Ladyboys and the Vietnamese Sex Industry

Ah, the ubiquitous ladyboy. An almost mythical creature of South East Asian descent. Here is the scenario:

You’re in Apocalypse Now, a nightclub that has been an institution in this city since the days when American soldiers were stationed in Saigon. You notice a Vietnamese woman who initially strikes you as beautiful. She is tall, unusually tall for a Asian woman. Upon further investigation, you notice what appears to be an Adam’s apple. Hmm…

The current Jet Set cast is all-female, which means we have a different perspective on life in Saigon than the first Jet Set season which had an all-male cast. Obviously, neither ladyboys nor the Vietnamese sex industry play much of a role in our lives, but they are a visible part of daily life. Prostitution in all its forms is blatant and unconcealed. One of the more memorable moments was sitting near the ATM next to the Go2 bar and watching as hookers led foreign men to the bank machine to withdraw cash for the evening. And then there’s the ladyboys, who put their own “special” twist on the prostitution situation. Here is my favourite ladyboy picture so far – you be the judge:

Not too shabby, right? ¬†And if you’re looking for “accommodation”, it comes very affordably:

For the record, 60,000 dong is about $3 (per hour). According to a reliable source, an hour with a prostitute in a brothel starts at $10 per hour. For $25, you can have a women for the whole night, and she’ll even make your bed and cook you breakfast in the morning. Ladyboys come even cheaper. With the exception of Thailand and Amsterdam, I’ve never seen it on display at obviously as it is here. The sex industry itself is a draw for many Western male travellers looking to have a little “fun” on their vacation.

17 thoughts on “Ladyboys and the Vietnamese Sex Industry”

  1. I don’t think you know so much of what you are talking about. First of all, you can’t have “an hour of sex” for $10 anywhere in Vietnam, period. Secondly you can’t get it for “$25 all night”. Thirdly prostitution isn’t rampant in Vietnam at all, it’s extremely limited and selection is poor. I don’t partake in it much but as a male I keep my eyes and ears pealed. If you want to see rampant, try PI or TH. Vietnam is highly limited, obviously on purpose for the controlling government. Also your suggestion that a guy can have a hooker over for the whole night plus she’ll clean his room and wash the dishes is a misnomer. It’s more like she’ll give a half hour of sex, then when he’s fallen asleep she’ll lift his wallet, laptop and camera(s) all in one bag and make off with it at 4am. Poor words of advice to tell someone to have a Vietnamese prostitute hooker stay overnight.

    Lastly, the ladyboys in Vietnam are more of a major irritation than anything else. Likewise they are an indication of the hypocrisy of conservative Vietnam — it’s perfectly fine for “boys” to run around and pander for sex-for-hire, but females are kept under the watchful eye of the locals.

  2. Is that a soldier or police officer hanging out on the motorbike behind the sign. “Afternoon pick-me” for Vietnam’s finest?

  3. Hey BJ…

    I actually got the quotes on price and details from a Brazilian American photographer who I met in HCMC. He is doing a long term project on prostitution in third world countries, but from the perspective of the men who seek it, not the women who offer it. He is curious to find out why some men book entire holidays to places where they know they can partake in these types of activities. He has been to India and Thailand to research this and is now in VN. When I spoke to him, he had been to 5 different brothels in Saigon alone and these were prices that were quoted to him. Maybe you were just getting ripped off by shopping at the GO2…I’m not sure.

    Also, I’m not “advising” anyone to have a hooker over for the night. I’m simply reporting on what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard. And I did not say it was “rampant”, I said it was blatant and visible. And I have been to other places where this is happening so I do have something to compare to.

    As women, we are having a completely different experience as four men in the same position would. But these things we’re observing are still a part of our lives. Does it suck that people have to resort to prostitution to earn a living? Absolutely. But it’s still a fact of life in Vietnam.

  4. Ok Kris, thanks for explaining your side. All I was saying is that I would have to disagree on the prices, but then again I am not a “customer” of that variety much at all; and the other thing is that Vietnamese women are unsafe to have sleep over in one’s room as the threat of theft is very much there. Otherwise thanks for the report and allowing each to have their say. Have a nice day.

  5. You wrote: <<He is curious to find out why some men book entire holidays to places where they know they can partake in these types of activities<<

    That has to be about the most most inane 'research question' that I have ever heard.

    Let's see…….WHY would men book these holidays and partake in these types of activities?

    I will venture the following highly speculative hypothesis.


    …..Because they are horny and they want to get laid by beautiful women!

    Please have your friend send me a portion of his governmental research grant. I was happy to help in this important "research"!

  6. Hi there.$10USD will give you about 20 minutes with a girl .and thats just for the then need to pay for the hotel room (only the seedier ones allow 1-2 hour rates) and its ussually 3/4 for a normal geniune overnight rate in the backpacker district. so lets say about D150,000 for the hour. if you want all the kissing and stuff( pretending shes your girlfirend)thats about D200,000 for a few hours. so lets total.. thats about D350,000( hotel included) about $27-30AUD. dont forget the drinks you actually buy for you and her to get your courage in a can.after its all done, if its early you can head back on out and try again,Bj is right about the wallet gotta keep your eyes peeled. look after your mobile phone…These prices are Saigon.the smaller towns are cheeper. but if your a shy guy, the way to go is the massage.. that ends are about 100,000-200,000. but for 200,000 she better know whats shes doing and look very hot. i would never pay 200,000 now.toi cung biet noi tieng viet.if your a vietnamese half all above prices. if your viet D300,000 will get you her all night. none of this making bed stuff,. and the breastfast, just head on out for a bowl of pho.toi noi that boi vi toi den tham Nuoc VietNam nhieu lam roi.Toi la nguoi tay o day ai biet nuoc VietNam. chuc vui ve.

