Review: Kim Yen — Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Kim Yen is one of the many hot tocs in Ho Chi Minh City that offers a lot more than trims and facial massages. In fact I doubt the place offers those services at all even though it looks like a small hair salon from the street.

Located along the canal that bisects Ho Chi Minh City the shop is clearly marked with a big white sign. The name of the shop is spelled out in large red letters reading: “Kim Yen”. Some other words to the effect of massage and hair salon are also there along with the place’s address.

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Kim Yen has clear glass doors and a tiny shop floor. It doesn’t look like much at all. Few would probably realize that there is a lot more space one level up. The doors remained locked until a customer arrives and knocks. Then the doors are temporarily unlocked to allow access to the shop.

when customers enter Kim Yen they are greeted by one of the three or four ladies who works the place. These Vietnamese women all seem to be in their thirties though they could be a little younger or possibly even older. Despite that the women would probably be described as being at least somewhat attractive by most men.

All of the women at Kim Yen wear the kind of sexy revealing dresses one would expect to see in a Korean massage parlor in the US or a place like Asian Studio Wien in Vienna. They all seem to have had their breasts surgically enhanced as well. That is common among professionals in Vietnam but not necessarily for women working in hot tocs. As it turns out Kim Yen isn’t necessarily a standard naughty hot toc if such a thing even exists.

The general rule in Vietnam is that hair salons with open glass doors and windows usually don’t offer any extra services. It’s not much of a rule however as places like Kim Yen prove. Most of the hot tocs also employ women in their twenties or perhaps early thirties with natural bodies who don’t speak English. And they limit their services to oral or in some cases hand. Kim Yen breaks from that mold too.

After customers are met by one of the women on staff they are led up a perilous staircase to a higher level filled with small booths like those seen at Benny’s across town. These booths are surrounded by frosted glass and contain massage tables that stretch from one side to the other. There isn’t much room for anything else.

The women typically begin with a minute or so of unenthusiastic massage before offering further services. The main item on the menu at Kim Yen seems to be full service. There are no set prices and things are highly negotiable. The women are experienced hagglers and they may quote rates as high as 1,000,000 Dong ($44 USD) to foreigners even though locals and regular customers are more likely to pay 500,000 to 600,000 ($22-26 USD).

Customers who take up the offers for extra services then get a quick round with their service provider there in the booth. The usual routine involves a cat bath followed by a bit of oral and then the grand finale. There are no extra facilities for clean up though there is a small bathroom for use by everyone in the shop.

Although they have probably been in their line of work for years the women at Kim Yen don’t seem to be overly hardened. In fact they can even come off as being a friendly and jovial bunch.

Kim Yen, 1071 Hoang Sa, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Open every day from 10 AM to 10 PM.

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