Coffee Kicks: the Best Cafes in Hue

coffee shops in Hue

The cafe is one of many  cornerstones of Vietnamese society. A place for business meetings, somewhere to hang out with your friends or get your caffeine fix at any given part of the day. Coffee shops can get a bit repetitive so we’re going to give you five coffee shops that are worth a visit in Hue…and a few more.

Salt Coffee: Caffeine Beverage with a Twist

salt coffee in Hue

The egg coffee in Hanoi has been all the rage over the past few years on the tourist trail, why not get ahead of the game and try Hue’s signature salt coffee? Admittedly, it sounds just as unappealing but at Cà Phê Muối (salt coffee in Vietnamese) they get the balance between sweet and salty just right. Salt coffee tastes something akin to a chocolate brownie and works well as a post-meal digestif or between meals. The caffeine is strong with this one so avoid late at night.

This is the father of salt coffee and while the copycats have popped up around the city, this one remains the best. Their range of indoor and outdoor seating as well budget pricing makes for good value. It is located on the north side of the imperial city so makes for a perfect conclusion to your citadel visit.

This little treat is available on our food tour. Why not nail all the culinary delights of Hue in one night

cafe muoi

Cà Phê Muối
142 Đặng Thái Thân
6:30-11:30  13:30-22:00

You can also find egg coffee and coconut coffee in Hue. Check out Start Coffee for egg coffee and Aroma Coffee for coconut coffee. Both air conditioned to keep you crisp cool in the summer heat.

Phuong Lan Coffee: Rooftop with a View

Rofftop Coffee Cafe Hue

Hue is make use of its empty rooftops and it is safe to say there are some bars and coffee shops with great views. It’s hard to get barroom conditions right with central Vietnam’s blistering summer and clammy rainy season. When the temperatures are right, you’re good to go.

Phuong Lan Coffee just opened as of early 2019 and its unique location by the Phu Cam church provides a great rooftop view. Owner Suong Lan has put some effort in giving her rooftop a bit of charm with comfortable sofas. 

Rooftop coffee in Hue

Aside from the rooftop view, Phuong Lan is also a great jumping off point for numerous places of cultural importance in Hue such as the array of pagodas and street eats on Dien Bien Phu, the Nam Giao park and the Phan Boi Chau house. Since the coffee shop is best at sunset, why not visit them first and head to Phuong Lan after.

Phong Lan Coffee Store
14 Đoàn Hữu Trưng

Another Hue café with a great view is Time Coffee that sits in the middle of Le Loi. Time coffee always has a large clientele and getting a seat at sunset can be difficult at times but includes a children’s play area for those travelling as a family to Hue.

Cafe Gac Trinh: Musical Heritage Coffee

Cafe Gac Trinh Song Son coffee Hue
Trinh Cong Son, dubbed the Bob Dylan of Vietnam, wrote lyrics like poetry about love, loss and the state of humanity through the American-Vietnam war. To this day, people still shed tears upon hearing his songs and Son remains one the nation’s most treasured artists. It was at this apartment-cum-cafe that he lived through most of the war and witnessed many things from this balcony that inspired a large proportion of his catalogue.Beatlemaniacs will visit Liverpool’s cavern club for worship. Elvis fanatics will make a pilgrimage to Graceland for a music-inspired vacation. It is of surprise to me that the former residence of Trinh Cong Son, doesn’t receive a similar amount of attention. Café Gac Trinh doesn’t serve the best coffee in town but remains a living memory of one man that inspired a nation. You can read more about Trinh Cong Son and the café in our article here.Gác Trịnh 19 room 203, 2nd floor  Nguyễn Trường Tộ 10:00-17:00

If you want your coffee to dig a little deeper in history, head to the royal pavilion north in the Hue citadel. Tứ Phương Vô Sự Lâu sits atop of the inner imperial city wall which traditionally acted as a function hall for the royal family. The view and the garden make for a special location.

Pavilion coffee has been closed during infrequent times of the year. If this is the case, head down the street to coffee shop Bình An Đường. During the Nguyen Dynasty, this building was a hospital specifically for the emperor’s eunuchs who would be banished from the imperial city out of fear of contagion until their health improved.

Riverside Coffee in Hue: Minimalist Coffee, Moments of Peace.

coffee by the river cafe

I really wanted to write about roadside coffee but I struggle to hold down a regular spot. I turn my attention towards the river and various locations come straight to mind.

