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The Cafe Apartments District 1 Saigon Guide

When it comes to places to get a brew in Saigon, there is a brand new place getting all the hype, namely Cafe Apartments, or Apartments Cafe. Why though is this such a big thing?

The History of Cafe Apartments

The Café Apartment Building, located at No.42 Nguyen Hue Street is one of those classic venues you seem to only see when a locale transitions from communism to capitalism. Originally built in 1960’s – before things went Soviet these were quite literally apartments in an apartment block.

Initially and with the prime real estate of the place they were located to naval officers and other military personal, before the unification of the country in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. After this and as per communism they were allocated to party faithful members from the shipyards.

Vietnam then went all “Doi Moi” and people started playing with capitalism. By the 2010’s this meant some entrepreneurial type turning their gaff’s into cafes, before the whole block chimed in creating what we see today.

How to explore the Cafe Apartment Building

Firstly you will have to get here, but thankfully this is really easy if you are staying in District 1. Being on Nguyen Hue Street means that it is on walking distance from Hoang Phi Hotel, Wakling Street and even the great street food market.

Location wise it is no more than $4 from anywhere in District 1, or if you wanna be smart $1 on Grab Bike and $2 on Grab Taxi. The large building is also visible from much of town making it easy to walk to.

Cafe Apartments Address;

No.42 Nguyen Hue Street

District 1 – Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City

Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Getting in Apartment Cafe

Being an apartment block getting in here is not as easy as you might think. Essentially at the sides of the building are an elevator, which back in the day was probably enough. Nowadays said elevator can barely put up with the traffic, so you will probably find yourself walking up the stairs.

This is less heartache than it sounds, particularly come downstairs and when there is a little bot of a breeze. Top tip from The Street Food Guy, lift to the top, walk down.

Apparently the elevator costs 3000 VND (15 cents), but I did not notice it on my visit. Apparently you can get this fee reimbursed by a cafe, particularly useful if you are tight as a ducks arsehole, or are from Scotland and need 13 cents.

There are essentially two different sides to Cafe Apartments, but this doe snot massively affect how you navigate the place. Essentially each side has 9 floors, with each floor having 3 shops facing the main square, as well as a few more around the stairwell.

Assuming you cannot remember the layout from outside then this will mean good old fashioned exploring, with places generally we’ll signposted.

And what can you do at Cafe Apartments?

As you might expect the predominate thing here is cafes serving, coffee, but there. Is actually a whole lot more to the place. These include classic Vietnamese food joints, random jewelry stores, salons, as well as vinyl grift shops. Think hipster and you will be someway there.

Overall though the place is fairly dominated by strange franchises from Taiwan and South Korea, rather than independent joints, although this is not entirely the case.

On my visit I had some Vietnamese noodles, but also some very strange crepe type things in Oops Cafe, which I shall duly write about. I could though have very easily gone further and seen and done much more. At Cafe Apartments you are only limited by how much time you have.

Is Cafe Apartments worth visiting?

Whether Cafe Apartments is worth visiting is very much down to you. Essentially it is a bunch of cafes and there are obviously more “authentic” places that you can go. It is also quite literally full to the brim with tourists, rather than local folk.

This though does not take anything at all away from the place. I am sure that expats take a very snooty view of Cafe Apartments, but if you are just visiting, then it is worth a visit.

And if nothing else you should certainly come to the outside in order to marvel at what is some classic Neo-Communist Art Deco pseudo-doi-moi-capitalism!

Who said I can’t be pretentious?