My quest for Saigon’s most eccentric cafes and coffee shops continues today with a review of Ci5 Coffee Shop. This continual quest will probably never be finished. Saigon is too big of a city with such an abundance of coffee shops that I’ll never visit them all. Ci5 Coffee Shop distinguishes itself from the pack with colorful artwork, bizarre musical themes, and a 2nd floor only accessible by ladder!
Ci5 Coffee Shop is located at 269 Nguyen Trai in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. It is just north of the intersection of Tran Dinh Xu and Nguyen Trai on a small alley adjacent to the CineStar Cinema. Walk down the alley and on the right side you will see Ci5.
Ci5 is an eccentric place. The artwork is weird and colorful. Even the use of space is unusual. It’s the space and how it is used that makes this place unique. First though, the ground floor. It’s small and features colorful post-modernist furniture that sits against the back wall. I suppose it might be a nice place to sit, but upstairs is where the preferred seating is.
Oh did I say stairs?
Ci5 doesn’t have stairs, but it does have a second floor. What?
Use the monkey bars!
You can access the second floor of Ci5 by ascending the contraption of metal monkey bars that sits at a slight angle connecting the two parts of the coffee shop. As soon as you walk in you’ll see them. I guess the bars are like a ladder, but I like to think of them as being extracted from a playground.
This is the defining feature of Ci5, giving the coffee shop its character.
Take your shoes off, ascend the ladder, and take a seat. The furniture sits low, cushions barely rising from the floor. Naked light bulbs populate the small space at various heights as the ceiling rushes toward the floor leaving little room for people wishing to stand. In fact standing would not make sense. The whole vibe of Ci5 is a relaxed, sink-into-your-seat cushion, and don’t-move-for-hours kind of place. After all, the only way down is via the glorified monkey bars!
At Ci5, Christmas Never Ends!
Ci5 is a chill coffee shop with a certified relaxed atmosphere. One of the biggest contributors to the atmosphere of a space is without question the music. Here the music was low, restrained, and appropriate for a quiet and hidden coffee shop. However there was an undeniable theme to the music that refused to dissipate the longer I stayed there.
Christmas music played song after song after song.
As I drank my coffee, I spent half my time reading and the other half attempting to reconcile why Christmas music continued to play. They weren’t common Christmas songs either, but an unusual collection of covers, remixes, and modern creative endeavors that crossed the musical spectrum in their variety.
I did a double-take upon hearing “A Great Big Sled” by The Killers and a cover of the Home Alone theme song by August Burns Red. The former is one of my favorite rock bands and the latter is my choice favorite of an extreme genre of rock called metalcore. Never in a million years would I have expected to hear these two songs in a coffee shop, let alone this funky little shop in the middle of Saigon.
The Menu- Affordable and Surprising
I found the prices to be cheaper here than at some other coffee shops I’ve explored. The difference is minimal, maybe 10,000 VND, but still a nice surprise. Ci5 serves the usual Vietnamese coffee ca phe sua and ca phe dan, western coffee drinks, juices, and smoothies. It all looked excellent and every time I try something at Saigon’s coffee shops it usually is.
Most coffee shops in Saigon also have a small food menu too in case you get hungry. I tried a spicy curry dish that was complemented nicely with fresh bread. I also saw you could order french fries which I found interesting. French fries with your coffee? Sure!
Ci5 is an excellent coffee shop. It’s cheap, quiet, and comfortable. The interior design and use of space makes it one of the most unique places I’ve ventured into in the city. The bright colors of the furniture and artwork give life to a quiet and subdued coffee shop. Yes it was designed to be quiet, unassuming, and hidden. However most people would rather not lounge around in a dark and dreary place. Livening it up with color and stylish furniture counteracts this nicely.
Ci5’s paramount feature is the second floor design and access point. The ladder is cool and fun. So go there. Climb on up and take a seat. Don’t worry about your drink. The barista will ascend the ladder drink in hand just for you! Whether reading, working, or relaxing check out Ci5 Coffee Shop!