanoi? Looking for places to visit? There is one hidden place you shouldn’t miss. The crazy street, where trains pass just next to peoples’ doors. We think this is one of the TOP things to see in the Vietnamese capital. Check out our exclusive gallery!!

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Old house in Hanoi

I still had all the crazy scenes from Hanoi streets in front of my eyes, when I tried to fall asleep. Motorbikes and the unbelievable loads they carry, great smelling food, old ladies pushing bikes covered with flowers, always stylish and elegant locals drinking super strong coffee while sitting on funny small chairs and… endless honking.

But there was one street where it’s quiet. Instead motorbikes and cars, just a few trains pass by every day. You’ll hear a long hoot and the locals will rush to collect their laundry, tea tables and chairs or a huge pot of boiling soup. They’ll let the train go through and then they’ll immediately come back to their work. As if nothing would have happened.

The Hanoi Railway Street
There is just enough space for pedestrians and occasional motorbike in the street. Even so, you can still find here some street restaurants, and a small grocery store.

I did take a train through this railway street when I went to the northern part of Vietnam. But when I came back to shoot some pictures of the passing train, they just closed it for a few days because of some railway works.

But there were still many things to see and photograph. So now, I’ll take you for a short walk from the Hanoi train station gate to a long steel bridge over the Red River.

People sitting near Hanoi Railway
As everywhere in Hanoi, people are sitting on the small plastic chairs in this street. They drink tea or coffee, chat and watch the life around.

I walked with my friend Tomas, and we were both very surprised that we didn’t meet almost any tourists. Even the locals looked much friendlier than in the rest of Hanoi city centre.

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People walking between railway and houses
A long causeway towards the bridge starts here. Houses are just on one side of the railway and also the number of people and animals on the tracks decreases.

People grow here herbs, vegetables and even mandarines. Every piece of land has to be used. As everywhere in Hanoi, people are sitting on the small plastic chairs in this street. They drink tea or coffee, chat and watch the life around.

Smiling girl in Hanoi train street
They have to cross the tracks on their way to the bathroom. This girl was a bit shy in the first moment, but she changed her mind after a while, and she was happy to be a model for some shots.
Old houses on both side of railway street in Hanoi
Colourful houses, colourful clothing, colourful birds… One could feel here like in a village, not in the middle of a huge city. But I think most of the Hanoi feels more like a village. That’s why I like it so much.

Food is another opportunity to sit in front of the house and watch what’s going on around. What do they eat? Mostly rice noodles prepared in hundreds different ways. Always delicious.

People eat near the railway

Red flashing lights or a simple bar wouldn’t work here. Vietnamese wouldn’t wait until the slow train finishes crossing the road. They need a solid piece of fence to block the entire road.

Small shop on the street
They often don’t take off their helmet. Especially when they have a small shop on their motorbike. It takes them 2 minutes to pack it, and they can immediately move to a place with the most customers.
Graffiti just next to the railway tracks
Graffiti is becoming popular in Vietnam. The community is still subtle, but you can find some nice pieces of art here. Some of them are just next to the railway tracks.
Manual reparing the railway
Even this rails need to be changed from time to time. Despite the fact Vietnamese workers don’t have any of the automatic machines we use, they can repair the railway surprisingly fast.
Ga Long Bien, a small train station with view of the steel bridge over the Red River
Ga Long Bien: a small station where you can board trains heading to the north. You can see the steel bridge over the Red River in the background of this picture.

Besides the railway, there are asphalt roads on both sides of the bridge and a narrow sidewalk. You can cross it on a motorbike or foot, but be prepared for an experience full of adrenaline. As I wrote in the beginning, streets in Hanoi are insane.

Hanoi's steel bridge over Red River
The everyday smog in Hanoi is one of the worst in the world. There is not much cars or factories. The biggest problem is literally millions of motorbikes.

Traffic in Hanoi

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While waiting for a train, I met this nice man with an elegant hat. I commended the hat and asked for a picture. We didn’t understand each other a word, but never mind, it somehow worked.

Man with hat on the bridge

The train, finally. It had one locomotive in the front, and the other was ready in the rear to pull the train back. There was no other way to change the direction because the tracks between Ga Long Bien and the central station were still closed. I have to come back to shoot a train going trough the narrow railway street.

Train going trough the bridge