The hidden cafes of Ha Noi

Be charmed by Ha Noi's hidden coffee spots, where you can escape the chaos of the city and enjoy a journey of discovery into a world of elegance tucked away from the bustling streets.
In the middle of Ha Noi's bustling streets, renowned for their high energy, heavy traffic and noisy commerce, you can find hidden charms for a little piece of peace, if you are prepared to explore. Among the labyrinthine network of narrow, bustling lanes, explorers can uncover serene spots tucked away in tranquil corners – hidden cafes offering a sanctuary from the city's frenetic pace.
Located in the centre of the vibrant but hectic Old Quarter in Ha Noi, Nang Cafe embodies this secret worth sharing and a place to relax.
To discover such hidden treasures requires more than just a keen eye. Visitors to the city will need to rely on modern tools like Google Maps and yet, even armed with technology, finding these elusive spots remains a challenge, their obscurity adding to their allure.
Just arrived in Ha Noi and using his mobile to find good destinations, Luis Silva from Brazil recounted the thrill of stumbling upon such hidden gems. He said: “We came here through an unthinkably small alley and it is funny because we didn’t see any sign up there. I just asked for the lady and she said ‘Oh, just right there, in the alley’, so we came here. It was a big surprise. The balcony has an amazing view of the chaotic transit. We just amazing to see how busy the traffic is. ” 
The entrance to this tranquil oasis can easily go unnoticed by visitors, as it is concealed among the goods on sale at a retail store located at the corner of the intersection between Dong Xuan Street and Hang Chieu Street. And if you are lucky enough to find the exact entrance and squeeze past the piles of wares and the grumpy shopkeeper, you will also wonder where this tiny one-person passage will lead.
Guided by word of mouth, the two young Swedish visitors , Elin Anderson and Siri Dobers, echo this sentiment, relishing the sense of discovery as they navigate through narrow passages to find their hidden retreat. “It’s nice when you come along the street and then walk in the hidden alley. It’s really hard to find, so we went to the wrong place at first, and then we found it!” Elin Anderson said.
“It feels mysterious, and then coming up to this, it’s nice with the flowers, the lanterns and the great view to old streets of Ha Noi. We love this calming atmosphere in the middle of the chaotic city,” Siri said.
Owned by Pham Thuy Duong, the cafe exudes a homely ambience carefully crafted to emulate the warmth of a typical Hanoian household. Despite its humble facade, this hidden nostalgic haven attracts mainly foreign visitors, drawn by its authentic charm and unique locale.
“My idea is that this cafe will be like the home of a typical Hanoian family, " Duong said. "Before coming here, our foreign guests often thought that my cafe would be very formal or fancy, but I just want something authentic, simple so that guests can feel the most authentic features of the Old Quarter.” 
Nang Cafe is just one facet of Hanoi's vibrant cafe culture. Tucked away in old neighbourhoods, these hidden gems serve as perfect hideaways for escape-seekers. From retro-themed spaces to minimalist hideouts, each cafe tells a unique story, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the city's rich tapestry.
Nhu Duy Ngoc, owner of the Lach cafe at 36 Ha Hoi street, recalled how he himself discovered the place while exploring the city and decided it was THE place to start a business. He said: “I accidentally discovered this place and I found the atmosphere here so peaceful, suitable for young people who love quiet spaces. It suits my taste and the preferences of young people today.” 
The cafe is named Lach (meaning squeeze through) because the entrance is so tricky to find. Guests have to weave through narrow alleys and climb several stairs to reach the cafe. “My customers are often amazed because the space up here is completely different from the space below - an old communal housing area, classical French architecture, while up here is quite new and strange,” Ngoc said.
These hidden coffee spots cater to a diverse clientele, from dynamic young artists to curious travellers seeking refuge from the chaos outside. Phan Minh and Ngoc Phu, drawn by the allure of these tucked-away cafes, savour not only the distinctive flavours of the drinks, but also the unique ambience.

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