YOUR INSIDER'S DATING GUIDE
IN HO CHI MINH CITY 🇻🇳 SINCE 2008
SAIGON Inspiration DATING
SAIGON Inspiration DATING CROSS-CULTURAL MARRIAGE: A GROWING TREND IN VIETNAM
Vietnamese citizens marrying foreigners is now popular in Vietnam
According to a Ministry of Public Security report in 2014, an average of 18,000 Vietnamese citizens register to marry foreigners each year, 78 percent of whom come from Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta provinces in the south.
The report states that around 115,000 interracial marriages were registered in Vietnam between 2008 and 2014, and Vietnamese women partnering with foreign men account for more than 72 percent of the couples.
According to a 2013 report by the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese and the Vietnam Women’s Union, nearly 300,000 Vietnamese women married foreigners between 2008 and 2010.
The top nationalities engaged in interracial marriages with Vietnamese citizens include Taiwanese, Chinese, South Korean, and American.
In the north, a trend has developed in which Vietnamese women in provinces bordering China marry Chinese men without registering with Vietnamese or Chinese authorities for marriage certificates. Many of the women marry Chinese workers at Chinese-invested factories and projects.
There have been many cases in which Vietnamese women have been lured or cheated to travel to China to marry Chinese men.
According to immigration data published by The Korea Times in December last year, there were around 152,000 South Korean-Vietnamese married couples. Among foreigners who married in South Korea, Chinese women made up the largest number at 27.9 percent, followed by brides from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan.
The Vietnamese police said that young Vietnamese women with a lack of education and employment from poor families often met their suitors via illegal brokerage services.
A Changing Attitude
Before the 1980s, marriages between Vietnamese and foreigners were rare, especially in the north and central region where Confucian ethics had a stronger hold than in the south.
In China, intermarriage was initially discouraged by the Tang Dynasty. In 836 Lu Chun was appointed as governor of Canton and was disgusted to find the Chinese living with foreigners and intermarrying. Lu enforced separation, banning interracial marriages, and made it illegal for foreigners to own property.
The anti-foreigner sentiment came from the French colonial times when Vietnamese people used the labels “me Tây” (woman married to a Western man), “me Tàu” (woman married to a Chinese), and “me Nhật” (woman married to a Japanese) to describe such partnerships.
The women labeled as “me” are looked down upon by many because Vietnamese people regarded French, Chinese, and Japanese husbands as belonging to the cruel conquerors and greedy merchants who had brought misfortune and disgrace to the country.
Respectable families would not accept a foreigner in their homes. Interracial marriages, as well as interracial children, were usually mocked or criticised.
For example, Nguyen Tuan Minh can be referred to as “Minh”. But if there are two people with the same first and last name such as Nguyen Tuan Minh and Nguyen Cong Minh, you’d better use the last two names to distinguish them.
For four-word names, you can also use the last two names as the short form. Thus Nguyen Thi Minh Khai becomes “Minh Khai”.
and Dang Nghia
Most Vietnamese have one middle name, but it is quite possible to have two or more, or even no middle names at all. It might be because of their parent’s personal preference, or a family’s naming tradition.
The most popular middle names in Vietnam are “Van” for men and “Thi” for women. If you see either of these options in a name, you can figure out someone’s gender. For example, Nguyen Van Minh is usually a man, while Le Thi Ha is usually a woman.
A Vietnamese person’s middle name sometimes indicates which generation he or she belongs to. A family might use a different middle name for each generation. For example, the Dang clan has two generations with different middle names: Dang Dinh and Dang Nghia.
However, after the Doi Moi (Renovation) reforms initiated in 1986 more and more foreigners have come to the country and Vietnamese people got the chance to learn more about other countries and cultures.
The growing presence of foreign tourists and businesspeople has largely erased the ingrained prejudice against interracial marriage.
Statistics show that almost 40 percent of interracial marriages in South Korea have ended in divorce within five years. There have been reports about Vietnamese brides abused by their husbands and their families, and some wives commit suicide. Cultural and language differences are usually considered the main reasons.
The topic of interracial relationships in Vietnam has sparked heated debates on the media, online forums, and social media networks over the past few years. There have been discussions about the pros and cons of marrying foreigners and comparisons between Vietnamese and foreign spouses.
Vietnamese citizens marrying foreigners may receive strong objections from family members. Some traditional Vietnamese families have stereotyped ideas about a Western husband. Some think that the spouse is just seeking a short-term marriage while living in Vietnam and will ask for a divorce when their time in Vietnam ends.
The language barrier and cultural differences are also obstacles in cross-cultural relationships.
A Thanh Nien report in December last year said bureaucratic red tape in Vietnam is an obstacle to interracial couples when it’s time to apply for marriage certificates.
The report quoted a Vietnamese woman living in HCMC as saying she had been unable to complete all the necessary paperwork for her marriage certificate in Vietnam two years after she tied the knot with a Nepalese man.
Against All Odds
Local media has published various reports about Vietnamese women who have married foreigners for love and are living happy life. The majority of online forum users vote in favor of interracial marriages.
Whether people like it or not, the number of cross-cultural marriages will continue to rise in Vietnam due to the further integration of Vietnam into the world economy and the increase of international relocation for work and pleasure.
SAIGON Inspiration DATING SAIGON’S SECRET LOVE HOTELS
Vietnamese convention dictates that public shows of real affection are taboo
We’re not talking about doing the “thing” here, merely kissing and cuddling is frowned upon by one of the most conservative societies on earth. So young lovers are forced into standing on the Thu Tiem Bridge gazing at the night city skyline or congregating on Mai Chi Tho to sit on a motorbike and fly a kite.
There is an innocence about Vietnamese society that is actually quite charming. Young couples actually enjoy the simple things in life, in a way that is lost to most in the West.
“The charming innocence is really endearing”
But surely young lovers have needs and urges the same as anyone else. Well, this is where the Nha Nghi, or “Love Hotels”, come in. To the initiated this remains a hidden part of Saigon life.
Whether you know it or not, the chances are you drive past love hotels every single day. These pleasure palaces can be rented by the hour and have become a regular haunt for young couples, cheating partners, married couples in search of some privacy, and Saigon’s famous “butterfly girls” with their clients.
A great strength of Vietnamese life is the strong family bond. However, when you are sharing a small house or even a single room with mum and dad, amorous advances don’t, well, advance very far, to be honest. “We’re close, but not that close!” So when the birds and the bees start to get restless, it’s time to pop down to the Nha Nghi and take advantage of the opening rate, which is between VND60,000 and VND100,000 for the first three hours.
“When the birds and the bees start to get restless, it’s time to pop down to the Nha Nghi”
There is one street in District 7 that has about a dozen of these establishments. It really is quite a sight in the early morning as children stroll past on their way to their local international school and at the same time, dozens of young couples emerge looking bleary-eyed and rather pleased with themselves. Each couple discreetly jumps onto two different motorbikes and heads off back to their normal lives.
As with everything there is a certain ambiguity about it all. The term Nha Nghi simply means guest house and there are many of these all over the city that is nothing more than that. The love hotels are normally spotted by the signs outside advertising the rates. If the prices are by the hour then there is every chance that the stair carpets will be more worn than most.
It’s the same with the infamous Hot Tocs in Saigon. Hot Toc merely means a hairdresser, though some are more blow job than blow dry. A guy could come to town for a haircut and a room for the night and find himself involved in a whole different ball game.
