Vietnam Tripping: 3 Cafes You Must Visit in Hanoi

July 14, 2015

 

The Hanoi Social Club

 

It wasn’t until my trip to Seoul last December with my BFF Alexis that cafe hopping really became a thing for me. This time, visiting northern Hanoi for the first time, I thought I’d check out a few cafes that many people had recommended online, either for their coffee, food or ambience. I must say that all you internet folks have been really kind – all the 3 cafes I ended up visiting were really cool!

 

To save you time sifting through the net space and looking up reviews separately, I’ve combined my reviews of the 3 best cafes in Hanoi here. I hope you’ll find this useful, and that you’ll check them out like I did.

 

{Click on the tabs below to reveal my reviews for the individual cafes.}

 

The Hanoi Social Club

The Hanoi Social Club.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

 

The Hanoi Social Club was our first stop the moment we reached Hanoi. I had heard nice things about the food and the decor of the place, apart from the fact that the owners were Australian. It’s located at 6 Hoi Vu | Hoan KiemHanoi 84Vietnam and has a certificate of excellence on Tripadvisor.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

A nice, cosy place for individuals or groups of people. You can even set up your laptop and work here in the day.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

Just sit back, relax and enjoy your iced egg coffee.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

I love those fairy lights.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

Little details make all the difference.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

The burgers are huge, so big eaters, you’ll be happy here.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

The waitress recommended us an African cappuccino and we weren’t disappointed with it. In case you were wondering why the table looks different from the one before, we changed seats just for fun.

 

You could head upstairs too, if you like, and that’s what we did. On the top floor is an open air verandah, where you can sit and chat with friends if you guys would like some fresh air. It’s not air conditioned, though, so if you can’t tolerate the heat like me, I’d recommend staying on the first floor.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

A little counter on the top floor.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

Lovely setting for groups.

 

The Hanoi Social Club

Yes, you’re in the right place.

 

I’d say drop by if you have the time. Although it isn’t exactly Vietnamese in terms of the interior and food, go for the coffee and cosy atmosphere if you can, and maybe pick a book or two off the shelves for an afternoon read.

 

The next cafe you should visit is Cafe Pho Co:

 

Caphe Pho Co Hanoi

The view of the cafe from the top floor of Caphe Pho Co.

 

Cafe Pho Co

 

Cafe Pho Co is a very tiny cafe that goes upwards instead of sideways. To find it can be a bit tricky, especially if you aren’t used to the way buildings are constructed in Hanoi. It’s located at 11 Hang Gai, Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam and also has a certificate of excellence on Tripadvisor. If you’re just walking around shopping along the streets of Hang Gai, you might unknowingly pass it by. Just remember, 11 Hang Gai.

 

Caphe Pho Co Hanoi

First, you need to pass through this tiny, unlit passageway.

 

Caphe Pho Co Hanoi

And after that, you’ll see something that looks like someone’s backyard. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not but it sure looks rustic enough.

 

Once you get here, place your order at the counter on the left, and then head upstairs via the steep steps on the right. If you need the restroom, it’s located under this flight of steps but you might need to bring your own toilet paper. Climbing up the stairs, plus a spiral staircase (which can only take one person at a time), and then another flight of steps will take you to the very top.

 

Caphe Pho Co Hanoi

Heading up the steps with such pretty lanterns.

 

Caphe Pho Co Hanoi

On the way up.

 

It’s really something, this cafe. There’s nothing luxurious about it but the quirky decor more than makes up for the lack of fancy mugs or five-star comfort. I could spend an entire hour or so just admiring the knick knacks propped up everywhere. You have to climb all the way up to the fourth floor if you want a nice view of the lake in the city centre, but there is an air conditioned room one floor below that if you can’t take the heat (and if there is space).

 

Caphe Pho Co Hanoi

An iced egg coffee and pineapple juice.

 

We spent some time at the top floor that afternoon. Although my makeup was melting from all the heat, it was nice to just be able to sit down under the shade with some iced beverage. The iced egg coffee was good, just the way we expected it to be and I recommend it to everyone heading here.

 

The final cafe you need to check out the next time you’re in Hanoi is Cong Caphe:

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

Cong Caphe sells their own coffee too, and it might be worth a buy as a souvenir.

 

Cong Caphe

 

Cong Caphe is definitely a cafe with character. It has several outlets throughout Hanoi, including one just opposite the cathedral in the French Quarter, but the one you should visit is the one at the start of the famed coffee street (35B Nguyen Huu Huan, Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam).

 

Like the other good cafes in Hanoi – and the rest of Vietnam, I would suppose – the coffee here is thick and full of flavour. We ordered a normal cup of iced coffee with milk and a juice and had a good time chilling out on the second floor.

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

The moment you enter, you’ll step into a tiny counter with staff wearing uniforms that look very military.

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

Random bottles for sale.

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

Old photos of Vietnam from eons ago decorate the cafe.

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

Such narrow steps! Only one person can walk through this space at a time.

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

A little corner near the stairs that really takes you back to history – without the air conditioning remote controls.

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

The interior of the cafe that I fell in love with. You can choose to sit on chairs or just cross your legs on the platform.

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

On the second level where it was more crowded.

 

Cong Caphe Hanoi

On the top floor, which wasn’t open yet as the lower floors still had space. The staff was kind enough to let us poke around in here for a bit.

 

The inspiration for Cong Caphe is undoubtedly the Viet Cong, as seen by the communist themed decorations (and the name of the café). The walls are made pock-marked and rugged-looking, as if there was no time to place tiles over the cement as it dried. The seats are wooden and simple, matched with bright red cushions. It’s air conditioned but with the doors and windows open, all you feel is just a little respite from the heat outside. If you aren’t a fan of chairs, you can also plop yourself on one of the cushions on the floor around a table and have your cuppa like how they used to do it in the good old days.

 

If you do drop by this branch, it would be nice to spend some time checking out the bits and pieces of props all over the place, such as the old-school green metal boxes that act as makeshift tables and pictures that show the history of Vietnam. They also sell their own coffee beans, which you can buy as a souvenir for loved ones back home. Just don’t be surprised when someone in military wear approaches you for your order when you enter the cafe or when you pay before you leave.

 

Drink up,

Roxanne

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