Every parent knows that sometimes kids just need to get out of the house. Such an excursion doesn’t have to be all about the kids, though. Ho Chi Minh City has some great cafes and play centres that look after the adults almost as much as their offspring. Here’s a list of the city’s best kids’ cafes. Photos by Romain Garrigue.
Bama Kids Cafe
Designed with the help of an experienced American educator, Bama Kids Cafe is a spacious light-filled activity centre filled with toys and costumes sure to spark every child’s imagination.
From the lounges and cafe tables, parents can see the entire play area, which includes a kids’ workbench, a wardrobe full of dress-up outfits, a toy kitchen, a doll house, activity tables, a Lego table, train tracks, a play tent and a soft play area for younger kids.
There’s also enough open space for children to zoom around in ride-on taxis.
Entry is VND85,000 an hour per child, or VND1 million for 20 hours. Adults must order something from the menu, which offers breakfast dishes, pasta, soup, salad and sandwiches, as well as coffee, tea, smoothies, juice, beer and soda.
There’s a strong emphasis on safety at Bama, with most hard surfaces padded, and helpful staff on hand to help supervise the little ones.
Open 9am to 7pm
4th floor, 41 Duong 41 (Nam Anh Building), Thao Dien, District 2
Tel: 0888 46 2262
Bee Bee Premium Kids
With its honeycomb-shaped windows and a bee house climbing frame, Bee Bee is a cheerful and thoughtfully-designed kids’ play centre on the fourth floor of an office building in District 7.
The cafe area is on the lower of Bee Bee’s two floors, with a view of the baby activity area, play tables and the toy kitchen area. Parents can also monitor what’s going on at various play stations on both floors, including the trampoline room and sand play area, via a large closed circuit TV screen.
Playtime is VND80,000 an hour (under 12 months free), and adults must order something from the menu. Ten-hour coupons are VND550,000 and 20-hour coupons are VND990,000.
Bee Bee’s toys and activities cater for a range of ages and interests: books, dinosaurs, train tracks, dolls, baby pianos and ride-on toys, as well as bracelet-making and statue painting, which are included in the entrance fee.
The menu is also family-friendly, with coffee, ice cream, salads, pastas, sandwiches and even beer. The chicken nuggets are popular with the smaller set, while adults rave about the clam chowder and Korean teok-bokki (stir-fried rice cakes).
Open 10am to 8pm. Closed Tuesdays.
4th floor, 96-98 Cao Trieu Phat, D7
Tel: (028) 3873 4351
Cafe MoMo Kids and Restaurant
Arrive with kids and you’ll immediately be directed to the upstairs section of Cafe Momo where the children’s play centre is located.
It’s the standard kids’ cafe setup, with a line of cafe tables positioned so parents can kick back with a coffee while keeping an eye on their kids.
The toys and activities here are mainly for the under-seven crowd: blocks, dolls, soft toys, dress-up costumes, a play kitchen, Lego, dinosaurs, trucks and activity tables. There’s a small alcove for statue painting, a sand play area and a little library of Korean and English children’s books.
On the balcony, which overlooks a soothing lotus pond, there are small plastic slides and play tables.
The menu has Vietnamese, Korean and Western options for kids and adults, with brunch available from 8am to midday. Bingsu, a Korean shaved ice dessert, could keep the kids happy while the parents get stuck into a beer set.
MoMo charges VND100,000 per child per hour for the play area. A voucher for 26 hours of playtime is VND1 million. Statue painting is VND30,000.
Open 8am to 10pm
155-SD04 Garden Court, 1 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, D7
Tel: (028) 5413 8867
The newest kids’ cafe in town outdoes itself in the field of parent friendliness.
The kids’ cafe part of the operation occupies most of the ground floor of a converted villa in Phu My Hung, just across the pond from Crescent Mall. The parents’ area has a view of the soft play area and a sturdy two-storey wooden playhouse. Outside on the covered veranda, there’s a small splash pool, sand pit, scooters, strider bikes and activity tables.
All areas of the play centre, including the trampoline and statue painting rooms, are easily observable on a large closed circuit TV screen. Playtime is VND80,000 per hour per child, with vouchers of 10 hours for VND600,000 and 20 hours for VND1.1 million.
The extensive food and drinks menu showcases the South African owner’s previous experience running a sports bar and makes Child Haven a place for a decent meal, as well as a snack, coffee or glass of wine.
A day care centre also operates on the first floor, with structured activities for children aged two to six. Hourly, daily and monthly rates are available.
But wait, there’s more. Child Haven also operates a weekend babysitting service. Parents can drop off their bundles of joy on Friday and Saturday nights from 5pm to 11pm for about $8 an hour.
Open 8.30am to 8pm. (Daycare: 8.30am – 3.45pm weekdays.)
101 Khu Pho My Hao, Phu My Hung, D7
Tel: 0166 231 6000
The Snap Cafe
Used by many as a de-facto backyard, the everlasting appeal of The Snap Cafe is its outdoor adventure playground, with swings, slides, thatched hut and a wooden climbing frame, all set in a giant sand box.
Upping the appeal is an ice cream tuk-tuk and not one but two kids menus: one for the under-sixes and another for tweens.
With the kids suitably taken care of, the parents are free to kick back in the tropical island-style setting and enjoy the myriad of The Snap Cafe’s offerings.
The adult menu runs the gamut from all-day breakfasts to salads, burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, dip platters and Mexican and Asian dishes. On the drinks front, there’s a wide selection of wines, cocktails, beers, smoothies, juices and coffees.
Snap holds regular events, including live music nights, quiz nights and pop-up stores, and is a popular venue for kids birthday parties.
For those without kids, the library and garden sections are perfect for a catchup with friends, a quiet coffee or a friendly game of pool.