There is a spot in the old quarter of Hanoi where the tracks run through an area of homes, cafes and shops. Children play on the tracks and dogs walk down them. And a few times a day, the train barrels through! Until October 2019 tourists flocked onto the tracks to wait for the train. On October 6, the train had to be rerouted because the authorities couldn't get the tourists off the tracks in time and on October 12 the government banned tourists from them altogether. That doesn't mean you can't get close; we were fortunate to be able to experience this phenomenon - "up close and personal"!
You can see how close we were able to get!
There's a Hanoi police officer stationed at the track who tries to keep tourists off it. When he saw that I took a picture of him he came over to talk to me. I though he was going to tell me to erase the photo, but he was interested to know where we were from and we had a nice conversation. He spoke good English which he said he learned from tourists!
Heeeeere it comes!
Yes, we were this close!
The video...watch the train come through.
It's a little unclear as to exactly what times or how many times per day the train passes. We heard three times per day, including at 3:30 p.m. which is when we saw it, but we returned a few days later at 3:30 so we could experience it again, only to be told that the train wasn't scheduled at that time on that day. We were so happy that we were able to experience it; it was just one more thing that made Hanoi so interesting!
Read more about Hanoi in our post One Week in Hanoi, City of Contrasts.
➜ Top Tips
Beware of your surroundings; the train comes through at a fairly high speed!
Don't hesitate to ask the police officer questions; the two we saw were happy to talk to tourists.
Enjoy this unique experience!