Your Guide to Saigon’s Coffee Scene: 15 Must-Visit Ho Chi Minh Cafés

Your Guide to Saigon’s Coffee Scene: 15 Must-Visit Ho Chi Minh Cafés

In this city, caffeine and creative flair belong together.

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly the famed Saigon, is steeped in a lot of modern historic significance, as shown through its monuments, museums, and countless tourist attractions.  Juxtaposed with this is the city’s dynamic youthful side, strewn with restaurants of various cuisines, vibrant nightlife, impressive buildings, and contemporary café concepts. 

In most countries, food is one of the must-dos for full cultural immersion. But in Vietnam, local coffee and cuisine come as something like a package deal. As the second-largest coffee producing country in the world, it has made quite a mark on global coffee culture. Known for its rich flavour and intense caffeine, Vietnamese coffee makes for a formidable rival to Western speciality coffee. In fact, it’s so strong that a cup or two would be enough to keep you going through the day (yes, even for those with high caffeine tolerance). 

Whether you’re planning to read alone, hang out with your travel buddies, people-watch, or even talk to some of the locals — all while sipping on good coffee — we’ve got some recos for you! Fair warning: be ready to leave your heart in these picturesque Ho Chi Minh cafés. 

1. L’Usine Dong Khoi

L’Usine is quite the must-visit, not only for having one of the best coffee in Saigon but also for their perfectly curated retail area. The latter features a selection of clothes, jewellery, homeware, and all-natural food products. They also have an art gallery that features different works every month by young creatives. Every so often, L’Usine hosts art and fashion exhibits showcasing foreign and local creative talent. 

It has several locations all over Ho Chi Minh, but if you have time to visit just one, then head over to the Dong Khoi branch. It’s housed in a restored French Colonial building, and once inside, you’ll find a chic space well-lit by fairy lights and sunlight from the arched windows. Opt for a table at the balcony, which offers a view of the majestic Saigon Opera House from across the street. As you enjoy your coffee and brunch, you’ll feel like you were transported to an outdoor café along the streets of Paris or New York. 

2. Boo Coffee (The Cafe Apartment)

True to its name, The Cafe Apartment is a converted nine-storey building that now houses numerous cafés, fashion boutiques, and bookstores. It’s popular among young locals and tourists alike for the rundown look that makes it a ‘hidden gem’ of sorts. 

To get to Boo Coffee, you’ll either have to climb nine flights of stairs or take the old elevator. (We don’t recommend the latter if you’re claustrophobic though!) Everything about this Ho Chi Minh café is eccentric, from the interior to the coffee placed in skull-shaped glasses. Their signature cotton candy coffee is a must-try! Meanwhile, the balcony offers sweeping views of the District 1 skyline and the Saigon River

3. Thinker & Dreamer  (The Cafe Apartment)

Arguably the most popular coffee shop in The Cafe Apartment complex is Thinker & Dreamer. In a nutshell, it embodies the mid-2010s Instagram aesthetic: crisp, minimalist, light neutral colours, and tropical greenery. 

The terrace corridor leading to the entrance is dotted with lush tropical plants. Walk inside and you’ll find dominantly white and beige/wood interiors, giving the place an artistic studio feel. This is further accentuated by suitcases, typewriters, vinyl record players, and design magazines. It’s easy to see why this is a hotspot for the creative-slash-hipster crowd. From its menu, try out the Coffee of Mr Thinker, their house special milk coffee with a secret recipe!

4. I.d Cafe

Despite being located in the busy District 3, I.d Cafe is a calm oasis amidst the bustle of downtown Ho Chi Minh. It’s a favourite workspace among expats and local entrepreneurs, with its cosy couches, bright retro-inspired interior, and quiet jazz music. The serene ambience is ideal for those looking for a quiet time. And to some, I.d Cafe even makes for a good hideout for writers and/or readers. 

If you want to take a break from touring the nearby attractions (like the War Remnants Museums), this is the place to be. Enjoy some classic Vietnamese iced coffee, paired with their signature I.d sticky rice — cooked with fresh coconut and corn, with a side of grilled meat. 

