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Fish Massage: A Fishy Way to Unwind in Vietnam

 

If you’re seeking both relaxation and a tingling massage, why not go for a fish massage, available at cafes and spas in Ho Chi Minh City? Although fish massage has been a service offered in the southern city for some time, its novelty has not worn away yet.

 

Cilents place their feet and calves into a fish tank and enjoy the tingling bites from schools of tiny “massage fish”, which feed on their “prey’s” dead skin

The practice is simple: one simply places their feet and calves into a fish tank and enjoys the tingling bites from schools of tiny “massage fish,” which feed on their “prey’s” dead skin.

Fish massage at cafes

At a café that offers fish massage services on Truong Chinh Street in District 12, a group of local high school students arrived on a hot weekend for a 30-minute massage.

 “It was quite tickly at first, and then it began to tingle curiously. We had a great time, having smoothies, making jokes, and watching the fish gently gnawing at our legs,” shared Thao, a member of the group.

A group of local high school students enjoy tingling bites from massage fish at a Ho Chi Minh City cafe

According to attendant Thuy Vy, the tank is the café’s largest, home to over 7,000 fish.

“The fish’s sense of smell is particularly acute; one just needs to put their legs in the water for a few seconds before they swim over. The school can serve up to some hundred clients a day without slowing down a bit,” Vy said.

A 30-minute massage session and a drink costs VND 50,000 (US$2.4) each. Students get half-price discounts, so the venue is invariably packed on weekends.

 

Clients gather around the fish tanks, with their drinks placed on the edges of the tanks or on a small floating platform in the middle of the water.

Healthful, but …

According to Dr. Nguyen Thi Dieu My, of HCMC-based Dermatology Hospital, just like any massage method, fish massage beneficially stimulates nerve ends, relieving stress and tension.

However, fish massage can directly transmit disease-carrying parasites to humans or serve as the medium of transmitting human-to-human diseases.

 Dr. My stressed that though the risks do exist, they can be minimized if fish massage providers strictly comply with safety and hygiene procedures.

They can also arrange separate tanks for those suspected of having transmittable diseases.

 

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