The hostess bars of Ho Chi Minh City

I first wrote about the hostess bars of Ho Chi Minh City back in January of 2013. Not long after that report made its appearance on this site a major crackdown occurred leaving several shops reeling and many more closed all together. An update on the scene is certainly in order by now. Today I’ll write about what’s left of the girlie bar scene for those who are interested in the information.

Hai Ba Trung Street was once the center of activity for Saigon’s hostess bars, but the raids of 2013 put a stop to that. Today there is no real main street area of activity. The bars that remain open are spread all around District 1.

One bar that remains open on Hai Ba Trung is the well-known “91” located where one might expect it to be at 91 Hai Ba Trung. This bar has always been among the most popular and well reviewed but I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why. The women who work at 91 don’t seem to be generally any better looking that the women at other hostess bars (and staff can change from one day to the next anyway). They do seem to be more aggressive and hungry for tips. Reports indicate that the drive for dollars has gone up even more since the shutdown with women now asking for as much as 500,000 Dong ($24 USD) just to sit with a customer and share an overpriced drink. That’s more than guys typically pay for service at a hot toc om like Benny’s. Reports of rudeness and attempted bill padding also abound.

Other smaller bars are still around with the same general level of service they’ve always offered. One such bar is located on Le Thanh Ton near the intersection with Chu Manh Trinh, but it’s certainly not the only game in town.

VIC bar at 55 Ho Xuan Huang has been open for some time. Although it’s not located on a main street, it’s one of the largest and most well appointed hostess bars in all of Saigon. The bar seems to be most popular for Asian guys though there is a mix of customers from all over. The staff is rather large with something like 50 women working any given evening. The tips expected at this bar for basic things like sitting with a customer can rival those of 91 and taking a gal out of the bar isn’t easy. Punters looking for a point and click setup probably wouldn’t like the place.

The tourist and backpacker part of town also has a fair share of hostess bars. They are located on Bui Vien and its offshoots and have names like “Sexy Girl.” A guy only needs to walk down Bui Vien at night and listen for the “hello welcome” call to find one or more of these pubs. Although they are more oriented toward lady drinks than anything else the Bui Vien area hostess bars can get relatively busy. Surprisingly, these bars don’t gouge tourists as much as one might expect considering the surroundings. Drink prices are basically the same as they are in the other hostess bars and there’s no push for tips whatsoever. It is quite possible for customers to leave the bar with many of the ladies though it’s certainly no guarantee.

As you can see there are still plenty of hostess bars around town even though the major hit the industry took in 2013 has definitely taken its toll. Not every woman will venture out with a customer and even those that will won’t go out with every guy who asks every time they ask. All sorts of factors are at play. If and when an agreement is made an exchange of one hundred US greenbacks typically takes place on top of whatever bar fees are required.

Since they are relatively laid back and easy to navigate I imagine that the hostess bars of Ho Chi Minh City will continue to draw customers for as long as they exist even if guys looking for immediate action will probably head elsewhere.

Those sorts and others will find plenty of action outside of the hostess bar scene. Specialized massage parlors and barbershops continue to supply popular services to locals and foreigners alike and other non-hostess bars also offer areas for punters to look. Working women going the freelance route continue to gather in bars and discos like Apocalypse Now, Go2Go and Crazy Buffalo though they tend to prey on newbies and short time visitors and often quote sky high rates.

If time allows I will do my best to write up a general report based on the information available to me at some point in the future.

26 Comments

  1. xe_om says:

    I concur with your comments on 91 HBT. Ridiculous fees for just sitting with you. If you don’t pay it, you sit alone and all the girls ignore you. Terrible place. Luckily there are many other places around, including some high-priced “geisha” bars and karaoke in the alleys off Le Thanh Ton. They cater to the Japanese businessmen who live around there, but they are still enjoyable and welcoming even if you are caucasian.

  2. JT says:

    Can anyone recommend any hostess bars or KTVs that have good quantity/quality of ladies that are reasonably priced?

    • rockit says:

      Reasonable is subjective so it’s hard to answer. I’ve written two run downs on the hostess bar scene. I may do another on KTVs at some point, but I don’t have any plans to do that right now. Cheers.

  3. KOJ says:

    HI ROCKIT. Do u have any information about sex in phan thiet?(a town near ho chi minh)

  4. VN says:

    Hi Bro, can help to confirm if Benny Ny is still avaliable as of now?
    I heard after the raid in 2013, it had close down later.
    I actually cannot find the shop during one visit to VN recently.

