One of my favourite things about life in Asia is the affordability of beauty treatments. From eyelash extensions to body scrubs, beauty here is budget-friendly. However, all salons and spas were not created equal, and finding reliable, hygienic and high-quality places can require a bit of trial-and-error. Luckily for you, I’ve put together a guide comprised of my personal faves and a few other popular places.
Let’s start with my personal favourite: eyelash extensions. I love getting my lashes done; as someone with very short, pale lashes, there’s nothing better than waking up with long, dark ones already in place. You can either go to a salon or arrange for a lash lady to come to your home, so you can be beautiful in the comfort of your own bed (a little strange, yes, but the process can take a few hours, so you may as well be comfortable.)
Kim Beauty Salon at 17 Ngô Quang Huy, Thao Dien is my current favourite for eyelash extensions. In the popular expat hub of District 2, it’s a family-run salon with a range of affordable beauty treatments, such as waxing, eyebrow tinting and mani-pedis. I haven’t sampled any of those, but I can certainly vouch for their eyelash expertise. They take around 1.5-2 hours to apply a full set of lashes and it costs ₫400,000 (£13/$17.50).
Top Lash at 14B Võ Thị Sáu, District 1 is another great choice; they’re professional, have a lovely salon and a lot of the staff speak English- a definite bonus for expats. It costs ₫500,000 (£16.30/$21.90) for a full set. It’s worth messaging them via their Facebook page to make an appointment, as it’s a pretty popular place.
The Nail Bar at 25 duong Thao Dien, District 2 offer the fastest service I’ve experienced so far; it only took an hour. They also cost ₫400,000 for a full set; very budget-friendly. It’s very popular, so you should book before you go- although they gave my appointment away, despite my arriving on time, so I’ve since kind of fallen out with them. However, their actual lash service really was great, even if their customer service is a little lacking.
Ho Chi Minh City is full of nail bars, so if manicures are your thing then you’re in the right place. Most locally-owned salons will do decent and cheap polish or gels, but I am definitely choosier when it comes to acrylics and extensions. Fame Nails are probably the most well-known, but they’re also pretty pricey (by Vietnamese standards, at least). Although prices vary depending on what you’re after, the following are reasonably priced, high-quality salons.
Top Nail (Top Lash’s nail counterpart) at 14B Võ Thị Sáu, District 1 is an excellent. As mentioned, some of the staff speak English and they’re super helpful. The owner talked me through my options and the benefits of gel vs. acrylic extensions. I showed them a photo of nail art I wanted from Google and they copied it perfectly. The nails lasted well and I received a ton of compliments on them. It cost around ₫550,000 (£18/$24) for a set of acrylics with nail art and regular polish.
Shellac nails are pretty difficult to come by here but Prive offer them, along with free massages and power packs for their customers- taking pampering to the next level. It doesn’t have an alcohol license, but they let you bring your own wine. WHAT. Plus, the salon looks lovely. It’s at 45 Trần Hưng Đạo in District 1.
Trang Nails at Nguyễn Đức Cảnh in District 7 is very popular with the d7 expats. Although I haven’t been there personally, there are hundreds of testimonies on the Female Expats Facebook group (which every lady expat should join- it’s super helpful).
Lady Waxing at 24 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai is popular and also offers laser hair removal- you can get your pits done for just under a hundred quid. Saigon Dep in Thao Dien, which will feature again below, also offer a very reasonably priced service at ₫300,000 (£10/$13) for a female full-leg wax (men are about ₫100,000 more expensive, but then they tend to be hairier). The previously mentioned Kim Spa and Trang Nails also offer waxing services about which I have heard excellent reviews.
I love going for a massage. It makes the world seem a little softer and a little brighter. Plus, in Vietnam it’s a very affordable way to treat yourself.
Là Spa at 226/5-7 Lê Văn Thọ, Gò Váp was where I had my first experience of a Vietnamese massage. If you’re doing the AVSE/Ninja Teacher TESOL course, then I’d definitely recommend escaping the Gò Váp madness and getting a little R and R at this gorgeous spa. When you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, it’s the perfect place to chill out and indulge a little. A two hour massage costs just ₫320,000 (£10.50/$14).
Moc Spa at 18A/31 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai is the spa I’ve probably visited the most frequently; it’s just a few doors down from where I used to live. The staff are friendly and the place is cosy and relaxing. My favourite treatment is the cinnamon aromatherapy hot stone massage, priced at ₫340,000 (£11/$15) for 90 minutes.
Saigon Dep has two locations at 90 Bis Le Lai, District 1 and 74 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, District 2. It looks very classy and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s expensive, but actually, the opposite is true. You can get a steam bath, facial and hour-long massage package for ₫500,000 (£16.30/$22). They also offer other treatments such as laser hair removal, botox and fillers.
Bong Spa at 8A1 Nguyen Canh Chan, District 1 is a beautiful spa. At ₫350,000 (£11.30/$15.50) for an hour long massage, it’s slightly more expensive than the other spas I’ve mentioned, but still very cheap compared to western prices.
I’ve only had one haircut since I’ve been in Vietnam (I know, the shame. The split ends.) I was so nervous about going to a salon, there being a miscommunication and ending up with a number one instead of a trim. I went to Concept Coiffure at 48 Tran Ngoc Dien, District 2 on a friend’s recommendation and LOVED it. A wash, cut and blow-dry costs ₫460,000 (£15/$20). They also massage your head, neck and arms whilst they’re washing your hair and they only took off as much as I asked them to.
I haven’t experienced her work personally, but Jade Bernie is very popular amongst female expats. She’s located in the Masteri building in Thao Dien, District 2.
As mentioned in my Vietnam travel checklist, most popular makeup brands are available in Vietnam. You can find budget brands, such as Maybelline and L’Oreal, in Guardian stores, which are located all over the city. For high-end products, head to Saigon Centre at 65 Le Loi, District 1 or the Vincom Centre at 72 Le Thanh Ton, District 1. Most malls will stock high-end make-up, but these two are the biggest shopping malls in the city and I’ve found them to have the largest range- and MAC counters! HALLELUJAH!
Is there anything you think I’ve missed? What are your Saigon beauty recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!