Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s biggest and most populated city. It is situated in the country’s south-eastern region, lying along the Saigon River. It has a land area of 2,096 km² and a population of more than 8.4 million people.
The city has bustling markets, a lively nightlife, and famous cultural sights. The city offers a mix of ancient and modern feel, with high-rise buildings, pagodas, and food markets. Famous tourist spots in the city include Củ Chi tunnels, Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Suối Tiên Amusement Park, and War Remnants Museum.
There are no actual red light districts in Ho Chi Min City, but there are plenty of places to find adult entertainment. Some of the places boast a number of bars, clubs, and massage parlours. Here are two of the most notable adult areas in the city:
How to find the RLD
Hoa Binh Park is a 19-minute car ride from Dam Sen Water Park via Nguyễn Chí Thanh and a 15-minute walk from Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital via Đường Hùng Vương. Bui Vien is near Hoa Binh Park, which is just a 30-minute walk via Đường Hùng Vương.
Stay safe in the RLD
Ho Chi Minh City is relatively safe, as violent crimes against travellers are rare. When navigating red light areas, it is best to practice safety precautions. Some street hookers take advantage of their clients like taking money and phones, while customers get ready in the toilet.
While prostitution is illegal in Vietnam, adult entertainment venues and services still exist in cities like Ho Chi Minh. Bui Vien and Hoa Binh Park are two of the best places to hang-out and find women open for business. Tourist can also find a lot of massage parlours in the area, offering extra adult services. Some of the establishments disguise as karaoke bars. Street prostitution exists in the city, with some of the street girls offering their services while riding bicycles or motorcycles. Female escorts are also available, ideal for those who want to avoid going to adult venues. The price depends on the type of service and quality, ranging from $100 to $300.
Locals call street prostitutes as “the butterflies of the night”, which offer their services along with some streets in the city. Some girls ride bicycles or motorbikes, while others stand on pavements or under the tree shades and wait for potential clients. Girls are usually spotted in Hoa Binh Park, situated on the corner of two streets: Nguyen Chi Thanh and Hung Vuong. Other places with a few street hookers include:
Prostitution is considered a crime in Vietnam. Procuring or pandering prostitution is also illegal. Despite it being illegal, the business is widespread in the country, including big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Many of the massage parlours, hair salons, and karaoke bars offer additional or special services.
Authorities arrest offenders, but the penalties are not severe. Those who are caught offering services need to pay 50,000 VND or $3.20 as a fine, which is then followed by a release. In most cases, those who are incarcerated are released soon after the police fail to prove their engagement in the said business
When it comes to LGBT rights, members of the community may face challenges that are not experienced by non-LGBT people. While homosexuality is considered a taboo due to Vietnamese tradition, LBGT awareness and acceptance have been growing in the country. Same-sex sexual activities are legal. In 2015, the country legalised same-sex marriage but it was never followed up with enforcement. The law states that the country will allow same-sex weddings, but it will not provide protection or recognition to unions between individuals of the same gender. The law may be limited, but this is a significant stepping stone for LGBT members in Vietnam.
As the largest city in the country, Ho Chi Minh offers plenty of nightlife options for everyone. District 3 or Pham Ngu Lao is ideal for those who want cheap eats and street bars. Downtown in District 1, however, is for those who prefer casinos, rooftop bars, and music venues.
Here are some of the most notable nightlife venues in the city:
The gay and lesbian scene in the city is a little bit modest. There is no specific gay area, as venues and establishments can be found around the city. Travellers can experience an exciting gay nightlife with Bitch Party. This is the best party night for gay visitors, which is held monthly at various venues.
Gay cruising also exists in the city, with different venues like Diamond Plaza and Vincom Shopping Centre Mall. Tourists can also find gay swimming pools, which are a popular hang-out place for younger gays and those who cannot afford to go to high-end bars and venues. Nguyen Tri Phuong swimming pool is said to be the gayest pool in Ho Chi Minh.
General Attitude Towards Gays
The Vietnamese tradition considers homosexuality as a taboo subject. Surveys suggest that there are still those who consider being gay as an illness or due to lack of parental guidance. Despite this, activists note that many people in the country are becoming more open and Vietnam is evolving with regards to LGBT issues.
Gay and Transsexual Prostitution in Ho Chi Minh City
Some salons and spa employ gay employees to offer services to homosexuals. Customers looking for this kind of services can look for online advertisements or try their luck at gay saunas and massage parlours, which are mostly foreigner-friendly.