Gay Vietnam: discovering gay Saigon with local boy Quan

Gay Vietnam: discovering gay Saigon with local boy Quan

Vietnam is one of the most gay friendly countries we visited from our big 2 years trip across Asia:

  • it has never had any anti gay laws (unlike the US and UK)
  • on 1st January 2015, the Law on Marriage and Family came into effect, outlawing the ban on gay weddings
  • it is extremely open to gay travellers as set out in our article about being gay in Vietnam for Matador
  • it held its first (peaceful!) pride parade on 5 August 2012 in Hanoi and has been going strong since
Viet Pride logo

Viet Pride going strong since 2012

Although we found Vietnam to be a relaxed and tolerant country towards us as gay tourists, Vietnamese society still remains conservative towards homosexuality. For example, The Law on Marriage and Family only allows gay weddings but doesn’t actually recognise them. Also, most of the gay locals we met were still in the closet.

gay Saigon enjoying a bath in Vietnam

Gay tourists are welcomed in Vietnam!

Despite this, we met very sweet and confident local gay boy Quan in Ho Chi Minh City (also called Saigon), who gave us his perspective on gay Saigon and what it’s like to be gay in Vietnam.

gay Saigon Stefan and Quan sleeping selfie

Stefan takes a cheeky sleeping selfie of Quan on the bus to the Cu Chi Tunnels

#1 Xin chào Quan, introduce yourself:

Hi Stef and Seb. My name is Quan Nguyen, 25 years old from Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. I’m a web designer, and now living and working in Saigon.

gay Saigon Discovering street food in Saigon with Quan

Quan showing us the yummy street food of Saigon

#2 Are you openly gay to your family and friends?

I am open to all my friends but not yet to my family. I plan to tell them very soon in fact, but I think my older sister knows because she once said to me:

“you better clean up your room if you wanna find a good husband!!”

gay Saigon Husband searching for Quan

Searching for a husband for Quan in the streets of Saigon

#3 How do you think your family will react when you come out to them?

I expect a few tears, especially from my mother because homosexuality is still taboo in Vietnamese society. But I think they may already know so hopefully it won’t be too much of a surprise.

gay Saigon Quan posing

Quan posing in Saigon

#4 What’s it like growing up as a gay in Vietnam?

It was quite hard when I was younger because traditional Catholic Vietnamese society was not always so open and supportive towards gays.

(Yes I’m Catholic not Buddhist by the way: one of the many influences in Vietnam from the French colonial days).

gay Saigon A young Quan with traditional outfit

A young Quan posing with traditional outfit

But on the positive, a lot has since changed, which has made it easier for gay boys growing up in modern Vietnamese society. The growth of social media apps like Grindr etc have made it a lot easier for gays to connect with each other.

And, seeing more successful LGBT persons in the media helps society see gayness as something normal as oppose to an illness or wrong. For example, the recently appointed (on December 2014) US Ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius arrived with his husband and baby in hand:

gay Saigon Gay ambassador Ted Osius with husband and baby

Gay US ambassador Ted Osius posing with his husband and their baby

#5 What are the popular gay events in Vietnam?

Gay Pride events have been going strong since the first one was held in Hanoi in 2012. The Viet Pride in Hanoi takes place every summer and is usually led by a colourful bicycle rally:

gay events in saigon The Viet Pride bike rally in Hanoi

The annual Hanoi Pride is led by a bicycle rally

#6 How did you meet other guys growing up?

I was quite shy and nervous about meeting other guys when I was younger. I’ve only recently started to discover my sexuality, so I’m still a baby gay, coming out and discovering gay Saigon.

gay Saigon Quan coming out (!) of a tunnel at Cu Chi

Quan coming out (ho ho – see what we did there?) of a tunnel at Cu Chi

#7 What are the best gay bars and clubs in Saigon?

Our main gay bar is called Thi Bar and it has a great gay evening on Fridays and Saturdays, which includes happy hour offers before 9pm. Then after 11pm, most head to our big popular gay club called Republic. We have a drag show at Republic on Fridays and a large dance party with live music on Saturdays.

We also have a few gay friendly places which attract a mixed crowd, like Papa Cafe, which has live music, and Le Pub, which is open every day till midnight.

