The Best Tours in Vietnam

Organized tours are a great way to experience Vietnamese culture, sights, food and surroundings.  Vietnam’s tourism industry is still rapidly developing and tours allow foreigners to learn unique and interesting things from local residents.  We have compiled a list of tours in Vietnam that offer unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

cycle tour mekong delta

Best Vietnam Walking Food Tour 

This amazing food tour is run by Australian expat Neville Dean who is quite the personality!  Not only is this tour fun and impeccably organized, it is also fortunate to be located in Hoi An where the food is already so diverse and the town is extremely walkable.  This tour allows you to taste some of these street food delicacies in a safe environment.  You will surely eat dishes on this tour that you typically would not eat on your own.

Best Vietnam Cooking School

This cooking school is the highest rated in the country.   Unlike many cooking classes which only offer 4-5 dishes to choose from, Van, the owner and teacher at Green Bamboo, gives each of her guests a list of over 50 dishes they can learn to make, while keeping things simple and accessible.  On top of that, you get to shop for your ingredients at the market before you begin cooking.  A truly local experience!

Best Vietnam Bicycle Tour

Vietnam Bike Tours is possibly one of the most experienced bike tour companies in Vietnam, and they offer tours throughout the country.  You can customize your own tour based on your own travel schedule, so you have the added bonus of flexibility.  Rest assured that should anything go wrong during your trip, a relief van follows you the entire way!  On top of being bike enthusiasts, the guides are very well versed in the local landscape and culture.  As is the case with many other companies in Vietnam, they also organize the occasional charity bike ride so it’s a good way to give back during if your trip if the schedules align.

Best Vietnam Photography Tour

This company operates mainly in Northern Vietnam, where there are so many varied landscapes and unique cultures.  It’s a small scale operation and they only have tours during designated times of the year.  This is also because the weather at certain times of the year will give you the best photographs in a particular region.  From a philanthropic standpoint, this company donates part of their proceeds to a local charity which is beneficial to the region where the company operates.

Hoi An is one of the most unique places in Vietnam, both culturally and architecturally.  It is definitely on many tourists’ agendas when traveling to Vietnam and one of the most fun places to photograph, from the yellow walled houses to the lanterns at night.  This company is run by two expat photographers who have extensive photography experience and knowledge.  You travel in small groups and go to places within Hoi An that offer the best vantage points for unique photography in the area.

Best Vietnam Free Tour 

Hanoi Kids is a volunteer organization that is very similar to Boys and Girls Clubs in other countries.  The volunteers at Hanoi Kids are youth in Hanoi who are very enthusiastic about teaching foreigners about their home city and Vietnamese culture.  The members of this organization lead the tours for free and any money that people wish to donate to them goes directly into supporting the organization.  What’s more, the members have a chance to connect with each other and build camaraderie.

Best Vietnam Art Tour 

Sophie is a Southeast Asian art history expert from England who has worked as a manager in galleries in Ho Chi Minh City.  She started this tour several years ago as a means to educate people on the diverse art repertoire, from North to South.  This tour is an incredibly insightful experience into the lives of the artists and their environment at the times the paintings were created.  Not only is this tour unique and one of a kind, it is an excellent way to delve into the culture of Vietnam.

Best Halong Bay Tour 

This cruise line is slightly different than all the other cruises in Halong Bay because it actually covers both Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay.  Halong bay can get quite crowded with all the different companies operating in the area – sometimes it can be quite difficult to get a photograph of the bay without another boat in it.  Bai Tu Long bay is considerably less crowded and more peaceful.

Au Co is a step above in service and luxury in comparison to the other operators in Halong Bay.  You will see a marked difference in the esthetics of the boat, the quality of the food preparation and the sizes of the rooms.  Au Co is definitely a luxurious (and expensive) way to go if that is what you are looking for.

Best Vietnam Mekong Delta Tour 

If you are a fan of cycling, you can actually cycle from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta with Saigon Cycles!  It is a very unique way of spending 6 days in the South of Vietnam because the tour takes a very rustic and less-travelled route to the delta.  You also get to take a very intimate look at the lives of farmers and labourers who live in the area.

