Years ago I wrote about the “kiss bang” tongue kissing rooms of Seoul. My report on that peculiar Korean local style of shop became one of the most read posts in the history of this website. Caphe om hugging cafes are unique to Vietnam and in Ho Chi Minh City they are probably even more plentiful than the aforementioned kiss rooms in the South Korea capital.
Over the past months I have covered a variety of cafes in Ho Chi Minh City in an attempt to paint a broad picture of what things are actually like on the ground. As I wrote at the conclusion of my review of Cafe Nhac Tre 173:
…there are all sorts of coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh City including some like the previously reviewed Tro Lai that don’t even sell coffee at all! There are street sellers, mom and pop shops, local chains, international chains, and caphe om. There are also coffee shops staffed by attractive women in short skirts that have DJs come in to play dance music like Cafe Nhac Tre 173.
That basically boils it down into a few sentences but several paragraphs would be better suited to explain things in more detail.
Cafes with sexy women
Ho Chi Minh City is home to several cafes with sexy women. I’m not talking about regular coffee shops with sexy female customers. There are tons of those around but they don’t get a special category. They are run of the mill. The mill just happens to run hot in Ho Chi Minh City.
Here I am talking about coffee shops that specifically staff attractive women in revealing outfits to help bring in and keep customers. The above mentioned Cafe Nhac Tre 173 fits this description perfectly.
These aren’t caphe om. Customers can’t really touch the women on staff even if the gals do sometimes flirt or go further by doing things like sitting on a guys lap. They don’t offer any sexual services either. It’s a lot like the newer variety of hostess bar in Ho Chi Minh City where women are mainly there to keep customers company and provide some eye candy too.
Some of these cafes get really lively and have special events such as DJ nights featuring scantly clad women who bounce around on stage while they play the latest in ear drum shaking dance music.
Caphe om literally translates to “hug cafe”. In many hugging cafes a lot more than hugs goes on. The word “om” is attached to a lot of place to indicate such things. So in Vietnam there are karaoke om and bia om too.
There was a time when several caphe om commonly offered oral sex to customers either right in their seats or in a private room in the back. Nowadays it is not as common though it does still occur. More commonly guys sit with women at these cafes or have the women sit on them in a lap dance style situation.
These hugging cafes are pretty plentiful. I have already reviewed one called Tro Lai and another place that operates under the name Cafe 714. Both places are close to each other located on Pham The Hien road in District 8.
There are also several other caphe om located on the same street. Although they have signs clearing marking their names they do tend to be rather discreet. Most of them obscure their entrance and parking areas with the strategic use of potted plants.
These cafes are hardly alone. The city is filled with them though none have signs outside saying “this is a special cafe where you can touch the women” or anything like that. Even local guys often have to put in research to find them or to find the kinds of cafes they will enjoy.
Caphe om Americano
As it happens there are even a type of caphe om in the United States. Owned and operated by ethnically Vietnamese people some of these cafes have opened in western US states like California. Some have even taken the internet by storm as photos and videos of the women working inside have gone viral.
Years ago there was even some video floating around of Vietnamese women with surgically enhanced breats dancing on table tops wearing nothing more than bikini bottoms and pasties. Apparently the place where the video was recorded got in trouble since it was only licensed to serve coffee.
Still plenty of these US localization of the Vietnamese innovation operate today. In reality these coffee shops are closer to the cafe with sexy women model than the caphe om variety since nothing really goes on inside. Generally speaking they are just meant to give guys something to look at other than smartphone screens while they’re having their morning coffee or evening beer.