Coming from New York City, massages are a bit of a luxury. A cheap massage where I used to live cost about $60 an hour. A good massage could run up to $300 for the same amount of time. They’re so expensive that it’s hard to experiment and try new things because no one wants to pay that much for a bad massage.
Southeast Asia however, is a mecca for spas. Oh, and did I mention that an hour will only run you about $10 in most countries. I guess you can kind of do the math and see why I wanted to try one out almost everywhere I went. If there’s anything I regret about my trip, it’s probably not making more time to get massages.
Ayurveda is a type of medicine using natural ingredients. It was founded in India, but is used in the western world as a holistic treatment. You can get an ayurveda massage in India using medicated oil. The massage I chose focused on pressure points to ease stress and sore muscles. They start by dousing you in oil (including your hair). Seriously, I could have gone down a slip and slide without water. Then they massage all the tension out of your body. When you’re done, you have to shower because there’s no way you can put your clothes on with all the oil on you. My treatment was super relaxing and moisturizing. We went to a high-end place, so the one-hour massage was $50, but you can definitely find one cheaper.
Thai massages are a little different than most of the massages I’ve ever had. First of all, a lot of places have open rooms with multiple tables. I was told to leave all of my clothes on. I’d describe it as a mix between a massage and yoga. Your masseuse will bend you into stretches that feel incredible while massaging your muscles. It’s great for getting a good stretch and realigning everything. The woman who gave me my Thai massage was incredible. She knew exactly what muscles were sore and where to focus her attention. I left in a state of total bliss.
When you read a description for a massage that includes words like “chopping” and “punching” you really can’t help but be intrigued. I wasn’t sure I’d like a Vietnamese massage, but I knew I definitely wanted to try one. The massage started out with my masseuse literally climbing on my back and straddling me. Then, she decided to beat the crap out of me. After a few not quite painful, but uncomfortable minutes, she changed over to what I can best describe as stroking my sore muscles.
I have to say, it was an odd massage, but it felt amazing. At the end, all my sore muscles felt better. The last few minutes of my massage included a bit more punching and chopping, but it wasn’t as harsh as the beginning. I’d describe it as the anger management of massages. An hour cost me about $10.
I had two traditional Balinese massages while in Indonesia. A Balinese massage uses a combination of stretches, acupressure, reflexology, and deep tissue massage. It’s kind of like a Swedish massage with a little Thai massage thrown in. The one I got on Nusa Lembongan was to die for. The woman spent a ton of time on my side, which was aching from my previous days attempting to scuba dive. I didn’t even realize how sore I was until she hit a few muscles that ached like crazy. I left feeling incredible. A Balinese massage will cost about $10 at a decent establishment.
Chocolate/Coconut Body Scrub
I’d never had a body scrub done in a spa before visiting Sanur in Bali. My mom and I decided to sign up for a 5-hour spa package for only $30! We got to choose whatever scrub we wanted. I’ve always wanted to swim in a pool of chocolate, so this seemed like a decent alternative. Not to mention that Bali chocolate is amazing. My mom opted for the more tropical coconut scrub. Basically, they rub you down in your chosen scrub, let it dry, rub it in, and then cover you with oil. After that you take a shower and get massaged some more. It was pretty amazing and smelled delicious!
Hair Mask & Cream Bath
Hair treatments always seemed like a waste of money to me. They’re usually super expensive, and I can’t imagine the results make that big of a difference. I actually got a hair treatment included in my 5-hour spa experience in Bali and it was incredible! I chose a ginseng conditioner, which was slathered in my hair super thick. My masseur then spent about half an hour massaging my scalp into oblivion. Not only did it feel amazing, it got rid of a lot of the headaches I often get. This treatment was included in a day package for $30.
What’s your favorite type of exotic massage? Spill in the comments.
This post originally appeared on www.fulltimeexplorer.com