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When Hanoi becomes too much an attack on the senses, sometimes it pays to forget it’s there.

The Church is the sort of place that demands to be seen. No trendy little hole-in-the-wall café is this — it oozes luxury with its shining, full-length glass windows and its dark polished wood furniture, a bubble of refinement in the hubbub of Nha Tho Street. As soon as I saw it, I felt underdressed, but the staff welcomed me with wide, warm smiles.

3 Amis. Photo by Francis Xavier

For our monthly café hunt, the scenery chosen this time was one of the old art-deco apartment blocks in Nguyen Hue. This semi-pedestrianised street holds a few hidden spots that are worth checking out, and you can add 3 Amis to the list.

The merging of French and Vietnamese styles is everywhere in O’Douceurs, which has Vietnamese pop music playing quietly in the bckground and a scene of Paris on the wall. But the first thing that draws your eyes when you walk in the door are the pastries, shining row upon decadent row like presents wrapped up in multicoloured paper.

As smooth as the name sounds, this cafe — which can be admired through the window from the busy street where it is located — remains a peaceful spot in which to sample a large selection of drinks and cakes. This may be a reflection of the owner Yun Lukas, a person with style, creativity and originality, who has brought together his inspiration and his experience from around the globe to create Vanilla & Butter.

Saigon’s mayhem might not be seen as the most idyllic place to keep pets in — and outside — the house. Walking around on the pavements is hard enough for humans, let alone if you want to take a dog for its daily walk.

If you’re looking for a peaceful spot to sip coffee and bang out some work, Aliu Cat Café is the wrong place to choose. For starters, they don’t serve coffee. You also might find yourself distracted by the 20-odd cats roaming about, and you might find that this place is more play than it is work. Cats simply do not understand deadlines.

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