Hanoi Train Street a global top attraction experiencing overtourism

By Nguyen Quy   November 21, 2019 | 05:30 am PT
Hanoi Train Street a global top attraction experiencing overtourism
For some visitors there is a thrill in standing so close to a train as it rumbles through the old-style houses. Photo by AFP/Nhac Nguyen.
The Hanoi Train Street, closed last month over safety concerns, was a top 8 destination that experienced overtourism in the last decade.

U.S. travel magazine Insider, which carried the overtourism listing, noted: "The railway was first built in the Vietnamese city in 1902 by French colonists. Over the years, cafes have cropped up alongside the tracks, but before social media it was more of a hidden gem than a tourist destination."

The Train Street is formed by railway tracks running alongside Dien Bien Phu and Phung Hung streets in the heart of the Hanoi’s Old Quarter, with residential buildings just a few feet away on either side.

With the advent of social media, especially Instagram, the world’s largest photo sharing network, the train street became a global hit, attracting hordes of selfie hunters, Insider said.

The tracks were built by the French, who used the railway to transport goods and people across Vietnam, which was then part of Indochina, along with Laos and Cambodia, more than 100 years ago. Today the original meter-gauge tracks are still a regular mode of transport for locals and tourists.

When tourists began to flock to the area to see the arresting sight of trains passing close to residences, locals saw an opportunity and set up makeshift cafés alongside the tracks, vastly increasing human traffic to the area.

The boom in visits prompted the Vietnamese government to make a debatable move, closing down the cafés along the train street and preventing the entry of tourists with barriers set up at junctions.

The Insider list also includes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the U.S., Blue Lagoon in Iceland, Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, Big Major Cay in the Bahamas, Boracay Island in the Philippines and Dubrovnik City in Croatia.

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