Vietnam's Train Street cafes ordered shut, selfie fines proposed – New Zealand Herald

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Tourists have been turfed out from the French Indochina tracks of Hanoi's Train Street. Photo / Dave Weatherall, Unsplash
Hanoi’s “train street” has been cleared of restaurants after a crackdown on the risky dining district.
The 100-metre stretch of cafes along the narrow-gauge railway became one of the Vietnamese capital’s top attractions. Tourists could drink cups of sweet Vietnamese coffee at one of the businesses that sprang up along the rails – inches away from oncoming trains.
The narrow corridor for the northern line out of Hanoi railway station barely had room for the carriages and passengers to share the tracks. City’s authorities cited health and safety laws, saying it was time for the tourist busiesses to make way.
Choo Choo Coffee, the Railway Cafe and other popular selfie-spots were given until this weekend to shut up shop.
This isn’t the first time the street was shut down.
Business on the tracks were officially closed in 2019 – but some had sneakily reopened their shutters hoping to cash in on the reopening of the country to international visitors.
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The old French Indochina Railway is a bit of rolling history, used by colonial traders and is still run by the communist state-owned rail service. The death-defying proximity of cafes became a popular spot for photographers and tourists.
Selfies from the train tracks with its colourful, overgrown cafe fronts and casually parked mopeds were a must for visiting tourists. 40,000 photos show the #TrainStreet on instagram.
From this weekend the authorities finally cracked down on visitors and businesses for “violating railway safety rules”.
On Friday a length of the train track in central Hanoi was barricaded by police, shutting out foot traffic.
Most of the buildings and businesses were there far before Vietnam passed its Law on Road and the Law on Railway Safety in 1990 reported local news outlet Việt Nam News, and they had been allowed to stay in place until now.
Others said it wasn’t the cafes at fault but photo chasers, taking risks to get photos of train traffic on the narrow street. Vietnam Railway Corporation suggested that tourists filming or taking photos on the rail pass should be fined.
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