“A guy could come to town for a haircut... and find himself involved in a whole different ball game.”
Sex it seems is still the big taboo here. Everyone does it, nobody admits it and nobody talks about it. Vietnamese society is incredibly conservative and seemingly naive, but take a look at the sex chat sites and you get a real sense of where Saigon is. Online, everyone appears to be at it.
So just where do the love hotels fit in on Valentine’s Day? Well, each year, they report great business with many saying that they get fully booked on February 14th. Some have three-hour slots booked right through the afternoon, evening, and night. My, if the walls could talk. Maybe that’s why they call it a headboard!
There is a riskier side to this risqué business. Some partners, finding out about infidelities, have been known to have done deals in the past with hotel owners. They installed cameras and caught their loved ones loving other lovers. The resulting grainy videos hit social media sites and caused quite a stir.
However, Saigon’s infamous love hotels show no sign of losing their appeal anytime soon.
SAIGON Inspiration DATING YOUR GUIDE TO DATING DYNAMICS IN HCMC
Are Vietnamese women supposed to be submissive?
Recently a 23-year-old Sebastian Harris, the self-titled “Global Seducer”, wrote to us in response to an article he had found on City Pass Guide: Beautiful Vietnamese Women in ‘Ao Dai’. Based on our interest in vintage ao dai, Sebastian offered his own article, 44 Reasons to Date a Vietnamese Woman.
After reading a few of the paragraphs, pretty traditionally masculine statements began to emerge: “In case you have dated women from other parts of Asia, you know that self-reliant women are rarer than diamonds,” and “There’s one thing you need to know about Vietnamese culture and I bet my ass that you like it. Women are supposed to be submissive.”
However, as purposefully provocative and offensive as Sebastian wished to make his article, and his website in general, he did touch on one thing all people who live in Vietnam can agree on: the dating culture, when it comes to Vietnamese girls, seems to be slanted in favor of foreign men. If you meet any foreign man who has a girlfriend or is married in Vietnam, it’s about 90% certain that his partner will be Vietnamese.
This interesting dating dynamic is universally acknowledged and endlessly discussed. So, we decided to get four different opinions on dating in Vietnam to get a broader perspective.
Phuong, a businesswoman from Hanoi; Son, a sound engineer from a province near Saigon; Kate, an English teacher from Australia; and Thomas, an online marketer from France all agreed to give us their views on what it takes to find love in Ho Chi Minh City. So form your own opinion.
Note that all these interviews deal substantially with personal histories. This is in no way meant to be indicative of feelings as a whole, either of different groups of people or of Citypassguide.com. Interviews have been edited for length and clarity, and some names have been changed for anonymity.
Interview 1: Phuong, 35, Businesswoman
How has your dating life been, in general?
When I was young, I was afraid, I don’t know why. I broke up with my first boyfriend [when I was 18], and after that, I didn’t date anyone until I was 25. And something started with a Vietnamese-American guy for only one month. And then I started dating only white guys. I didn’t plan for it to happen, it just happened.
Because Vietnamese guys didn’t dare to come to me. They always told me I’m too strong for them or something. Or I was too skinny for them. I got a lot more attention from white guys.
For you, has it been different dating a foreigner from a Vietnamese man?
It’s hard for me to tell because I didn’t really date a Vietnamese when I was already a grown-up. I was 18 and I was dating for a few weeks or a few months. And it was very different, yeah, because what can I say? We went out for food, and then for dessert, and had a conversation. And then he brought me back.
We dated for a few months but we didn’t even hold hands. Didn’t even kiss. I think [it was] because he was a good man and we were shy, I don’t know. But after that, I was afraid of something. And I think he wanted [this to be] serious. It’s not like I didn’t want to be serious, but I was young, so I didn’t want to continue.
With foreigners, how does a typical date compare with that?
[Laughing] Actually, with Vietnamese people, 18 is still very young. And this was already 15 years ago, 20 years ago. It was different [than today]. Now, 18-year-old teenagers kiss or even go to bed together. But, at that time it was different.
So when I started dating foreigners, of course, it was different. We had more privacy, so we started kissing quite early, after the second date or something. And after that, I started to know what a one-night stand is or I started dating and went to bed after one week or something, you know?
How about your friends? Who do they tend to date?
My friends from high school or university got married quite early already because it’s like the normal mission of the Vietnamese people: after high school, you have to go to university; after university, you have to get married; after getting married, you have to have babies. So they already did everything like 15 years ago. And my current friends, yeah, I think most of them date foreigners. And they have different stories than mine.
What sorts of different stories?
I think it’s about how you meet [men]. I think I’m quite lucky that I, most of the time, meet good guys. It just didn’t work out so we broke up, you know? But then I had some friends who have a similar job to mine, but they don’t meet good guys, or they have to meet on Tinder.
So at first they just have a date and see that the men played with them or something. Or [they’re] not that serious. Or they met some guys that already had a girlfriend, but [they] didn’t know it, and they found out later. You know that each girl has a sense [about men]. Some people don’t have this sense, so they can’t tell. They just go for it, and if something happens, it happens.
So some people will just take a chance on anybody?
I think so, yeah. And also, because you have to select. I’ve been out a lot and I’ve met many, many people and many guys. Not many guys like me because I’m quite arrogant when I go out. But it’s not because I’m arrogant. It’s just because I don’t want them to see that every Vietnamese girl is the same.
Like we need their money or [want to talk to them] just because they’re white. Because there are too many Vietnamese girls like this out there. It’s just because I’m not the same, so I just ignore them or something.
So do you think that most white guys think that Vietnamese women are the same?
I think so because they don’t know. I think that from the first time they arrive in Asia, they don’t know who is who. For example, one time I went out with my foreign friend, right? 99.9% of the time, I go out with my foreign friends. So, I’m the only Vietnamese person. I always thought that they would think that I could be different. But actually, one time I met one guy when I went out with my foreign friend, and I felt lonely at that time.
So I decided to go with him, right? And on the way, he was like, “Do I have to pay you?” I said, “No, you’re crazy!” I left. So, before, I thought that they have to know that I’m different. Some people can tell, but some people cannot tell. Of course, I was dressed sexy, but elegant sexy, right? They can’t tell between me and a hooker at the bar.
Do you think it’s easier for Vietnamese women to date in Vietnam than it is for foreign women?
It’s becoming more and more difficult for Vietnamese girls to meet someone to date. If a single girl is my age, the chance for them to meet a married man is high, since the men who are the same age or older are all married. And the young ones?
Too childish for them. Many of the girls – they’re 28 to 35 years old – around me are still single. They’re colleagues and the people I know from other companies. They work and go out with their friends or just go home. No chance to meet a man.
Most of them just want to meet up with friends at a coffee shop or restaurant to dine as they don’t like going to the bar to drink. Not their thing. They want to meet someone to date but they don’t know where. And since they can earn money they become more independent and pickier than a traditional woman. So they just work, hang out with friends, and travel with friends.
What does your family think about your dating past?
I think that they have to accept what I like. This is my family’s tradition – they let me do what I want. So I could just date, and I informed them, and they were happy whenever I had someone. But I was quite picky, so it never worked out. Like I would date someone for only one week, two weeks, three weeks, or one month max. Because for me, if I was not happy I just broke up, or the other way around.
