Dec 29 2011
Let’s face it: sometimes you need a day away from all of life’s hustle and bustle. The daily grind of traffic and a constant state of busyness can really get you down if you don’t steal away for some ‘me’ time. This is especially true when you’re travelling and more so if you’re travelling in Saigon. HCMC has plenty of places that offer relaxation, and some of them are quite cheap, but when I want to take a day for myself to relax I tend to splurge on something special — one place I can recommend is Thao Dien Village Spa.
Thao Dien Village overlooks the river from quiet Nguyen Van Huong street in the Thao Dien Ward of District 2, about a 20-minute taxi ride from Pham Ngu Lao. The spa offers a wide array of treatments, including massages, wraps and waxing — but here’s a tip if you are on a budget and can’t afford to splash out to the extreme: $14 will give you access to the spa’s pools and fitness centre, which can be a lovely relaxing day spent by the river just of itself. The pool is one of the few in the city with a hot tub; the fitness centre also offers yoga and spin classes.
If you’re looking for something more, I go for the package that includes access to the pool and gym, a full body Swedish massage, a facial, a foot massage, and a drink for $88.
Here is how a typical day at the spa goes for me: after I swim, I enjoy one of the saunas and steam rooms, and I shower before my massage. The body massage lasts 60 minutes; I choose my own essential oils and you can pick whether you want a female or male masseuse. The facial is very pleasant too. Then I get handed a cup of warm ginger tea and guided into a separate relaxing room with large, comfy armchairs where I get a half hour foot massage while soothing music plays in the background.
This is a classy place, and although it hits your pocket harder than your usual 100,000 VND for one-hour massage parlour, it is a much more special experience. The prices here are actually on par, if not better than, the five-star spas connected to Saigon’s mostly overpriced five-star hotels. Plus, it’s out of town so it’s much quieter and much more relaxing. Really my only gripe is that the poolside food isn’t that good; it’s not awful, but it’s not great. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a splurge-y place to take a time out, this should fit the bill.
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