“Hanoi has a lot of lovely and charming cafés, but each of them has a unique style and their own charm.” – One of my foreign friends has that short “conclusion” after being recommended some cafés by me, a virtual Hanoian who deeply understand the style of foreign visitors, what they would love to experience in the busy city, what they are looking for in the chaotic but authentic oriental society. Below is the list of 6 unique cafés which, to me, are the must-tries in your Vietnam tours. They have totally different in ideas, concepts and styles, but all of them are worth to be dropped in at least once during your Hanoi trips.
(Photo: Puku Cafe)
Puku Café is the favourite address for a lot of expats and visitors then they are in Hanoi. This is called the most, helpful, convenient and friendliest café shop for the “guests” of Hanoi. The café is located in the center of Tong Duy Tan Street foods, the most convenient location in the old quarters, perfect for a night café after enjoying your dinner at a local street food or a chic restaurant nearby. It has different indoor and outdoor space for optional choices of different travellers.
(Photo: Pho Co Cafe)
The Café is very simple but attract a lot of visitors when they are in Hanoi. It’s because not only it is located on the most popular street (Hang Gai) with an excellent view to Hoan Kiem Lake but also has its own charm of Vietnamese ancient architecture. Once you visit the café, you will be surprised that it keeps a truly ancient house as well as its soul inside. It’s “an adventure” to explore the café, there’s only a tiny alley leading into the café from a small gallery. It’s quite hard to see the way to reach the café as its front side looks like a normal gallery until you discover the tiny entrance. Passing the tiny alley is a big surprise. It turns out to be a typical long house in the Old Quarter (some long enough to connect 2 streets). This is a shared house of different families, which you can recognize while you look into each room aside, most of them look narrow and full of ancient furniture with sophisticated wooden carvings and black-white photos from the last century on the walls. The courtyard of the café is quite large in comparison with the tiny space of the Old Quarter. The house is made mostly by wood and keeps their original looks of the ancient Hanoi with a secret mezzanine for worshipping and a charming intermediate landing. The high and steep staircase leads visitors to the next floors, which are added later for business and don’t have ancient beauty anymore but offers a stunning view over Hoan Kiem Lake. The narrow and dark alley turns out to lead us to the great open air. Just some rustic stools are enough to keep it busy all day. The view of Hoan Kiem lake is so stunning, worth to try.
This is a lovely gift that Hanoi prepares especially for French visitors. At La Place café, people find a romantic French corner amidst a bustle Hanoi. The owner might understand the French’s soul so much that he creates a perfect space that is “very France”. Nestled into a small charming lane next to Hanoi’s Cathedral, La Place is where both locals and visitors hide in quietness, overlook the ancient cathedral and observe the energetic Hanoi’s Old Quarter. La Place in dark colour tone is a cozy stop during the cold winter of Hanoi, where you find the similarity between French culture and the new Vietnamese trend in a strange but interesting harmony
(Photo by Hanoi Social Club)
Like its name “Hanoi Social Club”, the bar and café is not only where you enjoy drinks but also where you meet the locals, other international travelers and get to know about the Hanoi’s spirit. Located in a small quiet street in the Old Quarter, this café is an oasis in busy Hanoi. Set in a beautiful period French building, the owners have created a cozy, retro style that's very welcoming. The interior has a slightly decrepit colonial feel bringing modern aesthetic while retaining its French charm and avoiding the over polish so prevalent in other Hanoi bars.
(Photo by Cộng Café 35A Nguyen Huu Huan)
This is where you experience real Vietnamese coffee taste and meet interesting Vietnamese people. Cộng Café is where nostalgia and memories of old days meet an on-trend, inspirational, quirky design and friendly service. Their quality-focused artisan coffee shop is a great place to drink/eat/work in a homey, unique Hanoian atmosphere. Cộng (which means Viet Cong in Vietnamese) recalls the socialist era with humor and parody with its bare brick walls, dark wood handmade tables, propaganda posters and slight militaristic hint. Best for … nau da/ café sua da (iced milk coffee) / den nong (hot black) / sua chua (coffee with yogurt) or cot dua (with frozen coconut)
Photo by Nola Café
A charming vintage café hides in the second floor of an old house in Old Quarter, keeping the secret charm of Hanoi, the only city in the world is home to many tiny cafés “suspended” on old buildings. Nola Café is a lovely place for visitors to explore Hanoi in their own way. Stumbled upon a small alley in Ma May Street, you will encounter a cool little café in your way to hunt the treasure out hidden behind the hustle and buzz of the main roads. Step inside and you will discover three floors of artfully decorated and quirkily laid out café chill-out, a small courtyard in the centre full of sunshine, a cool roof seating area covered by pretty colourful umbrellas.