Interview 2: Son, 28, Sound Engineer
What has your dating history been like?
I have so many dramas dating stories! Most of them are Vietnamese. A lot of times, it didn’t work. And I think about it, and sometimes I feel like a loser, a little bit because I think I’m different from the other Vietnamese guys here in Vietnam. The way I think about life, the way I think about passion, about jobs, about money. My longest relationship was two years, and we broke up, of course, for many reasons.
But the most important thing that I remember is, she told me to quit my job because you can’t make good money with your job. But when I do something, I want to do it with my passion. And I want to live with my passion. I don’t put money on number one of my list. It’s not my number one target in life.
And your girlfriend wanted you to have a stable income?
Yeah, she wanted it in the opposite way. Many Vietnamese girls want a stable life. They don’t want to have a dream. They just want to get married, take care of their husband, have kids, and go to work every day. In my opinion, it’s not life. Life should be more interesting. Go out and see the world and see what you can do.
So you think a lot of women here don’t want to travel abroad? They’d rather stay in Vietnam?
No, that’s no problem. They want to travel a lot, but the problem is they don’t want to make their own money to travel. They just want to travel with their boyfriend’s money, their husband’s money, and their husband’s family’s money.
I think it’s a problem with culture because when you’re a girl, your parents will teach you, OK, you don’t need to study well. You don’t need a good job. You don’t need to be independent. You just need to be beautiful. You just need to take care of yourself and you just have to have a good outlook and then just date a rich guy and his family or he is going to take care of you.
How do you think the fact that they need to think about money will affect the way they treat a boyfriend?
There are advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is they don’t have to worry about money every time they hang out. And the disadvantage is, they have to do whatever their boyfriend wants or their boyfriend’s family wants if they think about getting married.
And yeah, to me, please keep in mind that I don’t say all Vietnamese girls. To me, there are two types of girls. I don’t know what exactly to call them, but the first group is the independent girls, who are passionate, confident, and want to do something very meaningful in their life.
They want to work, they want to make money, and they want to travel around the world by themselves. And the second group, they don’t want to be independent. They are not confident at all. Sometimes they are confident about their looks. They can dress well and they can go shopping and they can laugh, and they are confident in their beauty. But inside, their core values, they are not confident.
Why do you think some people become pretty but insecure, while others become independent and secure?
I think it’s about culture, about parents. The way they were educated in the past when they were kids. Some families have a very modern, very Western mindset. They try to teach their daughters that no matter what they do when they grow up, they have to be independent. You have to be happy with yourself. But some families, most Vietnamese families, don’t teach their daughters to be independent. Especially in the countryside.
How about the men? What are they looking for in a woman?
Very easy to understand! If you live in a society that produces the kind of woman, they also produce the kind of man who fits the kind of woman. In Vietnam, a man who has property and money will love to have a woman who they can control. Who’s willing to do anything they want. It’s culture. Patriarchy. They want to control everything in their family.
How do you think foreign men fit into all of this?
I have the answer! It’s very interesting. I’m a Vietnamese guy, but I think it’s fair. And I feel so sorry because, do you remember, I only care about the first group of girls, who are independent, and confident. And I think these kinds of girls will love to date foreigners. Why? Because foreign guys become independent earlier than Vietnamese guys.
They have to move out when they’re 18, and due to that, they have to learn how to take care of themselves well. They have to learn how to live alone and love themselves before they love somebody else. And this is cool for modern girls who want a similar life. They want to conquer some things in their life, and Vietnamese girls don’t have it. I can tell.
Why do you think a lot of foreign guys are drawn to Vietnamese women?
The foreign guys, they’re in two groups. The first group, they’re great. I have to say, I admire them. They are cool, really cool. The second group, comes to Vietnam, they travel around the world, and sometimes they just need somebody to hang out, to date, to have sex with, and they know that Vietnamese girls are interested in foreign guys, even when they don’t know English.
And some foreign guys know that they are valuable, more valuable than Vietnamese guys in Vietnam, and they take advantage of it. And they just go out and find a girl to date and they’re not actually serious about a relationship with a Vietnamese girl. But the other cool guys, know how to respect women.
And when foreign guys know how to deal with those sorts of things, Vietnamese girls have no reason to break up. And people like that, who treat each other fairly, they can have a really great relationship.
Interview 3: Kate, 31, English teacher
What was your dating history before coming here?
Oh god, this is so personal! It’s long! I don’t know, I think I had everything. Long-term, short-term, periods of being single… But it’s never been particularly difficult to meet people, I find, outside of Vietnam. If you go to a bar or whatever you’ll always meet someone, which is a very different experience here.
For the first six months of living here, I thought, I can’t do this. I can’t be invisible. It’s too difficult. It was just such a change. And I’m not saying that I’m this man-magnet or anything, but you notice a very big difference. It’s the best expression for it: you just feel invisible. You feel that Western men just look straight through you. That you’re not even there. They actually don’t even register you. Barely even make eye contact.
And Vietnamese men?
And Vietnamese guys, that’s a complicated topic, too. Yes, people say they’re shy, and yes, they are. But I think there are very complicated reasons why they don’t approach us. I mean, you got the language barrier… We tend to be taller, which they don’t like… They’re quite intimidated by us.
And so you really don’t want anything to do with the guys that are really kind of forward. Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they have an expression in Vietnam: Man is king. And often, my students say that they could never have a wife who’s better than them.
What age do you teach?
My youngest would be about 15, but generally adults.
You wanted to move after six months. What kept you here?
Because I kept telling myself, you can’t prioritize that part of your life in determining where you live. So I guess I tried to put other things first. Does that make sense?
Sure. Is that kind of how you live your life now?
Yeah, with sporadic moments of absolute boredom because of that situation. I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve lived here for six years. It’s been a long time. And I’m not sure if it’s a healthy thing. But I actually did come here to escape men in a lot of ways. It just kind of backfired.
Because now it’s so obvious?
You’d probably have to move to Siberia to escape [men] more than here.
What’s your impression of the guys who come here and their dating life?
There’s definitely a mixture. I wouldn’t say there’s one type. I don’t know if guys purposefully come here for dating. I’m not really friends with that kind of guy here, so I don’t really talk about that stuff. But they definitely come here, and they’re like a kid in a candy store. You’re highly respected just for being white. And a male. Look, I get a certain level of respect for being a Western person. But if you’re a man, it’s doubly so.
So at work, you can’t put a foot wrong here, because no one’s going to tell you to step off. No one. And that’s why they create these monsters. And in terms of women, it’s just this never-ending queue of attention. So, if you get one girl today, you get another one tomorrow. And they know that. And they take full advantage of it.
It seems like dating a foreigner is a completely different experience for a woman than dating a Vietnamese man.
Well, you’ve got to look: the men who rule the world are white men. They’re on top of the heap. So, if you’re on the bottom of the heap, you want to find someone who can bring you out of that. So, dating a white man gives you a higher social status in this country. I think they’re just looking to improve their lives.
And if you bring a white guy home to your family, you’ve hit the jackpot. One of my students told me her dad used to say, “Girls should be thrown out with the dishwater.” Your daughters are to be married off. So, if you can marry her off to some wealthy guy, that’s great. Box ticked! But if a Vietnamese guy brings me home, that’s a whole different story, because I’m coming into the family.
