All of the brothels are disguised as barber shops, spa and massage parlors, or make-up shops.
The places are ‘decorated’ with a couple of swiveling and collapsible chairs in the front hall, but these are rarely used as guests enter and walk straight to rooms in the back.
After a man is selected, he follows his guest to the upper floor, which is divided into many small rooms of around six square meters in size.
At a brothel deep down an alley off Truong Chinh Street in Tan Binh, the owner agreed to allow Tuoi Tre to have a brief look inside his facility.
During the visit, six to seven men were sleeping on the floor, while others played cards on the first floor, where they queue up for guests’ selection.
At another brothel down an alley on Vo Van Tan Street in District 3, men begin their work day by pm.
The sex workers there have strong bodies and attractive faces.
Only a few cases have been discovered by local authorities.
Donn Collby, a researcher with the AIDS program of Harvard University, estimated that Ho Chi Minh City has over 10,000 male sex workers, and 8,500 others in Hanoi.
Elsewhere, a well dressed, tall man who looked like a State official was about to enter a room.
“He is a familiar guest, coming here every week,” the owner said. A few minutes later, they both left for their room, with only a long towel wrapped around their bodies, with trousers and shirts in hands. Male prostitution in Vietnam has been on the increase in recent years, and it has not been dealt with effectively.
Part 1: A look inside male brothels Part 2: Who are the clients of male brothels?
Part 3: ‘Occupational hazards’ of male prostitutes Part 4: Peer education a safety net for sex workers So, the opportunity to visit these brothels is quite limited due to security measures, especially after police arrested two male prostitutes in a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City last month in one of the first such cases publicly announced by local media.
Vietnam is a place to have fun, but also a place to use your common sense since the gay world here is still largely in the shadows and, as a result, some prey on the vulnerability of gay tourists.