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Review: Thien Phu — Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Thien Phu is one of the many goi dau hair wash slash massage places in Ho Chi Minh City. It is situated about halfway down a street that happens to be home to many places of its type. There are several other places scattered around the city including some other rather large concentrations too. This Thien Phu is not be confused with the previously reviewed Thien Phu that was once located at 49 Nguyen Phi Khanh.

While there are a lot of similar shops in the area each place does have its own unique character. If they didn’t customers would wander in whatever shop they came across first. Perhaps that does happen but it just as common to hear about people bemoaning the loss of their favorite shop such as when Thien Phu closed a while ago.

As luck would have it some of the women who worked at Thien Phu migrated to other places with similar business models. One of those place is Thien Phu where at least two of women who used to work at Thien Phu appeared after that place went out of business for whatever reason.

Thien Phu is marked by the same kind of signage as the other businesses of its type around. Customers not keeping an eye open might lose sight of one place while looking for another. Many even have similar names though thanks to some foresight and city planning none of the places have the same street number.

Inside Thien Phu looks like a somewhat disheveled hair salon. The dozen or so women on staff make use of the barber style chairs and other flat surfaces to lay about in between the arrivals of customers. Most of the women seem to be in their twenties though one or two might be older. The ladies range in looks from average to attractive and none are overweight. They all wear matching dresses that accent their appearances.

After customers enter the shop they either take whichever lady is next in line or select one of the service providers on their own. After that they are guided up a flight of steps to a larger room. That room is subdivided into cubicles. Although the plastic walls between the various sections offer some kind of privacy they obviously do not block any of the sounds that tend to echo off of the high ceiling and block walls.

The doors to the cubicles are actually made of heavy curtains that do not go all the way to the floor. They offer some modicum of privacy but they tend to sway to and fro in the wind put off but the many wall mounted walls.

As is normal for venues of this nature each cubicle contains a place to hang a shirt, a sturdy massage style table and a hair washing sink. The providers themselves carry other accessories such as wet wipes that are used for cleaning along with the soap and water in the sinks.

The standard oral services for this type of venue are offered too with none on staff offering anything more. That is fairly typical for hot tocs but with a select few going further in some nearby venues customers may get different ideas. That is probably one of the reasons why most working shops of the type seem not to want anyone to go any further than necessary. It can create a precedent.

The house fee at Thien Phu is 200,000 Dong ($9 USD) which is typically paid on the way out. Customers normally tip something on top of that to their individual service providers. Locals are likely to offer small tips while foreigners have gotten into the habit of simply forking over a total of 400,000 Dong as if it was a set fee.

Thien Phu. 112 Nguyen Phi Khanh, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Open everyday from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

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