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A Look at Vietnam's Love Hotels

Walk through any urban public space in Europe, South America or the US and chances are you’ll encounter a young couple doing…couple’s things. Public spaces are an escape from the oversight of family and parents, who, no doubt, would disapprove of their shenanigans. But, in Vietnam, public displays of affection are generally taboo. So where do couples (and cheating husbands) go to spend alone time?

Yesterday, the Business Standard(really?), took a closer look at the pay-by-hour love shacks - nha nghi - that line the streets of Vietnam’s cities. The main customers for these hotels are young couples, afraid of fooling around at home or in public. This is not only due to disapproval of elders, but also the chance that their acts will be caught on tape and uploaded to the internet:

“Diep, a college student from Thanh Tri district who claimed himself to be "open minded," said he and his girlfriend go to mini hotels every week. He said intimate acts in public places can be dangerous, citing the example of his friends who had their photos of intimate acts put on pornography sites by some paparazzis.”

Young Vietnamese are not the only ones taking advantage of nha nghi. Married couples, who don’t have their own rooms at home, appreciate the low prices (VND60,000 – VND100,000 for the first 3 hours) and privacy offered by these establishments. Nha nghi are also a common choice for those engaged in extra-marital affairs where the owners help to protect their customer’s identities by covering their vehicle’s license plates.

As you might imagine, there is a darker side of these love hotels. They are often targeted by local police to crack down on prostitution, drugs and child sex workers; wives sometimes confront their husband’s mistresses; and videos and images captured by hidden cameras have been posted to the internet. But these dangers aren’t stopping customers from frequenting nha nghi:

“Despite the occasional serious incidents at "nha nghis" and the great concern over the moral and ethical issues they have raised, the hotels are still mushrooming in cities in Vietnam.”

Since the taboo Vietnamese society associates with public displays of affection probably won’t be changing anytime soon, love hotels will continue to play a vital role for couples. And prostitutes. And cheating husbands.

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