Guide to Vietnamese Massage in Hoi An

Rejuvenate | Massage and Spas

Updated March 2023

Looking for a way to relax and rejuvenate and asking yourself, ‘where’s the nearest massage near me’?  Then you are in luck.  In Hoi An, you will find spas in hotels, in shopping areas, beauty parlours, on the beach, in the market, along the street, on street corners – in fact, everywhere you look.   All offer a traditional Vietnamese Massage along with many other massage services.

Of course, you may not always get the best masseur – but prices are so cheap compared to Western massage prices that you’ll lose little even if your deep tissue body massage or foot massage only turns out to be average.

And don’t always presume you’ll get the best muscle tension relief if you pay more!  Even in the cheapest spas, there’s many a natural-born masseur, and a fabulous massage can often be had for as little as 250,000VND.

You just need to know where the best spas are.

If you’re new to Vietnam, find out about the unique Vietnamese massage experience below.

What is a Vietnamese Massage?

Vietnamese massage is an ancient healing art that draws from Chinese traditions. It focuses on using gentle and flowing massage techniques to help improve blood circulation, relieve muscle tension and promote relaxation.

The massage therapist typically applies light to medium pressure in order to stimulate the circulation of energy within the body.

Additionally, gentle stretching exercises may be used to promote flexibility in connective tissues as part of a session. 

Of course, whilst relief from chronic pain, improved posture and relaxation of tight muscles courtesy of a traditional Vietnamese Massage would be nice, not all masseurs in Hoi An are expertly trained.   More often than not the massage you receive will be a hybrid of the above.

See our Vietnamese Spa Encounter – the reality’.

Vietnamese masseur arranges the herbal decor at one of Hoi An's spas
One of Hoi An’s Many Day Spas

Traditional Vietnamese Massage Technique

A Vietnamese masseur will use a variety of massage techniques that involve their palms, hands, knuckles and elbows to work on the body and knead out areas of tension. 

And if they climb on to the massage table with you, don’t be alarmed.  Vietnamese masseurs often use their bodies as tools. They may stand over you or kneel on your back, even walk on your body to target multiple pressure points, as part of the massage.

All these kneading techniques are designed to stimulate energy channels and bring harmony and balance back into your body.

A full-body Vietnamese traditional massage usually takes an hour, although there are longer options. Most spas will have a range of other massage services, such as foot massage, deep tissue massage, Thai massage, Swedish Massage, cupping therapy, hot stone massage, aromatherapy massage, traditional Vietnamese head and shoulder massage.  Some may even have a sauna room.

Vietnamese Body Massage – What to Expect

A masseur will likely ask you in advance what pressure you would like your massage to be, and if there’s any language barrier, then the words ‘soft, medium or strong’ will always be understood – as will the words ‘softer’ or ‘stronger’!

After a foot wash, you’ll usually go into a private room or be on a bed separated from others by curtains. Don’t be surprised if your masseur waits while you undress and keep your underwear on, this is completely normal, so leave any shyness at the door! You’ll usually be asked to lie face down on the bed and then be covered with a towel.

The Vietnamese massage process tends to begin by treating the back and shoulders, before focusing on legs, feet, and finally your head. Once you’re down to your underwear, you’ll be covered with a towel. Your masseur will remove sections of this in order to work on different parts of your body.

The process can be different depending on the spa. In general, you’ll start face down and a masseur will begin kneading your back with their feet and knees. A deep-tissue massage with oil will then begin, covering the length of your body. Halfway through you’ll be asked to roll over, and the process will begin again with your chest left untouched.

Some masseurs will incorporate some stretching techniques that involve pulling your legs and arms.  This is never as vigorous as you might experience in a Thai massage!

When the massage is over, you will get dressed and the staff will greet you with some fresh fruit and juice or herbal tea.

Relaxing herbal water completes a Vietnamese Massage

Vietnamese Massage – three types of spas

In Vietnam there are three categories of venues to get a Vietnamese Massage.  Top of the price range are the 5-star hotel spas.  These offer an opulent, pampering service unlike any other. 

Down in cost but often not in quality or service are the Day Spas. This is where you’re most likely to get a consistently good Vietnamese Massage by a well-trained masseuse.

At the budget-end are the Vietnamese family run massage parlours you see everywhere.  The ones that are no more than a family lounge room turned into a spa. 

Tip Alert: The prices displayed outside these massage venues are often negotiable. 

(See Hoi An Massage for the Spas we recommend)

Thuy Nghia Spa, Massage, Hoi An, Vietnam
Vietnamese Massage Parlour – open up the lounge room and turn it into a spa

Types of Vietnamese Massage Therapies

Most salons in Vietnam offer a variety of traditional body massage therapies.  From hot stone, reflexology and aromatherapy massage, to four-handed massages to acupuncture that clears blockages in your energy pathways – there is something to suit every preference.

Note of Warning: Most massage practitioners in Vietnam learn their skill through brief, on- the-job training.  Some simply by intuition.  If you choose to have a hot stone massage make sure it is with a reputable salon. 

I still have burn scars on my back from a hot stone massage in Hue.

Most spas in Hoi An specialise in a Vietnamese massage, but you can find other options if you’re looking to find something else.

The Magic Spa, Hoi An, Hot Stones
Hot Stone Vietnamese Massage

Four-Handed Massage

Four-handed massages involve two therapists working together on opposite sides of your body at the same time. This creates a very unique feeling which can help you relax even further while providing many therapeutic benefits such as increased blood flow and improved lymphatic drainage. It also reduces tension build-up by double the amount!

