There’s something chaotic yet strangely beautiful about the existence of Hanoi’s famous Train Street.
This part of the extensive railway built by the French in 1902 is lined by houses, cafes, and little shops on each side. And as a train approaches, business owners hurriedly retrieve their modest set-ups by the tracks, only to return them once the train has rumbled past.
This quirky concept made it a tourist magnet in recent years, attracting throngs and throngs of visitors each day. They’d sit down at the storefront facing the tracks for some coffee or beer and snacks, while some would just click what seems like a chockfull of Insta-worthy pictures.
But as of October 12, this lively scene is no more.
Earlier this month, a train traveling through Hanoi was forced to re-route as the tracks were crowded by tourists. This was the tipping point of the municipal government of Hanoi.
That’s when they ultimately decided to keep the Train Street off-limits to tourists and to shut down all the businesses thriving in the area to put an end to an issue that’s been raising a lot of concerns for some time already.
Officially, authorities cite danger to human life as the main reason why they ordered the establishments to close. Moreover, Ha Van Sieu, vice chairman of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, also said in a press briefing that the railway cafes are also “violating some regulations.” Although he did not mention the specifics.
Today, Hanoi’s Train Street lacks its usual spirit. But if it’s for the safety of locals and tourists, perhaps, it is all for the best.