Jan 19 2011
I love a good — or even a reasonable — massage. So although I was happy to settle down in Hanoi I did feel a bit disappointed that there were no obvious places to get a $5 massage, such as I’d been used to in places like Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. But then to my joy I discovered two things:
Firstly, a “foot massage” is not just a foot massage (and I’m not talking about the “massage with extras” places). This is important because there are a helluva lot of “foot massage” places around and it’s very easy to assume that that’s all they do, and to walk on past wondering where you can get a nice back and shoulder pummelling.
But head on in: for a start, a lot of these places also offer full body or back and shoulder massages, but even an hour-long foot massage can involve more time spent on the rest of your body than it does on your feet.
I had a fantastic massage near my home last year: it was a full-on clothed body massage with, I reckon, only about 15 minutes spent on my feet. Check first though (you can use actions!) as this can’t be guaranteed.
I can recommend a couple of places in Old Quarter:
1. Emperor Foot Massage on Dinh Liet doesn’t look much — and don’t expect any airs and graces — but the body massage includes the use of hot stones, which I love, and the 1/2 hour foot massage (just a foot massage) is really firm and 60,000VND.
2. Daisy on Au Trieu, near Hanoi’s cathedral, does a decent foot massage for $4 for half an hour or $6 for an hour. They also do a full body massage and though I’ve yet to try it myself I hear good things. There are a couple of other places along this road too.
Secondly, I was recommended a local massage place. It’s not the most salubrious massage house in Hanoi and, had it not been recommended to me, I would have wondered how kosher it was. But I braved it and for just 160,000VND I got a soak in a hot tub — literally a huge wooden barrel — followed by a jacuzzi and then a steam and a really good 45 minute Vietnamese massage.
Now this place isn’t for the modest — there’s a lot of nudity — and a Vietnamese massage* might not be to everyone’s taste, but if you’re really keen on exploring the massage options in town I can recommend it.
It’s called Houng Sen II and you’ll find the entrance through what looks like a parking garage underneath the Long Bien Hotel at 78 Yen Phu (near Long Bien Bridge).
* A final note on Vietnamese massage. Now, like all massages, they aren’t all the same, but I think the best way to describe it is being like a Swedish massage but with a bit more slapping. As my friend put it: “It’s 50% pleasure and 50% pain” — but oh, the pleasure is good!
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