After a long bus or boat trip
What we say:
Trekking on mountain trails, riding on bumpy dirt roads and lapping up loads of Beer Lao are all popular activities in Laos that can leave at least one body part very sore.
If your body feels a bit out of whack, or you're in need of some serious relaxation, head for one of Vientiane's many massage shops or spas.
In traditional Lao massage, the masseuse rests on the body's pressure points repeatedly using their body weight for extra oomph. It hurts -- and it's supposed to -- but if you don't feel like being pummelled opt for just a foot and/or head and shoulder massage, or a more Western-style oil massage. Herbal steam massages can also feel great, especially if you've got a chest cold.
Many masseuses don't speak English, so if you do go for the full-on Lao massage, say jehp ("that hurts") if it's too painful. To ask for more pressure say haeng (strong). If you like bone-breaking massages, make sure to tell them haeng haeng deuh.
Notably good places in downtown Vientiane include Papaya Spa, which has an excellent setting and massage at high prices. Champa Spa, on the waterfront at the corner of Fa Ngum and Pangkham Road, opposite the foreign exchange and ATMs, is at the higher end, but offers consistently good services. Oasis Spa on Francois Ngin offers midrange prices and a soothing atmosphere. Wellness Massage Center on Setthatirath Road, opposite Wat Inpeng, is reasonably priced with a decent atmosphere and a good selection of scented oils for massage. A final favourite, further out of town, is Manee Spa. Located on Sokpaluang Road, go past the Burmese Embassy on your right and you’ll see a sign for it on one of the dirt roads going left. It offers consistently excellent massage, private rooms with quality massage tables, a luxurious yet tasteful interior and beautiful surrounding gardens. Most services are very expensive, but the oil massages at 80,000 kip are a good deal for a great service.
Last but not least: while a tip for your masseuse is not expected, an extra 10,000 kip will always be highly appreciated.
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