A Guide to Ho Chi Minh City’s Japanese Street (Le Thanh Ton Street)

In the heart of District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, there’s a street known as Le Thanh Ton. It’s often referred to as the “Japanese Street” because of the large number of Japanese residents and the abundance of Japanese restaurants and hotels.

Over time, this otherwise ordinary street has transformed into a sort of tourist attraction.

As someone who speaks fluent Japanese, I’ve visited this Japanese Street many times. Based on my personal experiences, I’ll give you a detailed introduction to this area.

Where is Ho Chi Minh City’s Japanese Street?

Le Thanh Ton Street is a fairly long road, stretching about 2 kilometers across District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City.

However, the area densely packed with Japanese restaurants and businesses is only about 400 meters long, starting from the CJ Building and ending at the intersection with Thi Sach Street.

This is the roughly 400-meter section.

If you want to explore the entire Japanese Street, head to the entrance at 6 Le Thanh Ton.

The CJ Building, now marked on Google Maps. Start from there and head down the street.

Place Name Ho Chi Minh City’s Japanese Street
Street Name Duong Le Thanh Ton
Address 6 Đ. Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

What’s on Ho Chi Minh City’s Japanese Street?

True to its name, this street is packed with businesses catering to the Japanese community living in Ho Chi Minh City or visiting on business trips.

  • Japanese restaurants serving sushi, gyudon, ramen, etc.
  • Izakayas and bars
  • Clubs
  • Legitimate massage parlors and Clinics
  • Massage parlors and karaoke bars
  • Guesthouses for long-term stays
  • Hotels
  • The only Haagen-Dazs outlet in Ho Chi Minh City!

Let’s delve into some of these in more detail.

Japanese Restaurants

While there are plenty of Japanese restaurants in other countries, the biggest difference in Ho Chi Minh City is that these establishments are run by Japanese owners and staffed by Japanese employees.

This means that you can find many places here that offer great taste and value for money.

Although it’s more expensive than local Vietnamese food, it’s cheaper than what you’d pay at Japanese restaurants in other asian countries.

Izakayas

There are two types of izakayas on Le Thanh Ton Street.

  • Izakayas where Japanese chefs cook the food
  • Izakayas run by Vietnamese who have never been to Japan

Most izakayas serve teppanyaki dishes. If you don’t see any Japanese staff or chefs when you walk in, it’s best to find another izakaya.

Izakayas run by Vietnamese are not authentic and the food is usually subpar.

Bars

There are three types of bars on Le Thanh Ton Street.

  • Snack bars – where you can drink with friends or acquaintances
  • Girl bars – where you can chat with female staff at the counter
  • Dart bars – where you can play darts

These bars are located in small alleys off Le Thanh Ton Street. There are two entrances to this area, but the one on Le Thanh Ton closes at 10 PM.

To get in after 10 PM, use the entrance at 8A Thai Van Lung, which is open 24/7.

The area with bars and spas on Japanese Street

To sum up the bars in this area, the prices are outrageous.

They’re even more expensive than Kabukicho in Shinjuku, Tokyo. I don’t understand why they charge so much, but what baffles me even more is that they always have customers.

It’s cheaper to fly to Tokyo and drink there than to visit these bars in Ho Chi Minh City. Plus, they’ve adopted some of Japan’s worst practices.

That means the prices on the menu are just the starting point; various service charges are added on top.

The final bill will be at least 13% higher than the menu prices.

Minimum costs at a bar on Japanese Street in Ho Chi Minh City

  • VAT: 8%
  • Service charge: 5%
  • Table charge: 50,000 VND
  • Seating charge: 200,000 VND
  • Peanuts (snacks): 150,000 VND
  • Lady drink: 250,000 VND
  • Heineken: 150,000 VND

So, just having one drink will cost you around 850,000 VND (about 32.60 USD.)

The only reason to visit these bars is if you’re a wealthy Japanese expat who wants to chat with Vietnamese women who know a few basic Japanese phrases.

So, it’s best to avoid these bars.

Massage Parlors

One reason this street became so well-known is the many Vietnamese women in ao dai promoting their businesses.

Most of these women are either promoting restaurants or working in entertainment massage parlors.

Like the bars, the prices at these massage parlors are ridiculous.

Expect to pay about twice as much as you would at other massage parlors in Ho Chi Minh City.

Conclusion on Ho Chi Minh City’s Japanese Street

The biggest downside of this street is the cost. In other words, if money is no object, you can enjoy delicious food, high-quality massages, and upscale clubs on Japanese Street.

But if you’re going to spend that much money, you might as well go to Japan.

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