VietnamTravel Tips & InfoWhat to Expect From Vietnamese Massage Techniques

What to Expect From Vietnamese Massage Techniques

Each country has its unique massage methods, and so does Vietnam. The art of massage in Vietnam has extended outside the country, and now spas worldwide offer their massage inspired by and drawing from Vietnamese techniques, and vice versa.

Going in for your first massage can be nerve-racking, no matter what type you pick. When somebody’s touching your body, it naturally wants to know what to expect. We’ve got the rundown on six types of massages in Vietnam to help you prepare for your relaxing vacation.

Notes: all the massages mentioned in this guide are legitimate and legal services provided by professional spas and massages in Vietnam.

Massage Techniques in Vietnam

Vietnamese Massage Technique

The traditional Vietnamese massage technique, or “Tam quat,” stimulates blood circulation by punching and clapping on the treatment areas. It relieves pain by putting pressure on the afflicted muscle to help you relax. It may sound rough to unfamiliar people, but the technique is soothing and relaxing.

However, nowadays, most spas in Vietnam do not have “Tam quat” in their service menus. They usually combine it with other massage therapy advice like Chinese, Swedish, Japanese, and Thai to create different body massages.

The whole body massage will usually start with a facial massage; the masseur massages your forehead and cheek with their fingers and then gently rubs against your eyes and the back of your neck. After that, your back, legs, and arms are massaged. The acupressure points are pressed to increase the circulation to remove toxins and stress from your body. Finally, they will perform Tam quat, punching, and percussion on your whole body from the back to the legs.

You can also ask for additional services like 4-handed massages and cupping therapy.

4-Handed Massage

This technique is an elevated version of Tam quat, synchronizing the clapping and punching of two masseurs. The purpose is to increase the speed and give you a simultaneous massage on the back and legs.

Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is a unique form of massage that originated in China. Some are frightened of this version after seeing photographs of people’s backs littered with bruised, red marks from the cups. However, the practice isn’t as painful as it looks.

At first, the masseurs will move the heated cup across your back to loosen up the muscle. Afterward, the warm cups will be placed on the waist to the shoulders for about 5 – 10 minutes. The technique is supposed to create a vacuum to draw in the cup a part of the flesh that needs treatment to relieve pain and tension and prevent cramps by working through the muscles, which is why many athletes usually use it.

Because of the side effects like red marks on the body, cupping therapy is not as popular as it used to be and can be hard to find in modern spas. Only some traditional places practicing Eastern medicine may perform this technique. Professionals should complete it as it requires applying the correct heat to your body. It is not recommended for people with heart disease, skin injuries, and women in menstruation or pregnancy. Explain your health conditions to the therapists before the therapy to receive a consultation.

See also: Fish Massage in Vietnam

Other Massage Techniques in Vietnamese Spas

Hot Stones

The stones’ surface is smooth and heated to place on treatment areas like the neck, shoulder, back, or waist. The stones’ heat and slight pressure will slowly make the muscle loosen up. Because heat is applied, the masseurs must be skillful to handle it.

Swedish Massage

This technique applies pressure to your body using circular motions to relieve muscle tension and is combined with oil to moisturize your skin. It is a gentle massage technique that is suitable for first-time customers.


It is a Japanese method of pressing on acupressure points. Even though the process may sound painful as the masseur will apply their body weight to add extra pressure, this technique is relaxing as it improves blood circulation. You will not need to take off your clothes to receive this kind of massage if no oil treatment is accompanied.

Thai Massage

This technique requires much compressing and stretching to improve your body flexibility. It is sometimes considered passive yoga because the masseur will put your body in some yoga positions. And like Shiatsu, you can wear clothes during the treatment process.

Hair Wash with Head Massage

Hair washing has always been popular among the locals, but this service has been elevated lately when combined with a head massage. It is called “Goi Dau Duong Sinh” in Vietnamese, and within 90 minutes, not only will you get a thorough hair wash from herbal shampoo but also relaxing head and neck massages.

