Review: Phu Ngoc — Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City has a large adult entertainment scene. As reported in some detail on this site over the years there are several shops around the city catering to guys looking for fun. Due to a somewhat repressive atmosphere most of the shops do not advertise themselves openly. They don’t typically advertise in languages other than Vietnamese either. Because of this many foreigners fail to recognize what is going on around them.

Vietnamese proprietors have developed all sorts of innovative methods to get around the local ban on sex work. One of the things that emerged from the peculiar situation in Vietnam is the hot toc om which look like hairdressers but provide a lot more.

The previously reviewed Thien Phu located at 49 Nguyen Phi Khanh was for years one of the most popular hot toc massage shops among foreign customers in the city. A few months ago that shop closed its doors without even leaving as much as a notice behind. Other similar businesses on the same street still continue to operate.

Phu Ngoc at 68 Nguyen Phi Khanh is located almost directly across the street from the old Thien Phu shop. It is marked by a simple sign with the shops names and some Vietnamese phrases about massage. A Vietnamese man guards the front door and calls out to guys who pass by with a smooching sound.

Men who respond to the kissing calls or otherwise walk into the recessed entrance are let through a sliding glass door into a small barbershop in the lobby where three or four Vietnamese women of average looks can usually be found lounging around. These women typically wear black dresses but they do not have the kinds of tight sexy uniforms the women at Thien Phu used to wear.

After customers select a service provider from among the gals in the barbershop area they are quickly guided up a set of stairs to a higher floor. There they find a row of booths separated from each other with frosted glass. These booths which are similar to those found at Benny’s are on the small side and have room only for a massage table and hair washing sink. The booths are so small in fact that tall customers may find their feet pressed up against the frosted glass walls when they lay down on the massage table.

Once guided into one of the booths customers are instructed to strip down and wait. The service providers then go to gather their supplies like mouthwash and wet naps. Once the providers return they typically provide the kinds of oral services typical of the hot toc massage shops.

While actual services provided ultimately come down to those providing them it can generally be said that the women at Phu Ngoc typically aren’t as adventurous or vigorous as the ladies at 49 Nguyen Phi Khanh used to be. They provide services as expected but they don’t normally go the extra mile as women at the shuttered shop across the street often did. They don’t always take off their entire kits either with some preferring to only pull down the tops of their dresses while with customers.

Once service is completed customers are cleaned up and guided back down the stairs. There is normally no manager around so customers simply pay their service providers directly. The house fee is 200,000 VND ($8.80 USD) and a tip of around the same amount is also expected. Most customers find it easiest just to pay 350,000 to 400,000 Dong altogether on the way out.

Phu Ngoc is a lot like most other hot toc oms in the city. It is one among many similar shops on the same street where it doesn’t necessarily stand out. As more mainstream businesses and residences continue to appear on the street shops like Phu Ngoc may close up or relocate. In the meantime they operate as they have for years though prices have gone up a bit recently. Two stars.

Phu Ngoc. 68 Nguyen Phi Khanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Open seven days a week from around noon until evening.

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