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.
12/29/1 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 in the world, remember to stay safe. And have fun!