A Beginner’s Guide to Vietnamese Massages

What to Expect When Coming to Vietnamese Massage Spas

  • Make a reservation in advance. Walk-ins are also acceptable, but you might have to wait if the spa is extra crowded.
  • Wear the spa’s slippers before coming in, if any.
  • Change your clothes to the clothes or robs provided by the spa.
  • If the treatment involves applying oil or hot stone to your body, you will be asked to remove the robes or clothes and be half-naked during the process. The other part of your body will be covered with ample towels.
  • Use the spa’s towels when using the sauna because the room might be shared with others.
  • Be mindful of your belongings. Ask for a locker or don’t bring any to the spas.

Making a Reservation

Before coming to the spa, you must make a reservation through phone calls or on their websites. Usually, you will be asked for your name, the number of people in your group, and the time for your appointment. The order can be made later at the spa. Suppose you have any concerns about your health conditions that can affect the massage experience, like skin injuries, menstruation, or pregnancy. In that case, you may also want to confirm with them.

Book a Vietnamese spa session online here

Spa Menu and Ordering

You can sit on their lounge couch and choose the kind of massage you want from a menu, and there should be staff at the reception to take your order. Names of all the massages are provided with correspondence prices, and sometimes explanations of techniques are included in the menu. But the staff at the reception can also help with consulting the massage for your needs.

Payment and Tips

Some spas ask you to pay upfront, but there are also other places where you can pay after the treatment. The tipping terms should be printed on the menu, like whether tips are already included or whether tips will be accepted. You may want to clarify this if they are not published when ordering.


In Ho Chi Minh City, the price for a 60-minute whole-body massage usually varies between VND 300,000 and VND 600,000, and for a 90-minute massage, it is about VND 600,000 to VND 900,000. A 4-handed massage, however, is charged a little bit more, about VND 800,000 – VND 1,000,000, because you have to pay for two masseurs. See our guide for Vietnamese Currency.

Spa’s Amenities and Facilities

Before entering the spa, you are usually asked to leave your shoes outside or in a locker and wear slippers. Before the treatment starts, you may receive different amenities such as a warm towel, sweet treats, hot herbal tea, or any warm drinks made from natural ingredients, as well as some magazines to read while waiting for your turn. After the treatment, you may find some valuable things in their changing rooms: extra towels, cotton Q tips, tissues, and combs. You may also be served with another treat like ice cream, hot ginger tea, or yogurt.

drinks and hot towel vietnamese spa
Warm towels and drink
vietnamese spa drinks and snacks
Herbal drinks and snacks
a vietnamese massage amenities
Q tips, tissues, and combs
vietnamese spa towels
Extra towels
vietnamese spa herbs
Vietnamese herbs

You should be provided with clean robes, sometimes disposable underwear, or t-shirts and boxers/pants.

vietnamese spa changing rooms
Inside the changing room
vietnamese spa waiting room
The waiting room and lockers

Your belongings are left in their lockers. Check if they are properly locked, and keep the key with you the entire time. You can also bring small valuable items like your cell phone and wallet to the massage room.

Massage room

You could often recognize the sense of herbs and some slow music or nature sounds playing softly in the background. Many spas have their massage rooms air-conditioned; if you find it cold, you can ask them to switch them off. There are also private and public rooms if you want to enjoy the service alone.


Some spas have a sauna room where you can enjoy the steam and the process of sweating out after the treatment. However, some may not include this facility in their service charge, so you must ask before using it.


In Vietnam, there are spas with both male and female masseurs, or all female or male. In the first kind of spa, you can ask to change the masseur if you feel uncomfortable when a masseur of the opposite sex is doing the massage for you.

Massage Experience

As mentioned at the beginning of this guide, there are many techniques you can find in a Vietnamese massage spa. You may be blindfolded to enjoy the experience fully. You can ask for customization like the particular concentration on parts like neck and shoulder, avoiding bruises or scar areas, the amount of pressure they apply (gentle or hard), or whether you want to leave the moisture oil on you after the treatment.

Read our guide to Useful Vietnamese Phrases

Conclusion on What to Expect in Your Vietnamese Massage

Massages are supposed to be relaxing and dreamy. A Vietnamese massage is guaranteed to make you relax while removing any tension from your muscles. They’ll also help with circulation, allowing each process in your body to work to its fullest potential.

Questions about Vietnamese massage and techniques? We’d love to hear from you!

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