The river Hương is the lifestream of Hue. It was claimed even local beer Huda was made out of the Huong River (before the factory relocated). The river brings harmony to the city and moments of contemplation for its guests.

My go-to spot is the Café with no name behind the Ho Chi Minh museum on Tran Thuc Nhan Street. Although the café has been shut down more than once, the owners keep popping up. Amenities are minimal for guests, the view looks onto a wide section of the Huong river and its backdrop is the flag mast that looms over the city’s northside. just beside the café, A small fleet of dragon boats shore up here throughout the day. The trees that grow here provide some protection from the heat as well as intermittent gusts of breeze that come off the river. It has continued to be my favourite spot since I moved to Hue.

The Cafe With No Name
Behind the Ho Chi Minh Museum
No idea on opening or closing times!

There are plenty of coffee shops hidden around the city like the Cafe with No Name. Some other spots I also enjoy are Quán Cà Phê Sông Xanh and Cafe Bến Xưa which both overlook the Như Y river on Nguyen Cong Tru Street.

Best Cafe for Work in Hue: Pleasure for the Powersuits

work study coffee in Hue Cafe

Meetings, reading, writing or social media updating. All serious business. Trying to find a place to concentrate can be a tough cookie, right?  There’s no out and out coffee shop winner in Hue. Irritating background music is next to unavoidable. Nevertheless two places that are popular for a working coffee are Windows Coffee and the aforementioned Aroma Coffee. Both have indoor and outdoor seating as well as variety of furniture that is suitable for all work-related matters. While these aren’t the quietest of coffee shops, people here are like-minded and came here for serious work, most of the time.

Cafe Aroma
5 Bến Nghé
7:00-22:30

Windows Coffee
20 Lê Lợi 
6:30-22:00

If the music is too irritating, we recommend  Lucy Kafe which offers similar amenities to Windows and Aroma. If the music irritates you, you will probably have more power likely being the only customer in the coffee shop.

But hey! Don’t spend all your time pondering and working in coffee shops around Hue, take a tour with us and experience the best of Vietnam on one of our city tours!

Found a coffee shop in Hue that you like? Have you been to any of the cafes mentioned above? Do you have any better recommendations? Leave your thoughts in the comments

Things To Do in Hue: 10 Pro Tips and Activities From a Hue Resident

There’s a general misconception with backpackers on the banana pancake trail. Hue allegedly has nothing to offer it’s visitors except for a citadel and an abandoned waterpark. Let me tell you that those people are quite simply banana pancakes. There’s plenty of things to do in Hue.

Hue food tour grit
Dessert along the Huong River.

Hue is definitively the place to get to grips with real Vietnam; it’s the country’s capital of culture! Hue demonstrates the country’s past, present and future in equal measures. All of this can be accessed much easier than larger cities such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Beachside afternoon dining

While people may argue that Hoi An is a better representation of Vietnamese culture, it simply isn’t. The town is a 21st century tourist construct, built upon the age-old orientalist perceptions of east Asia and today permeates a sculptured culture to please the tourist masses (an academic agrees with us!). Hoi An has some incredible history but all this has been swallowed up by the density of what it has become. Is Hoi An more pleasant than Hue? Disputably so. Is Hue more ‘real Vietnam’? Undoubtedly yes.

10 Things to Do in Hue

1. Serendipity in the Hue Citadel

Hue citadel can be described in three parts; the imperial city, it’s surrounding citadel and the city beyond the citadel walls. The entrance to the imperial city comes at a steep 150,000VND per person. The imperial city is impressive but information for visitors is sparse and disappointing. If you’re there for the history, it’s best to hire a guide or do some research before visiting. The Hue citadel surrounding it is equally enjoyable to investigate if you’re short on cash.

Things to Do in Hue Grit Tour
Imperial City inside the Hue Citadel

Take a stroll through the various lakes and pavements that encompass the imperial city and you can find great food, friendly people, quirky establishments and remnants of history’s presence. The 200 year-old building hosting a cafe is lavish and can be accessed without paying the entrance fee. The labyrinth of hawkers and shops in the 100 year-old Dong Ba market is fun to get lost in. There’s even a restaurant that sells seaweed in edible varieties. There might not be tonnes of things to in the citadel but there’s plenty to explore. For a detailed guidebook to the history of Hue and the citadel, we suggest picking up Exploring Hue by Tim Doling which is available from Phu Xuan/Phuong Nam bookstore (two names, same bookshop). If you’re looking for a tour guide, we can help you find one. Contact us!

