As Vietnam’s unofficial coffee hub, Ho Chi Minh City is chock-a-block with cafes ranging from wonderful to downright bizarre. We tackle the latter in our round-up of the city’s weirdest cafes!
Ho Chi Minh City prides itself on its vibrant and energetic urban culture. Head-and-shoulders more vividly boisterous than its traditional northern sister-city, Hanoi, the southern metropolis is all glitz and glam and the “next big thing” – just ask the trendy twenty-something locals.
Those twenty-somethings are the same demographic driving forward Ho Chi Minh City’s newest craze – the coffee shop. Not to be outdone by their Asian counterparts in Korea and Japan, though, Ho Chi Minh City’s most creative folks are pulling out all the stops in their cafe creations. After all – why have coffee when you can have coffee and a show?
Enter the new breed of Saigon cafe: the weird, the wonderful and the effortless entertaining. From cats to wizards to time-travelling hideaways, these are my top picks for the strangest cafes you’ll find in this incredible Asian city.
Ba Cay Choi Cafe (Three Brooms Town Cafe)
141 Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan District
Few literary phenomenons have caught on around the world quite like Harry Potter. But in Vietnam, the world of Hogwarts escaped the page and found itself serving coffee and lunch. Located in the heart of “cafe district” Phu Nhuan, the facade of Ba Cay Choi Cafe is something right off of Diagon Alley, and beyond its doors are three themed floors that serve both coffee and food. The location was originally designed as a space for children’s birthday parties, but has become popular with dreamers of all ages.
284C Nguyen Trong Tuyen, Phu Nhuan District
Dog people beware — Ailu Cafe is strictly for the feline inclined. The two-story cafe has a floor dedicated to the resident cats that call the cafe home, with two “shifts” of cats that roam the premises while patrons sip lattes and Americanos. Doubling as both a cafe and as a safe haven for abandoned felines, the owner put the two together, establishing Ailu as a favourite oddball locale for cat and coffee lovers.
269 Nguyen Trong Tuyen, Phu Nhuan District
Some cafes turn the stereotype of the quiet cafe right on its head — and for this coffee joint, its taken to doing so quite literally. Here, you might have a hard time focusing on your latte while a mirror image of the cafe is hanging precariously overhead. Complete with tables, chairs and even chandeliers, Up Cafe is a charmingly topsy-turvy experience that will make the mid-day coffee break that little bit more interesting.
58C Tran Quoc Thao, District 3
For those that can find it — the entrance is marked only with a flickering candle in the window, and no sign — there’s something truly intriguing about Era Cafe’s dimly lit interior. Inspired by what feels like the mysterious bowels of a pirate ship, Era Cafe is curiously quiet and peaceful despite its location in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. For a momentary departure from the hustle and bustle, Era Cafe is a perfect stop for a warm brew.
Note: We like to stay up-to-date as much as we can. Sometimes, Ho Chi Minh City’s best cafes close (despite Buffalo Tours’ best efforts!). If you spot one of these cafes that’s no longer operating, let us know in the comments and we will update our list!