So you think the family wouldn’t view you the same way as a man?
Oh, god no. Because the woman is kind of like the caretaker of the family. It’s your role to take care of him, the children, and his parents. And they know that a Western girl is probably not going to do it. I’m not going to do it. [Laughs] And she wouldn’t have a good understanding of the cultural values. It wouldn’t be enough.
So how has your dating life been here?
An absolute [freaking] disaster.
Do you think just by the virtue of being here white men are somehow implicit in this dating culture?
Yeah, I’ve never been treated so badly by white guys, ever. In my life.
Do you feel that sort of disrespect in a casual setting, with friends as well?
I really don’t have anything to do with white guys anymore. I have only one white friend. I’ve completely removed myself from that arena. Because I just find… I get so angry. Like, at the school that I’ve worked for.
Listening to how [white guys] treat the staff. With complete disregard and disrespect. Because they know they can, because no one will hold it up on them. All of my friends are foreign but Asian are foreign.
Do you think this is about all white guys?
This is what I’ve realized. We go on about old men that go over the Philippines and Vietnam and get their little wives and how revolting they are… But actually, those guys don’t worry me anymore. I kind of understand them. They’re alone. It’s difficult for them to find a woman. It’s the young guys that come here and they’ve got a brain on their shoulders…
They’re relatively okay-looking, and they still choose that option. That’s what worries me. And when they’re writing articles like that? It’s like they can’t help this modern movement of the fact that women want something different now. We don’t want to put up with that [stuff] that our mothers put up with. I certainly don’t.
A lot of Vietnamese women are quite independent and strong and will stand up for themselves, though. Where do they fit in this whole paradigm?
I had a friend Simon, and he always had really well-educated, hardworking women… Fantastic! We used to say, “Where do you find these women? They’re so fantastic! And they’re too good for you!” And they were amazing. But he was a really different kind of guy. All the other guys that I worked with or whatever, wouldn’t end up with girls like them.
Interview 4: Thomas, 23, Online marketer
What was the dating scene like in France?
I would say that it’s less open than Vietnam. Girls are more suspicious of guys and not so easy to approach. They won’t trust someone that easily. It’s different in Vietnam; I find it easier to approach someone just for a drink or dinner.
And what year did you first come to Vietnam?
I came to Vietnam for the first time in 2015, for a week of holiday. At that time I was studying Mandarin in Shanghai. I really loved [Vietnam], and the people, so I decided to come back here six months later for an internship in January 2016.
What was your first impression of the girls here?
First, I have to say that Vietnamese girls are very beautiful – they got something. Past the physical appearance, they are really easy to hang out with: curious, always happy to try new food, to learn English, to discover new places. And they are really nice. [They’re] always keen to help with anything: to find an apartment, to book a bus ticket…
When you meet girls here, do you usually approach them, or do they approach you?
I approach them. Maybe I wouldn’t do that in Brittany, because there might be, like, a 50% chance that the girl tells me she isn’t interested. Even if I only try to make friends.
So you think Vietnamese girls are more open to speaking with Western guys?
Yeah, I think so. Not only Western guys. I think they’re more open to speaking to guys in general. Vietnamese girls like to make new friends and meet new people.
How do you respond to Sebastian Harris’ article?
I find it disrespectful toward women. It seems that he treats girls like they’re all the same as if they were simple objects. And then he starts comparing Vietnamese and Thai women… I pity his girlfriend.
Ok, what about his claims that the women here are more submissive, or that they’re more likely to please a man than other girls?
I don’t think so. We are talking about a country with 90 million inhabitants, so let’s say there are 45 million women in Vietnam. They aren’t all the same. I’ve met many Vietnamese girls with more temperament than some of the Western girls I’ve met before.
Do you think dating, just little things are different… Like if you get in a fight with a Vietnamese girlfriend, do you think it’s different than fighting with a European girlfriend?
Of course, it is different because of our different cultures, but nowadays, with globalization, young people tend to have an internationalized mindset. So I can’t really tell if it is that different.
So you think women here have a stronger character than what he’s saying?
Yeah, I think so. But even when Vietnamese girls are angry, they just look cute. Which wouldn’t be the case with a Western woman. When they’re angry, you better not tell them they look cute. [Laughing]
What about his claim that having a relationship with a Western man is somehow more stable and safer than having a relationship with a Vietnamese man?
I think it’s the contrary. I mean, it’s easier for a Vietnamese woman to get married to a Vietnamese guy because they have the same culture. And often, the foreigner, if they’re young, will not be as rich as they think. Like, many Vietnamese think that all foreigners are rich, but it’s not true!
Do you plan on staying here?
Yes, I am planning to work here for a while, and let’s see what happens next.
Can you see yourself getting married to a Vietnamese girl?
I can’t tell now, but I could totally see myself married to a Vietnamese woman.
SAIGON Inspiration DATING HOW TO GET MARRIED IN VIETNAM?
What to know before getting married in Vietnam
With over 80,000 foreigners living and working in Vietnam, as well as increasing numbers of Vietnamese working and studying abroad, more mixed-nationality and ex-pat couples are opting to tie the knot on Vietnamese soil.
In addition to the local wedding market, the growing trend for ‘destination weddings’ means that plenty of international couples who are not residents of Vietnam are also choosing to celebrate their special day in the country. Vietnam offers beautiful landscapes at a relatively affordable price—whether it’s a beach, mountain, city, or rural backdrop, considering the escalating costs of weddings globally.
If a foreigner is getting married to a Vietnamese national, there is quite a bit of documentation to prepare for legal marriage registration. Unfortunately, this paperwork is not as straightforward as it could be, with all documents needing to be translated into Vietnamese and certified, before being submitted to the Department of Justice in Vietnam.
There may be slight variations depending on the nationality of the foreigner so it’s best to check the exact requirements with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your home country.
For two non-Vietnamese people considering getting married in Vietnam, this is only possible if at least one of the couple has either a permanent or temporary residency permit in Vietnam. If neither person has a residency permit, then they will need to marry in their home country or in a nearby country with more relaxed rules such as Malaysia or Thailand. If you are living in Vietnam, you can always have a blessing, ceremony, or celebration locally after you’ve married elsewhere.
Once the documentation is arranged, it is then possible to have both a religious or civil wedding ceremony in Vietnam. A civil ceremony takes place at the local Department of Justice, whereas a religious marriage can take place in a church, temple or other venues such as a hotel.
Mixed-Nationality Weddings in Vietnam; a Blend Of Customs
According to The Planners, premium wedding planners and consultancy in Vietnam, mixed-nationality couples tend to plan smaller celebrations than their local counterparts. An average Vietnamese wedding hosts more than 400 guests, whereas mixed couples often prefer around 100 guests.
This difference in customs relates back to the cultural values attached to weddings: in Vietnam, weddings are seen are large extended-family affairs, with the parents’ guests often dominating half the list, in contrast to the typical Western preference for a more private, intimate celebration with closest friends and family.
To address this difference, many mixed-nationality couples choose to have two separate weddings, one adhering to Vietnamese customs and one more traditionally ‘Western’ in style.
The Planners also disclose that mixed-nationality or international couples are more inclined towards the ‘destination wedding’ trend, with al fresco beach ceremonies in Danang, Nha Trang, and Mui Ne proving popular. Other Western wedding customs have now become the norm, such as exchanging vows—which was not traditionally part of a Vietnamese wedding before.