  7. addition to comments. the police loking guy is a security guard. ngan hang means BANK . phuong nam is the name of the bank.the store front in the foreground is the hotel just to the right of the photo.AS for brothels I was in Vung tau at a brothel, the guys said 100,000 for the ‘massage'(which i paid before) and the tip to be 200,000.she was beautiful, the best of the bunch , and young. however after the deed was done ( not just a happy ending, but the ‘proper’ nasty deed) i realized i had only D150,000. the guy just shrugged and said ok:)….. as i didnt really get a massage, she was terrible at that!! ladyboys arent as abundant as you say Kris, though they are there. but the prositution is behind places you wouldnt even think of.not just the good old massage parlor..but more reputible business…all happening while the tourists just walk on by.

  8. Sex can be had from a dizzying range of women older and younger from 100,000 dong with the average being 200,000 in the cities of the mekong delta outside of HCM, I am a long term resident and know

  9. Dear All,

    For my work I have to travel a lot for overseas projects. I have seen a lot of trouble abroad.
    Last time I was with a work partner in Uruguay, where my partner went to a casino to enjoy. He had a good evening and won about 10.000$. So he decided to phone a escort service to end the night. The morning after, he woke up and the rest of his lucky evening money ( 9950$, after he payed 50$ to the girl ), and his camera were gone. Good for him that his laptop was in my room, otherwise he was completely ripped…………….
    So yeah, it happens all over the world, however, less in western society. And I don’t even mention Brazil……..
    There it is really dangerous, when you go for that activities. You wouldn’t be the first and the last ending with a bullet…….
    Stay safe to all………..

  10. Make your bed and cook you breakfast? You gotta love Asian women and their tendency to go the extra mile.

  11. you ask why men travel to asian destinations for there whole holidays for sex, let me tell you !!! firstly try and say hello to a reasonably attrative white girl and see the “piss off” look on her face, sick and tired of getting no sex let alone romance from from the sweetheart you married, or try and form a relationship with a local woman, whos ass is the size of a jumbo jet, go to bk of pp or the philippens and have good looking woman talking and laughing with you,and for a small fee go home and bonk you silly, give a good tip in the morning and they can send it home to feed there familys (the world goes round) try that with a western woman, and they would’nt know where to start

  12. Prostitution is everywhere in Vietnam and so is HIV and STD’s. Don’t worry she will give you more than you were hoping for maybe a lifetime of regret!!!! God for bid u bring it home to ur wives and girlfriends….Just Nasty and sinful. That road only leads to death but unfortunately some are too blind to even see.

  13. If you haven’t already you might want to update the prices….a girl at the Apocalypse Club, Lush, or Gossip starts at $100, though you might be able to talk them down, but not likely since they know they can move on to Go2. At Go2 they continue the $100 rate, though I had one tell me 4 million VND at 6 am to which I just laughed, but normally you can’t talk them lower than 1 million VND, unless they work cheap, and by which looked down on by the other girls. These seem to now be not only the hour rates, but also the all night rates, though they might add an extra 500,000 VND…. Really it is easier, safer, and cheaper to find a 30 something single mom here to get sex from, as they seem to throw pussy at a foreign man like Orel Hershiser throws baseballs, and easily met off of places like Tagged.

  14. The prices listed on the sign are the daily prices and hourly prices for two different size rooms. Vietnamese men also pay pay prostitutes. They can can much cheaper prices, and many more of them pay for prostitutes than do Westernerners. Firstly, there are naturally many more Vietnamese men than foreigners there, and most Vietnamese girls wish to remain virgins until marriage. I am a long time resident of Vietnam.

  15. youre all a bunch of morons. none of the prices are even close. even the cheapest countryside prostitutes are not going to fuck you for $10…other things, yes. the brazilian american guy is full of shit too…i have lived here nearly 10 years and speak fluent Vietnamese, and you all are just looking at it from an outsider perspective. Peter…your Vietnamese is fucking horrible, just stop. I have no idea what your second sentence was supposed to mean and nor would anyone else. Toi is only used in extremely formal situations or literature/film. Please man…just shut up.

  16. How could Apocalypse Now have been a hang out from the Vietnam War Era when the movie was not released till 1980? It’s opened up in the 90s a the earliest cashing in on the success of the movie.

    Also prostitution is much more obvious in the Phillippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Dubai, Sydney Las Vegas…I could go on and on…than in Saigon

  17. I traveled to Vietnam quite often. Like Jimbo said, finding a decent looking prostitute in Saigon, at a club will normally start out a negotiating price of $100. I have met some demanding over $200 for a one time session. Of course, you can always get the street girls or at the cheap karaoke bar for much less. All depends on quality. Keep in mind that prostitution is illegal in Vietnam, and if not familiar with the locals….you can be set up for much more. If you want to have fun and free of worries, go to Thailand. It’s the best place in the world for “Johns” like us.

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