VIETNAM. Train’s Street Cafes in Hanoi reopen

Packed cafes along Hanoi’s picturesque single-line railway tracks have reopened after a prolonged covid closure, raising hopes that the area will once again attract visitors to what was once a tourist hotspot.

Hanoi’s municipal government and other authorities have implicitly approved the reopening to boost local tourism affected by the pandemic. With the increase in tourists along the “train route”, the area is starting to revive after a hiatus of about three years, reports Nikkei.

According to Vietnamese media, cafes started opening along the tracks around 2017. The 300-meter stretch has many old and picturesque houses and businesses that were built more than 100 years ago when Vietnam was a French colony.

Since then, the landscape has changed dramatically, as residents have turned their homes into trendy cafes and souvenir shops.

Commercial operations are only a meter from the tracks and there are no fences or guardrails. After pictures of the area appeared on social media, tourists started flocking to the area. Many local tours now include a stop.

After the effects of covid 2019, the authorities forced companies to shut down operations. With the exhaustion of local and foreign tourism, many cafes have been forced to close their operations.

But things changed after that Vietnam has reopened to international tourism in mid-March for the first time in about two years. The Covid-testing requirements for arrivals in Vietnam were later removed, and as foreign travelers began to show up around April, cafes slowly reopened. The number of trains dropped to around five per weekday due to the health crisis, with few passes during the day. In addition, the cafe owners have become more security conscious. Hanoi’s city office and other authorities are now allowing visitors to enter the area, locals confirmed.

The number of tourists – especially those from the US and Europe – has increased since June.

Hanoi has few tourism resources compared to Da Nang, a tourist city in central Vietnam, and the southern commercial center of Ho Chi Minh City. There is therefore no guarantee that tourists will return to Hanoi even when the covid-19 crisis ends.

Maddalena Ingrao

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