The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Massage parlors for men in Vietnam: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jun• 06•10

Vietnamese streetside massage shops offer everything from foot massage to manual stimulation, but do not offer full service, in sexual terms. Read on, as our handy guide will help you to navigate this labyrinth of services and to get what you’re paying for.

The good

Streetside stall massage shops typically offer body, face, and foot massage, at extremely reasonable rates.  For body massage, you’ll remove your shoes and shirt (if a man), and shoes only if a woman.  The massage is non-sexual, and pretty much the whole experience is in full view of passersby.  During your massage, you’ll be asked if you’d like to buy a facial, manicure, pedicure, or a haircut, at affordable prices.  Service is generally terrific, for these girls operating on commission only.

The bad & the ugly

Hotel-based massage parlors, and establishments dealing in massage only cater to males exclusively.  Here, you’ll pay an entry fee, typically 60,000 VND ($4 USD), which includes steam room, sauna, shower, and a one-hour body massage.  Three-star hotels and above charge different fees for Vietnamese than Westerners.  A typical hotel we know charges $15 USD on the rate card.  Flip the rate card over (if you’re savvy), and you’ll see the same service offered for 75,000 VND (equal to $5 USD).

It gets worse.  As a Westerner, you’ll be given the oldest masseuse in the establishment, because younger masseuses are reserved for Vietnamese men, who would complain if offered otherwise.  Your massage room will have a window on the door that allows management to monitor your masseuse.  Since many massage parlors are government-owned and controlled, girls are under threat to be fired if caught doing anything naughty.  You will get your 45 minute massage, after which your masseuse will ask you if you’d like “special service”.  She’ll quote you up to $30 USD for a hand-job.  Prices can usually be bargained to 100,000 VND (roughly $12 USD), but service is uniformly poor throughout the country.  This activity is illegal in Vietnam, and its practitioners rarely provide “service with a smile,” as they are constantly watching the window in the door  to see if they’re being spied upon.  To provide additional cover-up, they will place a large towel over their hands, and you.  Girls in this line of business are relatively unsophisticated, sexually, and they have mixed feelings about being in this line of work.

VietnamPromoBannerWe’d suggest you opt out of any sexual peccadilloes, and finish your legitimate massage, without sexual services. Masseuses will expect a tip, and 50% of the entrance fee, where no sexual service is obtained, is considered fair.  Expect a grumpy face when you give your 50% tip, (plus or minus 30,000 VND, depending on entry fee), as you were expected to tip the going rate for sexual services.

Do take a look around as you exit to see if dodgy characters are following you. Occasionally, girls will phone their boyfriends loitering outside, telling them about the Westerners who didn’t live up to their financial “obligations.” If you notice nefarious persons, stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets, and don’t telegraph the whereabouts of your hotel.

Our recommendation

In our opinion, sexual services in Vietnamese massage parlors are rip-offs. Do go for the massages, steam rooms, and saunas, which are relaxing and wonderful.  Stick to the published price sheet (remember to ask for the Vietnamese price sheet, when there is one), and have a great experience.  If you take the bait and go for the dubious “sexual services,” it’s a good bet that your experience won’t be a satisfactory one.

Terminology used in Vietnamese massage parlors 

Phòng thư giân = massage room
Phòng xông khô  = sauna room
Phòng xông hơi = steam room
Phòng thay đỗ = dressing room
Phòng tăm = shower room

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5 Comments

  1. schumi says:

    I went to Halong on april 14, 2014. I spent 200 000 VND for back, neck, legs and foot massage during one hour. It was so good that I decided to give 100 000 VND to the masseuse. And I recommend to give tips if you want a good massage, a service with a smile and any problems with the masseuse and the manager. So, there are many massage parlors in the streets of the main towns in vietnam. Be sure before entry how much are the entry fee and tips : In Hanoï, I spent the entry fee for 300 000 vnd and 500 000 vnd for the tips. No matters for me, the massage was very relaxing and different than in Halong. And the place was vey clean. I think you can bargain entry fee. But bargain tips is less wise.
    But I went to the first massage parlors just next to my hotel situated in the old eastside downtown. If you can, ask to your guide which massage parlors is Ok.

  2. steve says:

    Absolutely love each of these steam showers

  3. David tran says:

    The rate of US and VN currency exchange: 3 years ago or nowadays as of Nov 2013 NEVER can be as 100,000 VND equal $12.00 dollars !
    At the exchange rate of 21000 VND to 1 dollar…So 100,000 ONLY equal 5 USD…

  4. Time says:

    It’s actually a great and useful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date on Vietnamese MPs.

  5. yogendra Singh says:

    kindly intimate rates for massage

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