To find out more, I recommend Rainbow Saigon Tours who run excellent tours of the gay scene of Saigon as well as tours across Vietnam:

Discover the gay scene of Saigon with a local gay guide

Fill out this form to book your gay evening tour of Saigon and enjoy an exclusive 5% discount on your holiday in Vietnam for bookings of 7 days or more

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Seb and Quan at Republic gay club in Saigon

Seb and Quan posing outside Republic club in Saigon

#8 Are there any good gay friendly or exclusively gay hotels in Saigon you recommend?

There’s a couple that various friends of mine recommend.

In District 1 we have an “Pink Tulip Guesthouse” which is gay owned, has really cute staff and do excellent spa treatments. I believe that’s where you boys also stayed in Saigon. Prices start from $25 / £16 for a standard double bed with breakfast included.

There’s “Beautiful Saigon Boutique Hotel” which is gay friendly, also in District 1 and more mid range. It’s got a really cool swimming pool and staff welcome gay travellers. Prices start from $45 / £30 for a double bed with breakfast.

I also heard about “The Reverie Saigon“, which is popular with gay travellers and also centrally located in District 1. This one’s more up market and prices start from $260 / £175 a night.

Pink Tulip Guesthouse gay hotels in Saigon

Pink Tulip Guesthouse in the heart of Saigon

#9 And finally, has Prince Charming come knocking on your door recently?

Yes he did.

There was in fact 2 Prince Charmings if you can believe it!

Sadly for me, they ate all my food, took some pictures, then just abandoned me, hahahaha…

gay events and activities in saigon

Posing with Quan at a tank display at the Cu Chi tunnels

Travel recommendations to Vietnam

Flying in Vietnam: Airfares in Vietnam can be very cheap if you do your research and book in advance. For example, flights from Ho CHi Minh to Hanoi come as low as $30 (£25) one-way. We recommend using Skyscanner to find the best prices for any given month.

Visa in Vietnam: Depending on your nationality and the number of days you plan to stay in the country, entry requirements may be different. We recommend using the services of a reputable agency such as www.vietnam-visa.com to obtain your visa.

Travel insurance: Whether you go diving, hiking or just lay on the beach all day long, you need travel insurance. We use World Nomads because they offer considerable coverage especially for adventurous travellers. They also make it easy to make a claim as it’s all done online.

Hotels: Vietnam has a huge diversity of accommodation options. We recommend Tripadvisor to research about the best places to stay and activities to do. Use Booking.com to find the best deals and book your accommodation online.

Tour operator: We travelled independently to Vietnam but we’re often asked if we can recommend a good tour company. We’ve partnered up with Rainbow Saigon, a gay friendly tour company who offer luxury private tours and tailored itineraries to Vietnam. They also offer gay tours to Saigon. We have negotiated for our readers an exclusive 5% discount for bookings of 7 days or more when you quote NOMADIC5 in your enquiry.

Fill out this form to enjoy your 5% discount to your holiday to Vietnam

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For more inspiration, watch our Vietnam travel video as we travelled from Saigon up to Hanoi and back down again:

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Discovering gay Vietnam with our friend Quan from Saigon

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53 Comments

  1. Excellent article; very informative, thank you.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Henry.

      Reply
  2. Great piece! I found Vietnam pretty open and welcoming to all, but Cambodia was even better. I think it has something to do with Buddhism teaching acceptance and harmony.

    Reply
    • Thanks Dannielle. Yes we found the same about Phnom Penh compared to Saigon/HCMC.

      Reply
    • The majority of Vietnam is Mahayana Buddhist. Only a minority are Catholic.

      Reply
      • An influence from the French 🙂

        Reply
  3. Hey guys,
    Very nice blog! It seems you started this recently and i will have a closer look at it. Is Quan in Saigon a guide, who can show us the city and take ust to Can Tho?
    We leave for Vietnam by the end of February.
    Cheers,
    Hans & Jeff

    Reply
    • Thanks Hans. We’ve just celebrated our 2 years anniversary of the blog 🙂 Quan is a graphics designer, but I’m sure he’d be delighted to make new friends.

      Reply
  4. GREAT READING AND A LOT OF GOOD ADVICE FOR A FIRST TIME TRAVELER TO VIETNAM. THANK YOU.

    W.T.

    Reply
    • Thank you

      Reply
  5. Please share Quans whatsapp or Line. Need guide!

    Reply
    • Hi Kas thanks for your message. We’ve private messaged you.

      Reply
      • I would like to contact Quan for a booking. Can you please send me contact information. Thank you.

        Reply
        • Hi Ron, I have emailed you details of an excellent gay tour company we know and love in Saigon.

