Vietnam’s Instagram-famous ‘train street’ is being closed to tourists

Oct 10, 2019

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In Vietnam’s ancient capital city, Hanoi, authorities are shutting down dozens of cafes that flank the tracks of a centuries-old railway in the Old Quarter.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that local officials have “set a weekend deadline for the removal” of the cafes surrounding the railroad because of serious safety concerns.

According to CNN, Ha Van Sieu — the vice chairman of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism — told reporters during a press briefing: “Though the railway cafes attract tourists, they are, in fact, violating some regulations.”

And on Sunday, a train had to make an emergency stop to avoid hitting tourists. The following day, the cafes were ordered to close by Saturday, Oct. 12, and on Thursday, barricades were erected to keep selfie-snapping travelers off the tracks. Signs warning passerby about the “dangerous area” and urging visitors not to take either photos or videos were also installed on Thursday, according to The Guardian.

The scene at the admittedly very Instagrammable train street has become frenetic and increasingly dangerous. It’s a huge draw for tourists, who flock to take photos of the train as it squeezes through the narrow corridor. Vendors hawk goods on the track, while visitors congregate on the rails to take photos.

Hanoi’s train street is hardly the only attraction in Vietnam suffering from overtourism. Three hours east of the city, in Ha Long Bay, the turquoise waters are filled with junk boats and kayakers, and polluted waters have become a serious concern.

In June, the World Tourism and Travel Council and real-estate company Jones Lang LaSalle analyzed 50 cities across the globe, and identified seven destinations where rapidly-increasing tourism could cause serious issues in the next decade. Among then? Vietnam, specifically Ho Chi Minh City. And Vietnam received 12.87 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of 2019, Reuters reported — up nearly 11% from last year.

Featured photo by MeogiaPhoto/Getty Images.

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