After Hanoi closed coffee shops along its iconic Train Street and put up barriers to prevent tourists’ entry, many foreigners displayed frustration.
Australian tourist Anna Coleman visited Train Street in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter on Thursday night but could not go in due to the barricades put up by police.
“I felt a bit disappointed. The train street is very interesting. We do not have anything like this at home,” Coleman told VnExpress International.
“It’s a great tourist attraction that could be managed better to remain open. Businesses are forced to shut which seems unfair.”
Coleman was one of many foreign tourists that have shown their disappointment after Hanoi authorities decided to shut down coffee shops and selfie hotspots along Train Street as a safety measure.
David Gecewicz from Singapore who visited Train Street in July also felt sad to hear that coffee shops here would be closed by the end of this weekend.
“It’s a cultural landmark and it’s one of the key reasons we made Hanoi the first choice in Vietnam,” David said.
“The coffee shop owner was very mindful of safety and reminded us to move back within the shelter area when trains came through. I saw all coffee shop owners doing this,” he said of his last visit.
Hanoi Train Street, where trains run along a track just inches away from homes and businesses alongside Dien Bien Phu and Phung Hung, has long been one of the most popular tourist sites in Hanoi and an Instagrammable tourist hotspot.
Due to safety reasons, Hanoi authorities announced coffee shops along the street will be closed by this weekend and have their business licenses revoked to ensure safety.
Nguyen Anh Quan, vice chairman of Hoan Kiem District, said local authorities would work with relevant agencies to develop tourism along the Train Street but the business must comply with railway safety regulations.
Tourism insiders do not think the street should be closed off entirely.
Mai Anh, the owner of a cafe on the street, said: “Business household owners in the area have completely complied with railway safety regulations. When the trains were about to come, we always reminded tourists to move out of the tracks to ensure safety.”
Nguyen Tien Dat, director of Hanoi-based travel agency AZA Travel, said that business activities along both sides of the train street have existed for a long time.
Dat proposed to build fences in front of cafes and install warning lights to turn the train street into a safe tourist destination.
Train streets have long existed in Asia and become tourist gems.
In Thailand, Maeklong Market that spreads over 100 meters along the railway near Mae Klong Railway Station has become a famous tourist attraction with trains running at a fixed time.
Shifen Old Streets in Taiwan is famous for its collection of lanes and alleys in and around the Shifen railway station area.