Myanmar is quickly developing a reputation as a quality destination for affordable spa treatments.
Myanmar is opening up, politically, geographically and economically. Until recently, Myanmar was visited only by the more determined travelers. And having a massage in Yangon certainly wasn't on the cards. Now, thanks to easier access, improving tourist infrastructure and a different landscape to most other Asian countries, tourists are flocking to this former pariah state.
As tourism in Myanmar is increasing, so are the spa options. Let's look at a few.
Previously, the more established spas offered only traditional Burmese massage, which is a unique experience for foreigners – some like it, some don't. Burmese massage remains the most ubiquitous offering of the locally-run spas in Myanmar, whether premium city destinations or rural offerings.
If you sought world-class spa treatments in the past, you were very limited for options. Now, thanks to top Tripadvisor-rated spas such as Thaya Day Spa (#4 for Activities travelers recommend in Yangon - Rangoon) and Inya Day Spa (#3 ranked) catering for tourists and expats alike, an affordable Thai massage or spa treatment in Yangon can (and should) feature on one's list of activities in Myanmar.
Whether you seek a garden oasis (Inya) or an urban sanctuary (Thaya), an intensely relaxing experience can be expertly delivered in five-star facilities by internationally-trained therapists. Thaya and Inya Day Spas are also the only ones that offer Thalgo luxurious marine algae facial treatments in Myanmar.
You've heard of massage on the beach, so how about massage on the street? If your idea of what to do in Yangon involves something more local, certain locations in Chinatown offer 'street' massage. Here, you sit in chairs that are quite literally set up on the sidewalk, whilst a trained masseuse works on relieving the stress from your body as Yangon's traffic roars past. It's certainly a massage experience unlike any other – and perhaps the only time Yangon's increasingly bad traffic can be seen as relaxing (when you're not in it)! Massage "shops" such as those seen in Bangkok, are not yet prevalent, but this may change in time.
The upmarket hotel accommodation in Myanmar often host in-house spas, where guests can massage away the soreness and tiredness of the day's activities within the comfort of the hotel building. Like most hotels around the world with spas, package deals may often include treatments at the spa.
Don't leave or live in Myanmar without at least trying a massage. As the country develops, we may well see the spa scene develop to the point where Myanmar's spas will be in the same breath as those of Bangkok for quality, service and value.