Despite some differences in customs, most mixed-nationality couples do want to maintain certain important Vietnamese wedding traditions in dedication and respect to their spouse’s Vietnamese family and culture—particularly the ceremonies involving collecting the bride from her family home.
Wedding Dresses and Suits Tailor-made in Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City provides good options for couples looking for the perfect wedding outfits, particularly for those wanting something tailored from scratch. If you’re looking for something unique, Danish designer Elisabeth Rolskov offers bespoke couture bridal gowns.
ER Couture does not copy existing designs, but Elisabeth will work with her clients to conceive their dream wedding dress, adding little details that reflect the personality of the bride.
If you are in need of some inspiration or are looking for existing designs, Sue Ann Bridal in District 1 sells collections of high-end international designers such as Ronald Joyce, Mori Lee, and MGNY, as well as bridesmaids’ dresses and bridal accessories.
You can also browse the overwhelming number of bridal shops lining Ho Van Hue in Phu Nhuan district, where hundreds of extravagant gowns are available to buy or rent. For a mid-range option, Cee’s Bridal is a local contemporary bridal-wear brand selling and leasing its beautiful collection as well as offering custom dress designs.
For grooms, Dung Tailors in District 1 can create a wide range of tailored suits and offer plenty of choice in terms of fabrics, linings and cut. The best way to scope this tailor is to visit the shop for a consultation and to review fabrics. The tailor will need to take measurements and perform several fittings, but a suit can be made from scratch in around four weeks.
Bridal hair and makeup are also very affordable in Ho Chi Minh City: Trang Phan’s team of hair stylists and makeup artists will work with clients to get the perfect look on their wedding day.
Wedding Planners in Saigon
For couples opting to hold their celebration at a hotel or restaurant, normally there will be an in-house events team to take care of the planning, concept, and execution of your wedding day. If you are looking for some additional support or plan to hold your wedding in a less conventional venue, you may want to hire a wedding planner. There are several good Saigon-based events and production companies, including The Planners and Bliss.
Finding the Right Venue
There are countless beautiful spots across Vietnam to hold a wedding, from luxury beach resorts to mountain retreats. If you’re getting married in Ho Chi Minh City the options may be a little more limited, but there are a number of interesting wedding venues in Saigon. The first place to start may be some of Saigon’s major hotels with large event spaces.
Larger weddings are regularly held at Lotte Legend, InterContinental, The Reverie, Le Meridien, PARKROYAL, Sheraton Saigon Hotel, and Towers or Pullman Saigon Center, while for a more private affair we would suggest The Myst Dong Khoi or New World Saigon Hotel.
If you are looking for a convention center rather than a hotel, try The Adora Dong Phuong Group. They have reception rooms all over Saigon, which can accommodate even the largest of celebrations.
Those who seek a peaceful, rural setting close to the city center should check Binh An Village, which hosts events in its 12,000sqm of garden space. An Lam Retreats Saigon River is another al fresco riverside setting with plenty of space and a professional team to support the celebrations.
Another unique wedding venue can be found at Villa Song, a French colonial-style villa and luxury boutique hotel in Thao Dien. There are several restaurants that would also work well for a wedding, such as The Deck in District 2, a large, stylish space overlooking the river.
Capture the Moment: Wedding Photographers in Saigon
If you’re looking to embrace Vietnamese customs, then you will want to do the ubiquitous pre-wedding photo shoot. Many couples choose to have their photos taken before the actual wedding day, posing against a scenic backdrop and dressed in their full wedding gear.
There is plenty of choices when it comes to wedding photographers in Saigon: Khoi Le Studios is a boutique company of four wedding photographers, based in Ho Chi Minh City and available to shoot weddings across Vietnam. Mervin Lee is an independent photographer from Singapore with years of experience shooting both Asian and western weddings and also one of City Pass Guide’s favourite contributors.
SAIGON Inspiration DATING WEDDING TRADITIONS IN VIETNAM
What makes most weddings in Vietnam so special?
Have you ever been to a wedding reception in which guests start eating before the bride, groom, and the couple’s family? Why the bride might choose to don an ao dai in preference to a white taffeta wedding dress, or why do family friends will always come bearing betel leaf wedding gifts? While these practices might seem strange to Westerners, in Vietnam, from Hanoi to Saigon, this is par for the course.
Read on to learn what to expect when you’re invited to an authentic Vietnamese wedding, and why these traditions have come to be.
A History of Showing Status
In the past, families in Vietnam with similar social status orchestrated marriages and weddings together, and the wedding ceremony presented a great opportunity to show the family’s level in society. Wealthy families organized elaborate ceremonies, and the bride’s family usually demanded valuable gifts from the groom’s family prior to the wedding.
During the later half of the 20th century, the government enacted policies that sought to get rid of feudal customs, part of a scheme to reduce poverty in general. Weddings became small and simple, with sweets served to friends and family of the couple, rather than the grand feasts of years before.
More recently, Vietnam’s rapid economic growth and the increased influence of Western cultures have made weddings, especially in big cities like Hanoi and Saigon, more expensive and less intimate. However, traditional customs remain important even today.
The Party Before the Party: The Engagement Ceremony
Before the wedding, an engagement ceremony called đám hỏi (or ăn hỏi) takes place at the bride’s home. Some families invite guests to a banquet for the engagement ceremony, especially if the bride’s hometown is different from the groom’s so that guests of the bride’s family don’t have to come to the actual wedding in a different town.
This is similar to the Western idea of a proposal, but instead of the man asking for the woman’s hand in marriage with a ring, all the family members of the couple are present, and the proposal is made from one family to the other, with traditional gifts such as betel and areca (trầu cau) and other goodies, packed in lacquer boxes covered in red cloth.
Then comes the day of the wedding. As with other important ceremonies in Vietnam, the date of the wedding is determined by a fortune teller, and may not fall on the weekend. Those who are invited but cannot attend the wedding typically visit the family before the wedding and congratulate them with gifts or money.
The ceremony starts at the bride’s home, where the groom’s family officially asks for permission to bring the bride with them to the groom’s house. Here the couple lights incense as a way to inform their ancestors that they are getting married and ask for their blessings. Only family members are present in this part of the ceremony, except for the groom’s mother. The two families then head to the wedding reception where guests join them in celebration.
The modern Vietnamese wedding reception varies depending on which part of the country you are in. Many wedding traditions from Western cultures have been adopted, such as the bride wearing a white dress instead of the traditional áo dài, the exchange of wedding rings, cutting the cake, and the bouquet toss.
However, there are still significant differences. For example, for non-religious families, there is no priest to officiate the wedding, but instead, a trusted friend or respected relative, or a professional MC. The bride is not “given away” by her father, but both bride and groom walk down the aisle with their parents by their side. Firecrackers, an essential part of weddings until they were banned in 1994, are now replaced by confetti, similar to the tradition of throwing rice in the West.
The biggest difference is the huge crowd of guests at Vietnamese weddings. As a wedding is the business of two families rather than just two people, almost all relatives, friends and colleagues of both families are expected to be there. As a result, the newlywed couple and their parents have to go to each table to raise their glasses and thank the guests for coming. When they can finally sit down to eat, most guests have already finished their meal.
