Hairdressers in Saigon

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The hair salon has traditionally belonged to well-heeled women.

But Saigon's talented stylists, cheap prices and glorious head rubs have made quite an impression on the southern hub's foreign visitors.

"My favorite salons are Le Brian Salon in D1, and YKC in D3," said Soma Soy, the former assistant director of Food and Beverage at New World Hotel Saigon. "In general, prices in Saigon are very reasonable but my two favorites are quite expensive. I don't mind paying a lot to get good results."

Alessia Adelfio, a 25-year-old Italian expat living in Ho Chi Minh City, isn't fussy about her haircuts. "I just ask them to cut the damaged hair up front," she said. "I think, in general, the hairdressers in Saigon are quite good."

Adelfio notes that, while Vietnamese stylists manage to keep their finger on the pulse of the latest fashions, there can be a downside. "Sometimes they cut everyone's hair in the same style," she says.

For Adelfio, Saigon's unique shampoo rub-downs and affordable prices are their saving grace. She says she pays around VND300,000 for a hair cut at her favorite place on Le Thanh Ton Street.

Australian expat Christine Byrne, the Admissions & Marketing Co-ordinator at the International School in HCMC has turned out to be quite an acolyte of Saigon's unique brand of pampering.

"Vietnamese salons take their time; they really massage the scalp and do a lovely conditioning that we never get in Australia," Byrne said. "I also like that they will come and rub your shoulders and arms and hands if there is a time when the hairdresser is held up getting to you."

But it's not all rosy. Corinne Milagan, who manages the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Vietnam says she doesn't feel comfortable having her hair cut by someone who doesn't have a good grasp of English.

"The high-end salons, on the other hand, they understand better but their prices are too prohibitive and comparable to [salons in] the US and Canada."

Meanwhile, at the barber shop...

"I go to a hairdresser on Nguyen Huu Cau Street, near Tan Dinh Market. The place is cheap and there's no need to make the appointment," said Tom Bianco, an F & B Management trainee who was very impressed by the town's high-quality bargain haircuts. "Even though the hairdresser does not understand me, he understands I'm looking for a good simple trim. In France you need to make an appointment days in advance, and it is 10 to 16 times more expensive."

Truong Trung Dao, a French-Vietnamese, has been working in Saigon for three years as an artistic director. Dao believes that HCMC is on the razor's edge of hair fashion.

"You can find many different prices and services in Saigon," Dao says. The Viet Kieu Art director argues that Vietnam remains as up-to date on the latest styles as any country in Asia.

"Because I had the opportunity to work in the fashion industry in France, I can tell you that the quality of hairdressers now in Vietnam is very high. The younger generation is developing high expectations for their hair cut, so the standards will keep getting better."

Dao's friend, Fabrice Turri, a French freelance cameraman and writer, says that HCMC remains a great place for a man of simple tastes.

"I just go to a very small hairdresser," Turri explained. "I say "˜shorter please' in Vietnamese and then sit there reading the paper. For me, going to hairdresser is a chance to practice my Vietnamese. The process doesn't last more than 20 minutes and I get my hair cut for only VND40,000."

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