Fish Spa Therapy

While walking around Chiang Mai, I couldn’t help but notice the occasional fish spa. Although these alternative treatment centers aren’t in abundance like the massage establishments, these fish therapy salons are noticeably scattered throughout the city.

I was curious because I’d never seen or heard of this type of therapy before. One day I happened to walk past a place called Mae Ping Fish Spa. It advertised a low-season 50% discount.  I strolled in.

After meeting the kind and genuine English speaking owner, Pim Supachaya, I decided to give it a shot. Pim rinsed my feet and legs, claiming that any type of soap or air pollution residue left on my feet or legs could be bad for the water and the little fish.

She expl ained that placing my feet in the tank would act as reflexology treatment that’s great for the nerves throughout the body.

Pim Supachaya: Owner of the Mae Ping Fish Spa

She had me sit up on a comfy cushioned bench. I dipped my feet in the water. Instantly a school of very small, Garra Rufa fish attacked my feet, thighs and shins. I let out sounds:

Ooooooooh! Aaaaaaaah! It’s tingling. It tickles. Oh my! Woooooh!”

I couldn’t hold back a mild laughter.

Pim then said:

Don’t worry this is normal. You will get used to it. You are doing well. I had a lady doing it for the first time earlier today and she screamed.

I felt sharp tingling sensations throughout my lower legs. For the first half-minute or so, the fish produced a tickling sensation on a part of my body that wasn’t normally ticklish.

I’ve never had acupuncture done but according to Pim this activity is similar. After a minute I was used to it. I settled in.

The concept of little fish devouring my skin as a form of therapy was fascinating.

A short while after a French girl entered and put her feet in for the first time. She immediately pulled them out in shock. As I’d just experienced the same sensations, I was able to coach her through the initial shock.

I opted for a half hour of this therapy.  At half price it cost 100 Baht  or $3.35. After pulling my feet out, Pim dried them. Some hair on my lower legs had been eaten off. The skin of my feet, shins and calves was silky smooth. My entire body felt relaxed. I thought: I love new experiences.

After, I explained that I wanted to feature her shop in a blog post. Pim then gave me a short meditation clinic as an added bonus.

Some benefits of Fish Spa therapy include:

● Promotes blood circulation

● Relives stress and tension

● Acts as a skin smoothing agent and moisturizer

● Lightens minor scars

● Alleviates fatigue

● Reduces the effects of eczema

● Provides physiological and mental comfort.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

The Mae Ping Fish Spa is adjacent to The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel on 1 Kampangdin Road in Chiang Mai.  It’s very close to IT City and the Night Bazaar.

DISCLAIMER:  I found Mae Ping Fish Spa to be safe.  The spa itself appeared very clean. After talking about the treatment with a couple of Chiang Mai locals, I was informed that some establishments may not change the water daily.  This can cause a client to get a bacterial infection if they have an open sore.  I recommend that you ask if the water gets changed every day.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by storm1 on August 26, 2011 at 12:08

    I have to say, volunteering to be eaten alive by fish, even if only a little, sounds a bit strange; although; I would try it just to know what it feels like.


  2. ANNIE: I’d never heard of Fish Therapy so it was really interesting to experience.
    I’m finding that less travelling/staying in a place longer reduces the potential for hellish journeys. Anyway, traveling indefinitely will constantly have its ups, downs and surprises. They key is to maintain optimism like the sign: What We Think We Become


  3. Posted by Annie on August 18, 2011 at 16:36

    I saw this on Oprah a few years ago. I forget which celebrity was doing it. Can’t remember if they boasted about it being therapeutic, but I know they talked about it like a beauty treatment, smooth skin and all. They were kind of shrieking too while the fish nibbled. 🙂

    Enjoy reading about your massages and looking at all the pictures. Happy you seem to be enjoying this trip and not having any nightmare bus and train rides!


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