This may seem a little strange to Westerners, but it has become a tradition. The happy couple might feel exhausted on their wedding day, but they have a life together to enjoy after that!
SAIGON Inspiration DATING 5 THINGS FOREIGN MEN LOVE ABOUT ASIAN WOMEN
There are many reasons why Asian women are sought after by foreign men.
It’s very common for foreign guys to want to date Asian females because of stereotypes, myths, and shallow reasons. Still, if you are really interested in these relationships, you must develop tangible explanations for why you are drawn to Asian girls. While preparing to date someone from Vietnamese culture, maybe from China, Japan, or Vietnam, it is also important to realize that dating Vietnamese girls is quite different from dating females from the United States. Here are 5 top reasons why foreign guys love to date Asian ladies.
#1 – Asian Women Are Well Educated
Most Vietnamese females who seek a foreign man online tend to be educated and intelligent as English is necessary to communicate. This attracts foreign men, particularly from Western countries. Because Vietnamese girls can manage both their domestic and professional responsibilities, they can successfully balance the two. This is an intriguing aspect of Far-Eastern ladies. In Asian schooling, both sexes may claim to be equal.
#2 – Asian Females Nurture Traditional Values
A quality unique to the Eastern community that makes these females beautiful to men is an intrinsic aspect of Vietnamese culture. For example, Vietnamese girls are raised in an extended family to know how to respect their elders. They also value family ties above everything else. Remember that these ladies are unique. Cultural differences are going to surface, but Asians are really quite accommodating. Dating an Asian lady would need you to show her the utmost respect and love, and devotion.
#3 – Asian Women Can be Found Online
Nowadays, online dating has become quite popular, and as long as you have internet access, you may begin with online dating and discover Asian females. You may use free dating sites in the USA without payment to search for an ideal Vietnamese girlfriend.
Simply register with an Asian dating service on the Internet, and you’re on your way to meeting an Eastern woman. There are plenty of Vietnamese ladies on the Internet for you to peruse from the quiet of your home.
#4 – Asian Women Are Beautiful
When Vietnamese females are gorgeous, it makes them an enticing catch for foreign males. Men naturally have a natural affinity for beautiful women, which is a given because of the beauty of Eastern ladies. Many people have said that the first things that would draw notice to Asian girls are their slim body, glowing skin, and lovely smiles.
#5 – Asian Women Are Faithful and Trustworthy
It is because Asian females maintain the traditional values that they are well-liked. You should be aware that finding a great Vietnamese lady, for example, may signify that you are looking for a long-term relationship. The vast majority of Vietnamese women tend to fall in love quickly, and once their heart is won, they are tremendously faithful. After becoming married, Asian women usually do not go on to another relationship.
There are many male preconceptions when it comes to dating Asian women. In the West, dating someone from a very different culture is considered cool. To some, these women may appear opportunistic, needy, and eager to find a western husband.
As a result, Vietnamese women sometimes have to face demeaning and racist attitudes from some foul-minded Western men. Some guys date Vietnamese women because, being less critical, age is not as much of a concern, and many women in their early twenties are married to considerably older partners.
Guys may also favor Eastern girls because they are beautiful, and many are not of Vietnamese descent. Regardless of whether you date Asian women for practical, social, or cultural reasons, recognize that dating an Eastern lady is not the same as dating someone from another country.
The author, Linda Raley, is a student of the Faculty of Psychology and a relationship beginner psychologist-consultant. She believes that the strongest relationships take lots of hard work, so she wants to share her knowledge and help other people.
SAIGON Inspiration DATING ARE WESTERNERS AFFLICTED WITH “ASIAN FEVER”?
Most foreigners simply love Vietnamese women
Mimi Nguyen is a 24-year-old Viet Kieu woman who was raised in Moscow and lived in the United Kingdom for almost a decade beginning in her mid-teens. She has a swagger that, along with her bright pink hair, makes her a unique figure in the tapestry of Ho Chi Minh City.
“I had what I like to call a ‘white boy phase’ when I was in university. I dated them exclusively”, Nguyen said.
She remembers her first experience with what she called “the yellow fever thing … was when I was talking to this guy and I remember him explicitly saying that he wanted us to do a role play kind of thing. What he wanted was very specific; he wanted to play out a colonial role play where I would be tied up and where I would call him ‘master’.”
The concept of “yellow fever” is—depending on who hears it—controversial, offensive, or a point of fascination. Perhaps the earliest known usage of the phrase comes from the afterword of the 1988 work M. Butterfly, a play by US playwright David Henry Hwang.
He wrote that “Heterosexual Asians have long been aware of ‘Yellow Fever’—CaucAsian men with a fetish for exotic Oriental women. I have often heard it said that ‘Oriental women make the best wives.’”
Some would argue that it commodifies Asian people, especially women, turning them into a group of identical, interchangeable objects. This draws attention away from their humanity and places it on their bodies and sexuality.
Others argue that neither the phrase nor the phenomenon is worth worrying about. One might be inclined to ask, what’s wrong with preferences? For example, some women prefer tall partners, while others may have a penchant for men with “dad bods”.
It’s quite probable that for every trait that exists there is a segment of the population that finds that trait attractive and are drawn to it consciously or subconsciously.
“Something About Facial Geometry”
I spoke with Tom Harlow*, a 39-year-old, white US national who lives in Ho Chi Minh City, regarding his stated preference for Asian women. “I think everyone I’ve dated for the past 20 years has either been Asian or half-Asian. I think it’s mostly an aesthetic thing. Something about facial geometry”, he said.
“For me to be attracted to an Asian, they only need to be objectively a six out of 10 [a “10” being assigned to a perfect mate], whereas if they were African or European they’d need to be an eight out of 10.” Harlow added, “I’m from Columbus, Ohio. There are Asians but not too many, maybe 10 percent of the population at best, probably three percent. So maybe there’s an element of exoticism at play.”
But preferences are not wholly innocent and are often developed subconsciously, argues Dr. David Frederick, assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University, who is studying the effects of social and biological factors on attraction.
In an interview with Vice Magazine, he agreed that to white men who have mostly grown up around white women, “Asian and other ethnic minority women [may] appear novel and exciting.” He adds that previous good relationships also factor into attraction. “If a man has a particularly positive relationship with an Asian woman, this may increase his preference for Asian women.
The physical features typical of Asian women can become paired with feelings of reward and pleasure, leading men to preferentially seek out relationships with Asian women in the future.” Also, often these expectations are not even derived from previous experiences but are deeply informed by stereotypes, which are steeped in power and race.
Speaking to Mimi Nguyen about the first time she felt the shadow that “yellow fever” cast on her dating life, she said, “I knew that Asian women were fetishized”, or desired solely for physical characteristics particular to their race, “but [the above sexual experience] was the very first instance of overt fetishization.”
She continued, “I don’t think I ever liked receiving attention because I was Asian. It made me feel worse actually. When men would look at me and they would express in one way or another that they were attracted to me because I was Asian, it felt very dehumanizing. It felt like it could be literally anybody sitting here right now.”
Women As Art, Pleasure Products
Stereotypes about Asian people, and especially women, are founded in the colonial relationships between the West and the East. In the 1840s, at the end of the first Opium War, the ports of China, Japan, and Korea were flooded with new traders from the United States and other Western powers from Europe.
