The Best Cafes In Saigon You Need To Know About Now (Pt. 1, L’Usine)

The Best Cafes In Saigon You Need To Know About Now (Pt. 1, L’Usine)

If there’s one thing that Saigon has it’s a healthy coffee scene. Our own personal treks through Saigon have spoiled us with some of the best coffee tasting experiences we’ve ever had.

Best Cafes in Saigon

Keeping in mind there are thousands of cafes in Saigon to choose from whether you’re looking for your morning jolt, a chill place to get some work done, a place to duck in to avoid the drench of rainy season or a simple and sweet after dinner dose with friends the choices can definitely be overwhelming.  We spent quite a bit of time researching ourselves and hey, if you ever do find yourself in Saigon let us help you out.

In our Best Cafes in Saigon series we’ll share our favorite cafes that go above and beyond simply serving drinks, post a few pics so you can get a feel for the ambiance and toss in some of the details to get you there and enjoying a good cup of cà phê yourself.

Alright, first on ChestBrew’s Café Must Menu is L’Usine.

Are you like me and love when fashion and coffee come together? Well welcome to L’USINE: Fashion, Lifestyle, Cafe,Gallery.

Best Cafes in Saigon

With two locations in Saigon, the original is located at Dong Khoi. Hidden inside an alleyway with paintings and other crafts for sale this is one of my favorite places to go early in the morning for a tall and strong iced coffee alongside a yummy lemon tart.

The atmosphere is so pleasant with their contemporary furniture, faux trees lined with beautiful lights, large windows that allows tons of natural sunlight in and high Victorian ceilings.  L’Usine is a hidden gem and a quiet retreat from the busy streets below.

Their second location a few miles away at Le Loi is another great place to refresh and recharge yourself.

The cafe offers a full Western style breakfast menu with lunch and dinner options as well. Their tuna salad is delicious! Their desserts are divine and their coffee bar includes lattes, cappuccinos and of course Cà phê sua đá (Sweetened Vietnamese Iced Coffee). If you happen to be a tea drinker I highly recommend the blossom flower tea!

Best Cafes in Saigon

To top it off both locations have an attached eclectic boutique where you can browse clothes, shoes, jewelry and find some beautiful and unique gifts and souvenirs.

L’Usine also hold the occasional fashion show turning their café and boutique in a runaway for local fashion designers to showcase their talent.  How cool is that?

Keep in mind that both L’Usine locations are pretty busy from open to close but if you ask us it’s absolutely a must try at least once every trip.

HERE’S A QUESTION:

What cafes can you recommend in Vietnam?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…

Subscribe to ChestBrew for more of the Best Cafes in Saigon and to get a coupon for a discount on our ridiculously strong coffee.

great to meet you

Hi, We're Minh and Teresa and we love coffee

buy big bad bear

Extra Strong Medium Roast Vietnamese Coffee

buy moon bear

Strong Dark Roast Vietnamese Coffee

The Impact Habit Explained

The Impact Habit Explained

The definition of the word habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up”.   No one is immune from habits and as we know they can be good, bad and downright ugly.

The impact habit explained

For the sake of narrowing it down let’s focus on a habit that 83% of American adults have.

Have you ever thought about how many cups of coffee do you drink a day? A week?  A month? If you’re anything like the average person in America who has a coffee habit that number is probably around 3.2 cups of java per day. (Coffee Statistics 2015)  For simplicity sake let’s be like Canada and round that down to 3 solid cups.

Now, let’s say part of your To DO list includes a few daily trips to your favorite coffee spot. If you’re “brewing-out” at the coffee shop, which charges around $2-3 a cup then you’re taking around $6-10 dollars out of your wallet a day.  If you’re more of a DIY kind of coffee lover and you’re percolating at home or at the office that costs is more likely to be around .27 cents a serving.

Assuming, of course, that you’re buying 1 pound bags that run you between $12-15.

So for all the right side brains out there for the to-go coffee that equals:

  • $40/week
  • $160/month
  • $1920/year

And for the DIY coffee the tally comes to:

  •  $4/week
  • $16/moth
  • $192/year

Regardless of where you’re getting your coffee this is your daily habit.  Whether you consider it more of an honored ritual, a deserving treat or just a part of your routine that falls line with your personal philosophy, “But First”, it’s an essential part of your day.  A part that without it all other parts would cease to exist or at least not get done as well if we’re being honest.