1. Hang outs at Hue’s Abandoned Waterpark

Due to it’s Instagram-appeal and minor Jurassic Park vibes, Hue’s abandoned waterpark is a quick riser on every backpacker’s list of things to do in Vietnam. #wanderlust. Truth be told, what more could you ask for when making a day trip out the city? the abandoned waterpark is a great place to recreate and more so to procreate. I’m not playing devil’s advocate here but I’m pretty sure that it would top any hostel story you encounter after you visit Hue.

Things to Do in Hue Grit Tour
Thuy Tien Lake: Hue’s abandoned waterpark

Plenty of space for a picnic here. Bring sandwiches and a sugarcane juice. At the time of writing, some local fellas guarding the premises in an attempt to keep curious visitors out. Be nice and charming. If they don’t let you in, take another route.  if they ask for an entrance fee, it’s your call. Remember your actions will impact future visitors. Think local, act global, yada yada yada. Check out our article For a better informed and more prosaic piece about Hue’s abandoned waterpark. If you don’t get in. No biggy. The banana pancake hype makes it seem way better than it really is. #coldfact. Maybe try #3 for an instagram substitute.

3. Visit Vietnam’s longest Graffiti Wall in Hue.

Growing hip-hop collective Block Party hosted international graffiti jam ‘Meeting of Styles’ in 2018. The result? a 820-metre wall that now features fantastic graffiti art from all over the world. Be sure to crawl under the fencing at the beginning of the wall to get to the other side.

Things to Do Hue Grit Tour

Hue’s graffiti wall is only a few kilometres country drive/ride from the abandoned waterpark. So why not kill two things to do with one trip? Here’s our article on the graffiti wall for more information.

4. Take an Alternative Tour in Hue

It’s tough engaging or understanding a culture, especially one that is so different than the one you come from. Have you found yourself walking in squares not sure what you’re doing or why you’re even visiting an area? Undecided on what things to do while you’re in Hue? Struggling to choose what to eat or even where? You want to get out of the tourist traps but don’t know how. I’ll admit, when traveling, these are the conundrums I face regularly.

Grit Tour Hue Vietnam Karaoke
Hue Grit Tour

The Hue Grit Tour is designed with people like you and I in mind. It’s a multi-purpose tour; an adventure of firsts, several challenges and a period of cultural understanding. Join us at the deep end on the Hue Grit Tour for a plunge into Vietnamese culture.

5. Get Out of Town and Hit Hue’s Beach

Want to experience Vietnamese seaside culture? Get to Thuan An Beach! 12 kilometers out of town is a bit of a stretch but if you’re in need of some seaside adventure, the trip is worth it.

things to do in hue grit tour
Thuan An Beach. 12km from Hue

There’s a few places to check out from the public beaches, the bus cafe and the lavish Beach Bar. A few places for accommodation and plenty of seafood bites. Check out our article on Thuan An beach for things to do there.

6. Eat Hue Food: Hue’s Distinguished Range of Vietnamese Cuisine

The Jury’s still out on where the best Vietnamese food is in the country but Hue has arguably the most distinguished local food in Vietnam. Restaurants around the country try to imitate Hue food or simply gentrify it, Hue is where Hue food is best.

Hue food tour grit
Popular local dish banh khoai

Eating is the most obvious activity on any things to do list, but are you eating how it should be done? Be warned that eating  is only half the experience. We suggest taking a food tour so you know where to eat, how to eat and why the food is eaten in Hue. Don’t go to trip advisor eatery for your Hue experience. A city’s cuisine can’t be summed up into a tourist restaurant!

7. Drink a Coffee Kick to Great Music at Cafe 054

If you’ve become irritated with the constant rotation of shitty pop songs during your travels to Vietnam, then Cafe 054 is right up your street. Great music, easy vibes, pool table and great people!

Hue cafe tour tours Vietnam
the homies of cafe 054.

Cafe 054 plays a collection of hip-hop and electronic-related music that will keep you happy over a drink or two. Soft drinks, budget cocktails and beer available. Be sure to try out the cafe’s signature drink the coffee kick. The cafe is run by some of the local hip-hop community and they are more than happy to tell you some more things to do in Hue.