          Reply
  6. I really liked and enjoyed your article. Many thanks for sharing.
    Please, may I have Quan’s contact?

    Reply
    • Thanks Mike. I’ve sent you an email.

      Reply
    • Please, may I have Quan’s contact?
      I am planning First time visit to Vietnam. I look for a guide . thanks

      Reply
      • I will email you.

        Reply
  7. This is a fantastic article – thank you! Do you have any contact information for this guy or his guide service (he should really start one if he hasn’t already)? Going to Vietnam in June and need a guide!

    Reply
    • I’ll email you details.

      Reply
  8. Hi there, is it possible to share contact information for your guide Quan, would love to have someone who can show me around these sites in Saigon?

    Reply
    • Of course – Stefan will email you now.

      Reply
  9. Hi – Great article-well done – may you please send Quan details to me as we will be dropping into Saigon for 3 day break and would love someone to show us around –
    Thank you once again x

    Reply
    • Hi buddy thanks for your comment, I will email you details.

      Reply
  10. Hi- Thanks for the article and your website. I travel a lot and have been to Vietnam many times. I would like Quan’s contact info as well if possible. It would be nice to see the scene through the eyes of a local.

    Reply
    • I will email you details of an excellent gay tour company 🙂

      Reply
  11. Nice website! I’m traveling to Vietnam in September, do you know any gay tour guide or company based in Saigon or in Hanoi?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sure thing- I have just emailed you.

      Reply
  12. Hello guys,

    my name is Oscar from Berlin. I have read your blog about your experiences in Vietnam and it is just amazing. Actually Im planning to visit Vietnam very soon and Im quite afraid since I dont know anybody there. I guess you had good experiences with your tourist guide Quan as well and therefore I would like to ask you if you have got any E-Mail or WhatsApp from him that you can provide me. Do you think he will be able to show me around in his city? It would be great if he could guide me in Saigon too.

    I really appreciate yout help.
    Thank you very much
    Best wishes
    Oscar Rodriguez

    Reply
    • I’ve just emailed you.

      Reply
      • Hi. Great article. Am staying at the Polygon Hotel but would love to meet Quan. Excited about my trip but like many others nervous as I will be alone. Love to meet some friendly faces.

        Reply
        • Thanks Chris. We can introduce you to an excellent gay tour company.

          Reply
  13. Lovely informative and useful article – thank you very much.

    Do you have any contact information for this guy or his guide service ? Going to Vietnam in december and desprtly need a guide.
    Please help me finding someone who knows vietnam’s hidden paradise please… and Quan would be good for this i think or anyone you could recomend?

    Realll need your help please.
    Warm regards.
    Jao

    Reply
    • Just emailed you details

      Reply
  14. Excellent blog. I’m traveling to Vietnam in December, do you know any gay tour guide or company based in Saigon and in Hanoi?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Sure thing. Stefan will email you 🙂

      Reply
      • Hey Stephen Bery interesting article.

        I’m going to HCMH in june and would like to know about this Gay tour companion contact number. Please send me some info. Thanks.

        Reply
        • Hi Kart I will email you details.

          Reply
  15. Hi,
    I will be visiting Saigon in teh forst week of January. Could you send me suggestion for a gay tour guide?

    Reply
    • Sure thing – will email you now.

      Reply
  16. Dear Stefan

    Can I have Quan’s contact please? Would like to have a tour guide when I am there in June. thanks!

    Reply
    • I just emailed you details of an excellent tour guide.

      Reply
  17. Can you give me Quan information and contact ,I will be there next week and stay for 3 weeks ,please

    Reply
    • Hi Kent. Quan isn’t a guide but I’ve emailed you introducing you to an excellent gay tour company we know who can offer you a variety of activities.

      Reply
      • Thanks

        Reply
  18. hi.. would like to know how to engage Quan. Would love to know someone local in Saigon.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff, sadly Quan is not a guide, but we will email you details about an excellent gay tour company in Saigon who do tours of the gay scene and more.

      Reply
      • Hi Stefan, Can you send me the gay tour company info. Thanks!

        Reply
        • Sent!

          Reply
  19. LOL… Quan is a popular guy 🙂

    Reply
    • Hahahaha he sure is 🙂

      Reply
  20. Hi Stefan, please email me those details, thank you.len

    Reply
    • Hi Len- done 🙂 Danny has contacted you.

      Reply

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