Firstly, definitely go to a local café in district one or three and drink cold drip coffee with ice from the side of the street or an independent cafe. This is a must try delicacy in Vietnam but it comes with a warning- it is extremely strong!
If street style coffee isn’t really your thing and you are looking for something more modern but with a twist of originality then HCM is the place! There are various coffee shops around the city that will keep you satisfied and are a great way to while away an afternoon, relaxing in an atmospheric and relaxing café. Vietnam does coffee shops and cafes like nowhere else!
1. Café 81
Café 81 is definitely worth a visit. It’s out in Binh Thanh district, right next to the canal and in a much less touristy area than District 1. Here, you probably will only see a handful of foreigners (if any) and so can get a real feel for local life.
The staff are friendly and kind and the drinks are tasty. I love their fresh orange juice which you can order without ice (for those that don’t like melted ice at the end of their drink within 5 minutes of being given it!)
The décor is super cute, with old fashioned bicycles, telephones and furniture scattered about. You can choose to sit at a cute table with a view or on one of the comfy sofas- just like home!
For me, the best part of this Café is the cats! There are numerous ginger and white cats that live around the place that are happy and well-fed and love cuddles and attention. One cat regularly jumps on my lap and requests cuddles. Probably best not to go if you don’t like cats!
2. Tram Café
Café Tram is one of my favourite places in HCM. This café is the perfect city escape. It’s in Phu Nhuan which is popular with locals and expats for its eclectic mix of independent, quirky cafes. This one has a man-made mini waterfall, stream and live, happy-looking fish, set amongst a setting of huge trees and various plants. They have large screens that they pull over when it rains so you can enjoy the outside atmosphere without getting even a splash of water on you.
You can sit and listen to the relaxing sound of running water while drinking some delicious smoothies and fruit juices. The food here is OK, but it’s the drinks and the wonderfully calming atmosphere that really make this place special.
3. The Coffee House
For those looking for a taste of “home” and a more Western style experience, The Coffee House is the place to be. It has friendly, English speaking staff and a modern, relaxed atmosphere. The coffee is more like what you would expect from a coffee shop back home (not too strong!). It’s a chain, so you will see The Coffee House cafes all over HCM city with a lot of them being in District 3 and District 1. This is great for people who don’t want to travel too far.
There is also a cute quote about friendship and coffee up on the wall which always makes me smile.
4. The Coffee Ship:
This café should be on anyone’s coffee shop must-see list. It’s again outside of the main tourist area, on the lovely canal that borders district seven and district 4. It’s built in a previously used work boat, and so you can sit on the canal (literally) with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, listening to the water lap the sides of this quaint little boat. This Café is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of HCM City life.
5. The Snap Café:
Snap Café is out in Thao Dien district, in D2. It is well worth a visit to D2 just to experience the quieter streets and the large amount of cute river-side café’s. You can choose from the highly up-market cafes and restaurants to the cute little side street cafes’ right by the river.
Snap Café is not right on the river but it’s in a quiet shopping quarter, hidden away at the back. It serves food (including a tasty potato and bacon soup with fresh bread) as well as full-flavour coffee, fresh fruit juice, milky hot chocolate and delicious smoothies.
Inside there are cute wooden tables and very comfy sofas that make you feel at home as well as various benches set outside on plastic green grass that adds to the feeling of being somewhere tranquil and relaxed. On a hot, sunny afternoon its’ the perfect place to have a coffee or a beer and feel like you’re right at home.
6. Villa Royale Antiques Tea Room
This place is not cheap but it is right in the city centre and so perfect for people craving a traditional British tea or coffee with an amazing choice of delicious cakes and slices.
All of the décor is in a traditional tea-house style, with large English decorated sofas and armchairs, tea sets and tea cups.
They have an array of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and numerous beautifully decorated vases and jars spread out across the various, cute tables.
Not only is their tea and coffee fantastic but the food is also absolutely delicious and I highly recommend trying it- although you pay for the quality.
Whatever your taste in coffee or afternoon drinks, HCMC has something for everyone both in the city centre and a little further out. Grab your visa on arrival and get exploring the Vietnam coffee scene!