Food, Travel

Secret train streets in Hanoi?

23 Feb , 2019  

Visit Dec 2018

Hanoi, a city of many past names, was originally known as Long Biên (
“dragon edge”) during the CHinese ccupation. Long Biên Bridge, built during French colonial time just happened to be the highlight of my recent revisit to Hanoi.

I’ve long had a love affair with Vietnam. It is the incredible variety of fresh food and flavours and originally the Chaos. But this love affair is over – it was never a love affair with Hanoi anyway, more Saigon. Perhaps my increasing years spend in sleepy Laos have made my desire for hectic street life wane.

Oh how I miss you Bun Cha (my favourite Vietnamese food)

I’ve been to Hanoi a handful of times. This trip was to visit friends, and check in to the dentist and check out with some glasses. I added a few extra days on to get a rest from that hectic life in Laos so what to do.

Fishing on the river as I walk to the dentist

Halong Bay is a got it once only type of ordeal, as is Ninh Binh and Sapa. I checked the National Park but that was more corporate retreat territory and some locals and expats concurred there was not much else terrible interesting to do. So I stayed in Hanoi and discovered new places.

Hanoi Train Street

A stone’s throw for my hotel I came across a residential street that a speeding train passes straight through twice a day. It was pure coincidence, imagine my surprise. The street is narrow and is littered with funky cafes. Residents have to make sure everything is put away before the train comes.

Hanoi Police Museum

With so much spare time I set out to discover sights in town I’d not visited before. I wanted to see Hỏa Lò Prison and on the way was the Police Museum. Not expecting much I was surprised it was in an interesting and specious building. and gives a chronological history about Hanoi’s police force. It was certainly worth the visit, was free and a great escape from the street for a while.


Hỏa Lò Prison

Hỏa Lò Prison used by the French colonists was hell for political prisoners. Conditions were very poor. It was known as the Hanoi Hilton by American POWs. It was demolished in the 1990’s but the gate and some buildings remain, enough to get an idea about how dreadful it was to be imprisoned here.

Traditional Vietnamese Savory Rice Cakes

It was time for some street food and nearby was this place on the corner next to a shop stacked with used tires with a man sitting out the front in a small blue plastic stool talking on the phone.

Tuk tuk driver

This is how I felt after lunch and is a common sight around the city. How wonderful to be able to sleep on the job.


One end of Long Biên Bridge, Hanoi

One of the highlights of my time was making it to the Long Biên Bridge. I’d never heard about it before until I was looking at mas to see where I could go. It wasn’t a far walk through the local markets past the tourist night market street. Build in 1899 by ovr 3000 Vietnamese, the bridge was long and never seemed to end at 2.4 KM.

Only half of the bridge retains its original shape from the war. A project is currently in progress to restore the bridge to its original appearance.

I enjoyed some nice food and a bit of quiet time. I did end up working some days and I played some pool in the evening. I got my glasses and dental check. I changed my ticket and cut my time short and I was pleased to land back in quiet and dusty little Luang Prabang, Laos.

However, 2 months later as I now write, I now long to visit again, there is something intoxicating about Vietnam I just can’t shake.

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1 Response

  1. Dad says:

    Interesting times had by all ,sounds like you had a good times.

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