Your mindset totally changes after you’ve lived somewhere for a while.
A year ago, my opinion on Saigon’s cafes was:
“I can’t possibly visit every cafe in this city.”
Today, I feel a bit different:
“I can’t possibly visit every cafe in the city, and I might not even find all the great ones.”
Cataloging the city’s coffee joints is a never-ending task. You think you’ve cleared out an entire district, then months later a whole new crop of cafes has sprouted up in every nook and cranny.
Imagine clearing a large city from a zombie infestation, except the zombies are coffee shops, you drink them instead of shooting them in the head, and the only sickness you’ll contract via fluid exchange is tachycardia.
Exactly like a zombie apocalypse.
Address: 92 Trần Huy Liệu, Phú Nhuận District • Show me!
Iced Coffee: 37k VND/$1.65 Smoking: Yes Hours: 7 am to 11 pm Contact: 08 62 539 777
That’s the best way to describe Nen Cafe.
This cafe is so spread out that it has two parking lots. While I was chasing Nen’s resident puppy around its expansive grounds, I started to wonder whether I’d entered an entirely different cafe.
Multiple indoor areas, live music at night, waterfalls, babbling brooks, birds, dogs…it’s not a far cry from Versailles in its heyday.
I’ll keep you updated when the next wild boar hunt takes place.
Nen Cafe sells all the typical cafe drinks with one exception—vegetable juice.
I don’t much care for vegetables, but this is one of the only places I can remember seeing cucumber juice in Vietnam. I once ordered some at a smoothie stand, but was quickly rebuffed—cucumbers are for garnishing, not drinking.
Right now I’m enjoying a cucumber/lemon/mint juice, and it’s pretty damn good.
Let me know how long it takes for the puppy to warm up to you. He’s skittish.
Address: 2A Trương Quốc Dung, Phú Nhuận District • Show me!
Iced Coffee: 34k VND/$1.51 Smoking: Yes Hours: 7 am to 10:30 pm Contact: 08 38 446 755
View Cafe is another one of my all-time favorites.
If you didn’t know any better, you might show up here randomly. You’d see the tables and chairs on the first floor. You’d think:
“Hm, well I suppose this is a nice view of the street. I guess.”
You’d call it a day and, disappointed, head back to your hotel.
But you know better, because I’m telling you that the main cafe is upstairs on the 10th floor.
Stumble past the wobbly steps to the first floor and hang a left into the elevator. Punch the button for the 10th floor (it’s easy, because it’s your only destination).
When the doors open—on the opposite side, by the way, so don’t get caught scratching your ass—you’ll enter into a rooftop oasis from the city’s heat.
Yeah, it’s not that high. But the view is still pretty impressive, and the breeze up there combined with the shade is enough to make outdoor lounging at high noon almost tolerable.
Plus, you can see your entire kingdom from the roof; whatever the sun touches belongs to you.
Address: 48/9A Hồ Biểu Chánh, Phú Nhuận District • Show me!
Iced Coffee: 42k VND/$1.87 Smoking: Outside Hours: 7 am to 10 pm Contact: 08 38 443 054
Another garden cafe nestled away between the dense buildings in Phu Nhuan, Du Mien wins my yearly award for “Cafe With The Most Plastic Deer.”
Like most garden cafes, this one features multiple fountains, waterfalls and artificial streams.
The WiFi is strong, the music is non-intrusive, and being buried in a double-alley reduces noise from the city to about zero.
Good place to get work done or take a thousand pictures of your smoothie while it melts.
Know any awesome cafes I haven’t covered yet? Think the ones on this list pale in comparison to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? Let me know in the comments below!