Creative sex shop responses to sex work ban in Vietnam


Despite being officially outlawed the commercial sex scene in Vietnam is actually quite large. At times it seems that this industry, which only half-operates in the shadows while still being known to exist by almost everyone, is unofficially tolerated. At least by the local authorities.

Every so often though a wave of repression like the Saigon sex shop crackdown I reported on several months ago breaks out to dispel the notion that it is in any way tolerated in Vietnam as it is in a place like Thailand.

hug cafes in Vietnam

More than a cup of coffee is being served

As with the war on drugs in the US though the battle against the sale of sex in Vietnam is not very effective, for what should be to readers of this site obvious reasons. Vietnamese sex workers and related entrepreneurs have come up with various ways to skirt the laws against sex work or at least make the practices a little less obvious. In the process they’ve come up with some pretty unique types of sex shops.In part this reminds me of the way the Japanese blowjob bars came into existence. It also resembles the list of sex shops I’d like to see that I concocted earlier, though in Vietnam the creative spirit resulted in real life facilities.

Here’s a list of the various types of sex shops that have sprung up in Vietnam.

Hot toc – These are literally barber shops. Not every one offers sexual services. Not even all that have a staff of beautiful women offer sexual services. The ones that do however specialize either in blowjobs or handjobs in the back. I’ve mentioned these in my report on blowjob bars around the world. The normal price in these kinds of shops seems to be around 100,000 ($5) but prices can vary.

Càphê ôm – Om means hug in Vietnamese. Caphe is exactly what it sounds like. You can use your imagination to figure out what goes on from there, but just in case you don’t have much of one I’ll help spell it out for you. Coffee shops are ubiquitous in Vietnam but only a few of them offer extra services. The ones that do have women on staff who provide some level of hand or oral relief while or after you enjoy your cup of Vietnamese ice coffee. The shops themselves provide a certain level of privacy from the street but once inside it’s a lot like a Japanese or Thai blowjob bar with the action taking place more or less out in the open. I’ve heard that some provide full service but I’m not familiar with those so I can’t confirm. The standard shops charge around 100,000 Dong ($5) for a bit of fun.

Bia ôm – You already know what om means. How about Bia? That’s the word for beer. These places operate like cafe om except that the beverage on tap is a little different.

Karaokê ôm – Yet another set up similar to the caphe om, the karaoke om provides the additional service of singing. For a guy like me who isn’t too keen on off key singing that’s more of a detriment than a benefit but others seem to like it. Since it’s organized toward locals anyway all that matters is that they enjoy.

Võng ôm – Vong is the Vietnamese word for a hammock. Some enterprising Vietnamese people have taken to stringing up hammocks and renting them out to people looking for a place to lay down for a bit with a slight amount of privacy. These are most common in Ho Chi Minh City and seem to be a favorite of students looking for a place to spend some time with their significant other or play pal but there is always the option of hiring a gal for her services at a place like this.

Other facilities that may or not exist include “tắm ôm” (paying a gal for a romp in the sea) and “ráy tai ôm” (a place where a guy can play with a girl’s tits while she cleans his ears). I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if these are real or imagined.

Of course there are also lots of “traditional” avenues to pursue pay for play. These include the hostess bars, bars and discos, escorts, massage parlors, street walkers and women who ride around on motorcycles looking for customers.

Today is Valentine’s Day, the holiday when couples celebrate their affection for one another by purchasing things. This demonstrates the unstoppable power of love. Perhaps even more powerful is the power of lust and the drive for money. As this article shows, the sex industry is persistent, even (or even especially) in places where it’s illegal. It’s not called the oldest profession in the world for nothing.


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  1. GoldenDalton February 14, 2014
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  2. Azianloverr February 18, 2014
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