Coffee Culture, Travel Guides, Vietnam

The Cafe Scene of Vietnam

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!

1. Cafe Trầm / Ho Chi Minh

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:

2. Chè Nguyên Hương / Ho Chi Minh

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:

 

3. Reaching out Teahouse / Hoi An

“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:

4. TuTu Coffee / Ninh Binh

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:

5. Tranquil Coffee and Books / Hanoi

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:

 

1. Cloud Garden / Da Nang

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:


 

We know the cafe scene is BIG and plentiful in Vietnam. Comment below with any suggestions! We’d LOVE to expand this section with in the near future with your help.

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11 Comments

  • Reply Mark Scrooby December 21, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Great read, I do love a good coffee and am always interested to try new styles in different countries. Wondering how many bad brews you had to endure whilst compiling this list? Thank you for doing the footwork for the rest of us. Will be bookmarking this if we ever get to Vietnam!

  • Reply Samantha December 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    If only I was a fan of coffee, I’d be visiting ALL of these places when I go to Vietnam in March! lol… But I’m sure they have other things other than coffee, and some of these places look so quaint and nice to just stop in and visit. Thanks for posting!

  • Reply Ana Park December 25, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    I’m not familiar with Vietnam but I find the first coffee shop inviting, by how you describe it and by the photos you posted. I would love to have some cold Vietnamese coffee in a wooden tree house. The stream is quite cool with the cobblestone paths ~ I would probably sit on one of the steps and dip my feet in the water while sipping my coffee or chatting with a friend. That is just cool!

  • Reply Jackie December 25, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    These places are beautiful! My favorite though is the first one, Cafe Tram. No offense to the other places you mentioned, but I think your write-up for that one was the best. It’s a great opportunity to escape the city’s stress, I think. 🙂

  • Reply Kate December 25, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I knew the cafe scene in Vietnam was big, but I had no idea it was so charming! Some of your spots look mega sophisticated, while others look like hidden gems. I’ll have to take a closer look through your Vietnam posts as I’d like to go there once my contract is up!

  • Reply Hedgers Abroad December 26, 2016 at 3:53 am

    These cafes look amazing! What started as a morning of vacation planning and searching the internet for inspiration has turned in a route-mapping session of Vietnamese cafes and restaurants. Thank you for your awesome post and for the incredible amount of detail you’ve included.

  • Reply Rocio Cadena December 26, 2016 at 5:31 am

    WOW, these coffee shops are super next level amazingness! I wish Korea had some that even start to resemble the ones you included in your post. I love cafes that have character, are charming and unique. That is so not the scene in Korea, where commercial chains abound. The way I look at is that if I am going to pay so much for a cup of coffee, I better get great ambiance to go with it. I would LOVE to try the Tiramisu Ice Blended coffee you suggested! Tiramisu is my fave dessert and I love coffee so omg, sounds like heaven to me.

  • Reply Izzy December 26, 2016 at 7:13 am

    This is one of my FAVORITE posts about Vietnam thus far! Actually living here, I feel like you are one of the few tourists who really gets it when it comes to exploring a place. The Reaching Out Teahouse was my favorite place in all of Hoi An! I’m going to Hanoi in a few days and will definitely be checking out the Tranquil Coffee spot! 🙂

  • Reply Nicky Kim December 26, 2016 at 11:31 am

    I am so utterly jealous!! Cafes are MY thing, I love the atmosphere and lounging around with a coffee is just bliss. Combined with that tropical weather and all that nature, it sounds like paradise. Not to mention – everything is totally Instagram worthy.
    If I HAD to choose one, I would go to ‘Cloud Garden’. Those koi fish look adorable 🙂

  • Reply Nicole Arnott December 27, 2016 at 1:00 am

    Wow, is Reaching out Cafe a community enterprise to help people with special needs? I always try to support these kinds of organisations when I can and love hearing about them. Will definitely bookmark this! That book cafe looks amazing as well!

  • Reply Karla December 27, 2016 at 3:06 am

    The coconut ice cream looks yummy! The cafe scene in Vietnam is as interesting as Korea. I really enjoy going to themed coffee shops. If ever I go to Vietnam, I’ll surely visit one of these cafes.

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