Hanoi Again Directs Tour Operators to Cease Operations in Railway Zones

Despite the ongoing public health restrictions, Hanoi's railway streets remain popular with both domestic and international tourists.

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Hanoi authorities issued a directive on April 4, asking local travel agencies to refrain from sending visitors to neighborhoods along the railway in the inner districts of Ba Dinh and Hoan Kiem. The directive is intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of both locals and tourists.

Foreign visitors enjoy coffee and beverage along the railway that crosses Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District. Photo: Hoai Nam/The Hanoi Times

To ensure the safety of visitors, especially foreign visitors, the Hanoi Department of Tourism has strictly forbidden travel agencies from arranging trips to the so-called “railway café streets”. This measure has been taken to ensure visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience while visiting the city.

The tourism department has asked businesses to inform their customers to refrain from visiting, taking pictures, or consuming food or drinks in restricted areas.

The Bureau of Railway Safety also advised all companies and organizations to strictly adhere to the laws and regulations governing railway safety.

The department’s inspection department will address any violations. They will ensure that all content adheres to the necessary standards.

The streets have become well-known as “railway café streets”. These streets are lined with cafes, bars, and restaurants, where people can sip a cup of coffee or tea while watching trains slowly pass by. The atmosphere is unique and it has become a popular attraction in the city.

In Hanoi, the “railway café streets” have become a popular attraction, where people can relax and enjoy a drink while watching trains pass by. Situated in Hoan Kiem and Ba Dinh districts, the railroads cross Hang Bong, Tran Phu, and Dien Bien Phu streets, which are lined with numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants. People can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while observing the trains moving slowly along the tracks, creating a unique and peaceful atmosphere.

The first foreign visitors to the Railway Streets arrived in the early 2000s. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that the first coffee shops opened their doors. Following their promotion in the international media in 2019, tourists flocked to the Railway Streets in droves.

At the end of 2019, all commercial operations on the railroad were brought to a halt due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as the tourist industry reactivated in 2020 and 2021, the railway coffee shops have once again become bustling hubs of activity.

In mid-September 2022, the Hoan Kiem District People’s Committee issued a ban on all private businesses along the railway. According to Nguyen Anh Quan, the district’s deputy chairman, the prohibition was implemented in order to ensure the safety of both local and foreign tourists who may be drawn to the area. The move is expected to provide a more secure and pleasant experience for those who come to enjoy the sites.

The ban was initially effective, but as authorities relaxed enforcement, local coffee shops welcomed visitors secretly.

Through local media and reports from residents, local authorities have acknowledged that many tourists have flocked to Hang Bong Ward’s Railway Street to take photographs. Nguyen Hong Minh, the Deputy Director of the Hanoi Tourism Department, commented on this.

Many people use buses to congregate at Barrier No. 5, resulting in traffic congestion and posing a risk of road accidents, according to him.