Want to know more about sex in Vietnam?
The southeast Asian country of Vietnam has a population of almost 93 million people and shares borders with Laos, Cambodia and China. The country has been growing in popularity as a tourist destination since freedom of travel was introduced in 1997. The country now welcomes more than 10 million international visitors each year and offers a rich experience of how traditional Vietnamese culture is meeting the demands of a modern world.
In this guide, we take a look at the culture and attitudes towards sex in Vietnam including laws on prostitution, the state of the adult industry and LGBTQ rights. We also look at dating in Vietnam as well as the latest porn viewing trends.
Sex in Vietnam
Though still officially considered a developing nation, Vietnam is a more forward-thinking and modern country than many would think. It has one of the highest literacy rates in the world (94.5%) and the lowest unemployment rate of all developing countries.
Vietnam has a complex culture that takes influences from many sources including those of France who colonised the country in the 19th century, Japan and America. As a communist country, Vietnam allies itself closely to China and it is from its northern neighbours that the strongest cultural traditions are shared.
At the heart of this culture are the four cornerstones of family, harmony, humanity and community. The main religion is Vietnamese Folk which takes much of its doctrines from China including Confucianism and Taoism. The country also has a large population of Buddhists.
Vietnamese culture has a good deal of social etiquette and public displays of affection (including touching the opposite sex) are regarded as distasteful.
Virginity in Vietnam has a near sacred status and women are expected to remain ‘unsullied’ until their wedding day. Certainly, the traditional values are held strong in more rural areas and the expectations of a good match are diminished if a woman is not a virgin. Conversely, men are almost expected to sow their wild oats before settling down and these double standards are a rollover of similar ones in Chinese culture. There is also the same expectation that whilst men are the head of a household, women are actually the ones who hold the finances and keep the family together.
In the cities, more women are eschewing this expectation and a recent poll showed that around 95% of women who had a boyfriend had had sexual intercourse with them. However, the average wait between initial dating and sleeping with their partner was 15 months. The Vietnamese do not have a reputation for sleeping around or being ‘easy’.
Most women polled were reluctant to tell their partners if they had had sex before them, instead preferring to lie and say that they were virgins at the time. Most women also felt they were unable to raise the subject of birth control.
A similar survey revealed that 34% of university students thought that premarital sex was acceptable; though a low percentage for many areas of the world, public opinion revealed that the majority of Vietnamese were shocked by this.
In contrast, two in five married men have had an affair and includes the use of a prostitute. There is a Vietnamese saying (used by men) to describe extramarital affairs, ‘Rice, six days a week and pho (noodle soup) on the seventh’.
Pornography and prostitution are both illegal and the law exists to protected traditional Vietnamese values. However, both are accessible in the country though the latter is more accepted as part of the lucrative tourism industry.
Sex education in Vietnam is poor and the country has high rates of abortion, STIs and HIV/AIDS.
In general, sex in Vietnam is experiencing a quiet revolution as the younger generation adopt a more westernised attitude towards relationships. Urban communities are becoming more liberal minded but are cautious about making this public and often keep the details of their personal lives hidden from their family. Though there are still strong traditional and cultural influences, Vietnam is not a prudish society when it comes to sex, just a discreet one.
Adult Industry in Vietnam
It is illegal to produce, distribute, broadcast, import and advertise pornography in Vietnam and, as such, there are no legitimate adult film studios in the country. Despite the law, the Vietnamese do enjoy a lot of porn and the top fifty most visited site in Vietnam include those that are adult in content (see porn viewing trends below).
Enforcement of the law and the requisite punishment varies depending on the extent of the crime. Having a couple of DVDs for personal use is unlikely to get you into trouble but setting up a home studio to film for the internet can land you with big fines and even a spell behind bars.
Amateur content is widely available and there are Vietnamese porn stars, however most adult performers work outside of their home country.
Top Porn Stars in Vietnam
Perhaps the most famous porn star of Vietnamese descent is Jayden Lee. Though she was born in California, her parents are of Vietnamese and Korean descent. Widely known for her work with BangBros and Reality Kings, Jayden is a big A-level star. She has clocked up more than 27 million video views on Pornhub and is still working in the industry.
