One of the amazing things about Hanoi is that even after you’ve been living here for a couple of years and begin to feel like you know everything, someone can show you a hidden gem that’s been under your nose the entire time.

Okay, so it’s not really a café, but more like an open workshop space. Bike diagrams dot the walls, and there’s a real gearhead feel.

When you enter the bottom floor of the Syrena Centre on Xuan Dieu, you may notice something different. No, I’m not referring to the sales executives promoting half-off gym memberships or the abundance of burly winter coats.

It’s not often that the ‘World Building of the Year’ goes so unheralded in its own city. Yet that’s the situation of The Chapel — local firm a21 studio’s thusly-recognised café, facing the river in the eastern reaches of Binh Chanh.

Touting itself as Vietnam’s first speciality coffee bar, The Workshop takes Saigon’s favourite tipple to new heights, blending science, art and passion in pursuit of the ultimate brew.

Boasting an abundance of communal seating, funky decor and a full roster of regular live music performances, Yolo Café Lounge appears to be a venue that lives by its name. Located a stone’s throw from the popular watering hole Barbetta on Cao Ba Quat, this rollicking café-slash-bar has quickly earned a place in the hearts of Hanoi’s young (or young at heart) and trendy.

One of the things I love about Vietnam is that when it sometimes feels impossible to get things done, streets can literally change overnight.

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