There’s no tipping in Huong Sen Spa for two very smart reasons: peace of mind and equal treatment. When a customer is getting a foot massage or a deep-cleansing facial, the last thing she needs to think about is how much to tip based on the masseuse’s performance. Customers should remember the experience, not what they paid for it. Since everyone gets equal treatment and the tipping policy rules out favorites, repeat customers steadily pile up. Those who couldn’t afford weekly spa treatments at other locations can now easily set up a session every 7-10 days at Huong Sen.
Ms. Oanh may not have the most easy-to-find spa in Ho Chi Minh City. Nor does her décor shriek upscale superfluity. But what the Huong Sen Spa on Huynh Van Banh does have is a personally trained masseuse team able to put even the most wound-up, anxiety-ridden gal (or guy) into a state of oiled bliss. With a combination of natural oils, a tranquil setting, skilled hands and great prices, this is the type of hidden gem many of us have been wishing to discover. Luckily, City Pass found it for you.
The spa opened its doors in 2006. Over nine years Ms. Oanh steadily improved Huong Sen by investing back into the business but keeping her prices steady. The services are more than affordable – a 70-minutes hot stone massage with natural coconut oil is VND 200,000. A 25-minute facial mask application is VND 55,000. We were surprised.
While there are cheap spas in the area, their service is relatively average. The spa knows exactly what to do to stand out for the crowd. That’s why Huong Sen’s been getting the same repeat customers for the past nine years.
When it comes down to brass tacks, however, the question remains: is the service what it claims to be?
The spa is tucked away from the busy streets – check out our map below to see what we mean. It’s not the easiest place to find, but the upside is that you’re only 10 minutes from the airport. If you’ve got a few hours to waste away before leaving Saigon, you can make a pit stop into Huong Sen for an authentic full body massage – trust us, after this one you’ll sleep like a newborn.
The spa is four floors. There’s three couple rooms, two triple bed rooms and one foot massage room. The décor is nothing too fancy, but pleasantly tranquil and feels authentic. The low lighting, scented rooms and subtle music are nice touches, but during our time there we were more focused on the skilled fingers of the masseuse and the amazing body oils and natural products than whether there were spa-standard lotus flowers floating around in basins.
Masseuses are kind, silent, and really work wonders to evaporate their presence from your mind as you get your treatment. Ushering you into the experience seems natural to them, and they are more concerned with making you feel like you're on another plane than sounding overly cute and humble.
If you want organic, they’ve got it. You’ve got two choices for body oils for your massage: lemongrass and coconut oil. The lemongrass leaves a pleasant scent. The coconut oil will cost you an extra VND 20,000 (about $1), and is made by Huong Sen itself. The process is lengthy and elaborate – cooking the oil takes up around 4-5 hours alone. The coconut oil is great for the entire body, as well as the hair.
Facials come in three varieties: the coconut oil facial; the OHUI (Korean high-end product) facial; and the Shiseido (Japanese high-end product) facial (these hover around the VND 200,000 range, and last for around an hour). All three facials include five steps: basic cleaning, steaming the face for softer skin, deep cleaning, the facial massage, and the eye-area massage.
For dead skin removal, the Huong Sen team uses powdered bamboo and milk (VND 150,000). The concoction is great for thoroughly cleaning the skin and is 100% natural.
City Pass visited Huong Sen for a full body hot stone massage (VND 180,000) to get the authentic Vietnamese spa experience.
With our eyes buried in a pillow and our backs upturned for most of the massage, we let our other senses do the work of assessing the masseuses work, along with the results.
We did a preliminary body massage to begin with. The one thing we noticed immediately is the masseuse’s intuitive reaction to our pain. Even high-end spas we’ve tried didn’t notice our grunts at times. When one of our writers made a subtle reaction to a painful arm rub, the masseuse softened her touch and didn’t do the same move again. Later when we were getting hot stones placed on our bodies, and a particularly blistering one was placed under our team member’s hand, the masseuse immediately took the stone away at the first wince. It was trained intuition at its best, and it made us feel completely at ease.
The staff knows their pressure points; their movements are precise, deliberate and best of all, feel great, even if the massage can be a bit rough for spa newbies. The natural oils smelled great and our bodies felt and looked noticeably healthier after the experience.
After our hot stone experience, we received some delicious natural fruit juice. Ms. Oanh’s strongly believes in removing the impurities both on the outside and the inside. We were left feeling clean, cleansed and tranquil, and our muscles were noticeably missing the tension of the hard day’s work.