Location: Nguyen Van Binh Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Literature lovers in Ho Chi Minh should set aside an hour or so of their city wanderings for a stroll down peaceful Nguyen Van Binh Book Street. Opened in early 2016, this cosy little stretch is home to a modest row of bookstores and art shops. It’s also the place to come for inventive souvenirs that are a bit different from the usual crap.
Be warned though, this is not a place to find a great range of English language titles. In fact, it’s a chiefly Vietnamese affair with a few French sections scattered about. Quite a few of the stores sell second hand stuff, giving the street an informal market vibe.
Book Street’s unimaginative but functionally named Book Café is a fantastic spot to rest your legs for a bit and whip out that novel you’ve been working through. Or, like me, you can order a latte, get the MacBook out and settle down for some writing. The wifi is decent!
The Book Bus is perhaps the street’s cutest feature, complete with a pretty, flower-laden bus stop set around some wooden benches. I had to wait over five minutes for a selfie storm to pass so I could grab a shot of my own.
Pop your head inside the bus to see the biggest English section of the whole street. Ok, so it’s not actually that big and everything was pretty pricy but the bus girls who work there are really friendly and try to be helpful, despite their limited English. Overall I would say Nguyen Van Binh Book Street is a very cool spot for those looking to escape HCM’s chaotic buzz. The stores there are open daily from 07:00-22:00.