Getting a massage is definitely one of the must-dos for anyone visiting China – how does getting pampered for more than an hour for about 10 US dollars sound to you? However, getting a massage in China can be quite a confusing experience for the first timer. There are so many choices on the “massage menu”, often with little or no English translation. Typically, a massage place will offer these different kinds of services:
Foot massage (足疗 - Zhu Liao)
This usually consists of soaking your feet in hot/warm water, followed by 30-60 minutes of massaging your feet. Sometimes they also include a brief period of head and body massage. Highly recommended.
Full body massage (保健 - Bao Jian)
Self explanatory - you are massaged from head to toe. Highly recommended.
Back rub (推背 - Tui Bei)
Your back is massaged and rubbed with oil. Sometimes they also put a warm mat/cloth on your back for therapeutic effect. Highly recommended.
Spine massage (整脊 - Zheng Ji)
You lay on your belly while they massage your neck/spinal column.
Ear candle (耳烛 - Er Zhu)
Only for the adventurous! They light a special candle and stick it into your ear. Apparently, the candle creates a suction effect which cleans out the gunk from your ear. It actually works pretty well – at the end, you can ask them to cut open the candle to show you the gunk that the candle removed.
Scraping treatment (刮痧 - Gua Sha)
They use a tool to scrape your back, which apparently improves blood circulation. Only for the adventurous – it could hurt a little and leave prominent marks on your body for a few weeks.
Vacuum bottle treatment (拔罐 - Ba Guan)
They rapidly heat up bottles and stick them on your back to create a suction/vacuum effect. Some places will even drag the vacuumed bottles up and down your back : ) Warning: Only for the adventurous! It can be painful, and leave very prominent red marks on your back for many weeks.