8. Tomb Raider: Quest for the Royal Tombs

Hue was the capital of Vietnam for around 150 years (1802 to 1945) and the monarchy went through plenty of emperors during this era. Most travel websites count 6 or 7 royal tombs in Hue but they are WRONG. Technically speaking, Hue has tombs for 11 of the 13 Hue emperors and for the 9 Nguyen lords that preceded them. There’s also Prince Nguyen Phuc Hong Cai who was neither a lord nor an emperor but has a mausoleum for fathering three of Hue’s emperors.

Things to Do in Hue Grit Tour
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue

Most tourists buy onto package tours which only include the more popular tombs of Minh Mang, Thu Duc and Khai Dinh . All mausoleums are accessible to the public but can take up to 2 whole days to see them all. Get a motorbike, bicycle or rent a private car driver and go catch ’em all! We once again recommend a tour guide since information at the tombs is sparse. Prices for each tomb range from 40,000VND to 100,000VND. You’ll be lucky to find an ATM near a tomb so go prepared to spend heavy.

Most blogposts about the tombs seem inadequate. The best around is here. We’ll make sure to write a one soon!

9. River Wander and Boating on the Huong River

The Huong River is the soul of Hue. When the Citadel was built, geomancers recommended it’s location on the river’s bend for it’s defensive attributes and the balance in feng shui provided by Hen island and Da Vien island. Com hen is a local dish that encapsulates the history of the river with it’s blend of baby clams and local produce. Hen Island is worth visiting for it’s islet culture and fame for com hen.  Le Loi street and Trang Hung Dao street run along the river’s opposing banks. Both have numerous shops and stalls set up that bring small pleasures and things to do for their visitors.

things to do in Hue Grit Tour
a makeshift cafe overlooking the dragon boats on the Huong River.

Behind the Ho Chi Minh museum lies a makeshift cafe; a great place to watch the day pass with the river breeze. Boats are available for rent by the hour for numerous uses including karaoke parties, cultural shows or a means to get to various landmarks. If you’re exhausted, river drifting might be the perfect. If you’re looking to rent a boat on the Huong River, the Dragon Boat company are reliable, responsive and flexible.

10. Night Prowling on Hue Walking Street

To my own dread, Hue authorities announced the opening of Walking Street; the part-time pedestrianization on the streets surrounding the tourist area in late 2017. Comically titled ‘Pho Tay’ (westerner street) by local residents, rental prices on buildings have sky rocketed since it’s inception. Strangely enough, walking street has transformed the area into a bizarre hybrid of ‘fashionable’ Vietnamese beer drinking restaurants and a few nightclubs for local millenials. Although walking Hue street still retains numerous tourist traps, it has become a focal point for the amalgamation of Vietnamese culture and the population’s desire for modernity. This area is fast moving; restaurants and bars close as quick as they open. It’s hard to keep track on what’s happening there.

things to do in Hue Grit Tour
Sunset view from Midtown Hotel’s sky lounge

Walking Street is transport-free from 6pm until 11pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not so many things to do but plenty to drink and eat. Midtown Hotel’s rooftop bar is a great place to watch the 18:00 sunset. Tevet bar is a lively millenial restaurant for barfood eats. Ta coffee shop’s balcony is fun people watching, as is the intersection between Vo Thi Sau and Chu Van An streets. Brown Eyes and Factory club for the party, burger shack for drunk food on the way home.

Hue Grit Tour

Why wait? Book now!
Want to know more? Check out the itinerary.
Looking for some gritty tips? head over to the blog.
Have some questions to ask? Contact us.

Beach Of Hue: Thuan An Fishing Town. The Allure of the Sea

beach hue grit tour thuan an

Thuan An Beach for 2019

Thuan An is Hue’s closest beach. Around 15KM from the city centre, it isn’t as tourist-convenient as the beaches that serve Hoi An or Danang but it’s charm and the variety on offer makes it a worthy day trip. Thuan An is a small fishing village with a population of around 21,000. While a resort and some villas have cropped up, Thuan An has retained it’s strong cultural identity tied closely with the sea. Ultimately, this means cheap seafood, cheap beer, strips of sparsely-populated beach and an authentic culture to discover!
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Cafe Nha: Fantastic Homemade Lunch in a Rustic Hue Cafe

Homemade lunch hue grit tourHow Authentic is Your Lunch?

