Don’t be put off by its seemingly small size. Tucked away in an old apartment, this shop is flooded with the kind of thoughtful quiet you can almost smell. BOA Bookstore claims to be the best English-language independent bookstore in town, with a decent spread of fiction, non-fiction, dictionaries, children’s and reference books, as well as a few in French. The owner has built a loyal clientele from keeping a trendy and interesting range in stock and offering a personal order service. The shop is also used as a reading room, keeping regulars occupied for hours.
The pleasure of a good bookstore lies not just in its books but also in its opportunities to nose around. In this respect, Artbook (with branches around the country) is a marvel. The shelves are heavy with books on graphic design, interiors, architecture, cooking, photography… Artbook also goes beyond books to sell classic movie posters, notebooks, funny coasters and fridge magnets. Do not assume you will just be popping in for a quick visit!
Artbook, 43 Đồng Khởi, Bến Nghé, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam, +84 8 3502 1559
Ca Chep Bookstore
This bookstore is modern and chic, and the owner puts the venue to good use. The result is a well-proportioned bookshop with exquisitely curated aisles and shelves on three floors, with a quiet cafe on the fourth.
This place may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Fahasa — a government-run bookstore chain — is the largest and most popular in Vietnam. This multi-storey building has its own dedicated floor stocking a broad selection of English books, from business and self-help to classic and modern novels. It is a perfect spot to shelter from the heat while browsing, and boasts an outstanding location on Nguyen Hue pedestrian street.
Fahasa Bookstore, 40 Nguyễn Huệ, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam, +84 8 3822 5796
One of HCMC’s newest independents opened in April 2016. Vesta is a beautifully modern bookshop with a small selection of carefully chosen titles, gifts, souvenirs, magazines and art supplies. This is a must-visit bookstore if your kids love books or if you want to inspire a passion for art. It has a courtyard, known as the event space, especially for art classes for both adults and children.