Where are we going with this?  Simple, by using your dollars to support businesses that not only provide a product or service that makes your life easier and more enjoyable but whose mission it also is to help provide opportunities to help others your daily habit goes from just something you do to something you do that makes a huge impact.

Now think about how that effort plays out.  You go to work, work hard to make things happen and in return you get some cold hard cash to live off of.  Part of that living is buying coffee and so you take some of that money and buy a bag of beans that to you, offers the best moments of your day.  When that bag of beans is attached to a bigger purpose than just drinking coffee, something you do multiple times a day anyway, that means you’re effectively changing the world for the better.

Yes, just by sitting on your couch, lounging in bed or chillin’ at your desk YOU are making a difference.

It’s not a loud, everyone look at me difference but rather a quiet, consciously aware sense of self-happiness that you are doing your part to help change the lives of many.

By helping others we give our lives stronger purpose with an improved sense of well-being.  Not to mention that self-less giving is linked to bringing about an increased sense of inner peace. Yes, it makes us feel GOOD! If that’s not enough how about helping us become more educated about social topics around the world that lead to new points of view and opinions on topics that we previously knew nothing about.

And hey, when you find a company like ChestBrew Coffee that not only offers you the opportunity to grab a hold of all of the above by helping to create opportunities for brighter futures for hard working folks like you and me every time you buy a bag of the best tasting Vietnamese Coffee you could ever brew up, well we think it’s the best of both worlds.

HERE’S A QUESTION:

What’s one habit you support that helps makes a difference?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…

Subscribe to ChestBrew for more awesome stories and to get a coupon for a discount on our ridiculously strong coffee.

great to meet you

Hi, We're Minh and Teresa and we love coffee

buy big bad bear

Extra Strong Medium Roast Vietnamese Coffee

buy moon bear

Strong Dark Roast Vietnamese Coffee

How To Offer The Best Product Ever

How To Offer The Best Product Ever

A staggering 100 million businesses are launched annually, according to a GEM Global Report. With that information you can understand that the idea of having a unique product is one thing. The actual execution of creating that product and bringing it to the market is a whole other challenge.

How to offer the best product ever

(Image Courtesy of Flickr, Khánh Hmoong)

Like any good business great will tell you in order to meet the needs of the market you have to be able to fill a gap that currently exists. You must believe that you have a better offering than your competitors and you have to do the hard work to create a brand that brings the best of that offering to life.

We successfully identified “the gap” and figured out how to be the first supplier of 100% Vietnamese coffee to the United States.  It was common knowledge that we admired hard work and that the Vietnamese coffee roasting industry we would establish would employ some the hardest workers we knew.  To make the business model even more in line with our company beliefs, that coffee would be marketed to help hard working people in the Western world get stuff done.

Now the task was to actually find the bean that would fit the bill.

Before we first set out to find the best bean in Vietnam we knew that in order to find that bean we would have to know what else was out there.

And so with a round trip ticket in hand, a couple dozen TripAdvisor bookmarks on our Ipads and a thirst for purpose we mapped out all the best cafes in Saigon.

Now, if you’ve been to the capital city you’ll know this was no small feat. I mean cafes are to Saigon like the grains of sand are to the beaches of California.  Despite this we committed to the idea that no challenge was too big, especially when we had coffee as our go to research resource.

We narrowed down our points of caffeinated interest to specifically District 1, an area that has a population of 204,899 people and is located in the middle of the city. D1 is considered the financial center of Saigon and Vietnam and also happens to be known as the best spot for shopping in Vietnam with loads of shopping centers and fancy high end retailers.

With just over 2 weeks of dozens of early morning meetings with industry experts and suppliers to attend and late nights ahead of us we were sure that’d we’d be able to get a taste of the fuel we needed to help drive our own Project of Purpose.

We traveled the country and shook hands with some of the most noted players in the Vietnamese coffee game as well as some new players that were trying their hand in the market.  We discussed the ins and outs, the logistics, legalities and pragmatics of the proposal.

