Hanoi should not be remembered by its ‘Train Street’

Hanoi needs to be remembered for its cultural values, not risky experiences like sitting in coffee shops on the so-called “Train Street.”

First of all, the street came to be purely by chance. It violates traffic safety rules, endangers tourists and directly impacts the lives of locals living along the rail track, which runs through five of the most populous wards in the capital.

The railway safety corridor is supposed to be three meters in Vietnam, but here most homes are only around two meters from the track.

I understand that people have lived here for years, since before traffic or railway safety laws even came into effect. It means this problem cannot be resolved so easily. And then, the coffee shops enter the equation.

People who want to keep the coffee shops say they are a “unique tourism product of Hanoi.” But these shops only provide livelihoods for a small number of people. Hanoi is not going to get richer thanks to those small but risky shops, and its image as a tourist destination cannot depend on pictures and videos taken by daredevils risking their lives by taking selfies on the rail track.

No matter how “unique” those coffee shops might be, they are not a cultural experience. Tourists need to remember Hanoi for its culture and people, not risky experiences.

We cannot risk lives to meet some people’s criteria of fun.

To turn a blind eye also means encouraging law-breaking behaviors.