5. Cà Phê Đỗ Phủ

Immerse yourself in both Saigon coffee culture and history at Cà Phê Đỗ Phủ. At first glance, it appears to be the usual quirky vintage-themed café. But if you ask the locals about it, you’ll find out that it used to be the home of a Viet Cong supporter. In fact, it’s even a stop on several Saigon motorbike tours for its significance during the Vietnam War. You can also visit the café on your own and ask the staff for an informal tour.

One of its most interesting features is the underground bunker, which used to be the secret meeting place and hideout for Viet Cong members. You’ll find stocks of old weapons and uniforms. Around the café, there are even ladders and passageways that used to be escape routes during the insurgency. Definitely not something you’d see in your regular neighbourhood café. 

6. Maison Marou Saigon

More than just coffee, the main event in Maison Marou is actually chocolate. It’s operated by the same founders of Marou, an award-winning Vietnamese chocolatier. So you can bet that you can take in everything you want to learn about chocolate. Aside from a café and pâtisserie, it also features a bean-to-bar factory. 

The outside of Maison Marou looks like something straight out of a Wes Anderson film. From the Art Deco elements, bright colours, to the symmetry and even the chocolate bar packaging. From the menu, some of the must-tries are the Marou Mocha (for that caffeine kick) and the best-selling Signature Marou. And since the Marou brand is partly French, you can expect the pastry selection to be truly mouthwatering.

7. Shin Coffee

Shin Coffee specialises in local and international coffee beans, as well as the Japanese pour-over method. The founder, Nguyen Huu Long, spent several years in Japan, hence its heavy influence on the café’s design, methods, and menu offerings. The bar seats on the first floor are perfect if you’d like to chat up the baristas and learn a thing or two. Meanwhile, the second floor allows you to people-watch and observe the happenings below. 

While known for having one of the best coffee in Saigon, it stands out mainly for their egg coffee (known among locals as ca phe trung). In fact, Shin Coffee is one of the few Ho Chi Minh cafés that offers this local concoction. It’s composed of egg yolk whipped with condensed milk, then blended with robusta coffee. Think of it as a tiramisu — except it’s a drink and originally Vietnamese. 

8. The Coffee House Signature

This flagship store of The Coffee House, a popular Saigon coffee chain, makes for a good contender against Starbucks Reserve stores from other parts of the globe. But unlike most global coffee chains, The Coffee House sources all their beans locally. 

With its relaxing but industrial ambience, it’s no wonder you’ll find many students and remote workers here. Its floor-to-ceiling windows fill the interior with much needed natural light. Opt for a seat near the large glass frames for a view of the neighbourhood below. In fact, this place was designed to be a warm and friendly neighbourhood café, but bigger and more spacious. 

9. The Workshop

The Workshop is one of the pioneers of the city’s third-wave coffee culture. With its large selection of coffee beans and brewing styles, it’s truly a coffee connoisseur’s heaven. The atmosphere is both hip and functional, with its exposed brickwork, hanging overhead lamps, and minimalist elements. It’s quite reminiscent of a stylish Melbourne café.

A definite must-try on their menu is the cold brew latte. It’s part-slow-steeped coffee, part-Vietnamese iced coffee, and definitely unlike any other coffee you’ve had before. Aside from speciality coffee, The Workshop also takes its design and branding quite seriously. From the menu to the various signages, every design is well-thought-out to further set the brand apart from the flock. 

10. The Loft Cafe Ly Tu Trong 

This charming Ho Chi Minh café is known for its iconic analogue clock-window. If you’ve stumbled upon an Instagram post featuring a big window clock, chances are that’s The Loft Cafe in Ly Tu Trong street. At the entrance, you’ll find an alleyway-slash-gallery of paintings and drawings by local artists. Go up the spiral staircase, then turn to the right corridor, and voila — you’ve arrived! 

Inside, the interiors are of an elegant colonial design, with white brick walls, marble tables, and wrought iron chairs. Hung on the walls are black and white photographs of Saigon during the old days. One would also notice a subtle Alice in Wonderland vibe going on, thanks to the clock window and the birdcages used for lighting fixtures. From the menu, try out their Vietnamese iced coffee paired with one of their yummy cheesecakes. 

