The Hoa Mai Hotel sits almost immediately next door to the much better known and more luxurious Minh Minh Tam. The Hoa Mai has similar bright lights and signs advertising massage as well as a tout who sits outside trying to beckon in customers probably in the hope that they’ll confuse the one place for the other.
When customers enter they are given a price up front in what passes for a front desk but in reality is more like an open air motorbike parking garage with a table in it. There customers are shown two prices written on a scrap of paper. The first price of 400,000 Dong ($18 USD) is for a standard massage. The second price of 600,000 Dong ($26 USD) is for a VIP session. In reality no one who was all that important would probably step foot in the Hoa Mai but the place can’t really be faulted for using industry standard names for services.
Unlike almost every other massage parlor in Ho Chi Minh City the guy at the Hoa Mai asks for payment up front. That is normally a bad sign but at the Hoa Mai it seems to be nothing more than an attempt to make sure the money is actually paid. Perhaps they have been beaten for twenty or thirty dollars in the past.
After customers pay the house fee they are guided through a mess of motorbikes back to a set of dingy steps that look as if they were built before independence and not updated since. After climbing several sets of steps customers are guided down an abandoned looking hallway to one of several rooms that is not in much better condition than the aforementioned stairs.
The rooms are private but the doors in them contain huge windows that are only half frosted. The rooms are fitted out with steam rooms and bath tubs in a way that resembles some VIP rooms in other massage parlors except that at Hoa Mai everything looks more or less worn down and in some cases broken. It is not the worst massage parlor in Ho Chi Minh City but it is not that far off either.
After customers are led to the rooms they are left alone for a few minutes while one of the women on staff is summoned for service. The women who work at Hoa Mai tend to be on the older side at least in terms of the local industry. The average age is probably in the mid thirties. It is doubtful any woman much younger than that works at the place.
The ladies who work Hoa Mai’s massage department wear red and white short uniforms that are reminiscent of what the generally younger and more attractive gals over at Minh Ming Tam wear. In fact the whole place looks like a more worn down version of the Minh Minh Tam next door and they even charge the same rates that place asked for years ago so perhaps it is fitting.
The massages at Hoa Mai are more or less non existent. Or at least they ought to be since they provide nothing in the way of relaxation whatsoever. Similarly the other typical services provided in a hotel massage in Ho Chi Minh City such as bathing and steam are rendered in a round about way at Hoa Mai if and when they are in fact rendered at all. It is clear that the main point of service then is the special services offered to customers at some point during their appointment.
For the most part hotel massage parlors in Vietnam’s biggest city offer a massage with a hands on happy ending finale. A few hotel massage hotels are known to offer oral services but they are not as common. At Hoa Mai the providers seem keen on offering oral services to customers even though they are unable to communicate much of anything in any language other than their mother tongue.
The service providers ask for 700,000 Dong for this service ($30 USD) which they are enthusiastic to perform. Of course nearly everything is negotiable in Vietnam including tips rendered for extra services at massage parlors.
At Hoa Mai the tip is rendered directly to the service providers unlike other hotel massage parlors where customers write their tip down on a piece of paper so that it can be added to their tab on the way out.
Despite its decrepit decor Hoa Mai is not a rip off shop. The people who work the place do seem to put in at least some kind of effort to leave their customers pleased. The place is just so far off the level of service provided by other nearby places at a similar price point it is just a wonder that Hoa Mai gets any customers at all besides those who might wander inside on a whim or even accidentally.
Hoa Mai Hotel. 723-725 Le Hong Phong, Ward 12, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Open every day around the clock. Phone: (+84) 028-3862-4669.