Best Vietnam Cave Tour

Vietnam is home to the largest cave in the world, the Son Doong Cave system!  It was only recently discovered and the first public tours within the caves start next year.  Only a handful of people are allowed to visit the caves per year and Oxalis is the only company permitted to lead expeditions in the cave.  Although it is quite the unique experience, it also comes at a very hefty price!  If this cave is out of your reach, fear not!  Vietnam is also home to other very unique caves within the Phong Nha Ke Bang national park, and the cavers at Oxalis are definitely experienced enough to show you around.

Best Vietnam Canyoneering Tour

If any of you are familiar with the TV personality Bear Grillz and his adventurous antics, you may remember an episode of Man vs Wild that he filmed in the Highland jungles of Vietnam.  Although you don’t see Bear’s tour operator in the episode, his name is Khanh and he is the primary tour guide at Phat Tire!  We can’t guarantee that you will get Khanh as your guide but it speaks for the calibre of expertise at Phat Tire.  Canyoneering in this area of Vietnam can be a thrilling, and sometimes scary, adventure so having experienced and safe guides is a must!

We hope that this list of  great Vietnam Tours helps make your time in Vietnam more memorable!  We didn’t add our own XO Tours to the list, however we are proud to offer some of the highest rated tours in the country.  If you are ever in the Ho Chi Minh City area, please check out all the tours we offer.

To continue to receive more amazing Vietnam Travel Tips, please bookmark our blog!

** Please note that we have no vested interest in any of the companies running the tours listed above and did not consult them when writing this blog post.  We are just offering our honest opinions on what we feel are some of the best and most unique tours in Vietnam **

FACES OF VIETNAM Edition 2 – Meet the Person Who…

Sells Rice Paper Snacks on a Yoke!

We met Ms. Hung on Nguyen Van Cu street, squatting next to her yoke full of snacks and condiments.  She sells a type of rice paper snack that is cut up in strips and mixed with lime, seasoning, nuts, and other delicious additions.  We squatted down next to her to speak with her about her daily life.  Moment of enlightenment #1:  squatting for 12 hours a day is as uncomfortable as it looks.  We probably adjusted ourselves 30 times during our conversation, all the while perplexed as to how she ‘sat’ like that all day!  We were sure our legs would give out at some point!  Moment of enlightenment #2: we learned that her yoke weighs 30 kilograms!  We took a shot at carrying her yoke and failed miserably…  We were dumbfounded that a 50 year old frail woman could carry all this weight on her shoulders and we couldn’t even get it off the ground!  It was at about this point where we decided we should just stick to what we are good at – writing. 🙂

woman with yoke

XO: Ms. Hung, tell us about your family.

Ms Hung: I’m from Binh Dinh province [Central Vietnam, and we figured as much by her accent!].  My husband has been very ill for a long time.  I have two sons, both in university, and one daughter.  My one son studies transportation and the other studies agricultural industries.  They are very intelligent!

 

XO: Amazing!  How does your family afford the university education?  Do your sons work?

Ms Hung: No, actually the government helps out and gives a grant for students.  The rest of the money I earn for them.

 

XO: Do you miss your husband? 🙂

Ms Hung: *Blushes*  Yes.  But my daughter is there to take care of him so I know he’s okay.

 

XO: Does your daughter work?

Ms Hung: No she takes care of the house.  We raise our own animals – ducks, pigs, cows, chickens.  She also takes care of my husband.

 

XO: How often do you go back to see your family?

Ms Hung: Only 3 times a year.

 

XO: How long have you been in the city?

Ms Hung: 5 years now.  It’s very difficult but we can make a lot more money in the city.  There is no money where we live.

 

XO: So where do you live here?

Ms Hung: There is a house really near by.  More than 50 people live in one house.  We are all workers with similar jobs.

 

XO: 50 people!?  How much does it cost to stay there?

