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Loading T - The best experience we ever had in Hanoi

Thien Nguyen
Travel back in time to a café within a charming 1930s building, only a few hundred meters away from St Joseph’s Cathedral.

On a Sunday in Hanoi, the early summer day, golden sunshine, gentle breeze and two British guests began their journey to discover Hanoi - a city full of mysterious gems.


Like the footage from the 1900s, from the Cathedral, going towards Ly Quoc Su, bypassing the busy Huyen alley, the next turn is Chan Cam. The shop is an old house at the beginning of Chan Cam street.

The building itself is an elegant, colonial-era mansion — rustic, ochre walls provide a fitting backdrop to circular balconies, elegant railings, foliage and bunting. It certainly stands out, yet look closer still, and you’ll see the once-majestic space crumbling in parts, or stained in others, all of which adds to the building’s character.


Dotted in front of the building are various signs advertising the stores you’ll find inside, including pottery shops and fashion boutiques. Upon closer inspection, one notices a small ‘Loading T’ sign before a set of old stairs on the left that climb into the heart of the building.

Built in the early 1930s, the property once housed a single family, yet was later partitioned into 16 separate spaces. Fast-forward a few decades and the general public are now able to access the place via numerous businesses.


Inside the Loading T are asynchronous chairs and there is always a vase of fresh flowers on the table or on the bar, where the soft light falls straight down making the petals seem transparent. The cafe offers a wide range of drinks, from smoothies to coffee, but 2 guests in particular loved the famous egg coffee served with cinnamon ice. You won't see it being made, as the flowers, vases and coffee machines obscure the view of a passerby, but the smell of coffee fills the room.

"Without you, a true Hanoi native, we wouldn't have known this magical place!", the two tourists exclaimed.


The space inside Loading T is tied to the history of this city. Original geometric tiles, now old and discolored, line the floor, while the original, exposed red brick walls maintain the aesthetic. Where once the fireplace had warmed the room, there was still an alcove filled with strange things. In fact, there are some things that are very nostalgic, like the people of Hanoi, including carefully balanced jewelry on shelves around the walls, old paintings and posters. Film cameras and their boxes hang behind the bar, while vintage Marshall speakers play soft music. Behind the stall, dozens of colorful cups are precariously stacked, each bearing the signature Bat Trang ceramic style.

If you choose to sit by the window, the music only serves as a background to the honking of car horns and the buzzing chatter that fills Hanoi's Old Quarter. It was interesting to look through the poetic glass windows and olive green shutters and watch the world go by - a barber on the street waiting for his next client; groups of locals meet to eat; Tourists are confused with crossing the street...

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floraac (1).jpeg

A nice and cozy little cafe. It creates a sense of belonging and you can enjoy your own space. That said, its style and charm give it great appeal. It's easy to spend a few hours imagining the lives of all the people who have lived in the building over the past century and the stories they could tell. If only those bare brick walls could talk.

After leaving Loading T, two British guests with gentle smiles. They seem to have just been time-traveled back to the old days of Hanoi. They also seem to feel "living like Hanoians", which we often label as "Hanoi people are the gods of nostalgia".


I believe that, with local friends, tourists from all over the world will truly experience the true aspects of a land they visit. I have heard of the best tours, but providing the best experience is probably nothing like the feeling of "living like a local".


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