Fish Spa? ‚What the heck is that?‘ I thought when we were strolling around the Shoppes at Four Seasons, Cotai Strip, Macau, on Christmas Eve in 2008. I am always curious and open to many things, so this attracted my spontaneous, undivided attention, and indeed I made a completely new experience. I abandoned my husband for an hour.
In a Fish Spa small doctor fish (Garra Rufa) about the size of a thumb are swimming in a shallow tiled pool waiting for their food – only that here no flakes are cast into the water, but the customers themselves are the food, who place their bare feet and lower legs into the pleasantly warm water. With their hard jaws the fish nibble off the dead skin cells, leaving behind tender, soft skin. At the same time the treatment has the same effect as a foot reflexology massage. All this was explained to me initially, and yet it was a real effort of will for me to soak my feet in the basin. A vague feeling that the fish might bite off my foot crept over me.
As I observed, most of the Fish Spa visitors were having a lot of fun. Some went about it with a little fear, some with courage, some were skeptical, some disgusted. But many of them relaxed quickly until cheerful smiles showed on their faces – not only because the fish treatment experience is terribly ticklish in the beginning, but simply because it is nice to sit there, watch the fish and have the feet massaged. Some of them, however, appeared to be unable to get rid of the feeling that their feet were captured in a pool full of Piranhas, as the noise level suggested. I think that this experience is worth trying anyway.
In fact, the underlying idea is not new at all. Fish are regarded as an alternative for skin problems such as psoriasis. A visit to the fish spa is not recommendable, by the way, for people who have sore points at their feet. They are getting worse thereafter.
Fish Spa in
- Macau: Shoppes at Four Seasons
- Singapore: Sentosa Fish Spa, where there is also a basin with bigger fish with more appetite for obstinate cases
- Kuala Lumpur: Kenko Fish Spa, for example in the shopping mall “Pavillion Kuala Lumpur” (without link, see photo)
In the meantime more and more Fish Spas have opened, in Asia anyway. Even in Berlin one will be opened soon.