There’s something special about Hanoi. It was one of our absolute favourite places on our five month backpacking trip – possibly the top of our list. After visiting we understand why it has a reputation as a very liveable part of Vietnam, a favourite among discerning expats and digital nomads. It has a charm, an authenticity, thanks in no small part to the culture of cafes and coffee shops. We were instantly taken in by the coffee culture in Hanoi, and we want to share it with you!
Sightseeing takes a back seat
Like good backpackers, we paid a visit to the major Hanoi tourist hotspots. We explored Hoa Lo prison, the Vietnam Military History Museum, and Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. All interesting, and certainly worthwhile checking out. You’d be mistaken however to think that the TripAdvisor top five attractions are the best on offer in Hanoi.
If you let the city guide you naturally, it quickly becomes clear that Hanoi demands a slower pace of life. Backpackers (including us) in shorts and t-shirts stand out, because the relaxed Hanoi lifestyle won’t have you breaking a sweat. Those who know this can afford to wear long trousers and button-up shirts, and recline in style in their favourite cafe.
What’s awesome about cafes in Hanoi is the range of drinks on offer. Sample some of Vietnam’s delicious strong coffee with condensed milk and you may find yourself, like us, buying some individual coffee filters, or ‘phin‘ to take home. Try an infamous egg coffee and you may just ruin yourself for both coffee and desserts for life. The best way to describe it would be that it’s like drinking a cup of pure tiramisu. If that doesn’t tempt you, we don’t know what will!
If you’re headed to Vietnam and want to sample the coffee culture in Hanoi, we recommend The Hanoi Social Club. There’s many cafes offering a super cool atmosphere, and a varied and amazing menu, but this one was among the best of what we sampled. We also enjoyed Cong Caphe, a coffee chain in Vietnam with an awesome aesthetic – we only wish they’d open some branches in the UK. We paused at many a roadside spot, you can literally find coffee everywhere you look!
If you have some extra days in your itinerary, Hanoi is the place to be. Don’t worry about hitting the must-see spots. Just find a table by the roadside, order your drink of choice, and watch the busy, vibrant life of Hanoi speed past.