A Look Inside Cong Ca Phe, Hanoi’s Must-Visit Cafe

© Emily Lush 2018

There’s no shortage of immaculately designed cafes in Hanoi (and across Vietnam, for that matter)—but Cộng Cà Phê takes the cake. One of the very best cafes in Hanoi (in my humble opinion), Cộng‘s ‘Communist Chic’ design recalls the days of youth brigades, state ownership and Russian-language schoolbooks.

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When the cafe first opened, the owners apparently got in some hot water for printing their menus over Lenin texts. Seen through a Westerner’s eyes, Cộng‘s style is quite provocative and a bit of a trip. But it’s not such a surprise that many Hanoians look back on this period of history with a certain amount of nostalgia—the North did win the war, after all.

Cộng was founded by Nguyễn Hà Linh, one of Vietnam’s many successful female entrepreneurs. The first branch opened in 2007 on Hanoi’s Triệu Việt Vương Street, taking its moniker from the country’s official name: Cộng hòa xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Since then, Vietnam’s first franchise has been on the up and up, with branches opening all over Hanoi and in other cities in the North. There are even rumours of a Cộng opening in London.

For old times’ sake

There’s no denying that Cộng Cà Phê is one of Hanoi’s best-designed cafes. Painted their signature shade of army green, every Cộng branch is typically pokey and dimly lit, with lots of loft spaces and private nooks. (I love this in principle, but since it’s still permitted to smoke indoors in Vietnam, things can go downhill quickly if someone decides to lights up.)

Each cafe is dressed in war-era paraphernalia, propaganda posters, wartime photos, vintage Zorki cameras and other antiques. I’d love to know where they get their swag.

A self-described ‘hipster cafe’, Cộng is a gathering place for groups of Vietnamese friends and coworkers. It’s usually packed to the rafters, especially in the early evenings. My favourite Cộng branch (the one pictured here) is much more spacious and has a designated smoking area, which makes it a lot more pleasant.

Aside from its good looks, Cộng serves one of the best coconut coffees in Hanoi. The Tây (Western) style coffee is generally good (though the quality does vary slightly between branches), and the Vietnamese slow drip coffee—made in huge tin pots—packs a serious punch.

Most branches offer a small selection of baked goods (handy for soaking up some of that caffeine), and some Cộngs also serve light meals. I’ve seen a few branches with a small gift shop at the counter where you can pick up a bag of coffee or a Cộng-branded, army issue jacket, beret or pair of leather sandals.

For more food and drink recommendations in Hanoi, check out this Hanoi Food Guide from Girl Unspotted.

When a new Cộng opened up near the Temple of Literature, I decided to take some photos to give you a look inside Hanoi’s trendiest cafe chain. I highly recommend a visit to Cộng next time you’re in Vietnam!

© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018
© Emily Lush 2018

Visiting Cộng Cà Phê

There are now at least seven branches of Cộng spread across Hanoi. Most start serving coffee at around 7.30am and stay open until late. Cộng is reasonably priced; a cà phê đá đen (black iced coffee) will set you back 30,000 VND (little more than a dollar). That’s still three-times what you’ll pay on the street, but hey, good design doesn’t come cheap.

Vietnam essentials

Here are the booking sites and services I personally use whenever I travel to Vietnam.

– Find affordable flights to Vietnam on, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).

– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Vietnam and apply for an expedited e-visa online.

– Pre-book a private hotel transfer from Hanoi Airport or Ho Chi Minh City Airport.

– Pre-order a local 4G sim card for pickup at your first Vietnam hotel.

– Find the best hotel deals in Vietnam on Agoda, book a Vietnam hostel, or find a unique Airbnb.

– Reserve your Vietnam Rail tickets for the train to Sapa, Da Nang, Hue or Saigon.

– Buy your domestic bus or plane tickets in advance using Baolau or 12GoAsia.

– Find the best cooking classes and foodie experiences in Vietnam. Here are my top 15 Vietnam food experiences to help you decide.

– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Vietnam. Check out my top 10 best Vietnam day trips for more inspiration.

– Consult my comprehensive Halong Bay guide to find the best cruises & tours.

– Try an alternative tour or DIY experience with social enterprise Backstreet Academy.

– Pick up a copy of the latest Lonely Planet guidebook for Vietnam.

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4 Comments Add New Comment

  1. jules says:

    i went to this branch today.
    was GLORIOUS!!!

    if you ever find out where they get their decor from….please share!!!!

  2. Chung Pu Zi says:

    Hello, could you share the address of your favourite branch – I react badly to indoor smoking so a spacious branch would sound like a better option.

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