11. Càfê RuNam

It’s a well-known fact that Vietnam used to be a French colony, and here in Càfê RuNam, French and Vietnamese elements go hand in hand. Not many Ho Chi Minh cafés can pull off perfectly combining French glamour and Vietnamese tradition, from the interiors to the menu offerings. But Càfê RuNam definitely makes it look easy. 

The name ‘RuNam’ literally translates to ‘lullaby of Vietnam,’ and this café is definitely the epitome of dreamy. Locals recommend coming here for breakfast: pair your Vietnamese hot coffee with their best-selling banh mi sandwiches. Opt for a seat at the terrace upstairs, which has whimsical foliage on the walls. From the posh décor, food, and coffee techniques, it’s hard not to fall in love with this place. 

12. Bosgaurus Coffee Roasters

This multi-storey café is housed in a French-style mansion facing the Saigon River. Located in the affluent part of the bayfront area, you’ll find an abundance of stately townhouses. The inside, however, is designed quite differently from other Ho Chi Minh cafés that are normally warm and cosy. It’s designed to resemble a ‘coffee laboratory,’ with its frameless glass walls, steel furniture, and dominantly grey and white colour scheme. This minimalism drives visitors to focus mainly on their coffee. 

Bosgaurus Coffee Roasters is also one of the only Saigon speciality coffee shops that serve traditional coffee with Arabica beans (instead of the usual robusta). If the café’s cutting-edge concept isn’t enough to convince you, then maybe a (possible) chat with the country’s top barista will. In fact, one of the baristas was the titleholder during the 2016 Vietnam Barista Championships. 

13. The Vintage Emporium Thao Dien

Tall windows allow natural light to fill the inside of The Vintage Emporium for most of the day. While the branch along Thao Dien street is open throughout the day, the best time to go is in the morning, especially if you want to avoid the so-called Instagram crowd. Yes — it’s that popular, and for good reason. 

Set inside a lovely French villa, it’s renowned for its idyllic setting and hearty breakfasts. It has two gorgeous terraces: one in the entrance, and another at the back along with a swimming pool. The menu offerings, combined with Art Deco elements, make for Instagram-worthy content. Come for the picturesque venue, stay for the scrumptious dishes paired with classic Vietnamese coffee. 

14. Kokois

Image credit: Kokois Instagram Page

Kokois is a café, bistro, and concept store all rolled into one. It’s set inside a converted warehouse, with alfresco seating at the front and a garden at the back. Enjoy an afternoon of sifting through artsy gifts, home décor items, and clothes and accessories by up-and-coming designers. 

Afterwards, sit back and enjoy your coffee along with one of their fuss-free Vietnamese specialities. Their bo luc lac (seared cubed steak) is a savoury bestseller. If you’re lucky, you might come across a workshop, exhibition, or party being hosted here! Kokois is located in the millennial-centric street of Thao Dien, so you’re likely to find Saigon’s young crowd of foodies and art/style enthusiasts here. 

15. Café Terrace

Café Terrace transports you to the magical fairytale garden of your childhood dreams. You’d be surprised that it’s actually inside the busy Saigon Centre. Come here to escape the humid weather or take a coffee break post-shopping. Upon entering, you’ll be greeted by lush foliage, woodland-like elements, and dangling lights.

Giant birdcage-like balconies, which make for a more intimate setting, hover along the mezzanine floor. Whether or not Café Terrace was really named after the famous Van Gogh painting is yet to be confirmed. But one thing’s for sure — it exudes the same dreamy allure that’s hard to come by outside the realm of art and literature. 

Also read: 15 Countries With a Coffee Culture Worth Travelling For

It’s no wonder that many foreign coffee chains face stiff competition from homegrown Ho Chi Minh cafés. With the prevalence of artisanal coffee shops that offer great ambience and impressive menu offerings, Ho Chi Mihn is definitely a must-visit for every coffee lover. If you’ve been to another interesting café during your visit here, tell us about it! We’d love to hear your story. Ready to explore this city with a caffeine kick? 

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.

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