The railway cafe street in Hanoi on August 13, 2023

An, a traveler from HCM City, took a 10-day trip to Hanoi in late July. One of her must-see destinations was the railway café street which begins at Tran Phu street and ends on Phung Hung street in the central district of Hoan Kiem.

“I read in the newspaper that the railway coffee street was closed for safety reasons. However, I heard that travelers still find a way to get inside. Local café owners, who understand every alley there, are the guides,” she said.

When An came to the street, she met a woman who introduced herself as the owner of a café and promised that she could lead her to the cafes on the street. An followed the woman and went through the checkpoints at the two ends of the street.

However, An found that the street had been separated into two sections. One section has two kinds of houses, mostly used for coffee houses, located in front of each other. The houses are on videos that she had seen on social networks. The other section only has one row of houses, with fewer visitors.

“The two sections were separated by a signboard that said  ‘stop’, put in the middle of the track.  When I said I wanted to go to the area with two rows of houses, the café owner said if I tried to get there, I would be caught by the police. I saw many people sitting there and taking pictures,” An recalled.

An was persistent but the café owner who led An to the café street showed her dissatisfaction and said "get out of my sight".

After that, An met another café owner and An followed her, going from a small alley from Tran Phu street to get into the area with the two rows of houses.

“The area with two rows of houses is very bustling, full of visitors, especially foreign travelers. The landscape was wonderful, just like a Hoi An miniature. I didn’t think it was dangerous on the railway café street, because I just sat inside the café and enjoyed the landscape outside,” An said.

She posted a video of her experience on Hanoi’s railway café street. The video attracted half a million of viewers and 600 comments. Many people said they had been insulted and driven away as they didn’t want to use the services of the cafes who acted as "tour guides".

Quang Minh