Reuters

A specialty salon offers an expensive therapy to whiten the skin.

Budgets may be tight, but that hasn't stopped Hanoi's beauty mavens from doing some serious primping in honor of Valentine's Day. Despite rampant inflation, the city's love birds are still spending upwards of 1.8 million Vietnam dong ($86.41) on 24-karat gold-leaf face mask treatments, said to help make skin whiter.

According to the Huffington Post, Valentine's Day is celebrated across Southeast Asia with an "almost alarming ferocity." They write:

Many of the countries in the region, including South Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia and India, approach the holiday with exactly the sort of un-ironic enthusiasm Americans try and fail to muster annually.

The reason ... many Asian cultures approach the topic of romance with a sincerity that might seem almost alarming to Westerners born after the advent of the screwball comedy. In Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, music videos feature young lovers mooning over each other while sitting on their motorbikes at the edge of rice patties. In Japan, the holiday prompts an onslaught of advertisements and in heavily-Islamic Indonesia, the celebrations brings about rounds of protests against what is perceived as a celebration of Western excess.

See a slideshow of celebrations in cities throughout Asia here.

Photo credit: Reuters

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