For those unfamiliar with it, Chinese massage can be a baffling and at times, genuinely terrifying experience. Further, the practise is sometimes associated (at least in the popular imagination) with a number of unsavoury underworld connotations. Despite these supposed drawbacks, a good massage can do wonders for your body and mind. It also offers a glimpse into a cultural practise and medicinal history rarely imagined back home. For those yet to be initiated into this peculiar world, this article will provide a basic run-down of what to expect at three very different establishments in Nanjing.
1) Nanjing Jianwu Body Massage and Foot Massage View In Map
A well located massage-parlour that is popular with foreigners, Jianwu is located on Shanghai Lu, opposite the always-busy Skyways German bakery. This is a parlour that finds itself in the middle of Nanjing’s massage price range. An hour-long full-body massage will cost about 60 RMB. The masseurs will likely be blind, as is actually quite normal practice in China – the premise being that lack of sight improves the sense of touch. As well as the basic foot or body massage, you can also have "fire cupping" done for 20 RMB, which involves 12 jars being placed on your back after the air has been removed from them. The suction will suck up your skin and flesh into the jar. This is a horrendously painful but strangely rejuvenating experience. Approach with caution. For the slightly less lion-hearted amongst you, "skin scraping" may be a preferable option. For 20 RMB, this simply involves the (mild) scraping of your back with a dulled instrument.
Add: 209 Shanghai Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
2) Lu Qin Foot Massage 陆琴脚艺中心 View In Map
This excellent establishment offers a highly sociable approach to massage. Specialising in foot massages, which cost around 76 RMB per hour, each room usually contains two armchairs. Go with a friend and chat away whilst your feet are moulded into an eclectic range of shapes. During your foot massage, you will be brought complimentary tea and pear slices, and free dumplings. The atmosphere here is akin to that of a hair salon, where it is very easy to talk with those around you whilst being massaged – this is probably a consequence of the fairly different nature of foot massage. For those unfamiliar with massage in China, you may find that foot massages are a much more enjoyable and relaxing experience than the full-body alternative. If you find yourself in the area, Lu Qin is well worth a visit after a hard day trudging around metro stations.
Add: 161 Jiangdong Bei Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
Tel: 025 8653 6098
3) Zhili MassageView In Map
This venue is recommended because it is seated in the heart of the student area of Nanjing, not far from Shanghai Lu, and therefore coincides well with a visit to the many coffeehouses and bookstores nearby. This locale may well change your massage experience. Where as the other two venues are located on busy high streets in a relatively modern setting, Zhili Massage is in the middle of a series of winding alleys, which capture the oft-forgotten history and charm of Nanjing. The usual favourites are all here, and the "candle ear therapy" is a must. A full-body massage costs 58 RMB and an oil-based massage is slightly more expensive.
Add: 48 Hankou Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
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Keywords: Nanjing massage parlours Nanjing skin scraping massage Nanjing massage Nanjing fire cupping massage
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