Saigon isn’t a famous nightlife capital but there is plenty of pay for play action around if you know where to look. One of the most common destination for randy foreigners are the hostess bars of Ho Chi Minh City.
These aren’t go go bars or even beer bars. They are small set ups with anywhere from three to thirty Vietnamese women on staff ready to make the customer feel good. At least that’s the intention.
The hostess bars aren’t advertised but they are easy to find. There are many on and around Bui Vien street in District 1 where most foreigners end up. There are even better ones in other parts of the city like Bar 91 at 91 Hai Ba Trung. Once you find one bar you can usually walk around and find some others.
A favorite of local expats is VIC Bar on Ho Xuan Huang street. It’s large and there are maybe three dozen women working there. Most of them look really good but only a few speak English. As you might expect the English speakers are also some of the oldest and least attractive. Drinks and lady drinks aren’t expensive but the women demand a tip just to sit and talk with them. Taking a girl out is supposedly possible but you have to visit a few times and build a relationship. In other words, it’s dating with more expenses thrown in. If you’re going to put in that kind of time, you’re better off finding regular girls through Vietnam Cupid!
The women at most hostess bars don’t demand a tip for sitting with them though some will ask for it with different degrees of pressure thrown in. Others are good enough not to bother. After all they get commission every time you buy them an overpriced lady drink.
The bars around Bui Vien are a little harder to pull girls from. Places like Bar 91 are set up for it. It even got the place hit by the police a while back. It reopened but some of the others around didn’t. I’ve heard they all have the same owners but I don’t know if that’s true.
Like Laos, Vietnam forbids local women of the paid or unpaid type to enter a hotel room with any foreigner they aren’t married to. Like Laos there are many ways to get around this ridiculous rule in Ho Chi Minh City. I stay at the Thien Xuan or the Ho Sen Hotel which is right next to Apocalypse Now. They both let you bring women to your room without problem.
In the many massage parlors around you are already in a private room with a woman so nothing else needs to be done. With a woman from a hostess bar you have to find a place to take her (usually, more on that later). The good thing is that women who regularly go out with customers know where to go. They have contacts with nearby one or two star hotels that have no problem turning their head and renting a room to you and your lover for an hour. The best part is that it’s possible to negotiate a fee that includes your drinks at the bar, the bar fine, the taxi, the hotel and the woman’s tip all at once. One hundred US dollars is about the going rate for everything but in Vietnam every price is up for discussion. If you’re too weak to negotiate you’ll get ripped off for everything from taxis to taxi girls.
Before I said that you have to find a place to take a lady from a hostess bar if you want to have fun with her. That means finding a guest friendly hotel in Saigon or going to a hotel she knows. Unless of course she’s willing to have some fun with you in a semi private corner of the bar. Believe or it not that happens with some frequency especially at some particular bars.
I’ve had good luck around Thi Sac street, Dong Khoi street and Le Thanh Ton street in District 1. I’ve never found any hostess bars outside of District 1. The locals seem to go for other places like sexy cafes which I’ll talk about another time.