Ms Hung: 500,000 VND per month.

 

XO: Wow.  The owner must make a lot of money in rent!  Do you like the people you live with?

Ms Hung: Oh yes, very much.  We are all friends!

 

XO: Lucky!  How much money do you make in one month?

Ms Hung: Well, I earn around 30,000 VND of profit a day.  I shop at the Cau Muoi market so my costs aren’t too much.  I make enough to support my family and pay my rent here.

 

XO: When you get hungry, do you bring lunch from home or do you just make your self a rice paper snack?

Ms Hung: I usually bring my food from home.  We have a small kitchen and we take turns cooking for everyone.  If I don’t have food, I’ll snack on some quail eggs and peanuts!  It’s my favourite snack!  It is a special Buddhist holiday right now so I am eating vegetarian lunch today.

 

XO: That’s right!  Did you go to the temple today?

Ms Hung: No, actually I do not get time to go.  I have to work.

Ms Hung enjoying her vegetarian lunch.

Ms Hung enjoying her vegetarian lunch.

 

Ms. Hung then pulled out her lunch to show us (and to eat obviously, since we were encroaching on her lunch time).  She ate a bowl of lentils and rice that day, and that’s what she was going to have for dinner as well.  She said it was a really inexpensive meal.  It is very commendable to see the kind of work ethic that she has, especially when her family is many miles away from her.  She draws from the strength of her family to survive in the city, and looks forward to her visits back home.

 

We have many more interviews as well as Vietnam travel tips coming up!  Want a unique cultural experience in Vietnam?  Let us create a custom tour for you!

FACES OF VIETNAM Edition 1 – Meet the Person Who…

Makes your Banh Mi Sandwich!

The Vietnamese people are rich with entrepreneurial spirit.  Opening a small business or providing a service is one of the most common ways that people here make money and it also gives rise to some of the most unique jobs in the world!  From cyclo drivers to yoke-carrying food sellers to fruit stand operators to motorcycle taxi drivers, in Vietnam you see it all!  They are the workhorse of the Vietnamese economy because not only do they help raise Vietnam’s median household income, they also promote tourism in the country.  Many of these workers have very little formal education and yet they have an immense amount of drive and passion for what they do.  They are the people you see every day on the street earning a living, feeding themselves and their families, and enjoying their lives along the way.  We went out to interview some people with really unique and interesting jobs to learn about their daily routine.  Little did we know how rewarding and humbling an experience it would be.  Over the next few weeks, we will bring you stories of these incredibly interesting people and give you a glimpse into their life and work in Vietnam.

This week, we spoke with Tuyet Anh.  She runs a Banh Mi stand next to an elementary school in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City.  She looks really young for a 52 year old, but maybe it’s because she’s always so well put together.  On the particular day we spoke to her, she looked positively radiant, as if she had just woken up to start her day.  We were surprised to learn that she had been awake since 3 am!  This is usually the time she wakes up to prepare all the meats and fillings for the day.  Each morning, she slices vegetables, pickles some of them, chops herbs, slices meat, etc.  All of this before 6 am when she starts the stand!  If you are unfamiliar with all the fixings of a Banh Mi sandwich, we suggest you read our Banh Mi blog.  It’s not an easy feat to prepare all of these items at 3 am and still be cheery and upbeat come noontime.  She usually keeps the stand open until about 1 pm.  The school kids get out of class at around noon and very soon after that her stand is surrounded by hoards of young children drooling over the smell of fried eggs and fresh bread!

XO:  Ms. Anh, what inspired you to start a Banh Mi stand?
Ms. Anh:  My husband died two years ago.  He drank too much alcohol.  He was very ill for a long time so he could not work.  He was a policeman.  I started selling Banh Mi 9 years ago for more money because at that time my daughter was not married yet.  My mother used to sell Banh Mi when I was younger so it was easy for me to choose this business.


XO: 
And who do you support?
Ms. Anh:  Well, my daughter is married but I live with her and my son-in-law so I help out a bit with the house.  I live here actually [points to the home next to the stand].  I also support my mother.


