A visit to the Central Highlands region of Việt Nam offers plenty of incredible tourist experiences, including drinking fresh coffee in the hills and playing with cute puppies.
Located 54km north of Buôn Ma Thuột City, Krông Bút District in the central province of Đắk Lắk attracted many visitors this recent Tết (Lunar New Year) to pet cafés.
I had an opportunity to visit Alaska Hoàng Gia, located in Katy 2, Cư Kbô Commune in Krông Bút District earlier this year to enjoy the festive atmosphere during the traditional Tết holiday.
The new tourism destination has a two-storey building where visitors can enjoy various drinks, including fresh fragrant coffee, a garden to pet, play and pose with cute dogs and a breeding area to learn about various kinds of dogs.
Alaska Hoàng Gia is the first largest dog farm in the area and was established by a pet-loving local man, 29-year-old Hoàng Văn Tiến.
On entering the house, I was immediately surrounded by puppies of more than 120 breeds like pugs, huskies, Alaska dogs and poodles, all of which are up to date on their injections and are frequently bathed.
Besides tasting coffee that costs about VNĐ20,000 (US 90 cents) a cup, visitors can also join discussions on ways to raise dogs.
In the fenced garden, the atmosphere was livened with the laughter of a group of youths playing with nearly 20 puppies, each of which was about three months old.
“The first time I came here, I felt uncomfortable with the smell,” frequent visitor Bùi Huyền Trang from Cư Mgar High School said. “However, after a while playing with chubby Alaska dogs, I became familiar and fell in love with them. My friends and I frequently drop by the café to play with the dogs.”
According to Nguyễn Thảo Chi, a student of Tây Nguyên University, there are only two pet cafés in Đắk Lắk Province, one in Buôn Ma Thuột City and Alaska Hoàng Gia. Though it recently opened, the latter has attracted an increasing number of young customers thanks to its variety of puppies.
“The cuteness and hospitality of the puppies melts every customer’s heart,” said Chi who travels more than 50km to reach the café at weekends.
According to Hoàng Văn Tiến, manager of Alaska Hoàng Gia café and also the director of Hoàng Anh Breeding Cooperative, the café opened in June 2019 to connect animal lovers.
This Tết, the destination welcomed about 200 visitors a day on average, he revealed.
“From the experience learned from this year’s Tết, we will improve our service to serve customers better,” he added.
Tiến had the idea of opening a pet café at the end of 2016 when he saw the climate and soil of Krông Búk was suitable for raising and breeding dogs.
He spent months studying breeding techniques online and learning from other successful models.
After investing just VNĐ50 million ($2,100) at the end of 2016, raising dogs combined with his café business has fetched his family a cool VNĐ3 billion ($129,000).
Besides coffee and puppies, Alaska Hoàng Gia also provides other services like spa and disease treatments for dogs, as well as accommodation and bathing.
Located on Y Ngông Street in Buôn Ma Thuột City, The Zoo Kafein has also become a popular destination for coffee and pet lovers.
The shop has an open space with rows of trees, colourful flowers and various kinds of pets that make customers feel close to nature.
While leisurely sipping hot coffee, they can watch the Koi fish or play with puppies and kittens.
“The cafés now tend to open up their space, including diversified services to meet the various demands of customers,” said regular customer Nguyễn Hoàng Anh.
“Many people consider cafés as a place to immerse themselves in a rustic atmosphere or simply just to escape reality,” he added.
According to one of its founders, Nguyễn Hoàng Phát, The Zoo Kafein aims to offer a playground for animal lovers.
“We hope to inspire people to live close to nature and to become an address for others to share their experience in taking care of our beloved pets.” — VNS