Who says you cannot look good on vacation?
The number of beauty spas catering to Korean visitors to Da Nang, central Vietnam, is racing to meet the demands of the 575,000 tourists from the East Asian country who visit the city each year.
"Where there is a Korean, there is a beauty spa,” claims Pham Khac Hieu, a 32-year-old beauty spa owner with several years of industry experience working in Busan, South Korea.
Appearance is key
Looking good is an essential part of traveling in this day and age.
After all, what kind of person posts a travel selfie when they are not looking their best?
Korean tourists, however, are known to take that mentality to the next level, particularly when traveling to far-flung destinations.
Pham Khac Hieu completely agrees with that assertion.
With years of experience in the beauty industry, he can spot a Korean tourist from a mile away.
Their thick make-up, water mist handheld fans, and no hats are a dead giveaway, he says.
And if their make-up does get damaged by poor weather or rough travel? Never fear, a trip to the beauty spa can put anyone back in tip-top conditions.
Knowing this, many Koreans choose to brave the harsh sunshine of Vietnam rather than attempt to cover themselves under wide-brim hats or with face masks like visitors from other East Asian countries.
Azit, a beauty spa on Phan Boi Chau Street in Da Nang, is known for its Korean customer base.
According to Hansol, a Korean traveler visiting the spa, the ‘beauty index’ takes precedence in the way Koreans judge other people.
She also said that both Korean men and women go to great lengths to make sure they look their best before leaving their houses.
Hansol had intended to bring her own make-up set, but could not afford the space in luggage.
Instead, she chose to resort to visiting beauty spas during her stay in Vietnam.
“In my country, traveling is a retreat from our stressful lives, so comfort and appearance are key to the success of any trip. Skin and nail care ensures the body is at its best,” Hansol elaborated.
Willing to spend, but hard to please
Within Da Nang’s main Korean neighborhood, beauty spas are situated alongside mini-marts and food stores.
Customers at these spas include young women, men, and even entire families.
Zo In Sung, a 36-year-old male Seoul-based tourist, said that making up is a necessity for women in his country.
He and his wife, in fact, take advantage of beauty service packages on a regular basis and stick to a primarily vegetarian diet.
Sung further shared that this way of life has spread to countries where Koreans have started to settle down.
He attributed his Korean fellows’ on-trip spa time to shifts in dietary habits and lifestyles.
“Also, pollution can turn you into a totally different person once you’ve returned home,” he added.
According to several beauty spa owners, Koreans are willing to spend plenty on beauty services, but are not so easy to please.
They are said to be rather generous when it comes to tipping, but also highly demanding in terms of service quality.
This is reflected in the type of make-up they often select.
Le Binh, a spa owner on Nguyen Van Thoai Street, said that nail polishes and moisturizing cream at his place are imported directly from South Korea as their customers are wary of poor product quality.
“They prefer to see familiar products from their own homeland as this gives them a better sense of security,” he added.
“We once tried to use French products, but the customers did not want to accept them.”
Also according to Binh, punctuality plays a crucial role in servicing Korean customers, and staff should possess good communication skills, preferably by speaking Korean.
“Koreans also don’t like to see employees with tattoos,” he added.