Best Coffee Shops in Vientiane 2013
Where to Go in Vientiane for Reliable WiFi and a Decent Coffee
There are a few excellent options to choose from when you’re looking for a place to work with a coffee in Vientiane. None of them really fall into the true ‘budget’ category though, if you are coming from Vietnam for example then the prices may well shock you like they did us.
So, How Did I Choose?
I looked at a variety of factors including the quality of coffee, WiFi speed, toilet facilities, price, levels of noise, furniture and general ambiance.
I used speedtest.net to test the WiFi download and upload speeds (then averaged the results to get a single figure) and our own personal coffee drinking experience to judge the tastiness of the brews. If you are used to good wifi speeds in other south east Asian cities you may note the ones I’ve recorded here with some surprise. We found Vientiane to have very slow speeds in general, in both the coffee shops, guesthouses and hotels. When we could get a signal, our Beeline SIM card often did better.
I’ve not really commented on the food as we didn’t eat in many of these places: the food was almost always out of our budget – the price of a simple sandwich or cake would pay for at least one main meal at a local eatery. After weeks of careful research I can present the following results:
Black Canyon Coffee
☆Best WiFi speeds by miles
☆Best variety of drinks
7am – 10pm
WiFi: Astounding. ↑6.93 ↓1.72 (6 results) 2 Routers. The fastest in town by far – peaking at a download speed of over 9Mbps *WINNER*
Coffee: Nice; we tried a few different things and they were all good. They have at least 3 different menus with a bewildering number of drinks to choose from. My favourite was the ‘Black Mocha Frappe’ (seen in the collage). Water is not served as standard but I got one when I asked.
Prices: Quite high. Americano 15,000, Espresso 15,000, Cappuccino 19,000, Mocha 19,000, Milkshakes 15,000
Facilities: A range of comfortable furniture, some mini sofas with cushions, cane furniture with cushions and padded chairs upstairs. Mostly normal tables and padded chairs downstairs. Some power sockets available if you look, we always got one when we needed one. Air-con always at a good temperature. Nice lighting, especially in the evening. Even when busy it did not get too loud – unlike Joma.
Toilets: 11/10! Faultless
Ambience: Seems more like a restaurant, especially downstairs. The newness of everything makes it feel luxurious. They serve a lot of different food. Upstairs if it is not busy it is a tranquil spot with gentle inoffensive music like Norah Jones at a soft volume.
☆Best for breakfast (see pic above)
☆Best for sitting on a sofa
☆Best for variety of seating
WiFi: ↓0.35 ↑0.05 (5 results) 3 Routers. Usually worked reasonably well although I was locked out on my laptop on one occasion. Sometimes needed resetting.
Coffee: Their coffee is good, both the brewed and machine types. Their hot/iced chocolate is one of the best and the hot one comes in a big mug as standard. They do not have the same range of blended and cream topped drinks there but at 13,000 with free refill for a nice coffee we were happy with that. All drinks are one size. Additional note: their fruit juices are not fresh but from a carton. All drinks served with water.
Prices: Good. Standard coffee 13,000 (FREE REFILL) Cappuccino 16,000, Hot chocolate: 13,000, Mocha 16,000
Facilities: They have an actual sofa! Also a variety of low chairs and table and chair sets at a good height and with comfortable padded seats. Some power sockets available, we never had trouble getting one when we needed it. Very comfortable and relaxed.
Ambience: Gets quite busy in the mornings and at lunchtime but lovely and quiet in the afternoons. Plays an eclectic range of music (from Drum and Bass to Asian Pop) and has several seating areas both upstairs and downstairs to choose from including two outdoor areas and air-con zones. Upstairs is quieter. Newspapers available.
☆Best if you don’t have your own computer
9am – 9pm
WiFi: ↓0.63 ↑0.17 (6 results) Single router. Wired PC’s are also available to hire for 8,000 / hour. They are fairly new computers with webcams and headphone attached and we didn’t see anyone having a problem with them. Contrary to other reports online the wifi is FREE for customers, like all the places on my list.
Coffee: Everything we had was quite good. Small/large options available. The small was quite small. Water available to serve yourself.
Prices: Fairly expensive – (small/large) Americano 14,000/16,000, Cappuccino 15,000/18,000, Hot Chocolate 14,000/18,000, Mocha 16,000/20,000
Facilities: Booths along the wall (with and without a wired PC) some soft but oddly shaped low ‘comfortable chairs’, a high table with stools and normal tables and chairs (hard seats). Plenty of power sockets all over the place.
Ambience: A little sterile but fine. Not too noisy, even when busy. I think other reports of True having ‘the best wifi in town’ have encouraged a lot of customers to come and work here, hence the wifi is often not that fast. Sometimes it goes down altogether and needs to be reset. Newspapers available.
Joma Bakery Cafe
☆Best for freezing cold air-con (upstairs)
WiFi: ↓0.74 ↑0.39 (5 results) Single router. Much better when not busy – we mostly visited in the evenings so the average daytime (busy) result would be much lower.
Coffee: Variable. Their ‘brewed coffee’ is the best value; if you buy a large for 16,000 you get a free refill, however it is BAD coffee. You will regret it and end up buying a different drink the next time which are all more expensive. The other drinks were all OK, if rather pricy. Both times I tried a hot chocolate it was not actually very hot. Water is served with your drink and you can top it up yourself.
Prices: (small/large): Brewed coffee 11,000/16,000, Cappuccino & Hot Chocolate 15,000/21,000, Mocha 17,000/23,000, Milkshakes 21,000 (Also, to give you an idea of the food prices a single chocolate chip cookie was 8,000 or 70p!)
Facilities: A variety of soft, comfortable chairs with low tables and table and chair sets with hard seats. Some power sockets available, difficult to get a seat next to one when busy.
Toilets: 10/10 (almost the winner)
Ambience: Can get rather noisy when busy, the design of the building seems to amplify noise which permeates all areas. Most busy at lunchtimes and at weekends but can be busy almost anytime and that means the wifi is crippled. Evening is the best time to visit JoMa. We usually worked upstairs as it was slightly quieter but the air-con was often too cold upstairs, leaving me with goosebumps.
Sweedish Pizza and Baking House
☆Best prices for hot coffees like cappuccino
WiFi: ↓0.96 0.92 (3 results) Single router.
Coffee: Blended ice mocha was rather nice. We did not try the regular coffee
Prices: Cheapest of the 5 – Regular coffee 10,000 (Cheapest) Cappuccino 13,000, Mocha 15,000, Hot Chocolate 10,000
Facilities: Lagging behind the other coffee shops in this department. Other than one small grubby sofa that I didn’t want to test they only have cafe style chairs and tables to chose from, not solid and not comfortable. No obvious power sockets.
Toilets: Not investigated
Ambience: Quite a small place, the noise from the kitchen leaks into the seating area and the counter overlooks all. We did not like it there and could not relax at all. Really, the ambience was what put us off the Swedish Pizza and Baking House and meant that we only went there once.
FInd all 5 of the Best Coffee Shops in Vientiane on my interactive map:
View Top Coffee Shops in Vientiane to Work in a larger map
There you have it – our Top 5 places to have a coffee and get some work done in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Is there somewhere we overlooked? Leave a comment so others can investigate…
Vientiane, Laos: June/July 2013