Stacks of coffee shops and shops

Is Saigon’s Café Apartment Worth The Hype?

Along Nguyen Hue Walking Street in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), there’s a famous nine-story apartment building that’s filled with artsy cafés and shops. The Café Apartment (or Coffee Building on Google Maps) has been the star of many a TikTok and Instagram reel for about two years now, but is it worth all the hype and aesthetically edited reels?



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My three-week backpacking trip to Vietnam this year started with Saigon. My friend Jam, who’s been living there as an expat since last year, took me to the Café Apartment for a post-sunset smoothie sesh.

The famous side of the building faces Nguyen Hue St., across the Pedestrian Plaza where locals and vendors hang out. We went through the entrance beside Fahasa Bookstore. There are two ways to head up—via the elevator where you need to pay a one-time fee of VND3,000 (which you can get as store credit in the top-floor cafés) or just walk up the stairs. We chose to work out our calves.

View of building
The Café Apartment in District 1




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Local vibe

On our way up, we saw plenty of Instagrammable nooks in the hall to lure visitors into choosing their shop, from salons to boutiques and cafés. We picked The Saigon Ơi Café with its cozy, garden-themed interiors.

We hung out by the balcony for the panoramic view and full experience of being in Café Apartment, but thanks to my fear of heights, my gut did not agree with this choice. We snapped a couple of pics and ran back inside to make my tummy stop whirling.

Girl posing across building
Kate was here.

If you’re viewing this building from across the street, there’s just something eye-catching about the way the cafés are stacked on top of each other. But a visit to the Café Apartment offers more than just the quintessential Instagram photo or reel. A walk through each floor shows you the old-worldly-meets-modern charm of the place.

According to localvietnam.com, this building was first constructed in the mid-1960s as a post-war dorm for government and military personnel. After the Fall of Saigon, the apartments were allocated to shipyard workers. By the 2010s, the nine-story apartment block slowly transformed into the Café Apartment.

Girl standing by the balcony
On the balcony of Saigon Ơi at the 5/F of Café Apartment
Stacks of coffee shops and shops
The nine-story Café Apartment. Can you pick a café or shop from this view?

These days there seem to be more tourists than locals filling up the cafés and shops, but the Café Apartment’s cultural and historical significance still makes it one of the places you must visit when exploring Saigon or HCMC for the first time.

The Café Apartment is located at 42 Nguyen Hue (Walking Street), District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.