XO:
  That’s a lot of people that you support on one income!  How much do you earn?
Ms. Anh:  I make 2 million VND a week on average.  Sometimes, it’s less and sometimes it’s more.  I don’t spend very much.  But vegetables and meat and bread are expensive.


XO:
  Tell us about how much you sell each sandwich for and what your specialty is.
Ms. Anh:  You’re eating the special sandwich!  [It’s true… we chowed down on her delicious Banh Mi sandwich as we were speaking with her!]  Normal sandwiches are 15000 VND and this one [referring to the special sandwich] is 20000 VND.  It has all the fillings and the special homemade sauce.


XO:
  Yes this sauce is delicious!  What is in it?
Ms. Anh:  Why?  You want to sell sandwiches too?


XO:
  😀 How much did you start selling sandwiches for when you first opened up shop?
Ms. Anh:  4000 VND!  Each year I increase by 1- or 2000!


XO:
  We hear that you are only open Monday to Friday now.  Business is good?
Ms. Anh:  Yes I get lots of customers who come back and they like my sandwiches.  They work only Monday to Friday so many people don’t eat Banh Mi on the weekend.  I make enough money so I enjoy my free time.


XO: 
So what do you do on your free time? Do you go out for dinner often?
Ms. Anh:  Sometimes.  I like Chinese food a lot.  My sisters and I will go out for Chinese food in District 5.


XO:
  What about traveling?  Do you go away for the weekend ever or take a trip somewhere?
Ms. Anh:  No I have too many responsibilities and not enough money.  My friends always say they want me to go with them and they offer to pay, but no.  I don’t want to.


XO: 
Ms. Anh, can we take a picture of you?
Ms. Anh:  Okay only if you make me look beautiful in the photo!

You can find Ms. Tuyet Anh and her stand near the corner of Nguyen Du and Dang Tran Con in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City.  She is there from 6 AM until about 1 PM (or until she runs out of bread) from Monday to Friday.  Ask for the special sauce on your sandwich, and tell her you saw her photo on the XO Tours blog and that she looked beautiful. 🙂

tuyet anh banh mi

Stay tuned for more Vietnam travel tips and tidbits on Vietnamese culture.  If you would like to learn more about Vietnamese culture, join us on our Sights Tour!

Custom made? Yes Please! A Guide to Custom Tailoring in Vietnam

custom tailoring vietnam

If you haven’t already heard, Vietnam is a superstar manufacturing country.  In the last several years, many multinational companies have created manufacturing facilities in Vietnam, solidifying the country’s superstar status.  The direct consequence of this is a huge reservoir of skilled and knowledgeable workers who can do everything from shoemaking, jewelry making, dress tailoring, suit craftsmanship, and more.  The most unique thing to come of this is that custom made things for normal folk is readily available!  So down to business… We bring you one of the most important (and fun!) Vietnam travel tips.  The where/when/how of custom tailoring in Vietnam!

USEFUL TIPS

How much does it cost?

Well, this is tricky.  If you walk into 5 different tailor shops (and this applies to clothes, shoes and jewelry), you will be quoted 5 different ranges in price.  You can expect to pay a higher price for more experienced tailors and much less at less experienced ones.  On the other hand, if you walk into some tailor shops in touristy areas, you will pay a serious premium just for using their business.  The big appeal of these types of tailors, aside from the convenience of being in a tourist area, is the quick turn around time.

The Proper Strategy

It’s very important to have the right knowledge and strategy before even walking into a tailor shop.  If you go the tailor unsure of what you want, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  The first step is to research what dresses, shoes, jewelry or shoes you want and printing out pictures.  Good pictures are key!  For shoes and jewelry, it’s more simple because you can basically just walk into a shop and ask them to make it for you according to the picture.  Although you can buy leather and other material, shoe and bag makers usually have better resources and it’s best to leave the materials shopping to them.