Also of mixed heritage, Katsuni is a French born star often claimed by the Europeans. Her father is Vietnamese and she is also a popular performer in the USA. Ranked the 74th most popular porn star in Europe, she made over 420 films before retiring in 2013. Born Celine Tran, Katsuni won several prestigious awards in her time including the fan’s choice AVN award for Wildest Sex Scene and the XBiz Foreign Performer of the Year, both in 2011. She was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame in 2014.
According to XVideos, the top porn stars in Vietnam are:
|Performer||Total Video Views||Asian Ranking||World Ranking|
|Gia Grace (aka Gia Lee)||7,212,883||176||4,445|
Interestingly, Baylee Lee and Hayley Lee are twin sisters,
Other Vietnamese porn and adult film stars of note include:
- Kim Blossom
- Christine Nguyen
- Mia Trang
- Kira Kener
- Tia Tanaka
- Angela Melini
- Linn Thomas
- Miko Lee
- Leanna Scott
- Sharon Lee
Prostitution Laws in Vietnam
Prostitution is illegal in Vietnam and the law is quite explicit; under the Ordinance on Prostitution Prevention and Combat, the following activities are all prohibited:
- Buying sex;
- Selling sex;
- Harboring prostitution;
- Organizing prostitution activities;
- Forcing prostitution;
- Brokering prostitution;
- Protecting prostitution;
- Abusing the service business for prostitution activities;
- Other acts related to prostitution activities as prescribed by law.
Though there have been calls to decriminalise prostitution, the Vietnamese Government have made no formal plans to do so.
Despite being illegal, some reports suggest that there are up to 200,000 prostitutes working in Vietnam. Official figures show there are a tenth of this, but some even expect the true number to be more than double. Whilst the industry operates outside of the law, there is very little way to be sure of the true number of sex workers in the country.
Policing is arbitrary and there are many complaints from sex workers of corruption within the service. Penalties for breaking the law are mainly dealt with as administrative crimes with typical fines being around 50,000 VND ($2.20). Organised prostitution is dealt with far more severely and can lead to incarceration depending on the severity of the crime. More often than not, the police will turn a blind eye to prostitution as long as no other offences are being committed.
In general, prostitutes are not stigmatised for their work with many locals seeing it as part of the economy and a way to earn money from the growing tourism markets.
Sex workers earn money selling their services in a varied number of ways. As with many Asian countries, the massage parlours in the major cities and tourist areas operate in a similar way to brothels but you can also find women performing personal services in cafes, bars, clubs and barbershops. Budget and mid-range hotels are good hunting grounds for hookers who knock on the doors of single men late at night to offer ‘massage’ services.
There are also a large number of women working on the streets of the cities. As well as loitering in known pick up spots, they ride around with pimps on the back of scooters and mopeds.
Whilst a lot of prostitutes in Vietnam are locals, the country does have other Asian sex workers and it is common to find Cambodian, Chinese and Laotian hookers, particularly at the budget end. However, prized for their pale skin, eastern European ladies are also found as escorts in the cities of Hanoi and Hi Chi Minh City. They can charge a lot more for their services and are considered premium rate by locals.
The cost of sex in Vietnam is varied and it is possible to get full service from as little as $10. Escorts charge a similar rate for an overnight as you would expect to pay for just one hour in places like Europe and tourists find they can spend very little to employ girls to be permanent companions for their stay in Vietnam.
Vietnam Porn Viewing Trends
There are no readily available statistics on internet porn usage trends for Vietnam. However, the most popular adult sites, by traffic, in Vietnam are:
Both XNXX and XVideos (ranked 7th and 8th most popular videos in the country) receive more traffic than Wikipedia, Instagram and WordPress. They even rank more highly than all but one of Vietnam’s news and media portals.
Vietnamese Porn Sites
Most of the big porn hosting sites have plenty of amateur porn that is tagged as Vietnamese and you can find these at:
There are no specific Vietnamese porn sites, but you can also find amateur footage on Asian tube sites, such as:
LGBTQ Rights and Scene in Vietnam
Though homosexuality has never been illegal in Vietnam it is not something that is widely accepted in Vietnamese society and culture. According to reports, a fifth of all gay men and women were beaten by their families when they came out.
