Why you must go to the Café Apartment in Ho Chi Minh City

I have to admit. After traveling around in Vietnam for almost one month, I can’t really say that Ho Chi Minh City is my favourite city. But I also discovered some hidden gems that made my visit to this big, bustling city, more pleasant. I learnt that coffee shops exist in abundance and that the best ones are usually found in the most unexpected places. I also discovered the incredible “Café Apartment”, which is one of the most interesting architectural sights in the city. It’s located in Nguyen Hue Walking Street and it’ll be impossible for you to miss it. It certainly stands out in the crowd amongst the modern buildings. This famous landmark in Ho Chi Minh City has a ton of cafés, boutique shops and workshops which you can explore for half a day.

The history of the Café Apartment

The apartment block was built in the mid 1960s but has since been through many changes. Before it became a hip meeting place, it was home to American military officers and high ranking officials who were working for the South Vietnam government. But when the war ended, the construction changed and the tenants started to illegally rent out their apartments, which is one of the reasons why there’s so many shops there now. But this could change, since many of the businesses gets notices of eviction.

Exploring Café Apartment

It might look a bit shady in the beginning, but once you start climbing the stairs, you’ll notice the small boutiques on every floor and the various cafés. Each store is unique and is worth visiting, so don’t go to just one, but make sure you have the time to enter all of them. You might find something you didn’t know you were looking for! There’s no layout so it might take a while to find the exact store you’re looking for, so the best thing to do is to find out which floor your store is so you don’t get lost. Although the block itself isn’t very big, it can get frustrating if you can’t find what you’re looking for and have to go back and forth.

The Maker: The best café?

There’s over 30 businesses inside Cafe Apartment so you can be sure to find something good here. There’s plenty of beautiful cafés, but one that stands out in the crowd is The Maker. It’s an industrial chic café that’s very popular amongst the young crowd. If you come here, you’ll most likely see people sitting on their laptops working or studying. The café is very cozy, has a good ambiance and the staff are very friendly. Not to mention the coffee! All of this makes The Maker my favourite coffee shop, and if you ask locals, they might agree. It is a bit on the pricey side, but you can also sit here for a long time and work, so you get good value for your money.

Other notable shops

A must-visit is “The E.Y.E” shop, where you can either design your own tote bags or buy the already printed ones. The tote bag is the perfect replacement for all your plastic bags and it also looks chic. The prints are fun, fashionable and the owner is incredibly friendly and helpful.

Another store is “lapin”, which has a very minimalistic style and sells beautiful clothes for a good price. It’s always more fun to shop in a more local boutique than in the chain stores. It’s also good to support local businesses.

And if The Maker isn’t a café in your style, perhaps you will enjoy Mango Tree. Or why not both! The café has tons of desserts which will satisfy your sweet tooth. When you’re there, you should try their mango shaved ice cream – it’s divine!

Don’t forget to apply for a visa!

Once you’ve decided that you’re going to Vietnam, you must remember to apply for a Vietnam visa in order to enter the country. You can either apply for a visa online, which is the most popular way to acquire a Vietnam visa, or you can go to your nearest Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. If you want to do it online, you can either get a Visa on Arrival or apply for an E-Visa. The latter is only available for certain countries though, so getting a Visa on Arrival is usually the best option. You only need a computer and internet, fill out the form, send it, and wait for the visa which usually comes within a few days. If you need it even earlier, you can always apply for an Emergency visa, which usually arrives within 48 hours.