For clothes, in most cases it is best to buy the fabric before going to the tailor.  It may even help to understand the difference in fabrics – jersey, knit, chiffon, net, wool, cashmere, cotton, linen, silk, silk chiffon, silk crepe, cotton silk, polyester, poly blends, etc.  It sounds tedious, but if you want to achieve a certain look, a lot depends on what fabric you choose!  Make sure you get a chance to feel the fabrics and drape them, stretch them, crumple them, just to gain an understanding of how it will behave once it is sewn.  Remember that the raw materials are never prewashed, not even denim.  If you purchase cotton based fabrics, make sure the garments are sewn a little bit longer than what you want it to look like.

Fabric shopping is important for suit making.  If you are going to wear the suit in a tropical climate, you need different weighted fabric than if you wear the suit in a cold climate.  Or, did you know that cashmere blends don’t hold creases as well as other types of wool?  Or that silk wool blends are all the rage this season for wedding suits and tuxes because you can get a softer and more natural sheen than polyester fabric?  Do your research! 🙂

After you have all that settled and you have purchased the fabrics and materials, find a tailor that is right for you.  You can go into high end tailor shops where the track record is more established to increase your chances of getting what you want.  But remember that no matter how much experience the tailor may have, there is still a chance that it may not work out.  Some pricier tailors in the city also carry their own selection of materials and will not allow outside material.  For example, some specialty suit tailors have couture fabric from Zegna, Cerruti and more.  They will only use those fabrics in order to uphold their reputation.  Beware of frauds, however – a lot of ‘Italian made’ fabrics are actually made in Thailand and just given an Italian name.  It’s also very easy to replicate the embroidered labels on the fabric.  That being said, if the name brand is not important to you, we have seen fabric made in Thailand that competes with the best Italian imported fabric, so make quality a priority!

You will also have to choose the right kind of tailor for the type of item you are trying to make.  For instance, for expensive materials like silk, you should go to a tailor that specializes in it because it’s a very difficult material to work with.  Once you have all of this done, the most important thing is to leave yourself some time.  Although there are a bucket load of tailors who will turn around items in 1 or 2 days, it is much more risky and the craftsmanship may not be as good.  The town of Hoi An in Vietnam employs thousands of tailors and the custom tailoring aspect is a large part of the economy there.  Their turn around time for shoes, clothes, suits and jewelry is a day or sometimes even part of the day.  But remember, many times if you go to a tailor that promises something back in a day, it looks like it was made in a day!  If you want simple shirts and dresses, they are usually not a problem to whip out quickly but don’t expect to get anything complicated made.  And if you feel like getting suits made in a day, we suggest having lower expectations!  🙂

Shoes and Jewelry

There are certain things to watch out for when getting custom shoes made.  The major problem with custom shoe making is that the shoemakers don’t make their soles but buy them instead.  If your foot does not fit diagonally on an A4 (8.5”x11”) sized paper, chances are you are out of luck!  This is also why shoes with padding and proper foot support are really hard to make because the soles are pre-purchased.  For example, you can get shoes made that look like Cole Haan dress shoes on the outside, but don’t expect them to have fancy cushioning technology on the inside!  Bespoke shoe making is another thing to leave some time for because many times you will have to get the shoe makers to re-do the shoe because it will just look shabby or have wonky stitching.  These are things that foreigners tend to value and is an unfortunate annoyance when creating custom items – you are your own quality control department!

As for jewelry making, many of the jewelry stores in the city will make almost anything for you.  For jewelry made from precious metals or precious/semi-precious stones, we suggest going to proper jewelers who specializes in bespoke jewelry.  For simple costume jewelry, almost anyone can do it, and well at that!  All of the raw material for fake jewelry, at least in Ho Chi Minh City, comes from the same place.  As long as they have a good picture to work with, they can make you your desired piece with no hitches!  If you want to have more control over the process, you can just as easily go and pick out the items yourself and just give it to the shop owner to assemble.

The basic strategy to get anything custom made in Vietnam.  Seems arduous, but worth it if you can get your desired items made to your specifications!