Over the last two decades, public opinion has taken a rapid, and positive, turn. In 2001, 82% of the Vietnamese agreed with the statement that homosexuality would never be acceptable. Just a decade later, in 2014, over half of the population polled showed support for same-sex marriage.
In 2015, the Law on Marriage and Family act was amended to allow same-sex marriage; however, same-sex couples may not benefit from any legal recognition of the union. The act is seen as an important stage for change in the country.
There is no specific legislation to provide protection against discrimination for the LGBTQ community.
It has been legal, since 2017, for transgendered persons to change their gender (following sex reassignment surgery).
Men and women can serve in the military irrespective of their sexual orientation; a period of national service is compulsory for men over the age of 18.
In 2016, the Vietnamese authorities voted in favour of appointing an independent body to raise awareness in Asian countries on LGBTQ issues and to help find ways to protect the community.
Pride events have been held annually in Hanoi since the first march in 2012. They are known to go off peacefully with a good deal of national and international support.
Cities like Ho Chi Minh Coty and Hanoi have fairly visible and active LGBTQ communities and attract a lot of tourists. It is the government’s hope that Vietnam can compete with Thailand as a venue for same-sex weddings. Though cynical, there is some truth in the persuasive power of the pink pound.
Despite the changing tide of tolerance and liberal mindedness in Vietnam, there are still areas of the country where LGBTQ members experience abuse and discrimination. Though the occurrence of these attacks are infrequent, they can include physical and even sexual violence.
In general, the LGBTQ community of Vietnam do experience far more discrimination than their heterosexual counterparts. However, LGBTQ tourists who are visiting the major cities should find them as safe as those in Thailand.
Top Classified/Personals Sites in Vietnam
There’s no denying traditional influences in dating outside the major cities and you can still find ‘love markets’ in the villages of Vietnam. Remote communities in the northern mountains hold these events each Saturday.
Considered the forerunner to modern ‘speed-dating, singles from the surrounding area congregate to signify their interest in one another by playing a tune using a curled-up leaf. Of course, in modern Vietnam these traditions are slowly giving way to more modern forms of dating and the uptake of mobile phones and internet usage has pushed the singles scene to a more familiar platform for Westerners.
Relationships are more important in Vietnamese culture than in Thailand and the Philippines and it is not common for Vietnamese women to sleep with foreigners just for the novelty value. Of course, there are singles who are more interested in casual dating, but these are rarer and you will find that many of the free classified ads are actually for escorts.
The most frequently visited relationships and dating sites in Vietnam are currently:
We’ve picked the best sites in Vietnam to find singles looking for a date; some are free, others are premium services, but all are foreigner friendly.
The ubiquitous personals site, Craigslist, has a covering in Vietnam which gets quite a lot of traffic. There are several categories for dating including the no-strings attached fun, ‘Casual Encounters’ as well as the lonely-hearts sections.
Though there are ads for massage and professional services here you can find some genuine singles looking for dates. The site is also popular with swinging couples looking for other swingers.
Similar to Craigslist, Locanto is a free to use classified site with a good personals section in Vietnam. There are several categories including missed connections, casual encounters, women seeking men and men seeking women. However, Locanto also has a dedicated section for Personal Services so it is often easier to avoid the escorts.
Most of the ads are based in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City but there are some other cities covered too.
Cracker is similar to both Locanto and Craigslist but tends to have more escorts than genuine singles. It’s worth a look and free to use.
TNH is a community based site with plenty of useful local information as well as personal listings. Most of the site is dedicated to Hanoi but they also have some coverage in other areas, including:
- Ha Long Bay
- Tam Dao
- Da Lat
- Mui Ne
- Nha Trang
- Vung Tau
- Da Nang
- Hoi An
Listings are thin on the ground but worth a look for your area, plus its free to use.
Best of the Rest
The following sites are freemium services that offer a free account but limited facilities to contact other members unless you pay a subscription fee. They all have an international coverage and are available in the English language.
These services are aimed at Asian dating in general but do have some coverage in Vietnam:
Featured image via Wikimedia.
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