After nearly a decade of construction, Vietnam has unveiled its first-ever public transit system in the capital of Hanoi. Despite years of delays, the Cat Linh-Ha Dong Metro, an elevated line that links the center of the capital with the east side, became the subject of fascination in town.
The construction of the Hanoi Metro project started in 2011. Government officials are looking to improve Vietnam’s public transport system in the following years, though adequate bus routes and motorbike parking will be essential for widespread use.
The 13-kilometer line runs from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm everyday for the first phase – the first 6–month period into operation. During peak hours, Hanoi metro runs every six minutes, the four carriages holding up to 960 commuters each and traveling at around 80km per hour. Otherwise, when not in peak time, the metro is operated every 10 minutes. Passengers are all temperature checked and hand sanitizers are available outside the lobby before entering the station.
Now, two months after the service was launched, Vietnam’s first city train has already become the center of headlines — from noisy passengers to a reported lack of passengers and recently, shirtless men boarding the train as part of an advertising stunt.
Since Vietnam’s never had a mass transit system prior to the Cat Linh-Ha Dong Metro, it’s understandable that some of us may not be 100% familiar with rider etiquette. Not to worry: to make everyone’s journey smoother and more pleasant, here are 10 reminders for taking the Hanoi Metro.
1. Keep your feet on the ground.
During peak hours, the trains are rarely empty. But even when there are spare seats, you should not fold your legs on the seats or lie down. Keep your feet on the ground — literally. Putting your feet up in public transport is just unethical in every sense, not to mention you’d end up smearing dirt to other seats.
Metro trains also design seats specifically for people with disabilities. These seats could be empty sometimes, but even so, we should be considerate of those who need them. If you ride the metro with your pets, please leave them on the ground. They won’t mind!
2. Keep your legs closed.
When taking the metro, please don’t spread your legs too wide (aka manspreading)! Spreading too wide means you are taking up space from other people. Therefore, sitting with legs closed is giving other people, even yourself, the chance to enjoy the comfort of a metro ride. Do the right thing.
3. Be careful with your belongings.
The metro normally does not prohibit carrying bulky items (such as backpacks, suitcases, skateboards or folding bikes), but you should place them neatly or as close to you as possible to avoid blocking people’s paths. Bags or backpacks should not be put on the seat. It’s best to put it on your lap or as close to your feet as possible.
4. Please be courteous and respectful.
On the first day of opening service for the Cat Linh - Ha Dong metro line, a fight happened because a passenger wanted to film a video on the train. It was an unfortunate situation that could have been avoided if only everyone was respectful enough.
Refrain from filming and taking photos of others when on the train. Take selfies all you want, but make sure you don’t get other people — those you don’t personally know – in the frame. Moreover, don’t block the doors or stand in the middle of the carriage when you’re taking photos or videos.
5. Eat and drink as discreetly as possible.
Metro lines in the inner city usually have a relatively short travel time, so even if hunger strikes suddenly, please wait until you get off the train before filling your empty stomach.
But if you really must eat, avoid foods that have a strong smell that may distract other passengers. Food like durian or maybe a fish banh mi bear odors that may not be favorable to other passengers. A chocolate bar is fine, but yellow sticky rice with fried onions (xoi xeo mo hanh) is absolutely a no-no.
6. Practice basic manners.
There are things that are better done in private. So picking your nose or cutting your nails should not be done on the train or in any public place for that matter. Those are not nice and polite actions, and also not a good sight really!
7. Enjoy your music while letting others enjoy theirs.
There are tons of videos on the internet of someone freely singing or joking around in trains, with people clapping happily. However, in reality, it’s not cool. Many people, especially those who are on their way to work, take their transport time as a momentary opportunity to sit still and clear their minds. So when someone just suddenly sings out loud or plays their music on speakers, it becomes annoying. Headphones are metro essentials.
8. Be considerate when taking calls on the train.
A long phone call accompanied by a loud volume can make people around feel uncomfortable — especially in a tight space like the train.
Therefore, if there is no emergency, you should refrain from making phone calls while traveling. If you absolutely need to make a phone call, you should also speak at a moderate volume.
9. Remember the “5K” rules for health and hygiene.
COVID isn’t over, so always remember to follow the 5K message to keep you and everyone safe. (The alliteration only works in Vietnamese, but the message is universal!).
Khau trang (facemasks)
Khu khuan (disinfect)
Khoang cach (distance)
Khong tu tap (no gathering)
Khai bao y te (health declaration)
10. Avoid using the subway for publicity stunts.
The metro is also a public place. Those who dress up (or dress down) do so at their own risk. Recently, a group of young men who went shirtless to advertise a mattress brand was asked to leave the Cat Linh - Ha Dong metro train. They were also slapped with a fine of VND137 million ($6000).
Thuy An contributed to this report. Adapted by Thao Van