Massages in Hanoi range from very cheap and cheerful foot massages through to high-end luxury spas, where you’ll pay nearly $100 for just an hour of pampering. The choice can be overwhelming but here’s a selection of places we think are worth checking out.
Our top pick by a long shot is over West Lake way: Yakushi. This is a no-nonsense traditional spot where the focus is on health and healing rather than frills and flowers. Yakushi is popular with expats for a reason: it’s clean, friendly, well priced, and the massages are fantastic. We've tried and tested the hot stone and shiatsu massages, but also offered are Swedish, aromatherapy, acupressure with oil and lymphatic drainage. A Swedish one-hour massage costs 250,000 dong, hot stone is 270,000 dong and the rest are 290,000 dong, with clear signs asking that you do not tip staff.
If you have time and want to float rather than walk out, add in a facial, starting at 350,000 dong for 75 minutes. Book well in advance, especially for evenings and weekends. They are responsive to emails if you don’t have a phone to hand. The centre is located down an alley off Xuan Dieu Street just near Saint Honore—don't mistake the different spa on the main road for it.
For a cheap and cheerful foot massage, we really liked no-fuss Van Xuan, which has three locations. We tried the Ly Quoc Su outlet, and had an excellent back, shoulders, arms and foot massage for just $6. Your feet soak in blissful hot water while they massage the rest of your body using acupressure only while seated (a proper full-body massage is a different treatment done on massage tables).
We also tried a foot massage at Wonder Foot nearby on Nha Tho, and while it was pretty good and set in a pleasant upstairs room away from the ruckus below, we were a bit put off by unfriendly staff insisting that the price did not include service, that would cost an additional 70,000 dong. We always tip, but seems a bit odd that it's obligatory—just charge a service charge!
If you’re looking for fancier surroundings—your own room for a body massage, for example—then expect to pay 500,000 dong or so and up. The massage won’t necessarily be any better but the experience may be more to your liking and the menu will be more extensive.
SF Spa is a good higher-end option. The outlet on Cua Dong is softly lit and welcoming, with super professional staff. The various treatments are conducted in spacious, private rooms by well-trained staff and it’s clean and secure. A second location is on Cau Go Lane, just north of the lake, and there's now a third outlet in Tay Ho too. We had a food massage at the Cua Dong outlet and it was well executed and good value for the price (390,000 dong), quality and surrounds.
The packages in particular are great value here. For instance, the 2,050,000 dong Travel package goes for 3 hours and 20 minutes and includes a 60-minute Vietnamese massage, a Dead Sea mud wrap, a Balinese milk bath then a facial and foot massage, plus a steam bath, Jacuzzi or sauna.
Up a notch again Zen Spa in West Lake district offers decent massages in fairly tasteful surrounds, but we thought they were quite overpriced—perhaps they did too as after they upsold our foot massage to a herbal body massage that we paid a rather pricey 1.1 m dong for, they gave us a 300,000 dong voucher for our next visit. Still, the service is solicitous and the quality of massage itself high.
We haven't tried it, but those looking for the ultimate indulgence should look no further than La Spa du Metropole at the Sofitel Metropole Legend Hotel. This beautiful looking spa boasts marvellously considered details, such as elegant treatment rooms, fluffy robes and your choice of music. Prices: well, if you have to ask.
Le Spa du Metropole: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel: 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; T: (04) 3826 6919; www.sofitel.com.
SF Spa: Several locations. We tried 30 Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; T: (04)3926 2032, (04) 3747 5301; sfintercare.com.
Wonder Foot: 7 Nha Tho Street, Hoan Kiem; T: (090) 902 222 390; www.facebook.com/wonderfoot.hanoi/; open daily 10:00-23:00.
Yakushi Centre: 6 Alley 28, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi; T: (04) 3719 1971, www.yakushicenter.com; open weekdays 08:30-20:30, weekends 08:30 to 20:00.
Zen Spa209 Alley 45/173 An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho, Hanoi; T: (04) 3719 9889
By Samantha Brown.
Last updated on 19th March, 2017.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.