Two hours to spare in your Cambodia itinerary? Use the time to really pamper yourself with one of the low-cost massages offered almost everywhere in the Kingdom. Massaging footsore and travel weary bodies is a traditional skill practiced by Cambodian women, often passed on from one generation to the next. The Khmer massage is essentially a ‘kneading’ of back, shoulder and leg muscles to create full body relaxation.
Delivery usually begins on your back, then moves to shoulders, legs and feet. You are then kindly requested to turn over for a massage of arms, hands, legs and chest. The customer is then helped to sit up for shoulder, neck and head massage.
A Khmer massage takes place on padded tables or on covered floor mattresses and massage areas can be in stand-alone rooms or in dormitory style working spaces separated by curtains. Some centers offer a shower afterwards. There are different types of massage on offer including oil, traditional and Thai. Some offer hot stone massages and numerous aroma remedies and oils.
Practice quality varies greatly: a general rule is the smaller the masseuse, the softer the massage but rules don’t always apply. Luckily, the customer’s interests always come first so you can request a soft, medium or strong treatment.
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A full body massage costs US$8 – US$12 per hour and twice that for a spa massage, tips are welcomed. Staff are transient so a great masseuse at a nominated place and price may be a once-only experience. For feet, legs and neck only, expect to pay US$4 – US$6 for a 30-minute session and around US$10 for one-hour. Services are provided in recliners, which can also accommodate a manicure or pedicure. Some centers also offer hair cuts/perms/shampoos as well as ear cleaning and facials. Try Kunthear Massage (previously Mary Massage) and All Time Spa & Fitness in Phnom Penh; a four-hand massage, and fish massage in Siem Reap; a beach massage in Sihanoukville; and a treatment from the Khmer Angkor Blind Massage in Phnom Penh and sister agencies in all major centers.