Although I have been covering the commercial sex scene in Ho Chi Minh City for many years I have only scratched the surface. While many foreigners and even a good number of locals overlook the homegrown sex industry it is in fact massive. There are thousands of shops of various types in the city of Saigon alone where adult services of one kind or another are offered in exchange for cash. None are really open about their services and only a handful are oriented towards foreigners which explains why people used to in your face action of the kind found in Pattaya may not think anything is going on in Vietnam’s largest city.
As I have explained in the past Thailand and Japan are home to numerous blowjob bars. No other country has a large blowjob bar scene but similar businesses do exist in other places. The previously reviewed Dragon Club in Hong Kong is a go go bar where oral sex is also provided to customers. Vietnam has countless hair salons like Ben Ny’s where blowjobs and not blow dryers are the focus. Bar 29 is about the closest Vietnam comes to having an actual blowjob bar.
The old hostess bars on Hai Ba Trung followed a name and number model with the name of each bar corresponding to its street address. So “49” was located at 49 Hai Ba Trung. Despite its name Bar 29 is actually located at 27 Dong Khoi in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1. It is nestled in the midst of mind blowing development with huge pedestrian parks and a massive subway project only steps away. The area is also home to a surprising number of luxury shops selling the kind of high end consumer merchandise that the city’s namesake showed little interest in to say the least.
Bar 29 is marked by a small sign out front. Otherwise it is easy to miss. Inside the clear glass door guarded by a middle aged Vietnamese guy sits a small but clean and relatively well appointed bar. Five or six women in their thirties and possibly forties sit around the edges of the bar in lounge wear while an even older female manager waits behind the bar.
The manager or “mama san” at Bar 29 is very similar to the dragon lady who runs the aforementioned Dragon Club in Hong Kong. She speaks enough English to do her job and is quick to ask anyone who enters if they want a woman to sit next to them.
The women at Bar 29 are mostly average in looks. None are overweight or necessarily unattractive. It is quite possible that a few were real head turned in their earlier years but Bar 29 seems to be a place where women who have aged out of other aspects of the industry end up. Quite a few of the women have obvious signs of surgery with big boob jobs being quite common. Although the women are on the older side for the local scene they aren’t any worse looking than a lot of the Vietnamese women who ply their trade at places like the Beach Club in Kuala Lumpur.
If a customer agrees to be joined by one of the women on staff at Bar 29 he is quickly asked if he would like to buy her a lady drink. All prices at Bar 29 seem to be fluid. There are no receipts or menus. The general idea seems to be that the bar will get as much out of a customer as they possibly can. The management at Bar 29 apparently knows nothing about sheep farming.
After buying a lady drink customers are soon asked if they would like to go upstairs. The manager usually asks any customer who agrees to this for 2,000,000 Dong ($88 USD) on top of several hundred thousand Dong more for lady drinks and tips for the mamasan though this is all negotiable.
Customers who navigate through the fluctuating prices are led up a short flight of stairs to a lounge one level above the street. This area is also kept very clean. On the left side there is an open room with several long couches lining the walls. On the right side there is a square hole in the middle of the wall.
Customers are led through the large square hole into a smaller area with a couch on the right and another on the left. Customers are instructed to sit on the couch to the left while their chosen lady runs off to retrieve her materials.
Upon returning to the cubbyhole the service provider typically strips down and performs oral services in between clinking glasses and toasting the night away. Generally speaking the women at Bar 29 are skilled as their mileage might suggest. Most are also pretty fun loving and easy going which runs counter to the cutthroat image the place has thanks to the management.
On top of oral most of the women at Bar 29 are keen to go the extra mile and perform full service. This is evident since they pack prophylactics along with their wet wipes and other supplies. Since prices are flexible at the bar it is impossible to say whether or not this full service is included in the price the bar charges customers to go upstairs with a woman but suffice it to say that the service providers usually ask for a tip for providing it. That is just the nature of the place. Two stars.
Bar 29. 27 Dong Khoi, Ben Nghe, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Open every day from 4:00 PM to Midnight. Click here for a map.