“She was a separate entity entirely from the paid-for-hire prostitute (though she did engage in sexual favors if she so chose). Still, the geisha became a highly sexualized image for the Western male,” Park writes.
At the end of World War II, United States soldiers infiltrated the ports of Japan to indulge in the network of brothels that employed tens of thousands of women, until General Douglas MacArthur declared them off-limits the following year.
Similarly, Vietnam’s sex trade flourished during the American War. In her New York Times editorial “The Alt-Right’s Asian Fetish”, Audrea Lim describes the way that soldiers from these wars often married women that they met in these places and brought them, along with the sexually-charged perceptions of Asian women being docile and servile, back to the West. Today US tourists flock to places like Thailand, where the booming sex trade industry brings in USD$6.4 billion dollars annually.
These histories and the images that they’ve created have palpable effects on the lives of Asian women worldwide. Nguyen describes a realization she had when delving into her interest in photography.
“I've noticed that there's a very specific way that Asian women are shot in general, but also a specific way that white photographers shoot Asian girls. It's very sexualized and ... the models are [put into] very submissive positions. A lot of lower angle up-your-panties kinds of shots.”
The Case of an Asian Husband
Additionally, although they are not as common as their male counterparts, there are white women who date Asian men exclusively. Jen Lee* is a white American woman married to an Asian man living in California with their three children.
When asked about how she developed her preference for Asian men she replied, “I moved to San Francisco after college. While there I met a lot more Asian men than I ever had before and naturally I found some of them attractive. I started dating an Asian guy and all of a sudden it became like a thing.”
She continues, “I think my preference started from looks but then transitioned to cultural norms. American Asian men are generally highly-educated, driven to be successful, hold traditional family values, and are good with money. They stand up for their families in the face of any adversity. These are things I wanted. I wanted a man that would defend his family and provide for them.”
“I didn’t continue dating him necessarily to make a statement”, Lee said. “I continued because I truly loved him.”
Love & Power Live in Disharmony
In the end, the reasons for attraction are as amorphous and difficult to pin down as they are subconscious. Often, it is difficult to explain why someone falls in love with a certain person or not. Attraction is not the problem, but the attraction that is built on stereotypes can build up walls between people that shouldn’t exist where there is supposed to be intimacy.
In a video from the series about fetishization “They’re All So Beautiful”, Dr. Benjamin Tong, professor, and psychotherapist at the California Institute of Integral Studies said, “Interracial relationships are not bad per se, but they can be problematic with the presence of fetish.
Those relationships can become affected by the hegemony and the power of these stereotypes, thus putting pressure on the people in them to play these roles, or to push back against them. To truly discover who another person is right from the start is virtually impossible. We bring baggage; we bring projections. The difficulty in relationships is working through that so that the relating is authentic and real.”
SAIGON Inspiration DATING TOP 7 HONEYMOON SPOTS IN VIETNAM
These destinations and luxury resorts are great places to celebrate wedding anniversaries or vow renewals
The term “honeymoon” sprouted sometime in the 1500s and meant the wavering affection (honey) of a married couple was analogous to the periodic phases of the moon. Later, the term came to mean the span of time after the wedding signifying the “indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newlywed couple.” Again, the moon referred to the marriage’s predilection to be “no sooner full than it begins to wane.”
Etymologically a half bittersweet, half cynical term, the word grew into its more optimistic counterpart during the Belle Epoque, the 40-year period in European history characterized by the burst of artistic endeavors, scientific discoveries, and new technology.
The modern interpretation has come to mean plunking down serious cash for an exotic heaven-on-earth where you’re treated like Saudi royalty. So why not choose the best of the best, in one of the most affordable honeymoon destinations on earth? Vietnam’s rich flora, kind smiles, and great food make it a great choice to spend the sweetest epoch of your marriage.
Who is it for: The older couple; fans of woodland solitude and cool weather
Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: This is as authentic as it gets in Dalat. While the city has its fair share of kitsch (eerie swan paddle boats, anyone?), Ana Mandara has managed to hold on with dear life to the most romantic aspects of the 1930s, when weary French officials retreated to the pine-covered highlands for some seriously meditative R&R.
Since these were personal villas, each room has its own unique furniture setup, layout, and ambiance. The wooden floors, antiquated furniture, and canopied beds make your dwelling feel like a secret forest cabin you and your lover are using to escape from the tumultuous world outside. Except instead of broken plumbing and wild animals you get a heated pool, clawfoot bathtub, rain shower, and panoramic views of a colorful Franco-Vietnamese city.
How long should I stay: Three days and two nights should be enough time to explore the grounds and try the excellent breakfast buffet, get a massage at La Cochinchine spa, and head down and explore the city center.
Who is it for: Anyone who can afford it
Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: This is Brad and Angelina’s turf (well… they stayed there once in 2011, but it was big news in the tabloids). It’s a 45-minute flight by charter flight that takes you directly from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao Island, where a Mercedes van picks you up and drops you off at Six Senses.
You are taken to what might arguably be one of the best beaches in Vietnam. The sand is flat, and firm and stretches out for a few kilometers. The water is beautiful and snorkel-worthy. The private villas all come with an infinity pool and butler.
Movies are projected nightly in the open air, the F&B is excellent and the service is meticulously geared towards pleasing literally every need. Understandable considering you’re paying around VND 12 million per room.
But for that, you get stuff like a pre-check-in checklist offering anything you might need on the house, from razors to nail clippers to scented pillows to snorkeling gear, and even the type of music you want playing upon entering your private villa for the first time.
The island is nice, and you can visit a prison (not very romantic but fascinating nonetheless), snorkel or dive in the clear waters (this is Vietnam’s best diving spot), hike for hours at a national park, or rent a catamaran and languidly paddle about the sea. But keep in mind this is the kind of place where you indulge in the ambiance of the resort, have fun with your large bed, and politely ask your smiling butler to get you those nail clippers.
How long should you stay: you’re spending a few hundred just on the charter flight there, so might as well stay three or four nights before you head back. This is a premier honeymoon destination – you’re going to want to stay as much as you can reasonably afford.
Azerai Ke Ga Bay
Who is it for: Honeymooners with kids; boutique hotel lovers
Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: Not too far from Phan Thiet, Princess is a 3-5 hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, making it the closest beachfront resort on the list. The resort was renovated before the pandemic, it is sleek, private, and remote. You get your own villa, 24-hour service, and some pretty sites: the East Sea, canyons, dunes, and a nearby village where you can get some local fruit and coffee for cheap.
Azerai Ke Ga Bay has an excellent kids club and provides adults with some decent entertainment like cooking classes, football, fishing, karaoke, surfing, and other fun diversions. If you’re tugging along some little ones for the “familymoon,” Azerai Ke Ga Bay is probably the best option on the list. And it’s on the lower end of the luxury price spectrum (around VND 6-7 million for a private villa at a luxury boutique resort).
How long should you stay: Three to four nights should do it. It’s a small, relatively secluded area, so you might want to make some taxi trips to Phan Thiet to check out the city, or just explore the surrounding area. The resort is very well-constructed, well-maintained, and quite beautiful overall, and should do well if you only stay there the entire time.
Who is it for: The older couple; river cruise lovers
Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: You don’t typically imagine barges floating along rural Vietnam as romantic. Bassac turns the notion on its head. You get on one of three fully-equipped boats constructed in the style of a traditional rice barge, traveling overnight from Can Tho to Cai Be. And when we say fully equipped, we mean it.
