April 04, 2016

The Coffee Shops of Ho Chi Minh City

Words : Jodi Regan
Photos : Zach Davis

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My best friend from childhood is Vietnamese and her family immigrated to the United States during the Vietnam War. Eventually, they moved most of her mom’s family to California–where I remember visiting with her when I was eight, learning rudimentary Vietnamese (which I have since lost most of), asking her grandparents millions of questions about the culture and Buddhism, and eating a ton. It was one of the most formative, magical experiences of my childhood and, not coincidentally, when I fell in love with travel and its transformative capacities.

As I traveled more frequently, I began to see similarities among cultures, things that translated no matter where I was. An appreciation of eating together. A desire to connect. And the need for a “third space.” As creatures of movement and inevitable transition, a place where you can belong outside of the home and outside of work is incredibly valuable.

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Coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh City

We all end up in coffee shops when we travel – a place to get wifi, a place to rest and refuel between sites, or a destination in and of itself. Something striking about Vietnam is the sheer variety of coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh City. In one day alone we were able to visit a Japanese themed tea house and coffee shop, a hole in the wall shop covered in murals, a hundred year old coffee chain, a bacon sandwich and coffee shop, a minimally designed coffee shop with specialty smoothies for youth and/or beauty, a curated boutique with its own industrial coffee bar, and an out of the way, quirky and coffee shop in a building with a Banksy themed cafe downstairs.

And yet, despite the variety, there was a shared quality in all of the coffee shops we visited in Ho Chi Minh City. It was as if something beautiful could occur in the “third space” that cannot exist in our other spheres – its functional adaptability. One moment it can be a place to hermit and the next a place to socialize; it can be a haven from responsibility and the spot where productivity soars. Either way, the coffee better be good.

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Zach Davis

Zach Davis is a wedding photographer based out of Fargo, ND. He loves cheap sunglasses, crunchy leaves, gummy bears, community, and a good blizzard.

Follow Zach on Instagram

Jodi Regan

Jodi Regan is a bit of a nomad currently hanging out in Fargo, ND. She writes, takes the occasional photo, engineers experiences, and cultivates relationships in order to shed light on injustice and the human condition.

Follow Jodi on Instagram

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