    And for your update, 91HBT already no more.
    Look like a coffee joint have taken over now.

    • rockit says:

      There is a post about Benny’s. It was confirmed to be open long after the 2013 crackdown, as recently as a few months ago. Cheers.

  5. VN says:

    And bro, do you have a address for Caphe Om and Beer Om shop.
    Am very interested to try it on my next trip to HCM

    • rockit says:

      No I don’t. I’ve written elsewhere on the site about these kinds of places and that they’re nearly impossible for foreigners who don’t speak the language to navigate. Cheers.

  6. Martin says:

    Hello,
    Thanks for your guide. After having walked up and down Hai Ba Thrung Street, I can add a “coffee shop” aka. hostess bar: Thiên Lôc Coffee, address: 23-25 Hai Ba Trung.

    It’s a room around 8×8 meters, with a small bar and a pool table, and a bunch of lounge-style couches and comfortable chairs. When I popped in (a doorman rushed to open the door to show me the girls as I walked by) it was around 9pm, so not very busy. 10-12 girls working. Two girls asked if they could sit with me, I said yes. They were very nice, one very young and beautiful, but spoke nada English (she was a newbie), the other not so pretty, but spoke English alright.

    The “mamasan” lady would come over every 5 minutes and pester me to buy new ladydrinks, and nothing pisses me off more than being pestered for drinks. The girls didn’t pester. I spent maybe 20 minutes there drinking two drinks. I asked about the pool table, but the girls said that if I lose, I had to pay them $20, so fuck that. If I won, they claimed they would go topless.

    The drinks were 80k dong each, so not a ripoff at least. After I had paid, the girls asked for tips (unusual for me, but they said they don’t get commission for ladydrinks), and I gave them 100k dong each, after which they claimed that most customers tip 200k each ($10). Whatever, I said goodbye politely and left.

    All in all a crappy place for someone who has been to Thailand…

    • rockit says:

      Hi Martin. Thanks for the comment. You’ve pretty much described how hostess bars work in the area. Of course if you appear to be new to the scene you may get more pressure or a raw deal. I think that’s the same in many places. Info on Thailand is more common so more people know what they’re getting into. In Vietnam not so much. The phrase “your mileage may vary” is used a lot because it rings true. Part of the reason that it does is that different people have different likes and needs. In general I like hostess bars (not only in Vietnam, also in other countries) as they can give you a chance to actually get to know a woman a little. That opportunity often isn’t present in places like go go bars where customers are also pressured to buy drinks. I’ve never had a problem at a hostess bar. You can chose the lady you’d like to sit with and often a lady you’d like to do more with. In a select few there’s some fun to be had on premises. It’s an experience. Luckily for those who don’t like the experience there are many other types of places around too, many of which have been described on this site. Cheers.

  7. Tan jee Siang says:

    Hi,can you advise me where I can find some nice ladies for sex in my hotel?

  8. ChelseaBill says:

    Rockit,

    I am a newbie here in Saigon. I’ve found Apocalypse Now of douse (I’m staying at the neighbouring girl friendly Ho Sen 2) but cannot find 91 Hai Ba Trung – has 91 been rebadged as upmarket Blanchey’s? I ask this as it looks to me that Blanchey’s occupies plots 87-95 Hai Ba Trung…

    What am I doing wrong if not?

    Kindest regards,

    Bill

    • rockit says:

      The bar in question was located at 91 Hai Bai Trung in district 1. Many people seem to have trouble finding things in HCMC but I’ve never really been able to understand why. It’s possible that you went to the wrong location but on the other hand this report was written nine months ago so it’s possible that the bar is no longer there. Others were shuttered in a major crackdown I reported on at this website. Cheers.

  9. wgrealfun says:

    HBT 91 is gone as of 14/05/2015, as well as about all others on HBT. Days gone by … Benny’s DBP is still alive and kicking, but now two hundred at door, plus same for tip charged upfront, so you’re in for 4 no matter the service. Just FYI

  10. Tony says:

    Hi Rockit!

    Loving your website and information given!
    Cheers to that!

    Anyway, i’ll be going to HCM on sunday and will be staying at sheraton hotel./
    Was just wondering if you could advice me on any bars around that area?
    Because its my first time in HCM, i have no idea where the whereabouts of hostess bars are.
    If i’m not wrong bar 91 seems to be close to sheraton hotel

    Your suggestions are much appreciated!

