The Café Culture of Ho Chi Minh City

At first glance, Ho Chi Minh City may appear to be a bustling, urban jungle of motorbikes and traffic. A intricate web of alleys, narrow buildings and the increasing additions of new tall buildings to the skyline. Yet dig a little deeper and scratch below (or should I say above) the surface and you find a culture of cafes to escape the perpetual activity of this city life. Hidden gems are scattered throughout Ho Chi Minh City that offer an oasis of calm, coffee, and some clarity.
This city is one of choice. On one street alone you can buy the same thing in 5 different stores or have your pick of 10 restaurants. And while it isn’t the best for the ADD or indecisiveness in us, cafes are no exception to this seemingly eternal list of choices. So, I have been on a hunt, a cafe crawl you could say, to compile a list of some of this city’s best cafes. My intake of caffeine is at an all time high and I’m sure I have exhausted my instragram followers with my uploads of cappuccinos, caramel machiattos and lattes. But yet, here I am, writing about coffee as I sip a coffee in a coffee shop. Did someone say coffee?
Anyways…
It’s not like New York City here. You can’t find a Starbucks on every corner* (although you can find a Highlands Coffee or Trung Nguyen, chains that are sweeping the city with their presence). If you want a good cafe that has a bit more character than an international/national franchise, you have to put some effort into it.  If you want it all, good coffee, good atmosphere, good ambience, you gotta work for it or at least have some time and patience for exploration and discovery. So next time you pass a chain coffeehouse, keep on walking and check out one of these 10 cafes below all offering a unique experience. You won’t regret it.
i.d. Café

34D Thu Khoa Huan Street, Q1, Tel: 3822 2910

Centrally located near Ben Thanh Market, i.d offers casual café dining with a wide variety of food and beverage. It’s where modern design and a warm ambience meet for coffee. Open 7:30am-11pm.

i.d. Cafe

 La Fenetre Soleil 

135 Le Thanh Ton Q1, Tel: 3824 5994

Traverse a wooden stairwell through a discreet entrance to enter Saigon’s ultimate lounge spot with lazy chairs, exposed brick, and large windows letting in a cool breeze and nice natural light.This French, living room like, airy café offers mid-range drinks with salads and sandwiches as well as some nightly events and specials. Open 8:30am-Midnight

La Fenetre Soleil

Hoang Cafe
400 Le Van Sy, Q3
Tel: 0987377318
Tucked down a small alley, this cafe has a secluded rustic cottage feel to it. The small space, wooden decor, old windows, and dim lighting help create very cozy, romantic spot with a relaxed atmosphere to share a coffee.  The cafe also has a small stage where guests can enjoy live music performances or those daring (and talented enough) can show off their own musical skills.

Princess and the Pea

63/18 Pasteur District 1, Tel: 9070 3159

Venture through an alley and up three floors to this unique, relaxed cafe. Keep it casual with cushioned floor seating and a simple, sensibly priced menu. Music Wednesday and Friday evenings. Open 9am-11pm

Princess and the Pea

Princess and the Pea
 Café Me 

8A Luong Huu Khanh Street, Q1, Tel: 3926 2828

This picturesque coffeehouse is full of charm, providing a quiet location to relax or read from their “Borrow-A-Book Nook”. Perfect blend of coffee and creativity. Open 8am-11pm

Cafe Mé

DeciBel

79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: 6271 0115

Trendy without pretense, this two floor relaxed café offers beautiful decor and unique original events like live music, film screenings, art exhibits, and even a music trivia night. Great prices and food with daily specials and a very happy happy hour. Open 7am-midnight

The Print Room

158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 3823 4990

This second story coffeehouse down an alley offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000. Open 8am-10:30pm

The Print Room

 L’Usine

First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 6674 3565

French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L’Usine.  A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee (creeping towards the higher end) and a fashion store and an art gallery out back.  Good coffee. Good decor. Good music. Open 9am to 9pm

L'Usine

L'Usine

 Chicco Dicaff Café

213 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0902 514757

Up and coming hole-in-the-wall cafe, Chicco Dicaff serves an extensive menu of coffee, ice blended drinks, lattes and Italian sodas at very affordable prices. Delivery available and some of the friendliest staff I have come across. Open 7am to 10:30pm

Chiccos

 Phin Cafe

Tel: 0919 47 1188, www.facebook/phincafevietnam

Not your typical cafe experience. You can consider it an equivalent of drive thru coffee with cafe quality. This place may not have a home address and is nomadic in it’s style, serving coffee lovers with their quick fix from the back of a bike. Good coffee at a street price. Finding it may pose the biggest cost. Last scene at “Lunch Lady” on 23 Hoang Sa Street, Q1.

Phin Cafe Phin Cafe

Enjoy!
*Except, next month you might. It has been announced that the first Starbucks will be opening in Ho ChoMinh City quite soon!
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