Saturday, October 17, 2015

Vietnamese Cafes: love 'em or hate 'em

Typical cafe in Hanoi during the day

Cafes in Vietnamese were in existence long before the country’s first Starbucks arrived in 2013, and even before local chains like Tryng Ngyuen Coffeee or Highlands coffee set up shop. Baring this in mind, the Vietnamese cafes has been set up to cater to a particular kind of clientele, which a few features that differ drastically from Western style cafes.

Most of the tables and chairs are low to the ground, like children’s furniture. You have to sit on the stools with both knees bent above the waist, and if you’re a woman, don’t wear a shirt skirt.

That’s the other thing – women don’t really go to these cafes. Honestly, I never, ever see a group of women haging out at a café. The clientele are also exclusively men from their 20s and up. Nobody goes alone. They are always in groups of 2+.

Nearly everyone chain smokes in cafes, which is maybe sort of mildly tolerable because all cafes are open-air. There are no doors separating the outside from the side, and the seat usually spill out into the street covered by an awning.

When ordering Vietnamese Coffee, you will also be served a glass of tea. I like the coffee-tea combo.

Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and tea

Cafes are a place for socializing, not for working. I never see anyone on a laptop at these places. First of all, the seats are too low and the tables are to small to hold a laptop, so it would be too uncomfortable to use one. The atmosphere is really designed for chatting, smoking, and spending long hours passing the day or night with your buddies. There will probably be wifi, and many people will probably be on their smartphones. 

Typical cafe in Hanoi at night

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