Since the Hanoi authorities recently barricaded ‘Train Street,’ stopping anyone but residents from wandering down the tracks, many photo-seeking tourists have been at a loss. The previously internationally-famed rail line was a popular spot for visitors to Hanoi, eager to see the train pass close by cafes, houses, shops and themselves. For safety reasons, this came to an end last month, leaving many disappointed. But if you are looking for a place to safely watch the train coming in and out of the city, Serein Cafe & Lounge offers a solution.
Serein lies a kilometre and a half away from Hanoi Train Street, on Tran Nhat Duat, near Dong Xuan Market. Spanning several floors, including two outdoor roof terraces, customers have a perfect vista over Long Bien Bridge and the railway station, as well as hectic Yen Phu.
The bar is mainly populated by young locals who appreciate the backdrop for its opportunity to take dramatic selfies. At times, the terraces can seem more like the location for a photo shoot than a place to relax. This is for good reason, though: the historic bridge connecting Hoan Kiem and Long Bien districts of Hanoi, designed by French architects Daydé & Pillé, is a beloved icon of the city.
“If you are looking for somewhere to watch the train, Serein Cafe & Lounge is great, with its popularity among westerners sure to rise. ”
If you can get a table on the edge of the terrace, you will be rewarded with a treat of a view. Whether you get to see the train or not (when I asked for the train times, Serein were not able to tell me), you will certainly witness some impressive scenes. The colonial bridge itself is used by trundling trains on the rails, whilst mopeds, bicycles, and pedestrians looking for photo opportunities share the outer lanes. Cars, prohibited from using the bridge, fill the wide street below, meaning Serein is the perfect place to observe the eccentricities of Hanoi traffic.
Customers visiting the cafe can choose between a range of beverages, including Vietnamese or Italian coffees (66,000-95,000 VND), mocktails (120,000 VND) and popular cocktails such as margaritas, mojitos and martinis (all priced at around 140,000 VND). Food choices are limited, but fries and cookies are available if you need to satisfy your hunger. And let’s be honest, who does not like fries or cookies?
If you are looking for somewhere to watch the train, Serein Cafe & Lounge is great, with its popularity among westerners sure to rise. That being said, the views over the city – both in the day and when the streets and bridge become illuminated at night – are worth a visit, whether you are interested in the train or not.
And why not make an evening of it? On Saturday nights after the sun sets, Serein hosts live music from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Usually Vietnamese music, this offers tourists and residents the opportunity to sit back and enjoy some local tunes, alongside the cacophony of the beeping horns below.
16 Trần Nhật Duật, Đồng Xuân, Hoàn Kiếm
9 a.m.- 11 p.m. every day