Cupping Therapy

Whilst cupping has been used in traditional medicine practices for centuries, it is not as popular these days due to the marks it leaves.  Cupping therapy involves placing suction cups on different areas of the body. The negative pressure created by the suction increases blood circulation and helps to release knots and tight muscles which can then be worked upon more easily by the therapist during the session. 

Vietnamese Cupping Therapy assists circulation and relaxes muscles

What is the difference between Thai massage and Vietnamese massage Techniques?

A Thai massage incorporates more energetic stretching therapies that can test your flexibility.  A Vietnamese massage, on the other hand, is far less intense and uses lighter, rhythmic stroking movements. 

Thai Massage – feel like some stretches?

If you’re looking to feel relaxed, a Thai massage may not be what you’re looking for! Although relaxation follows, the process involves moving your body into a series of assisted yoga-style postures, stretching and pulling your limbs as well as some deep tissue massage. Masseurs will adapt the treatment to match your age and flexibility, but if you’re just want to drift off into nirvana, a Thai massage is far too active for that.

The Magic Spa, Hoi An, Massage
Put your flexibility to the test with a Thai Massage

A Traditional Vietnamese Massage – in reality

Vietnamese massage therapists rarely receive training through formal course study. Instead, they rely on an apprenticeship-style system of learning their craft. From this type of “on the job” training, some massage therapists get good training, others get only a brief introduction to the subject whilst some appear to have no knowledge and simply take to rubbing the body in a hit-and-hope manner.

However, never assume that if you pay more your massage is sure to be better.  This is not the case.  You can receive an incredible massage in the cheapest of venues. 

Following is just one of many experiences we have had while researching the best spas in Hoi An. 

massage hoi an, vietnam massage, spa hoi an, hoi an massage, best massage hoi an
Mediocre or sublime: when Vietnamese massages are so cheap, all of them are sweet.

Vietnamese Spa Encounter

‘Why is your body massage 315,000, when just next door the spa is offering 258,000?’ I enquired to the girl approaching me. (The other one had run away when I started speaking in Vietnamese).

‘What you want?’ said the girl, peering at me.

‘I was just wondering why you’re Vietnamese Body massage is more expensive than the spa next door.’

‘Okay, 250′.

‘Pardon’, I said.

‘250, okay?’

It was quite a discount but my intention hadn’t been to barter. ‘No, I mean, what’s the difference? What’s better about your massage, I’d like to know?’

‘Yes, yes, yes’, she said while trying to bodily usher me into the spa.

‘I mean, you are so close to each other and a tourist will probably go to the cheaper so I just wanted to know what it is that makes yours…’

‘Different oils. massage different.’

‘In what way?’ I pursued, genuinely interested.

‘Okay, 200!’



‘Done!’ I trumpeted, ‘Done!’ I boomed again, now bodily ushering her out the way as I strode towards the inviting footbath and chair.

After ascending the stairs, my feet sliding precariously in over-sized flip flops after the oily footbath, I was ushered into the prettily decorated green and white massage room of three beds, all set off by a large, freshly picked blood red rose on the pillow.

‘You all take off’, said my petite masseur staring with an unbridled fascination as I did just that.  (If you are self-conscious about your body do not visit one of these salons.  Privacy is an alien concept so get used to their inquisitive, invasive eyes or flee.  For 200,000vnd I wasn’t going anywhere!)

Whilst there was clearly no discernible training in massage technique, nor understanding of the skeletal /muscular structure, the massage turned out to be a pleasantly relaxing experience even after she virtually tried to press my entire body through the bed when I said I liked it ‘strong’.

So, in-between leg up the back manipulations, rubbing and body chopping slaps, I found myself drifting into that floating, nether world where sounds become distant, consciousness drifts in and out and time becomes interlaced with oneness. Bliss!

But…  like all things nice, all too soon, my bliss was roughly taken from me by someone shoving eye-watering menthol oil under my nose. I shouldn’t have wondered whether I could get off the table or not because this rough application, over my face to the point my eyelids turned inside out, did the trick.

If you’re looking for a great Vietnamese Massage see our Best Spas in Hoi An.  If not, go into the street, close your eyes and turn around 360 and point.  In that little spa could be your one in a million natural masseur.

Whatever, who can complain when it’s all so sweet and cheap?

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a full body massage cost in Vietnam?

The average cost of a 60-minute full body massage is around 15 – 20 USD.  Hotel Spas will cost more.

How much do you tip for a massage in Vietnam?

Tipping is not part of Vietnamese culture so it is not expected. However, it is appreciated and more and more foreigners seem to be doing it.  Tip anywhere between 30,000 – 50,000 VND (depending on the cost of the massage).

Does Vietnam have good massages?

You can get all types of massages in Vietnam: hot stone, reflexology, aromatherapy, even cupping therapy.  It really depends on what you like.  The standard Vietnamese Massage is a gentle massage aimed to improve circulation.  Whilst there is some kneading and pressure, over all expect a lot of light to medium rubbing.

Do you turn over during a massage?

Yes.  Half way through the Vietnamese Massage the therapist will ask you to turn over. Towels will be positioned to ensure your privacy.

Are massages cheap in Vietnam?

Most things in Vietnam are very cheap compared not only to Western countries but to other Asian countries.  You can get a 60-minute, full body massage for as little as $12 – 15 USD.

Is it rude to tip in Vietnam?

Definitely not.  Wages in Vietnam are very low and whilst tipping is not expected it is certainly appreciated.

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Written By
Sharon Guest

Primarily a playwright, Sharon has written for magazines and newspapers in many parts of the world. The author of two books, she is also a co-founder of Hoi An Now.

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