Hanoi closes Instagram hotspot 'Train Street' over safety concerns

Tourists take photos at a barrier keeping them out of "Train Street". Only a few months after the reopening of the selfie hotspot, the authorities have closed the sight again. — Photo: Chris Humphrey/dpa

HANOI: Authorities in Hanoi have shut down one of the city’s best-known tourist landmarks over safety concerns, after a South Korean tourist was hit by a train on the selfie hotspot known as ”Train Street”.

Described as a “near tragedy” in local media reports, the tourist reportedly slipped through a safety barrier to take a photo before colliding with a slow-moving train. The person reportedly got up and left the area without major injuries.

On the approximately 200-metre thoroughfare, locomotives thunder down a railway line that runs perilously close to residential buildings, many of which have been turned into cafes, bars and souvenir stores.

The incident comes after Vietnamese authorities shut down cafes along the famous tourist destination on September 15, and erected police barriers to prevent selfie-snapping tourists from visiting.

Many tourists remained unaware of the latest closure, and have continued to crowd around police barriers in the area to catch a glimpse of a passing train.

Lewis Hales, from Britain, told dpa he was disappointed about the closure: “I’ve come to Hanoi. I just drove out to see it just now. I didn’t know it was closed... I thought you could sit next to it and get a coffee and obviously this guy yelled me off the tracks.”

”I see the logic,” Hales said. “It does seem dangerous.”

The thrill of watching trains rumble past mere inches away – or posing for Instagram shots on the tracks – had transformed the area into a social media sensation, with hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting the hotspot in 2018 and 2019.

In October 2019, the Vietnamese authorities abruptly closed the tourist attraction, citing overtourism and the threat to human life for the closure.

Yet the area had seen a resurgence in recent months, with international tourists trickling back into the country as Vietnam reopened following the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2019, the Southeast Asian nation welcomed 18 million international arrivals, whereas in the first nine months of 2022, just over 1.4 million foreign tourists entered the country.

Nguyen Van Long, a 51-year-old cafe owner, told dpa in August that the government did not officially allow the area to reopen.

”Three or four months ago, we reopened the cafes ourselves,” he said. ”After Covid, we struggled. The people here have to make a living, we have to go on.” – dpa

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