“Hey have you ever tried walking around Saigon at night?”
Yes! The most recommended and safest area to be at night in Saigon is Le Thanh Ton street and the corner of Pasteur – Han Thuyen street. On the evening prior to my 20th birthday, my colleague suggested something while we were in the library doing revisions for our final exams. Her cousin had just come back from the US and couldn’t get used to the time change, so she took him for a walk on Le Thanh Ton street and dropped by Circle K to have a coffee and wait for the dawn.
And the idea dawned on me, why not celebrate my birthnight outside with a… textbook, in a 24/7 cafe in the heart of District 1? Well I’ll tell you whether doing revisions this way is efficient, but the 24/7 cafes in this city are impressive. Let’s take a look.
Thuc (means awake) is the first and the most well-known 24/7 cafe chain in Saigon. It was opened around six years ago and began the trend of nightlife coffee shops in town. Today, there are many Thucs around the city, yet the most lovely Thuc that I recommend is on Pasteur street, close to the cross street Han Thuyen. You can choose either a place inside with AC or a seat outdoors to smell the breeze.
Thuc offers many types of popular drinks with fair prices. That, with the well-designed appeal, makes Thuc a favorite workplace for students and freelancers. Its motto, “Don’t sleep at Thuc”, reminds patrons to finish their workload and to stay awake in the long Vietnamese night.
Address: 182 Pasteur Street, District 1
Website: Thuc Coffee 24/7 Facebook
Price: 30,000 VND+
Den Da Cafe
My first impression of Den Da is embodied by its motto: “To buy from Den Da is to support the domestic economy” – resembling such posters of Vietnam in the 1980’s. Den Da is home to many of my memories, most of which are sleepless nights finishing assignments.
Situated inside is a big indoor table where, when the very first sunlight touches the city, the rays shine through the transparent roof and make this table a warm and inviting place to work. Lotus Green Tea Cheesefoam is my favorite choice. From 12 AM to 7 AM, only the ground floor is open, so space is limited. Pay this cafe a visit from 4 AM to 6 AM, and see if you like witnessing the breaking dawn like I do.
Do you know what I love most about this place? It’s their beautiful quote: “Stressed spelled backward is desserts.”
Address: 182 Pasteur Street, District 1
Website: Den Da Coffee Homepage
Price: 28,000 VND+
The Coffee Factory
Although in the center of the night-cafe area, The Coffee Factory is less frequented than Den Da and Thuc. This cafe is designed in the traditional street style, with fans instead of AC, and low stools replacing comfy chairs. Don’t work here unless you only need to work with a laptop. The light inside the cafe is not bright.
The Coffee Factory, however, with its large facade view to the street, lets you enjoy a typical street coffee of Vietnam. Yet, supreme street coffee! Every three days, new fresh coffee beans are roasted at the store to ensure the quality of the bean and its flavor. If you need a pick-me-up and a rest from studying, this place is perfect for you! It is also here that you can grab a bit of typical local street food (such as fried corn, rice paper salad, toast egg, etc.) from the street vendors.
When a street cleaner passes by on the opposite side of the road with her cart, I wonder, is it because money is never enough, or because the streets are never clean, that Saigon never sleeps?
Address: 184 Bis Pasteur Street, District 1
Website: The Coffee Factory Homepage
Price: 30,000 VND+
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
When I was still living with my parents, my favorite place was The Coffee Bean. I loved the creamy topping on the ice-blended cappuccino. I often ordered this drink to unwind in the relaxing ambience. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at the corner of Pasteur – Han Thuyen street is for those people like me, somebody who wants a delicate drink and a quiet space. It is close to other night coffee shops surrounding the lovely Han Thuyen Park and the Notre Dame Cathedral, so it is good for a walk at midnight. But consider this, you might end up enjoying the night-work-life too much, and you won’t have a chance to explore the city.
Address: 27 Han Thuyen Street, District 1
Website: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Homepage
Price: 55,000 VND+
In the heart of Saigon, KAI is spacious and bright, an ideal place to kill your deadline (or to watch people killing theirs). KAI has three floors, its ground floor is small and it can only fit a barista bar. Above the ground floor, the cafe’s interior is delicately designed to bring you a comfortable and energetic environment.
Want to kill your sadness? At night, the second floor, open to the air and sounds of the city, is ideal to enjoy a hot cappuccino or a Tokyo cheesecake and watch Saigon as it closes its aged doors. The city is changing gradually, many places are broken down or built-up into high-end towers, but these special few buildings slowly dress up into lovely spaces with trees and lights.
Address: 139 Nguyen Thai Binh Street, District 1
Website: Kai Coffee Facebook
Price: 25,000 VND – 50,000 VND
Uncle Ba Coffee
Having never closed for the last 60 years, this might be the oldest 24/7 cafe in Saigon. But it is not located in the city center. This cafe has retained the oldest brewing style in Vietnam, which is to filter with a net. Water is boiled on a stove burning with dried wood, and the coffee is then kept hot on a coal stove. People can run a business for the sake of money or fame, but to run a small cafe non-stop (even during Tet) for over 60 years, must mean that Mr. Ba and his wife consider this a lot more than just a business. If you are a culture explorer, I bet this will be your favorite spot of sleepless Saigon.
Address: Alley 330 Phan Dinh Phung Street, Phu Nhuan District
Price: 15,000 VND
Opera Tea Club
While Thuc encourages you to stay awake during your coffee time, the Opera Tea Club lets you fall asleep if you are too tired in the middle of your assignment. Like many other 24/7 cafes, this tea house has a big table with bright lights where you can enjoy working on your revisions and assignments. Though I hope you don’t take your assignments along with you during your travels, this is a place you can drop by for a short sleep if you happen to visit the city too early to check-in, or if you leave the city too late after checking out. You can stretch your back on their soft benches and the light harmonious music lets you nap as long as you would like.
The tea house hides itself on the second floor of an old apartment building on Ly Tu Trong street, with many food stalls downstairs for an authentic Saigon street food breakfast. And if you wish to sing your sadness with the night, maybe visit this cafe with a notebook and a pen. And at 6 AM the next day, cross the street to the hospital and join or witness the crowd giving free rice to the disadvantaged patients. This way you can begin the day by paying it forward with a nice gesture.
Address: 1st Floor, 39 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1
Website: Opera Tea Club Facebook
Price: 30,000 VND +
Do you need an iMac during your travel time? Well, I hope you don’t, but if you do, Snob is for you. Snob focuses on the quality of their coffee, trying to bring you the top taste and top guest experience at the same time (as a work-space). Their space is well designed for a couple hours of surfing the internet or finishing your artwork deadline. I recommend a seat on the second floor. Located on Tran Hung Dao street, you will be close to the backpacking area so you can get a sense of Saigon nightlife. Snob on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street is quite a good option too, however, there are not many places closeby that stay awake all night. You may never leave the cafe and walk around the quiet streets during the middle of the night, right?
Address: 147 Tran Hung Dao Street, District 1
185 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 1+
Website: Snob Coffee Homepage
Price: from 30,000 VND +
Now you know where to go for a night coffee or tea when you can’t sleep and the night seems to stretch on forever. You can’t do this every night, as it would be detrimental to your health but sometimes it’s nice to change the pace of your day. I had to stop writing my articles late at night because I was waking up too late. Instead, visit the authentic coffee shops of Saigon during the day, or take a look at some decade-old restaurants in town. Your taste for the city will expand and you won’t want to stop exploring!
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Christina’s blog!