After our meetings we felt we were on the right track.  It was imperative to meet with the big guys but we didn’t stop there.  We knew how important the “little guys” were and how important it was to understand what the actual experience of drinking the coffee was.

How to offer the best product ever

We explored small mom and pop owned cafes that had no more than a few colorful child size tables and chairs outside to sip and enjoy the city scenes.  We took in the big 3 floor chain coffee shops that welcomed you with the most glorious blast of air conditioning. Not to mention trying the brews from the Vietnamese lady on the corner pouring drinks straight from her street cart.

It was much more of an experience than I ever thought it was going to be and we learned many things along the way.

Insights such as coffee is life in Vietnam. From morning to night the locals are drinking their hot and iced coffees as the rush of the scooters, taxis and people fly by.  It’s meant to be had in the morning, after breakfast, post lunch and most certainly after dinner.

There is not a corner you can turn without seeing a selection of cafes that are full of customers. Which means don’t be too hopeful if you hit up a café where there are no seats available because people don’t rush their coffee time.

And if you love a particular cup of coffee get your fill because unless you’re mapping out your every step you’ll probably never find the place again.

Most importantly we learned that coffee in Vietnam isn’t something that people drink to power through their day, it’s not just a daily habit and it certainly isn’t taken for granted.

Having coffee in Vietnam means that you’re sitting down to slow down your own perspective as the rest of world whizzes by.  It’s a time of day where you sit with others for hours at a time quite possibly not saying a single word but just observing the world around you.  It’s a tool to open the door to a solid session of self-reflection taking in all you can so that when you finally do rise from your chair you’re doing so having settled into your place in this world just a little more.

Did we find great coffee?  Absolutely, but far greater than that we discovered the “secret” to offering the best product possible.

We realized that in our quest for the perfect bean rather than getting caught up in nailing down the perfect “taste profile” what we should have been doing was taking notes from the Easterner’s lifestyle.

The coffee, no matter where we went was on point, that’s something the people of Vietnam have mastered.  But how, where, when and with whom you enjoy it has so much to do with how that cup of brew goes down.

And that’s a lesson that we’ll take refills on any day.

HERE’S A QUESTION…

What compels you to choose a product?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…

Subscribe to ChestBrew for more awesome stories and for a coupon to get a discount on our ridiculously strong coffee.

great to meet you

Hi, We're Minh and Teresa and we love coffee

buy big bad bear

Extra Strong Medium Roast Vietnamese Coffee

buy moon bear

Strong Dark Roast Vietnamese Coffee

How Vietnamese Coffee Helped Us Find Our Purpose

How Vietnamese Coffee Helped Us Find Our Purpose

As the great Shakespeare penned for the love struck Juliet, “What’s in a name?” And as our great Vietnamese coffee lovers have asked us “What’s the deal with the name ChestBrew?” So, before this Project of Purpose goes one coffee bean further allow us to break it down for you with a little story…

How Vietnamese coffee helped us find our purpose

There once was a guy and gal who had a dream of doing something to help create opportunities for people from a land called Vietnam.  These opportunities would allow Vietnamese people to live happier, more fulfilled lives, it was a good dream.

But how would they do it?  The answer had to be somewhere they agreed and so they spent time looking for other people to tell them how they could make it happen. They travelled around the world talking about who they could work for to get it done.  They searched and searched but nothing they ever found felt right.

Until one day a tragically beautiful thing happened when they realized that they would never ever find the answer anywhere in the world.  It was pointless to look here, there and everywhere because it just wasn’t there to be found.

Alas, the guy and girl returned home and sat with themselves in stillness pondering over where this answer could be.  Hours, days and weeks of hard work, thinking, reflecting and being still and then the most amazing thing happened!

They FOUND the answer inside of them!  They could finally hear the voice that was happy to tell them all they needed to know about how to make their dream come true! This insightful, knowledgeable voice came from deep within them and told them how to go out in the world and create a Project of Purpose.

But what would that Project of Purpose be?  Obviously there was more hard work to be done and that required strong coffee.  So they brewed up the coffee beans they brought back from their trip to Vietnam and got down to it.

It may have taken more than one quick cup but the dots were soon connected and they realized that Vietnamese coffee was the project. Their purpose was to create much needed jobs in Vietnam for hard working folks who would harvest and roast the coffee. That coffee would be what hard working people in the Western world would drink and quickly come to rely on as there go- to – coffee to get things done.

And so ChestBrew came to be.  The word “Chest” meaning from the heart and “Brew” representing the hard work it takes make things happen.

The moral of this story and the reason behind the ChestBrew name is that the importance of cultivating self-awareness above all else is something that is so key to finding your path to determining the hard work you have to do to make your dreams and goals a reality.

It’s not information that you’re going to be able to Google.  It’s not a phone call or connection away and it’s not listening to anyone else’s opinion.  It’s working on self-improvement from within in order to put your best SELF back out into the world to be a brighter light.

It’s that uncomfortable hard work that allows you to get down to the business of figuring stuff out.

It’s learning to listen to your own inner voice and trusting that with consistent work, filtering the noise and getting to know yourself you will find the way to your purpose.

It’s helping yourself first so that you can then help others.

HERE’S A QUESTION…

What tips can you offer for figuring out your purpose?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…

Subscribe to ChestBrew for more awesome stories and a coupon to get a discount on our ridiculously strong Vietnamese coffee.

 

great to meet you

Hi, We're Minh and Teresa and we love coffee

buy big bad bear

Extra Strong Medium Roast Vietnamese Coffee

buy moon bear

Strong Dark Roast Vietnamese Coffee

10 Things To Know Before Traveling To Vietnam

10 Things To Know Before Traveling To Vietnam

Vietnam is a stunning country of rice paddies, scooters, outdoor markets, good food and even better coffee. My first trip to the country, I knew very little about it but after just a week I learned quickly that travelling to Vietnam is an incredible experience.

10 Things to know about Vietnam

Whether you’ve been there numerous times, are in the midst of planning your trip or just have the journey in the back of your mind here’s a list of 10 things you can expect when you arrive in Saigon.

  1. The coffee is the real delicious deal! It’s no surprise considering Vietnam is the second largest coffee-producing nation after Brazil, producing 16% of the world’s total coffee (Brazil’s is 40%). A hometown favorite is the ca phe sua da! It’s a strong single filtered coffee that has sweet and creamy condensed milk mixed in and topped with ice. An absolute must for all of those long and hot days of exploring. Coming across a café isn’t hard because there’s hundreds of cafes that line the streets and alleys of the city.
  2. Road rules don’t exist.  No truly, crossing the scooter and taxi filled streets calls for a strategic plan and a heartfelt prayer. Good news is that the thousands of locals who drive the narrow roads everyday seem to have a method to their vehicular madness. This means that all you have to figure out is the perfect timing to walk straight across the street.  Bonus tip, once you start to walk don’t stop or worry about maneuvering around the scooters, they see you and prefer to work around you.

Vietnam is a stunning country of rice paddies, scooters, outdoor markets, good food and even better coffee. My first trip to the country, I knew very little about it but after just a week I learned quickly that travelling to Vietnam is an incredible experience. Whether you’ve been there numerous times, are in the midst of planning your trip or just have the journey in the back of your mind here’s a list of 10 things you can expect when you arrive in Saigon. 1. The coffee is the real delicious deal! It’s no surprise considering Vietnam is the second largest coffee-producing nation after Brazil, producing 16% of the world’s total coffee (Brazil’s is 40%). A hometown favorite is the ca phe sua da! It’s a strong single filtered coffee that has sweet and creamy condensed milk mixed in and topped with ice. An absolute must for all of those long and hot days of exploring. Coming across a café isn’t hard because there’s hundreds of cafes that line the streets and alleys of the city. 2. Road rules don’t exist. No truly, crossing the scooter and taxi filled streets calls for a strategic plan and a heartfelt prayer. Good news is that the thousands of locals who drive the narrow roads everyday seem to have a method to their vehicular madness. This means that all you have to figure out is the perfect timing to walk straight across the street. Bonus tip, once you start to walk don’t stop or worry about maneuvering around the scooters, they see you and prefer to work around you. 3. Speaking of taxis, if you’re looking to catch a cab in Saigon keep an eye out for Mai Linh and Vinasun two of the most trusted and reliable companies. Your first look at the taxis will most likely be at the airport and from that moment on you’ll see hundreds more during your stay. Not only will the majority of taxi drivers get you to where you’re going fast giving your tired tourist feet a rest but you’ll find that the air conditioning is always on blast. Something to appreciate during those sweltering days. 4. You’ll notice most Vietnamese folks take a nap after lunch. The days start early and end late for most in Vietnam, especially the busy cities like Saigon so that time to recharge during the day is a must. Some even rack out right on top of their scooters! It really is a sight to see and you can’t help but admire their sense of balance. 5. Teenagers have an intense adoration for K-POP! It’s seriously everywhere in part because of all of the imported Korean artists, music, fashions, makeup and accessories trends that Vietnamese young fans love to consume and emulate. Not surprisingly, this has led to the increasing popularity of Korean wave and now there are now more and more Korean language classes conducted throughout Vietnam. It’s not just the music but the culture that the youth wants to understand and embrace. 6. Karaoke is huge in Saigon. This could be the case for many reasons including that Asians, in general, lack a reputation for expressing strong emotions, either positive or negative. Karaoke is cathartic for Asians who bottle up powerful emotions. But let’s not forget that karaokeing isn’t just a pastime that Asian adore. In fact, it’s a $380 million industry in the United States. Basically, it’s just good fun. 7. Endless chilled glasses of delicious iced tea is served no sooner than you sit down in most restaurants. Similar to the customary glass of ice water offered in most restaurants across North America, tea is a staple in Vietnamese culture. Of course, tea drinking has existed for a long time in Vietnam. In the past, drinking was just for noble classes but for a long time now people from all walks of life enjoy tea. It’s also a welcome greeting after stepping into the café and out from the hot and dusty streets. 8. You’ll most commonly run into folks with the first or last name “Nguyen”. Not a surprise since the name is used by about 40% of the population. (That’s around 35,600,000 people) If you’re wondering why here’s a quick history lesson. The surname Nguyen is believed to have originated in the Chinese surname "Ruan" (in the Mandarin language) or Yuen (Cantonese), attributed to China’s long reign over Vietnam. During this time the name Nguyen was either forced upon the public by new regimes or was chosen voluntarily by Vietnamese for other reasons. 9. Vietnamese folks tend to prefer to shower at night rather than the morning. This may have to do with the fact no month in Saigon has an average high temperature of less than 89 degrees. It’s not uncommon to see the parks full of people at sunrise who want to get a good workout and stretch in before the day gets to warm. From my own time there I can tell you that it’s pretty much the best thing ever to grab a cool rinse off after a day out exploring the dusty, sweltering, beautifully chaotic streets of Saigon. 10. The Vietnamese are an honest, hardworking, kind people. The average work week in Vietnam is around 60 hours and most of those jobs are spent in factories and on farms. With exports of in excess of $162 billion (2015) there’s no question that it’s a hard working and hustle type of culture. In recent years ICT and software and tourism have seen growth in Vietnam as well. What the future holds I cannot say however I can tell you from personal experience that in Vietnam there is no lack of hospitality and kindness. HERE’S A QUESTION… What advice to so have to offer people travelling to Vietnam? LET ME SUGGET THIS… Subscribe to ChestBrew for more awesome stories and a coupon to get a discount on our ridiculously strong Vietnamese coffee.

(Image courtesy of Flickr, Claire Backhouse)

  1. Speaking of taxis, if you’re looking to catch a cab in Saigon keep an eye out for Mai Linh and Vinasun two of the most trusted and reliable companies. Your first look at the taxis will most likely be at the airport and from that moment on you’ll see hundreds more during your stay. Not only will the majority of taxi drivers get you to where you’re going fast giving your tired tourist feet a rest but you’ll find that the air conditioning is always on blast. Something to appreciate during those sweltering days.
  2. Did somebody say siesta? You’ll notice most Vietnamese folks take a nap after lunch. The days start early and end late for most in Vietnam, especially the busy cities like Saigon so that time to recharge during the day is a must. Some even rack out right on top of their scooters! It really is a sight to see and you can’t help but admire their sense of balance.
  3. K-POP love is strong! Teenagers have an intense adoration for K-POP! It’s seriously everywhere in part because of all of the imported Korean artists, music, fashions, makeup and accessories trends that Vietnamese young fans love to consume and emulate. Not surprisingly, this has led to the increasing popularity of Korean wave and now there are now more and more Korean language classes conducted throughout Vietnam. It’s not just the music but the culture that the youth wants to understand and embrace.

Vietnam is a stunning country of rice paddies, scooters, outdoor markets, good food and even better coffee. My first trip to the country, I knew very little about it but after just a week I learned quickly that travelling to Vietnam is an incredible experience. Whether you’ve been there numerous times, are in the midst of planning your trip or just have the journey in the back of your mind here’s a list of 10 things you can expect when you arrive in Saigon. 1. The coffee is the real delicious deal! It’s no surprise considering Vietnam is the second largest coffee-producing nation after Brazil, producing 16% of the world’s total coffee (Brazil’s is 40%). A hometown favorite is the ca phe sua da! It’s a strong single filtered coffee that has sweet and creamy condensed milk mixed in and topped with ice. An absolute must for all of those long and hot days of exploring. Coming across a café isn’t hard because there’s hundreds of cafes that line the streets and alleys of the city. 2. Road rules don’t exist. No truly, crossing the scooter and taxi filled streets calls for a strategic plan and a heartfelt prayer. Good news is that the thousands of locals who drive the narrow roads everyday seem to have a method to their vehicular madness. This means that all you have to figure out is the perfect timing to walk straight across the street. Bonus tip, once you start to walk don’t stop or worry about maneuvering around the scooters, they see you and prefer to work around you. 3. Speaking of taxis, if you’re looking to catch a cab in Saigon keep an eye out for Mai Linh and Vinasun two of the most trusted and reliable companies. Your first look at the taxis will most likely be at the airport and from that moment on you’ll see hundreds more during your stay. Not only will the majority of taxi drivers get you to where you’re going fast giving your tired tourist feet a rest but you’ll find that the air conditioning is always on blast. Something to appreciate during those sweltering days. 4. You’ll notice most Vietnamese folks take a nap after lunch. The days start early and end late for most in Vietnam, especially the busy cities like Saigon so that time to recharge during the day is a must. Some even rack out right on top of their scooters! It really is a sight to see and you can’t help but admire their sense of balance. 5. Teenagers have an intense adoration for K-POP! It’s seriously everywhere in part because of all of the imported Korean artists, music, fashions, makeup and accessories trends that Vietnamese young fans love to consume and emulate. Not surprisingly, this has led to the increasing popularity of Korean wave and now there are now more and more Korean language classes conducted throughout Vietnam. It’s not just the music but the culture that the youth wants to understand and embrace. 6. Karaoke is huge in Saigon. This could be the case for many reasons including that Asians, in general, lack a reputation for expressing strong emotions, either positive or negative. Karaoke is cathartic for Asians who bottle up powerful emotions. But let’s not forget that karaokeing isn’t just a pastime that Asian adore. In fact, it’s a $380 million industry in the United States. Basically, it’s just good fun. 7. Endless chilled glasses of delicious iced tea is served no sooner than you sit down in most restaurants. Similar to the customary glass of ice water offered in most restaurants across North America, tea is a staple in Vietnamese culture. Of course, tea drinking has existed for a long time in Vietnam. In the past, drinking was just for noble classes but for a long time now people from all walks of life enjoy tea. It’s also a welcome greeting after stepping into the café and out from the hot and dusty streets. 8. You’ll most commonly run into folks with the first or last name “Nguyen”. Not a surprise since the name is used by about 40% of the population. (That’s around 35,600,000 people) If you’re wondering why here’s a quick history lesson. The surname Nguyen is believed to have originated in the Chinese surname "Ruan" (in the Mandarin language) or Yuen (Cantonese), attributed to China’s long reign over Vietnam. During this time the name Nguyen was either forced upon the public by new regimes or was chosen voluntarily by Vietnamese for other reasons. 9. Vietnamese folks tend to prefer to shower at night rather than the morning. This may have to do with the fact no month in Saigon has an average high temperature of less than 89 degrees. It’s not uncommon to see the parks full of people at sunrise who want to get a good workout and stretch in before the day gets to warm. From my own time there I can tell you that it’s pretty much the best thing ever to grab a cool rinse off after a day out exploring the dusty, sweltering, beautifully chaotic streets of Saigon. 10. The Vietnamese are an honest, hardworking, kind people. The average work week in Vietnam is around 60 hours and most of those jobs are spent in factories and on farms. With exports of in excess of $162 billion (2015) there’s no question that it’s a hard working and hustle type of culture. In recent years ICT and software and tourism have seen growth in Vietnam as well. What the future holds I cannot say however I can tell you from personal experience that in Vietnam there is no lack of hospitality and kindness. HERE’S A QUESTION… What advice to so have to offer people travelling to Vietnam? LET ME SUGGET THIS… Subscribe to ChestBrew for more awesome stories and a coupon to get a discount on our ridiculously strong Vietnamese coffee.

(Image courtesy of Flickr, Republic of Korea)

  1. Karaoke is huge in Saigon. This could be the case for many reasons including that Asians, in general, lack a reputation for expressing strong emotions, either positive or negative. Karaoke is cathartic for Asians who bottle up powerful emotions. But let’s not forget that karaokeing isn’t just a pastime that Asian adore. In fact, it’s a $380 million industry in the United States. Basically, it’s just good fun.
  2. Can I start you off with some iced tea? Endless chilled glasses of delicious iced tea is served no sooner than you sit down in most restaurants. Similar to the customary glass of ice water offered in most restaurants across North America, tea is a staple in Vietnamese culture. Of course, tea drinking has existed for a long time in Vietnam. In the past, drinking was just for noble classes but for a long time now people from all walks of life enjoy tea. It’s also a welcome greeting after stepping into the café and out from the hot and dusty streets.
  3. Party for Nguyen, your table to 20 is ready. You’ll most commonly run into folks with the first or last name “Nguyen”.  Not a surprise since the name is used by about 40% of the population. (That’s around 35,600,000 people) If you’re wondering why here’s a quick history lesson. The surname Nguyen is believed to have originated in the Chinese surname “Ruan” (in the Mandarin language) or Yuen (Cantonese), attributed to China’s long reign over Vietnam. During this time the name Nguyen was either forced upon the public by new regimes or was chosen voluntarily by Vietnamese for other reasons.
  4. The night time is the right time. Vietnamese folks tend to prefer to shower at night rather than the morning. This may have to do with the fact no month in Saigon has an average high temperature of less than 89 degrees. It’s not uncommon to see the parks full of people at sunrise who want to get a good workout and stretch in before the day gets to warm. From my own time there I can tell you that it’s pretty much the best thing ever to grab a cool rinse off after a day out exploring the dusty, sweltering, beautifully chaotic streets of Saigon.

Vietnam is a stunning country of rice paddies, scooters, outdoor markets, good food and even better coffee. My first trip to the country, I knew very little about it but after just a week I learned quickly that travelling to Vietnam is an incredible experience. Whether you’ve been there numerous times, are in the midst of planning your trip or just have the journey in the back of your mind here’s a list of 10 things you can expect when you arrive in Saigon. 1. The coffee is the real delicious deal! It’s no surprise considering Vietnam is the second largest coffee-producing nation after Brazil, producing 16% of the world’s total coffee (Brazil’s is 40%). A hometown favorite is the ca phe sua da! It’s a strong single filtered coffee that has sweet and creamy condensed milk mixed in and topped with ice. An absolute must for all of those long and hot days of exploring. Coming across a café isn’t hard because there’s hundreds of cafes that line the streets and alleys of the city. 2. Road rules don’t exist. No truly, crossing the scooter and taxi filled streets calls for a strategic plan and a heartfelt prayer. Good news is that the thousands of locals who drive the narrow roads everyday seem to have a method to their vehicular madness. This means that all you have to figure out is the perfect timing to walk straight across the street. Bonus tip, once you start to walk don’t stop or worry about maneuvering around the scooters, they see you and prefer to work around you. 3. Speaking of taxis, if you’re looking to catch a cab in Saigon keep an eye out for Mai Linh and Vinasun two of the most trusted and reliable companies. Your first look at the taxis will most likely be at the airport and from that moment on you’ll see hundreds more during your stay. Not only will the majority of taxi drivers get you to where you’re going fast giving your tired tourist feet a rest but you’ll find that the air conditioning is always on blast. Something to appreciate during those sweltering days. 4. You’ll notice most Vietnamese folks take a nap after lunch. The days start early and end late for most in Vietnam, especially the busy cities like Saigon so that time to recharge during the day is a must. Some even rack out right on top of their scooters! It really is a sight to see and you can’t help but admire their sense of balance. 5. Teenagers have an intense adoration for K-POP! It’s seriously everywhere in part because of all of the imported Korean artists, music, fashions, makeup and accessories trends that Vietnamese young fans love to consume and emulate. Not surprisingly, this has led to the increasing popularity of Korean wave and now there are now more and more Korean language classes conducted throughout Vietnam. It’s not just the music but the culture that the youth wants to understand and embrace. 6. Karaoke is huge in Saigon. This could be the case for many reasons including that Asians, in general, lack a reputation for expressing strong emotions, either positive or negative. Karaoke is cathartic for Asians who bottle up powerful emotions. But let’s not forget that karaokeing isn’t just a pastime that Asian adore. In fact, it’s a $380 million industry in the United States. Basically, it’s just good fun. 7. Endless chilled glasses of delicious iced tea is served no sooner than you sit down in most restaurants. Similar to the customary glass of ice water offered in most restaurants across North America, tea is a staple in Vietnamese culture. Of course, tea drinking has existed for a long time in Vietnam. In the past, drinking was just for noble classes but for a long time now people from all walks of life enjoy tea. It’s also a welcome greeting after stepping into the café and out from the hot and dusty streets. 8. You’ll most commonly run into folks with the first or last name “Nguyen”. Not a surprise since the name is used by about 40% of the population. (That’s around 35,600,000 people) If you’re wondering why here’s a quick history lesson. The surname Nguyen is believed to have originated in the Chinese surname "Ruan" (in the Mandarin language) or Yuen (Cantonese), attributed to China’s long reign over Vietnam. During this time the name Nguyen was either forced upon the public by new regimes or was chosen voluntarily by Vietnamese for other reasons. 9. Vietnamese folks tend to prefer to shower at night rather than the morning. This may have to do with the fact no month in Saigon has an average high temperature of less than 89 degrees. It’s not uncommon to see the parks full of people at sunrise who want to get a good workout and stretch in before the day gets to warm. From my own time there I can tell you that it’s pretty much the best thing ever to grab a cool rinse off after a day out exploring the dusty, sweltering, beautifully chaotic streets of Saigon. 10. The Vietnamese are an honest, hardworking, kind people. The average work week in Vietnam is around 60 hours and most of those jobs are spent in factories and on farms. With exports of in excess of $162 billion (2015) there’s no question that it’s a hard working and hustle type of culture. In recent years ICT and software and tourism have seen growth in Vietnam as well. What the future holds I cannot say however I can tell you from personal experience that in Vietnam there is no lack of hospitality and kindness. HERE’S A QUESTION… What advice to so have to offer people travelling to Vietnam? LET ME SUGGET THIS… Subscribe to ChestBrew for more awesome stories and a coupon to get a discount on our ridiculously strong Vietnamese coffee.

  1. Vietnamese people are honest, hardworking, and kind. The average work week in Vietnam is around 60 hours and most of those jobs are spent in factories and on farms. With exports of in excess of $162 billion (2015) there’s no question that it’s a hard working and hustle type of culture.  In recent years ICT and software and tourism have seen growth in Vietnam as well. What the future holds I cannot say however I can tell you from personal experience that in Vietnam there is no lack of hospitality and kindness.

HERE’S A QUESTION…

What advice to so have to offer people travelling to Vietnam?

LET ME SUGGET THIS…

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