Anna Campbell

Massage While Traveling in Asia

Oh, Asia! The ultimate travel destination.

For me, there is no place like Asia! Nowhere in the world, you would meet so many cultures, languages, architectural structures, cuisines packed in one place. Wandering from region to region feels like exploring a new world while never leaving the previous. It is a place of contrasts and wonders. And it is the fastest-growing region on the planet. Add to this a hectic population and a myriad of tourists and you will find a heap load of people to meet and places to explore. Or just have a seat and eat!

Asia is an addiction and of the good kind. It is amazing as it gives new energy with each new visit, with each new meal had on a beach in Bali or after a tiring trekking day in the Himalayas. After a decade travelling wide and high around the continent I still cannot say which is my favourite place let alone favourite country. That is because you guessed it, all are favourite spots and settings. And there is no reason to debate or choose as these amazing locations complement each other.

Also! One of the best things about travelling to Asia is the sheer variety of massages available in every country. Almost every country has some sort of massage to call their own, from aromatic Thai massages to Japanese Shiatsu massages, there’s a lot to experience. But the common roadblock is reaching a country and not knowing where to look. That's when the modern technology jumps in to give a helping hand.

About Massage in Asia (the good stuff and the strange)

Asia is the birthplace of massage as we know it today. Surely the Eskimo people and those in the African tribes used massage to cure and heal each other during the millennia. But nowhere you will find a love for massage therapy as in Asia. There is shoulder after a long day of work; foot massage for those aching shins tired of walking the whole Hanoi French Quarter; body massage whenever you feel you need one; and even a head massage that comes as part of the package when you get a haircut or a shave in India. That is why massage is affordable and not considered only as part of a luxury spa retreat as we see it in the West.

But wait, there are strange things too! One can get a massage with snakes in Indonesia and The Philippines and apparently that is one of the traditional massage types (pijat in Indonesian language). The good part is that you can choose the snake colour and size from the few available. The crazy part is that they are cold!

Thai Massage is famous but in actuality if you choose the traditional style it will hurt your body. If you're a Westerner you may not be used to all the skin and muscle pulling, leg and bone twisting and punching that you'll experience. Burmese massage is not different and actually can feel even more aggressive. Also, in Thailand you can experience Fish Massage which is not an actual massage but more like you get eaten by fishes inside a water tank. To each their own but I prefer them on a plate.

There is also Snail Massage in Japan, Elephant Massage in Thailand and Beer Massage in the USA. The last is supposedly also true though on a different continent.

Getting a massage sounds like it ought to be straightforward and simple. But if you’ve never booked a massage before, you may wonder where to start. Well, today we’ve got an app that wants to help make the process easier for tourists in Asian countries. The Massage Open app lets you find a massage therapist in your area, near your home or hotel. Alternatively you could add a public request for a massage and available therapists might contact you with their tailored deals and offers.

Book a massage while travelling and how to use the app

It may be easy or hard to find a massage therapist when you travel in Asia, it all depends on your location and needs. These days most of us congregate online so it is rather easy to fire up a search on your phone than starting to call massage shops and spas. That was the idea behind the Massage Booking Online App by Massage Open. This is app is rather a database of massage therapists in most Asian countries. It is free and easy to use - we made a test and it took us 20 seconds to sign up and contact one of the local therapists.

Opening the app gives us a short loading screen, and then takes us straight to some contactable therapists depending on your location. The next tab gives us a list of people looking for massages, which means you can absolutely be a freelance massage therapist. There are also options to contact the masseurs or customers directly via private message (chat tab), which is quite convenient.

Swiping from the left gives us the sidebar, which lets us register an account, log in, go to the massage tabs or contact support. You’ll need to sign up if you want to make a public request or book services. Registering is really simple, with the app only needing your username, location and password. You’ll also pick whether you’re a therapist or customer.

Once you’re done with that, the sidebar changes to contain your profile, your favourite therapists and your chats. The top of the app has a handy search bar that lets you filter through massage therapists by location, which should make it easier to find one close to you. A small plus button down below lets you make a listing as a customer or masseuse.

Booking a massage is also a pretty streamlined process. You pick the therapist that matches your search, contact him or her for any details and press the bright blue “book massage” button. You’ll then put in the date, time and location of your massage, as well as your phone number and any comments you’d like to make. Payments aren’t made here, they’re made in person, so you don’t need to put in anything else.

If you’ve booked a masseur/masseuse before, you can give them a rating over on their page, which can help you make a better choice. Outside of that, there’s really not much else to say, it’s a simple and functional app that serves its purpose. It’s intuitive enough and provides an ample amount of ways to contact a masseuse no matter where you are in Thailand, Indonesia, India and in most other Asian countries.

In terms of listings, there’s seem to be plenty of listings for countries like India, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia, as well as the whole gamut of other Asian countries. Prices are all listed in USD, which makes things simpler for tourists from the USA. The app is also completely free without ads, which is a very nice touch that makes things less intrusive and easy. Read further and inform yourself about their services here on their website.

If there were any cons I could put out with the app, it’s that it’s not easy to distinguish between genders of a masseuse from a glance. Often I had to pore over a listing to find out a therapist or customer gender. I feel like having people put in their gender when they sign up could make things more convenient and less awkward for customers. Other than that, it’s a great app for anyone who’s out travelling in Asia and needs to help loosen a stiff and weary back.

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