Cafe Culture in Vietnam: The Art of Relaxation

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from living in Vietnam for the past 7 months, it’s how to relax. From 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. everyday, most of Vietnam life stops for lunch. The U.S. should take note because these two hour breaks are an amazing time to eat, decompress, nap, and be back to work energized to finish out your work day.

Not only are the lunch breaks great, but people really know how to relax during their leisure time. I feel like when I was living in the U.S., whenever I did have free time, if I wasn’t filling it with something, it was like I was wasting time. That’s not the case here. Sometimes it’s okay to just sit, relax, and do nothing.

Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world? Well, it is. And the coffee is potent. The portions are small but they sure are strong. Coffee here is made to be enjoyed and drunken slow. Coffee is normally brewed in the form of drip coffee in these little filters. You can drink your coffee black or with condensed milk. I usually drink my coffee cold with a little bit of condensed milk. In south Vietnam, coffee is almost always served with ice because of the hot weather.

One of the things that I love most about Vietnam is the cafe culture here. Coffee is an important part of daily life in Vietnam. I think there are probably more cafes than restaurants in Tra Vinh. Travel in any direction for 5 minutes, and you’ll probably find a cafe. When I was in Hanoi, we would get up early just so we had enough time for breakfast and coffee. Separately. We would go grab breakfast and afterwards, we’d stop by a cafe, sit, converse, and enjoy our coffee (or beverage of your choice). It’s not unusual to see people hanging out at cafes at all hours of the day, either with friends or by themselves. In the U.S., if you’re at a cafe by yourself, you’re probably reading or on your computer. In Vietnam, it’s okay to just sit with your beverage and hang out. There’s no need to busy yourself with technology.

Anyone that knows me well, knows that I have a lot of energy. I have a hard time sitting still. In DC, when I wasn’t at work, I was dancing, biking, yoga-ing, hanging out with friends. Always doing SOMETHING. Life is a bit slower-paced here. Okay. It’s a lot slower-paced here. It’s taken quite a bit of adjusting on my end. For once in my life though, I actually have time to relax, reflect, and focus on things outside of work. I hang out a lot at cafes of course. How could you not when the cafes are so nice? Most of the cafes in Tra Vinh are mostly outdoors which I love. As someone who would rather be outside, the fact that the weather can accommodate outdoor seating almost everywhere, is amazing. Living in Vietnam has also given me time to focus on hobbies. I have time to read books, to play music, and to go on long bike rides. I still miss dancing a TON, but at least I’ve been able to take time and do other things that are important to me.

It’s important to take time in your life and relax. And I mean, really relax. Shed your worries, shed the stress, and just relax.


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