Traveling the length of Vietnam will keep you busy with waterfalls, hikes and every possible active adventure you can think of, especially if you’re doing it all by motorbike like we did. If you’re anything like us though, eventually you’ll need a day or two to hit up some solid wifi, indulge in a smooth beverage and enjoy it all in some cold A/C to unwind. We’ve compiled a shortlist of cafes in Vietnam that were our absolute favourite spots to catch up with the outside world – and feed Jen’s addiction to Vietnam’s ultra strong coffee!
Those crazy pics of motorcyclists clogging streets shoulder to shoulder as far as the eye can see are more often than not of Ho Chi Minh City. And yet, in the middle of all chaos exists Tram Cafe, a sublime cross between a zen garden and a Balinese resort that will make you completely forget about the bustle of the city, even if only for an hour or few. Once past its heavy wooden doors, you’ll be mesmerized by this sanctuary of trickling waterfalls, bubbling rivers, dangling lanterns and lush greenery. Indoor rooms are air-conditioned and reminisce of the velvety first-class cabins of locomotives from the 19th century. Or embrace the garden ambiance from a breezy patio. Wooden treehouse-like tea rooms are connected by an elevated bridge or cobblestone paths crossing the in-house river, while vines drape the balcony railings. Yes, the menu is pricey for Vietnam but still affordable for those backed by stronger currencies. English may be a bit of a struggle but it’s still completely worth a visit to this little hidden gem.
MUST TRY: Chocolate Vietnamese Coffee
Map to Cafe Trầm:
The tourist districts of Saigon have a lot of grub and drink to offer, but inflated prices and deflated flavours can drain your wallet and cheat your palate. Wander over to District 1 to find a whole block of street-based food shacks offering up various tasty southern Vietnamese dishes for peanuts. Once you destroy an entrée, hop over next door to Chè Nguyên Hương, a spic n span shop with legit desserts, an English-speaking owner, and outdoor streetfront seating that makes for a perfect perch for people watching. Treat yourself to some delectable Kem Dừa Nướng Thai Lan (see below), a smorgasbord of coconut ice cream, jellies, fruit and freshly shaved coconut.
MUST TRY: Kem Dừa Nướng Thái Lan
Map to Chè Nguyên Hương:
“Enjoy the silence” at this picturesque cafe with a heart. The employees are hearing and/or speech impaired, so you communicate using blocks with words on them or via a notepad, rather than vocally. The interior section resembles an old Chinese apothecary’s shop while an outdoor veranda allows you to sit amongst a mini garden. Your beverages and snacks are served on a gilded tea set fit for Persian royalty. It truly was an inspiring experience.
Map to Reaching Out Teahouse:
Ninh Binh is a sleepy little town best known for its boat tours amongst the magnificent limestone cliff formations of the region. Tucked away into its small city center is a little cafe gorgeously adorned with massive murals of classic locomotive motifs, glass tables propped up on tractor tires, and a uniquely delicious concoction: the egg coffee. Whisked with raw egg yolk and condensed milk, its custard-like consistency is so smooth and so rich, you’ll be left wondering why you never even heard about it before.
MUST TRY: Egg Coffee
Map to Tu Tu Coffee:
Here’s your chance to transport yourself into Sherlock Holmes’ study! It’s practically a 2-story multilingual library wrapped around a single coffee serving counter, with an enforced rule of strictly quiet conversation allowed. It’s the perfect spot to strike up a quiet conversation with a fellow intellectual or silently get lost in one of the many texts on the shelves. The must try at this cafe is the Tiramisu Ice blended with actual pieces of tiramisu cake. It was SO unbelievably good that after demolishing one, Barun tried his hardest to scrounge the last bit of Vietnamese Dong we had for another but unfortunately it was our last day in Vietnam and needed our last bit of Vietnamese Dong to make our way to Lao.
MUST TRY: Tiramisu Ice Blended
Map to Tranquil Coffee and Books:
Within walking distance of Da Nang’s pristine beach is a little oasis known as Cloud Garden Cafe. The outdoor seating lets you admire the intricately-designed koi fish pond that wraps around the grounds, while a garden brings colour and fresh air to the environs. The interior is well-furnished and the staff are quite accommodating, whipping up delicious mango shakes and even offering free lattes for us to try.
Directions to Cloud Garden: