Sitting on the veranda of a hillside cafe with a warm mountain coffee in hand, and watching as fluffy clouds slowly engulf your view below is part of the essential Sapa experience. Here are our favorite coffee venues where you can indulge in nature and good coffee.
Café in the Clouds
Bar, Restaurant, Cafe, American, European, Vietnamese, Asian, $$$
Come for the drinks, but stay for the view! Café in the Clouds is more famous for its views than its menu – you’ll enjoy your drink and meal on the terrace amidst a beautiful backdrop of valleys and mountains, uninterrupted by building work. The hot cocoa is perfect for a cold Sapa morning, as is the chicken pho to go with. All meals come in huge portions and are worth the price you pay, plus you will get a complimentary banana during banana season as the owners grow their own!
Nature View is a top choice if you want excellent value for your money, and this cafe/restaurant is actually better for an evening coffee (if you do that) because of the splendid mountainous sunset views. There’s a fire inside for colder days if you do not wish to sit on the patio, and the menu serves both, international and regional grub. Nature View has a romantic setting, and is the perfect place to have a quiet evening with your significant other as you dine above the clouds. If you want to spend the whole day here, that’s fine – it’s open 24 hours.
This café located on popular Thac Bac street is owned by Sapa O’Chau Travel Social Enterprise, an NGO dedicated to providing education and employment opportunities for minority tribespeople in the region. The smell of coffee is especially inviting on a cold Sapa morning and they have Western breakfast menu items to go with like pancakes and fish and chips. For something more special, try the ginger tea sweetened with Sapa mountain honey – you will find yourself returning here time and time again during your stay.
Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, French, American, Vietnamese
This French-owned place is four things – a hotel, a cafe, a restaurant, and at night turns into a bar. There’s a great patio outside with comfortable wooden chairs on which you can enjoy a nice cuppa as you bask in the view of Fansipan mountain, the highest peak of Indochina, right in front of you. They even serve Italy’s favorite coffee in here, Lavazza, and a cup of this goes great with the “nama chocolate,” a favorite among patrons which goes for only 10,000 Vietnamese Dong ($0.44) a piece.
Viet Emotion is a very cosy and unique venue spanning three floors, each with a terrace, and so is a great place to enjoy the mild Sapa sun outside or stay indoors, under the traditional lanterns by the fireplace on cold mountain nights. There are two computers inside connected to the internet available for use– order yourself a cup of hot ginger and lemongrass tea and catch your family and loved ones up on your latest adventures.
A little way away from the hustle and bustle of central Sapa, Baguette & Chocolat is found up a long staircase right off the street of Thac Bac. The cafe is located in a beautiful red and white French colonial style building, and before entering you have to take your shoes off, as it also serves as a home for travelers and the host family. The cafe itself is a project managed by two NGOs, Sa Pa People’s Committee and Samaritan’s Purse of Canada, supporting disadvantaged and disabled tribal youth looking for roles in the tourism and hospitality industry. Be patient with the service as their English may not be the best. The menu is filled with French delights such as pastries, cakes and chocolate and you can enjoy these on the terrace outside. Perhaps the lazy kitten will come and ask you for a belly rub. Don’t feed it any chocolate though.
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Cong Caphe is a popular cafe chain that has been taking Vietnam by storm, with multiple outlets in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and now even Sapa. Decorated in a rustic manner with military-style decor and dim lights that create a mellow ambiance, it is described as “slightly hipster” by locals and even more so by foreigners. Sit inside or outside, depending on the weather, order yourself a hot coffee or an iced coconut coffee (a popular favorite!) and kill a couple of hours here. It’s a great spot to take a break after exploring the town. Do expect a bit of construction going on here and there as the location is relatively new.
Located in a quiet backstreet with stunning views of the mountains and a menu serving awesome Vietnamese coffee (apparently, that’s the norm here), Peter’s Coffee Corner is not only a coffee corner, but also a social project where a big chunk of the profits go towards supporting minority kids from the region with free English classes. Don’t expect a fancy place as it resembles more of a worn down wooden shack from the outside, but it’s quite special. If you have time to spare, you can even volunteer to be a teacher for a class or two – it would mean a lot to the kids and it will be a great memory to take home.