    Cheers

    • rockit says:

      I don’t give advice or advocate anything. This website is for entertainment only. Since this post was written many of the hostess bars were closed and the few that remain open have very limited offerings. As the comment directly above yours indicates 91 is one of the bars that has closed. Cheers.

  11. sox70 says:

    Staying at the Sheraton Hotel, I am right in the heart of this area. It seems maybe these place are starting to creep back again. Walking around I noticed cute you girls in tight dresses outside a couple of small hole in the wall type places. As I walked past both the girls tired to entice me to come in. Not too aggressively, but the fact that they were sitting out in the open like that made it seem that the scene looks promising again maybe.

    The first was at approximately 49 Hai Ba Trung. Sorry I don’t know the exact address , but it’s right near the corner of Dong Du. The second was right around the corner on Dong Du, at about 35 Dong Du. The girls outside both looked young and pretty.

    I did not find Saigon NY at the corner of Dong Du and Hai Ba Trung but maybe I missed it.

    I did find Thien Loe on the corner of Hai Ba Trung and Mac Thi Buoi ( one block past Dong Du). And that’s where I en d up having a great time. Seemed a little bigger and nice than the other two places I mentioned above.

    They seem to “target” foreigners. Maybe I am wrong since I was only there one night, but I say this because I observe red their “process” as I was sitting there. There a guy stationed outside. When he sees a western looking guy he knocks lightly on the window. The girls all say something in Vietnamese to alert the girl who is “up”. She peaks her head out the door just as the guy walks past inviting him in for “just one drink”.

    I was in the mood for adventure so I took the bait. Inside were about 10-12 girls and the max number of guys in there at one time while I was there was 4(including me). All the girls were in tight little dresses and heels. There were 4 girls who who under 25 and pretty (7-8). The rest were 5s and 6s ranging from upper 20s to upper 30s.

    One of the 7s was the girl who invited me in. Drinks ( both mine and the girl’s) were 80k (about $3.50). So I could have stayed there buying drinks all night if I wanted to. My girl admittedly spoke poor English, so small talk was a bit awkward. I had my eye on the beauty of the group who was playing pool with another guy and one other girl. She picked up on my eye contact and sat down to join us when their game was up.

    Now this girl was ADORABLE. She was “almost 20” which I confirmed later when I saw her ID checking while we in to the hotel. Talking to her was a lot of fun. Very cute and “real” personality.

    She did the typical “let’s play pool and bet” thing with me. This seems to be the big part of the business model there. I watched every guy who came in do the same. All of them played with 2-3 girls at a time. I wanted to keep to only “my girl”. The bet is 200k ($9) if I lose. She gets naked for me in the bathroom if I win. I won first game. She didn’t hesitate took me by the hand to the bathroom. Strips and in a cute way says “there… naked… You owe me.” Of course we then keep playing until she wins one. Note that she mentioned later on that night that the girls get 10k of the 80k for each drink you buy. That’s 45cents guys. So try to lose at least one game of pool,if you are not going to take them out

    After about 2 hours “mama” comes over and asks if I want to take her out. 1,000,000 bar fine ($45) plus 2,000,000 for the girl ($90) for two hours.

    I wanted to take her to Sheraton. They warned me they might not let her in at this late hour. I said “let’s try”. She had the girl walk out one door and me walk out another door around the corner a few minutes later, I am guessing in case police are watching. She walked a few strides behind me the whole way all the way into the hotel. This was the one awkward part of the whole night. When I got to the elevator I turned around and she was standing there with security. They told me “no visitors after 9pm”. I tried to get out of it saying we were just going to the bar on the top floor. There’s a separate elevator set up at nighttime for that so we went up and had one drink. Then tried to get down to my room but the special elevator is blocked to all but top and ground floor. At the lobby we tried to dash across to the room elevators but security was right there. No dice.

    So we took a 5 minute cab to a hotel she knew. I paid 250k for the room ($11). Had a fantastic time with her. I’ve been with plenty of 19 year olds, this one came across as truly sweet and innocent.

  12. Mugg says:

    Picked up two girls from a hotel pool party and found out later they were hostesses. No regrets though as both were classy and spoke nice English. Had a lot of fun around different bars all over town and a hell of a hangover the next day!

    • rockit says:

      Thanks for the report. I’ve seen some of pool parties advertised online and I thought I recognized some familiar faces. Cheers.

  13. Avi says:

    Hi Rockit-thanks for the excellent website and tons of useful info. Have you done any review of massage places in da nang?
    Cheers
    Avi

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