Aug 24 2011
One thing’s for sure, Saigon loves its coffee. You can find a café on any given block in the city — more than likely, there will be more than one. Like most major cities, Ho Chi Minh City has its fair share of chain coffee houses, such as Highlands Coffee and Coffee Bean, but you may want to find a spot that’s more than just air-con and average coffee. So, after the rigorous trial of hopping from café to cafe, here is what I consider the best cafés in Saigon.
A 15-minute trip from District 1 as the motorbike drives, Up Café is the most unique café in the city. Customers are head over heels for this relatively new café that literally turned everything upside down. Here you’ll find a creative design that has you drinking your coffee on the ceiling while pianos or dining sets sit overhead. Even the outside is designed to look like a house sitting on its roof. Up is definitely a fresh take on a café and the talk of the town. Oh, and the coffee is good too.
If we were judging based solely on taste, the winner in my book would be Kita Café. Here you will find great food to go along with great coffee. The sandwiches are tasty, as are the house-made scones, and if you’re not in the mood for coffee they have delicious smoothies. But Kita doesn’t just have a outstanding menu, the café itself oozes with charm — the busy city outside will melt away while you’re tucked inside.
For a feel good cup of coffee in the backpacker district, I’d recommend Sozo Café. Here the owners employ local, disadvantaged families and give them an opportunity to earn a living and learn a trade. You’ll always get service with a smile here, but be patient as some of the employees are still in training. Feeling good has never tasted this great, as the coffee and cookies here are among the best in Saigon.
Tucked away on the second floor of an easy to miss building on Ly Tu Trong, La Fenetre Soleil has Saigon’s best café atmosphere. A French styled café with dark floors and big windows, this is a favourite spot for local expats. Decorated with an elegant chandelier and plush mismatched furniture, the laidback mood that La Fenetre evokes makes this a café I could, and do, spend hours in. Making long stays easier is the top-notch coffee.
Although I’m partial to quaint cafés, if I’m truly being honest my favourite café in the city is probably 50 metres outside my front door. If you truly want to taste great Saigon café sua da, the best spot to get it is from any of the many street vendors selling it on the side of the road. They may not have air-conditioning, or internet, or walls, but they have the art of making Vietnamese coffee down to a science. Grab a small red stool and sit roadside or get it to go; priced at between 7,000 and 15,000 VND makes it cheap enough that you could even get a cup of coffee on your way to get a cup of coffee.
Want more? For some more cafe pictures go here.
269 Nguyen Trong Tuyen Street, District Phu Nhuan, Saigon
T: (08) 2845 2155
Open daily 07:00-23:00
39-41 Nguyen Hue, D1, Saigon
T: (08) 3821 6799
Open daily 07:30-22:00
La Fenetre Soleil
2nd floor, 44 Ly Tu Trong St, D1 (corner of Pasteur St), Saigon
T: (08) 3824 5994
Open daily 11:30-1900 (cafe)/19:00-24:00 (bar)
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