Soundproofed cabins for lengthy “bed testing,” AC, hot and cold water, three inclusive meals with superb food, and knowledgeable staff that can answer your questions about the Mekong Delta or Vietnam. It’s quite pampering for such a rustic context, but not distastefully extravagant. Costly, but well worth it.
The project is headed by French engineer Benoit, whose meticulous attention to detail is unprecedented. Every aspect of the boat is made to take you away from daily stress and place you in a serene, culturally-conscious environment. You float by rice fields, sugar canes, a floating market, and the Delta’s various flora. You see the difficult life of farmers and reconsider your own situation. It’s quite eye-opening. And it’s quite romantic.
How long should you stay: The set overnight itinerary should be enough time to experience riverfront life in the Mekong, and indulge in the barge’s services.
Who is it for: Beachfront lovers; couples who want to be close to the action
Why it’s an ideal spot for a honeymoon, a wedding anniversary, or a vow renewal trip: Don’t confuse this one for Ana Mandara Dalat mentioned earlier – it’s quite different in style. This one is for beach lovers who don’t want to stray too far from the busiest coastal city in Vietnam. It’s also the only resort actually situated on the beach in Nha Trang, instead of sitting across the road.
It’s a great hideaway, despite its proximity to the city. The noise levels are sufficiently low, and the gardens, the dedicated beachfront, and the sleek pools all magnify the serenity. Ana also features one of the best breakfasts you’ll find in the region. If you’re the fancy-dinner-by-the-pier type, the resort can set up a table at the end of the long wooden pier, which is quite nice when the stars begin to show face.
On a side note, the resort is managed by Six Senses, known for its world-class spa facilities. Do yourself a favor and visit the spa if you’re staying here.
How long should you stay: Two or three nights should be sufficient if you’re just there for the resort. If you want to explore Nha Trang – and the city has a good deal of landmarks and restaurants to discover – you may want to opt for up to a week. With a voucher or 3rd party site, you can get each night for under VND 5 million for lower-end rooms and around twice that for more luxurious options.
Who is it for: Luxury-minded older crowd not into loud partying, but still looking for something sleek and sexy to slip into
Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: The Nam Hai has five bubbles on TripAdvisor. And that’s with over 1,200 reviews. It’s difficult not to rehash what’s already been said. But based on our time there, here are a few relatively objective observations: the rooms are very well decorated. Sleek, sensual, and with a nice view of the beach meters away. Lounging by the pools is idyllic, and the beach sand is spotless. It is easily one of the best hotels in Vietnam.
Service in general is top class, as is the steep price (US$ 500 and up). Every private villa gets a butler who obliges your every whim. Little details like staff using electric buggies and bicycles to lessen the noise and pollution of the resort push The Nam Hai over the edge and into the veritable 5-star territory. They’re genuinely inclined to give you world-class treatment.
On a side note, the resort is close to Hoi An, a quaint city that’s quite romantic. It’s 15 minutes by car and worth a stroll through.
How long should you stay: At least two nights. If you can expend for more, go for it. Two nights a week is best.
Who is it for: jungle paradise lovers; riverside enthusiasts
Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: There’s nothing quite like it in Vietnam. A boutique resort with only 19 villas, An Lam Saigon River is only a few years old, but it’s already butting heads against superstars like The Nam Hai and Six Senses.
You begin with a 20-minute boat ride along the Saigon River. It’s pretty unassuming until you approach the smiling staff greeting you with welcome drinks along a remote, jungle-like pier. Palms, bamboo, and other tropical flora grow naturally around the grounds. The resort itself is small, but the owner, a polymath of sorts, single-handedly designed the 19 unique villas himself, which are worlds of their own.
Each villa is a fusion of the best elements taken from luxury coastal hotels, a sort of beautiful hodgepodge that works synergistically to literally uplift you as you walk into the room. Each room, despite being wholly different from the next, is arranged to produce a seamless flow, an organic feel that meshes with the wilderness outside. It’s modish, it’s wild and it’s romantic, no matter what villa you stay in.
How long should you stay: Two nights minimum are a must. A day lounging around your room, the pool, the restaurant, or anywhere else on the grounds is a wholly different experience than any hotel in the country can provide.
SAIGON Inspiration DATING MOST ROMANTIC VALENTINE’S DAY VENUES
Romance is a given on Valentine’s Day – but where and how?
There are so many options. It all depends on what you and your valentine personally prefer, but just to make the selection easier we thought we’d give you a nice cut of our seven favorite Saigon venues and a little taste of what they offer.
Da Vittorio Saigon
The Reverie Saigon, 22-36 Nguyen Hue, D1, HCMC, Vietnam
Restaurant 6 p.m. – 10 p.m., Lounge 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Situated in The Reverie Saigon, one of the most luxurious hotels in the city, R&J (which stands for Romeo and Juliet) features gorgeous displays of wall-to-wall mosaics, comfortable plush seating, and an intimate ambiance that is only excelled by the authentic Italian food. The nearby lounge opens a bit earlier and is a great place to enjoy a drink with your partner before settling for dinner.
Shri Restaurant & Lounge
Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3, HCMC, Vietnam
Mon – Sat 10:30 a.m. – 12 a.m., Sun 4:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Shri is one of our favourite dinner and drinks venues, and now includes a new tapas menu from Spanish Executive Chef Javier Gomez. Promoting themselves as an “informal” space to unwind and relax, Shri Restaurant & Lounge pairs delicious dishes from a range of cuisines and the best of international wines, with the quiet and calm of a rooftop refuge. We recommend making the best of their extensive wine list of over 300 bottles, or dabbling in one of their excellent craft cocktails.
14 Ngo Quang Huy, Thao Dien, Thu Duc City, Vietnam
Mon-Sat, Lunch 11:45 a.m. – 4 p.m., Dinner 6:30 p.m. – late, Valentine’s Dinner on Sunday 14th (book in advance)
Seated as you are in the front hall of one of Saigon’s most exquisite villas, nestled under the arc of the house staircase or next to a wide window, it’s hard not to feel romantic when you dine at La Villa. Sit down with your Valentine and celebrate together over a table of La Villa’s authentic Michelin-quality French cuisine, with crisp bread baked on site and one of the biggest cheese selections we’ve ever seen in Vietnam. Not to mention the huge wine “book” featuring 230 wines.
2 Lam Son
Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, D1, HCMC, Vietnam
Mon-Sun, 5 p.m. – late
2 Lam Son is the premier space for high-quality drinks in one of Saigon’s most prestigious hotel bars. The bar offers a number of different seating areas, from intimate private booths to a loft with views across sparkling Ho Chi Minh City, and its rich dark wooden furnishings and golden-red lighting lend a layer of romance to the establishment’s undeniable class. With a vast range of imported wines, spirits, and premium beers, and a selection of unique house cocktails you and your Valentine will be spoiled for choice here.
With an exciting number of different seating options and areas, Sorae is a very suave and beautiful place to make yourself at home with your Valentine and indulge in the finest of Japanese cuisine. The establishment is lit with a warm, gold glow from countless candles and subtle wall insets, creating the perfect ambiance for intimacy. Sorae serves both lunch and dinner, with a plush lounge area and bar for a sparkling cocktail or a glass of something cool.