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7 bizarre Asian massages you have to try once

It's common to get tense after a day's hard work, so indulge yourself in a massage! No offence to your capable masseuse, but we all crave a bit of novelty in our lives from time to time. Fortunately, there is no shortage of strange and novel massages right here in Asia. If you are ready to break out of your massage comfort zone, here are 7 bizarre massages that Skyscanner recommends you check out on your next holiday:

1. Indonesian Snake Massage

Tired of the same old boring human masseuse? Why not try a massage by a different species? At the Bali Heritage Reflexology and Spa in Jakarta, you can experience a cold scaly snake massage. This massage involves being covered in live pythons – a proposition that’s not for the faint-hearted. There will be an actual human on site to wrangle the pythons, so there is no chance that you will end up as dinner. If you have an intense, debilitating fear of snakes, there are other less reptilian options on the menu too, such as the beer spa, the golf ball massage and the 99 karat facial.

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Indonesian snake massage
Image copyright: Tambako The Jaguar

2. Thai Elephant Massage

Just as in Indonesia, you can find non-human masseuses in other countries too. In Thailand, some locals have trained their elephants to massage the customers. Chiang Mai’s Mae Sa Elephant Camp, an organisation dedicated to sustainable development and animal conservation, is the place to go to experience the deft touch of a trained pachyderm. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about the idea of a full grown elephant stomping the tension from your muscles, the staff of the camp will ask a baby elephant to do it. Then, they’ll bring out the big guns, and you’ll feel exactly how deft the touch of a well-trained adult elephant can be. You’ll love it!

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Thai elephant massage

3. Taiwanese Knife Massage

Imagine entering a massage parlour, being led into a room, told to strip and then being approached by a guy holding a giant cleaver. It sounds like an absurd horror-film scenario, but this is an increasingly common massage. If you’re nervous about getting cut up, fear not! They won’t use the knife on your naked skin. The knives, which are specifically made for massages, are dull and probably can’t break the skin. The masseuse will also lay a towel over you before the massage starts.

This Chinese technique dates back over 2000 years, though these days the practice has mostly died out. It survives in Taiwan, where it has experienced somewhat of a boom in recent years. These days, there are around 2000 knife therapists in the country. The masseuses claim using knives penetrates the muscles more deeply than other methods, releasing toxins and encouraging better sleep. The masseuses are rigorously trained and live a strict, aesthetic life. They meditate every day as part of their training and if you’re worried about cannibalism, don’t worry! They follow a strict vegetarian diet.

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Taiwanese knife massage

4. Blind Massage

You may have certain assumptions about the way massages work. For example, you may assume that in order to give a good massage you need to see what you’re touching. According to some in China, this is simply not true. It is believed that the blind have an increased sensitivity in their fingers, enabling them to give better massages. The trend has really taken off in the capital, and some neighbourhoods are inundated with blind massage parlours. The best parlours are certified by both China’s Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and are practising a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that stretches back centuries in time. You can bet they’ll know from one touch what ails you and how to fix it.

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Blind massage in China

5. Snail Facial

Here’s another treatment involving animals. A spa in Japan has attempted to harness the restorative powers of snail slime to bestow upon its customers moist and youthful skin. At Tokyo-based Ci:z.Labo, customers can pay to have giant snails crawl all over their face. If you can bear the slime and the sensation, you will be rewarded with younger looking skin. While many companies already offer cosmetics containing processed snail slime, here you can get it straight from the source.

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Snail facial in Japan

6. Chinese Fire Massage

One hot trend in China is the fire massage. Covering your body with a herbal rope, plastic wrap and two wet towels, the trained masseuse will drape two flaming alcohol soaked towels over your trouble spots and let the heat do its work. The heat reportedly penetrates the body without causing any discomfort, and proponents of this method claim it works for everything from depression to diarrhoea. When the hot and cold (opposing forces) in one’s body are thrown out of balance, the result is chronic health problems. The fire’s heat works by restoring the balance of hot and cold within the patient’s body and thus the patient’s health.

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Chinese fire massage

7. Thai Chocolate Massage

Chocoholics with a penchant for massages will love Phuket. At Paresa Resort in Phuket, you can indulge in the 60-minute Organic Dark Chocolate Champagne Body Wrap, where you take in the sunset over the Andaman Sea from your cliff top suite, dipped like human fondue in organic dark chocolate – and feel at one with the universe. This place is a little slice of chocolate heaven, and it comes with complimentary wine. Now if only we could resist eating everything, and just relax and enjoy!

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Thai chocolate massage

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