Before leaving for my Asia trip around four and a half months ago, I had never visited a gay sauna before. Now, I feel like a bit of a gay sauna aficionado and I tend to visit a couple of them when I’m in a new town or city. And though it may sound a tad hard believe, I don’t do any naughty stuff when I go to a gay sauna, I simply use them as a place to relax in a gay exclusive atmosphere. Something that I really miss from home is my little gay life and I just feel more comfortable when I’m around other gay people – and a gay sauna is where I can find them and have a reasonably priced spa experience at the same time.
When I was in Saigon, I basically had an awful time thanks to my first ever Couchsurfing experience, which was a bloody nightmare. For a little respite, I checked out a couple of gay saunas and here’s the lowdown on them.
Quốc Lộ 13 Hiệp Bình Chánh Thủ Đức, Ho Chi Minh City. (Yeh, good luck finding that.)
This place is quite a way out of the main backpacker strip of the city. In fact it took me about an hour and a half to walk there, all the way petrified that my bag was going to be snatched or that I would be pickpocketed. I had the time and I figured that walking would give me a chance to get a feel for the city, but it was boiling hot and not a fun experience so please don’t be a fool like me and just get a taxi. Once you’re in the vicinity, it’s still really hard to find because it’s tucked away down about three alleys. But as soon as I was off the main road and into an alley, a couple of families clearly realised what I was looking for and showed me the way to the sauna – not embarrassing at all.
Well, these boys look like they’re having a good time.
It’s a mission to get there, but it’s worth it. This place is seriously plush and has that fragrant smell of a proper spa rather than the smell of lubricant that you find in some other establishments. NaDam Spa has all the things that you expect a sauna to have – but executed better than most places. So there’s a sauna, a frighteningly hot steam room, a salt scrub room, a hot tub, a little swimming pool, a room where you can rest and lie down, and a lovely little outdoor area with swing chairs where you can sit and not read their magazines that are all in Vietnamese. You can also purchase a body massage or a body scrub, which I have the feeling are ‘no extras’ massages but I can’t be sure.
I went in the day time so the only kicky activity I noticed was a bit of play in the hot tub, so it’s actually a really ideal place to unwind and relax for a couple of hours to escape that Saigon madness. And that’s exactly what I did. I was the only foreigner there, and I had a couple of nice chats with local people, but the general feel was low-key and quiet bordering on silent. It costs 195,000 dong to use the facilities of Nadam, which is around $10 – I think very much worth it.
L 19, Number 1 Street, Ward 3, Binh Thanh Dist. Ho Chi Minh City
Binh Minh is the most recently opened gay sauna in Saigon. It has no website and a definite local feel. Again, it’s a little bit of a trek from the backpacker district so I’d get a taxi. Glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to walk here as well.
It costs a totally bargainous 60,000 dong to enter Binh Minh and use their facilities, which is just $3 or £2. And if you pay 100,000 dong you can use the facilities of the sauna and get a massage from one of the employees. This place had a very different feeling to NaDam and so I was pretty sure that this was a massage that I didn’t want to have and I politely declined the offer.
Binh Minh is a gay sauna as people expect gay saunas to be. The whole place is very dimly lit and doesn’t have that ‘spa’ feeling that NadDam has. Having said that, I had more conversations here than I did in NaDam. The guys were all local and mostly a young twenty-something clientele who were keen to speak to the foreigner and find out how he knew about a local Saigon sauna. There are no loungers and no relaxing atmosphere – just a blisteringly hot set of hot-tubs, saunas, steam rooms, and of course, dark rooms for play. I didn’t venture there, but I spent some time in the hot tub with the friendly local gays and then left within the hour, still satisfied with only paying £2 for the pleasure.
See you again, Binh Minh.
I visited Binh Minh in the early evening when there is most play, so the atmosphere definitely felt more sexually charged than at NaDam. If you’re into having a bit of a grope in the dark, then this is probably the place for you.
If you’re going to head to a gay sauna in Saigon, or anywhere else on your gay travels, remember to stay safe. And have fun!