The basic strategy to get anything custom made in Vietnam. Seems arduous, but worth it if you can get your desired items made to your specifications!

WHERE TO GO

** Please note that the following  list  of shops and tailors are places that we have had good results at.   HOWEVER,  we cannot guarantee your success at these places!  **

Raw Materials

– Fabric Street – along Hai Ba Trung street around Tan Dinh market; almost any kind of fabric you can find; the shops inside the Tan Dinh market are generally cheaper.  At first glance, it may not seem like the selection is as great, but the market is a lot larger than it seems.  Here’s a tip – when you walk into the main entrance of the market, turn left right away to get to denim heaven!

– Soai Kinh Lam Market – 545 Tran Hung Dao, Q5; this is a huge wholesale market in Ho Chi Minh City, mostly for fabric.  If you are making a wedding dress or something else that takes a lot of fabric, this is a great place.  Otherwise, the stall owners are hesitant to sell smaller cuts of fabric.

– Craft Market – at the corner of Tran Hung Dao and Chau Van Liem, Q5; this is another wholesale market with everything from lace to ribbon to jewelry chains to accessories for clothing.  They have it all!  They also have the best selection of embroidered lace – a must see for wedding dress enthusiasts.  And for those of you wanting to make that ‘Hermes belt’ or the ‘Tory Burch handbag’, find the goods here! 😉

Custom Shoes

– Tran Quoc Lan – 97 Le Thanh Ton
– Any of the cobblers sitting along Le Thanh Ton – you’ll be surprised!  Many of them have their own shoe making businesses and will make your shoes for much cheaper than the stores.

Custom Suits

– Tricia and Verona – 39 Dong Du; they also ship overseas if you don’t have enough time in the city.
– Dung Tailor – 221 Le Thanh Ton; best selection of linen fabric in the city (they also own the fabric shop next door).
– Nhut Tailor – 232 Le Thanh Ton
– H&D Tailor – 76 Le Lai St; great selection of high end fabric, but the prices are high end too!
– Viet Thang Silk Tailors – 129 Le Thanh Ton; very fast turn around time.

Custom Swimwear

– All the shops around 185 Ly Tu Trong – our favourite is the store called Ly Ly.  Choose your fabric right there!

Custom Jeans

– Huong Tailor – 48 Ly Chinh Thang – this guy is a jeans magician!  He has a shop full of denim wear and he specializes in jeans.  Buy the fabric beforehand though because denim has such a huge range in terms of feel, stretch, and wash that it’s really hard to tell what you want from a photograph.

Custom Dresses

– Huy – 237 Trang Quang Khai, Q.1
– Lan Vy – 217 Le Thanh Ton, Q.1
– V&H Tailor – 98 Le Lai (the entire block is 98 Le Lai, so just find their V&H yellow and black sign); the ladies here also have connections with embroiders so if you want something hand or machine embroidered, they’ll get it done for you! 😉

Custom Wedding Dresses

– Ho Van Hue St – Phu Nhuan District; several shops that make custom bridal wear.
– The One Couture (www.theonecouture.com) – online store; a very creative Vietnamese American girl in Ho Chi Minh City runs this business for overseas clients wanting their Vera Wang or Vivienne Westwood dress at a fraction of the cost!

Custom Jewelry

– Therese Jewelry – 147 Dong Khoi; specializes in gold jewelry or silver plated with gold as well as precious stones
– La Hand Made Jewelry – 323 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3; go here for all your fake jewelry needs!
– The many jewelry shops along Nguyen Trai – for custom costume jewelry, almost any of these shops will do it for you.

We hope you found this post on custom tailors in Vietnam useful!  Please visit the XO Tours Blog regularly for other fantastic Vietnam travel tips!   If you are in Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon and you need help with shopping or tailoring, please consider booking the XO Tours Shopping Spree tour!

A Guide to Massages in Vietnam

spa vietnam

One of the first stops in Vietnam for many tourists is the massage parlour!  Getting a massage in Vietnam is a big part of tourism here and is a perfect escape from the heat and bustle outside.  But what’s the big deal with massages in Vietnam?  Here’s a run down to go along with our other Vietnam travel tips…

What is a Vietnamese Massage?

