At La Dolce Vita in downtown Saigon’s ancient Hotel Continental Saigon, the sound of coffee dripping from the filter can be heard despite the ruckus from the street as this terrace café is partly sheltered from the city noise by a low brick wall and is situated at an angle that deflects a good part of the din, thus differentiating it from other cafés and bars on Dong Khoi Street.
Quiet café shop in bustling heart of Saigon
By Mong Binh in HCMC
The Hotel Continental and the La Dolce Vita Cafe at night - Photo: Mong Binh At La Dolce Vita in downtown Saigon’s ancient Hotel Continental Saigon, the sound of coffee dripping from the filter can be heard despite the ruckus from the street as this terrace café is partly sheltered from the city noise by a low brick wall and is situated at an angle that deflects a good part of the din, thus differentiating it from other cafés and bars on Dong Khoi Street.
To my surprise, La Dolce Vita is a nice venue with plenty of seating for guests to relax and observe the busy pace of city life, either during the daytime or in the evening when lights are turned on.
You may question the quality of the drinks and service here, and the price of course, given the seat availability. But trust me, the pleasant staff is always ready to serve guests drinks which are about half the price at other cafes on this boutique shop street.
For instance, a glass of authentic Vietnamese milk coffee averages VND35,000 (less than US$2), a price you can hardly find at the other coffee shops so near to the city’s landmark Opera House.
It could be that La Dolce Vita, next to a restaurant of the hotel, makes drink lovers and seekers of a warm ambience think the terrace café is a restaurant and not a place to stop for drinks and relaxation.
Besides a wide selection of coffee, tea and cocktails, the primary attraction of the terrace coffee shop lies in the history of the Hotel Continental, whose 19th century French architecture remains intact and still shines brightly.
The ancient building has stayed firm through 130 years and has witnessed many changes in Saigon from the 19th century till 1975 and of HCMC from 1975 till now. The terrace café offers more than the history of the old building.
In the café are black-and-white pictures on the walls depicting the Notre Dame Cathedral and other landmarks of Saigon for guests to admire before or after they can see those landmarks with their own eyes.
The Opera House is just a short walk to the left when you leave La Dolce Vita while you have to stroll less than ten minutes to the right to the cathedral and the old but well-preserved HCMC Post Office building.
Ben Thanh Market, one of the most prominent features of the city, is within a 15-minute walk and can be reached by strolling along Le Loi Street. It takes only five minutes to walk to the beautifully-carved façade of City Hall on Le Thanh Ton Street.
For shoppers, La Dolce Vita is a good place to rest or to begin a shopping journey to major shopping centers, namely the Parkson Saigontourist Plaza on the corner of Dong Khoi and Le Thanh Ton, the Tax Plaza on the corner of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue, the Eden and other shopping malls and outlets along Dong Khoi Street.
A little farther away are Diamond Plaza on Le Duan Boulevard and the Kumho Asiana on the corner of Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung, the newest shopping venue in the city. These outlets stock all the fashion items you can imagine to decorate your body, from local to world-acclaimed brands.