Massage Hoi An Style:
A Quintessential Vietnamese Experience
On every corner of Hoi An you’ll find a spa. Most are family run and operated on the understanding that all you need is two hands: one to hold the mobile for the conversation you’ll have throughout the massage, the other to rub the person’s body again and again and again – and again, until the hour is up or the person gets fed up and walks out.
Throw in to this recipe for success, one ancestor shrine, a fake Trip Adviser sign outside the door and 368 Trip Advisor reviews from relatives and friends enthusing the 5 Star value of your incredibly, amazing, mind-altering spa.
Vietnamese massages in Hoi An are cheap, you can barter and sometimes – just sometimes a natural born masseur comes your way.
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 more expensive than the spa next door.’
‘Pardon’, I said.
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.
‘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 discernable 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 spa experience 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?