Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

By Quy Sa   May 4, 2024 | 08:24 pm PT
Perched atop an abandoned train factory in Saigon's District 3, a café designed in the style of Da Lat, garners the attention of thousands of visitors daily.
Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

Located at 540/17 Cach Mang Thang 8 Street, District 3, the coffee shop Tren Tang Thuong (On the rooftop) sits atop an abandoned train factory, originally constructed by the French in the early 20th century.

It features a design inspired by Da Lat's coffee shops. Its location piques curiosity, drawing visitors to experience its distinctive atmosphere. The owner sees the space as a refreshing addition to Ho Chi Minh City's rooftop coffee scene.

Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

The shop owner leased the empty rooftop and undertook renovations covering an area of over 1,500 square meters, amounting to approximately VND5 billion ($196,464) in expenses.

Tran Huu Loc, the coffee shop's representative, said: "Due to the rooftop location, construction posed challenges, resulting in higher costs."

Following a two-month construction period, the shop opened its doors to visitors in June 2023, with a capacity to accommodate approximately 300 guests, including rooms' air conditioning, as well as open areas and an outdoor rooftop.

Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

The shop's interior decoration predominantly features wood, imparting an antiquated aesthetic. This ambiance is characteristic of Da Lat's coffee shops. The "Da Lat in the heart of Saigon" concept, emphasized by Loc, serves as a magnet for young patrons in search of relaxation and photo opportunities.

Looking ahead, the shop plans to expand its offerings by dividing its existing space into two distinct areas: one outdoor and the other with air conditioning.

This expansion is intended to accommodate office customers who are looking for peaceful environments to work in.

Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

Built on an empty rooftop and inspired by the aesthetics of mountain towns, the café incorporates the surrounding plants into its design.

The combination of wooden elements and green plants creates a feeling of calmness and peacefulness within the cafe. Additionally, the large, open layout of the space, along with plenty of natural light, further enhances the welcoming atmosphere.

However, because of its open layout, it tends to become very hot around midday. As a result, customers prefer visiting in the cooler morning or late afternoon. Despite this, outdoor visitors can enjoy views of the train station and the city.

Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

The café offers numerous photography opportunities with its minimalist design.

Having discovered the café through social media, Dang Da Thi, from Binh Thanh District, and friends visited on April 7. "I particularly enjoyed the greenhouse area; it's meticulously decorated, perfect for capturing photos," Thi said.

Tran Huu Loc revealed that the café accommodates around 1,000 customers daily, with the peak hours typically occurring around 7 p.m.

Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

The café offers over 20 varieties of drinks, cakes, and snacks, with prices ranging from VND55,000 to VND75,000 ($2 to $3), available in self-service format.

Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

At night, the café undergoes a complete transformation, with yellow lights adorning the space. Evenings are also accompanied by light music upon request.

Coffee on the tracks: a Saigon rooftop reborn

Situated atop an aging building, the café offers ground floor parking space, monitored by security guards during operating hours from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

To access the rooftop, guests should follow the signs posted on the walls. To avoid confusion with other stores on the second floor, guests should inform the security guard of their destination, specifying the café for guidance. Access to the rooftop is facilitated by a sturdy spiral staircase.

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