I attended the Gary Manuel Aveda Institute in Seattle for my esthetics license in 2007- so I know a positive spa experience when I see (feel) one. Although I’m not a certified masseuse, I learned some technique and just naturally know what feels good- at least for myself. Considering the cost of getting a massage, even at the top tier places in Cambodia, is at the most a fourth of the cost of what it would be back in the United States- I don’t think I’ve gone out and experienced enough. Better take advantage of it while I can!
I have had a few though since living here (and my last visit) and thought I’d share my time at each place.
If you’re a sleaze looking for where to get your happy ending, take your grody little fingers and click the ‘BACK’ button.
Le Chateau: I had a massage and spa treatments here with my mom when I visited in April of 2012, but since then haven’t been able to find the place. I did enjoy it- but maybe it’s relocated? Tips on this place (if it exists still) would be appreciated!
Seeing Hands Massage Center: It’s not the gorgeous interior, soothing experience, and delightful atmosphere that brings me to Seeing Hands- but the reasons to go are numerous. One, it costs $3-$5 for an hour massage-but the price really isn’t the main factor. The masseuses practicing are blind and have been trained in the practice of massage and live and work at the center. It’s incredible the way the therapists literally feel their way around the table, take cues from their speaking watches, and help you find relaxation in a situation that may be unfamiliar and sound like they’d be uncomfortable. The location I have gone to is near Street 830, near Wat Svay Popei- I believe there are others but I can only speak from my experience from this location.
Passion Spa: Passion Spa, in BKK1, is a gigantic building that really knows the definition of pampering on many levels. I’ve had their mani/pedi treatments and waxes, along with a hot oil massage. In a communal room- I do believe they have private rooms but for anything basic you’ll find yourself in a air conditioned, softly veiled room with a soothing aroma. While the atmosphere is relaxing in itself, I can’t say much for the massage itself. I never felt fully relaxed, with a lot of moving around, and instructions from the masseuse. I would give it another try, but with so many other options for massages in the city I think I’ll try somewhere else before returning. It is nice to be able to shower after the massage, but sometimes I like to moisturize even if it does get a bit sticky (the waxer is good, I must say- but doesn’t use gloves- ick.)
Bodia Spa: Hands down, Bodia Spa in Phnom Penh has managed to offer the best overall spa experience. From the “cocoon” like feel of the spa, the gorgeous interiors, delicious ginger tea and cool washcloths upon arrival (and departure), and vast array of excellent and natural products- Bodia delivers in all aesthetic aspects. That’s doesn’t even touch the actual services themselves- it’s a place where the technicians know what they’re doing and you feel fully relaxed the moment you lay on the massage bed all the way to the end of the treatment when you shower off in a steaming hot bathroom with Bodia products. The prices aren’t low, but sometimes it’s just worth it for some serious pampering. Bodia does offer on occasion a great deal via Facebook or WUPP (I’ve written an article on Bodia for them here).
Angel Spa: It says something when the spa is on a backpacker street near the riverside and an hour long massage only costs $6.50- but you get what you pay for. Ritchie had an unfortunately unpleasant experience with the foot and leg massage being very uncomfortable and while it definitely wasn’t the most enjoyable place overall (with people talking the whole time, street noise, and slight mildewy scent) I got my muscles worked over with lemongrass scented oil and that’s all I needed. For something very basic and cheap and if you can sacrifice the luxuries of other spas- try it out, it just might be worth it.
Jouvence: Let me preface this, I really, REALLY dislike Sihanoukville. There’s really nothing about it (other than to venture on to Otres which is at best…mediocre) that would ever get me out there other than to purchase some M’Lop Tapang zipper bags in the desolate town or to stay at the Independence Hotel. Hopefully this little area can get out of it’s sexpat, jasmine pants wearing rut (AirAsia won’t even fly there…). Independence Hotel, however, is going through a massive renovation and has tons to offer with a white sandy private beach and a gorgeous horizon. Jouvence Spa was my personal highlight of the trip, with Bodia trained technicians there to offer their services in beautifully designed rooms literally right on the ocean. The spa itself is built around a gigantic ancient tree and each treatment room is in it’s own little bungalow. The prices are great when discounted and I look forward to seeing how Jouvence continues to grow.
Luck Nuvo: As mentioned in a previous post about my trip to Siem Reap, my mom, sister, and I were treated to 90 minutes massages at Luck Nuvo. The manager, Keiko, was incredibly welcoming, the choices for treatments were abundant, and the personal service was excellent. This was the first spa I’ve been to in Cambodia where “problem areas” are actually discussed and worked on and there are options for private and communal rooms. The prices aren’t the cheapest, but for what we received I would say it was worth it for a weekend vacation or business trip.
And last but not least- the beach massage.
Unless you’re squeamish about taking your top off and laying on the beach (face down! face down!) and getting a LITTLE bit of sand in your massage oil (scrub included!), there’s little better than a massage on the beach. Laying in the sun while practiced hands work your tired and sore muscles while the sounds of the ocean soothe you to sleep is an experience to be had, and with the prices as low as they usually are- a hefty tip is always a pleasure to hand over. Whether in Thailand or on the beaches of Cambodia- make it a point (its quite easy, they’re always there) to treat yourself to a massage by the sea.
I’ve yet to try a few other spas in Phnom Penh that I’ve heard great things about (Nata Spa, Aura Spa, and Amara Spa)- and have no qualms about doing a bit of research on them!