Visitors to Vietnam will tell you that local food is a divine exploration of the palate. Although flashpacking foodies travel with a golden bucketlist of dishes, it is easy to forget that no culinary experience can be more authentic than one in a home. Unless tourists stop in an intimate homestay or are invited to eat with a Vietnamese family, they may not have the opportunity to eat homemade food. Cafe Nha in Hue is changing this. In contrast to the fast-turnaround noodle shops and beer-centric restaurants, Cafe Nha have brought the household culinary experience back for lunch. Read more “Cafe Nha: Fantastic Homemade Lunch in a Rustic Hue Cafe”

OO Cafe: Contemporary Art Cafe Hue

OO Art Cafe in Hue

Millennial Hue

2017 oversaw local establishments take inspiration from contemporary designers on the world’s stage. This is evident with the new entertainment complex Cask and nightclub Factory 075 in the Pham Ngu Lao area. Business owners know that eye-catching architecture and photogenic products are key to success in the social media age. Millennial Hue want to be competing with their peers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They have the artistic integrity and the city is giving them the space to produce it.

art cafe hue grit tour

OO Cafe: Contemporary Art Cafe Hue

Khanh wanted to open a cafe that is modern, all-inclusive and has the facilities for art exhibitions. He employed Hue-based architect Phu Chi Kim Toan of Fu Atelier to make his vision a reality. The pair spent three months carefully designing every aspect of the cafe before opening in January 2018. Preparing and planning was time well-spent. The concept is delicately cosmopolitan and the trendy crowds the cafe attracts proves it is an early success.

Vietnamese Art Cafe Grit Tour

OO Cafe is situated in the Citadel and is only one street from the Royal Palace. Nguyen Trai street separates the cafe from a small lake. Coffee drinkers perched in the window often contemplate over the duality of still water and passing traffic. Open from 6am to 10pm, the building itself suits all hours. Bright colours bring vibrancy to the cafe while a transparent roof protects it’s customers from turbulent weather. Out the back lies a well-lit gravel garden with furniture suited for groups that want to enjoy the outdoors either in dusk or Hue’s intermittent sunshine.

The Menu

Coffee is served in both Vietnamese and international varieties. Ice-blends favor the sweet-toothed patron with matcha and caramel flavours for 32,000VND  a glass.  I personally recommend the blueberry smoothie (sinh to viet quat) for a yogurty splash of summer breeze on a hot day. Other soft drinks include fruit shakes, juices and red bull for good measure. Cappuccinos and short shots of caffeine are also available for the ‘no funny business’ consumer.

Khanh says that with his beverage choice, he likes to keep his coffee simple. An espresso with condensed milk is what he takes after breakfast to start his day.

00 art cafe Hue Grit Tour

The Owner and Hue Art

Khanh is a local photographer and artist who has held installations and exhibitions around Vietnam and South-East Asia. 2018 will be a busy year for the young artist with exhibitions in Saigon, Singapore and the Netherlands.  Khanh designed OO Cafe with the intention of the cafe doubling up as a gallery in the future, featuring works by local and international artists. OO Cafe already displays some of his own work.

Born and raised in Hue City, Khanh has an adoration for his hometown’s tranquility. He finds inspiration from his surroundings, whether that is the people he meets, the stories he hears or the places he visits around Hue. He says his work in video and photography demonstrates a personal relationship between time and memory. The strong iconography in his work depicts an intimacy with familiar Vietnamese environments, both urban and agricultural.

When asked about the future of the art scene in Hue, Khanh said;
‘We just passed an incredible generation of local-based artists but the lack of funding to support their work has meant a decline in exhibitions and new projects. The art scene is still evolving but not at the pace it used to. Nevertheless, there are still a great number of artists that live here, it just takes some work to find them.’

00 Art Cafe Hue Grit Tour

OO Cafe
99 Nguyen Trai
Hue

OO Cafe facebook page
Phan Dinh Khanh’s Website
Fu Atelier’s Facebook Page

Grit Tour Hue Vietnam

*Closed* 054 Cafe Hue: Community, Urban Art and Creativity

Cafe 054 is now closed and has been reopened by some former employees under the name of ‘Dope 75’. Although a lot has changed since its reopening, it still remains a place for youth to hang out and good music being played.

Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world. Unlike many other countries, Vietnam’s relationship with the caffeinated beverage has produced a cafe culture that is poetic in simplicity. Even with the introduction of Starbucks to Vietnam, locals have mostly kept to their favored soft-drink spots over the modernity of multinational conglomerates. Coffee is the People’s drink and you’ll rarely find anyone that doesn’t have a cafe to recommend. Coffee shops come in every variation imaginable. Owners can be artistic in their interior design and particular about the atmospheres they create. One of my favorite cafes of recent times is 054 Cafe Hue.

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