Shanghai Massage Guide
Sometimes, you really want a massage.
In order to know what you’re getting into, you need a guide. And that’s what this is: a guide for massages in Shanghai.
Types of Massage in Shanghai and other Big Cities in China
Here are the general kinds of massage places you can find in Shanghai:
- Blind Person Massage Centers
- Foot Massage Shops
- Hair Wash / Scalp Massage
Let’s go through each of these so you know exactly what you’re getting into:
Blind Person Massage Centers (盲人按摩)
Blind person massage centers are often the least expensive massage option – and offer the best massages for your money – plus, the masseuses are usually well trained.
Saunas are usually situated in opulent buildings, come with the best facilities, and have the highest prices.
In a Sauna, you can usually take a shower, sit in a large communal room and watch TV, order drinks and snacks, and of course get any kind of massage you want. The masseuses are usually excellent – but you pay for it.
You can usually get a good night’s sleep for much less than the cost of a decent motel at one of these places, which makes Saunas a step up for the budget traveler in Shanghai or elsewhere who only needs a room to sleep in. It’s usually the mid to large size cities that have Saunas, however, so forget about trying to make your way across the hinterland of China only sleeping in Saunas (good book idea anyone?)
Foot Massage (足浴按摩)
Foot massage shops are obviously a little smaller than your typical Sauna, and often a little smaller than blind masseuse centers. From the name it should be obvious that they specialize in foot massage – and such places are pretty easy to identify from the sign of a foot hanging out front.
Foot massage shops are usually very reasonably priced – a foot massage is often 1/2 – 2/3 the cost of a full body massage of equal duration. If you have never had one before, you should try it out! But beware, they can be quite painful to the uninitiated – foot massages involve some pretty painful kneading.
Foot massage shops are among the most common kind of massage available in Shanghai.
Hair Wash / Scalp Massage
At beauty shops in Shanghai, you can get a relaxing hair wash and scalp massage. It’s also by far the cheapest form of massage available in Shanghai, ranging in price from 5 (yes, you can get a hair wash with scalp massage for less than a dollar at some places) to 30 RMB.
Just beware – if the masseuses look like the ones in the picture, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get a real massage.
Shanghai Massage Styles
There are basically two styles of massage available in Shanghai:
- Chinese Massage
- Thai Massage
Let’s take a look at the two styles of massage and their differences:
Chinese massage (中式按摩) often means a kind of massage called tuī ná (推拿). Tui na relies on the manipulating, pressing, and squeezing of pressure points.
As you can imagine, it can be painful. However, it is widely believed in China that the pain is a sign of an underlying problem, and that with adjustments in your life (and extended massage sessions) that you can massage away your pain.
Thai massage (泰式按摩) seems to be more relaxing than Chinese massage.
Thai massage involves more rubbing than kneading or squeezing, and also makes use of stretches.
Thai massage is usually a bit more expensive than Chinese massage. Try them both to see which one suits you.
Good Luck Finding a Good Massage in Shanghai
If you have any suggestions or recommendations, please leave them below – but any numbers or sites will be deleted. If you have a good place to recommend, you can leave the name and address below.
Soon I’ll be adding a list of different places to get massages in Shanghai, stay tuned.