Massage therapy has existed in Vietnam for centuries.  In the early days, massage establishments were considered shady businesses where men would go to commit adultery or to simply get away from their wives.  In fact, it was considered shameful to be recognized while coming out of such an establishment.  Not so much the case anymore, so feel free to enjoy massages here as much you’d like!

Vietnamese massage is influenced mostly from Chinese methods of therapy but has evolved to be unique in that it really focuses on kneading and working out the knots in the muscles.  By contrast, Thai massages use a lot of muscle movement, stretching, and moving limbs.  To add more confusion to the mix, a foot massage isn’t necessarily just a foot massage!  Most places will add in a body massage to some degree.  And does reflexology really work?  It depends on whom you ask!  But the many foot massage parlours claim it does and can do wonders for your body simply by invigorating pressure points on your feet.  Some parlours will also use hot stones strategically placed at points on your body to stimulate and warm the muscles in the area.  Again, does this work?  Maybe, but the point is that it feels good. 🙂  So how do you know which massage parlour or spa is right for you?  Here’s how…

What you need to know about Massages and Massage Parlours

  • There are parlours with scantily clad women eyeing potential customers as they walk by.  It may seem like it’s not a legitimate spa but it is indeed!  It’s more like a men’s club where men can get a proper shave, sit in the sauna or lounge in the VIP area, order food and get a massage at the same time!girls in spa
  • many masseuses offer their services roadside or on the beach in a public setting.  These massages tend to be much cheaper than at established spas but for a basic foot massage it doesn’t get better than this!massage on beach
  • If you go to a place that specifies that it’s a foot massage spa, the routine and choices are pretty simple.  You will be instructed to lay down on a foot massage chair/bed and will be given shorts to change in to, although some places don’t require you to change.  After that, all you will have to do is simply fall into a state of complete bliss for the duration of your massage!foot massage
  • At established spas, the massage menu can be quite lengthy.  These spas are usually more expensive as well so it would be hard to find a spa that offers a $5 massage.  It’s questionable whether a simple foot massage would be that much better at these places than at a dedicated foot massage parlour.  The spas are more known for their facials, body scrubs and other spa treatments.
  • A word about tipping – many of the ‘men’s club’ type establishments will demand a hefty tip.  For instance if your service was only 120,000 VND, you may have to put down more than 100,000 VND in tips.  The reason is that the girls who work there earn solely on commission so a tip is almost expected.  Be careful of this as it catches many tourists by surprise.  At spas and foot massage parlours, many advertise a price with tip included.  If it doesn’t state that anywhere, be sure to clarify!  This is very important because they  will either say that a tip is not necessary or give you a specific number as to how much the minimum tip should be.  It is best to establish all of this before you start your massage.
  • A word about safety – don’t walk into a spa or massage parlour with many valuable belongings.  If a place looks suspicious, it probably is!  Go to the one of the other 100+ massage establishments in the city. 🙂  And for our female readers, it’s not uncommon to have a male masseur , especially at foot massage places, but feel free to relax and enjoy the massage as it’s very doubtful that they will make you feel uncomfortable or do anything inappropriate.

For a good massage in Ho Chi Minh City, here are a few of our recommendations:

1. Nails & Beauty Shop: 118 Pasteur, District 1

2. Cat Moc Spa: 61-63 Tran Dinh Xu, District 1

3. Indochine Spa: 69 Thu Khoa Huan, District 1

 

In Hanoi, here are some places you might try:

1. Omamori Spa: No. 102 B1 Alley 5 Huynh Thuc Khang , Dong Da district

2. Just Massage: No. 237 Au Co, Tay Ho District

3. Moc Spa: 65A Tran Quoc Toan, Hoan Kiem District

 

For more Vietnam travel tips, come along on one of our tours and speak to our friendly guides about traveling in Vietnam!  Happy relaxation!