Bangkok’s legit rubs and scrubs, without the tugs

I recently learned that many massage parlors explicitly advertising “body scrub” services actually cater only to male clientele looking for additional perks.

It was early afternoon when I walked into the lobby of a what I thought was a spa, since the sign read “Body Scrub and Massage.” The karaoke music playing in the background should’ve been a warning sign, but I was so determined to get my skin exfoliated that it didn’t even occur to me what kind of place I was in. The receptionist, or mamasan, smiled at me and said, “This is for men only.” To make matters worse, I had to walk past a group of motorcycle taxi drivers parked in front of the salon who were all chuckling at me.

To save you the potential humiliation of making that horrible mistake, here’s a list of Bangkok spas offering legitimate body scrubs, including one product you can use at home:

One of Thailand’s most well-known personal care retailers, Watson’s, has a product line called BellaGrape that features a body polish perfect for those who prefer to do their exfoliating in the privacy of their home. It’s also ideal if you’re on a tight budget, but still want to have a tight body. At a mere THB150 per tube, you’ll be able to rub away those dead skin cells more than a few times. The nice thing about this body polish is how gentle it feels gliding over your body. If you like rough, grainy scrubs then look elsewhere because this product is super fine. The BellaGrape body polish is also extra-moisturizing, leaving your skin silky smooth after rinsing off in the shower.

A completely different type of body scrub is offered at Asia Herb Association, a mid-range spa that you can treat yourself to anytime. A 60-minute Kon-nyaku Enzyme Scrub is just THB800 and you get your own private room with a shower. This scrub is interesting because it has a sticky consistency almost like Elmer’s glue, and I always imagine it lifts the dead skin to reveal brighter skin that’s hiding underneath. The whole process is extremely relaxing, so you kill two birds with one stone because you get the benefits of glowing skin and a wonderful massage at the same time. You’ll have to be extra thorough in the shower afterwards because this scrub is not easy to wash off! Not to worry though, the spa provides plenty of shower gel to ease the rinse-off session.

Mulberry Spa is a mini-retreat in the middle of the bustling city, in Silom. The treatments here are a bit of a splurge, with a 30 minute body scrub offered at a whopping THB1200. For some reason I’ve always gone back for the Cappuccino Detoxifying Scrub. It must be my fascination with the unusual and weird that compels me to choose this item. The coffee scrub makes the whole room smell like coffee and you leave smelling like it too! I’m not sure what they put in the scrub, but my skin always feels amazing leaving this place. One time I went home for a bath directly after the treatment and I was literally sliding around inside the tub because my skin was so smooth!

Nothing beats the Anantara Riverside Resort & Spa when it comes to having a completely tranquil spa getaway. Lush green trees surround this riverside spa – birds are chirping nearby and you can open the windows to let the fresh air in. Best of all, you don’t have to travel very far at all to get to this perfect escape – it’s in Bangkok! Getting a body scrub treatment here is definitely a luxurious experience from start to finish. While the Coconut with Mint sounds like a fruity cocktail you’d want to drink, here it’s a one-hour body scrub massage offered at THB2,200. The scrub is a nourishing blend of coconut oil, peppermint oil, lotus seed and apricot seed. These all-natural ingredients feel great on the skin and smell incredible as well. The peppermint can really wake you up so you don’t feel drowsy at all after this massage.

Another body scrub worth mentioning is the Body Luxury Treatment at Guinot Institut salon in Fortune Lifestyle Mall. The location is a bit awkward since a majority of the mall sells IT-related merchandise, but the Guinot product is impeccable. Their Smoothing Body Scrub made from a mixture of loofah and microcapsules from beet seeds really does wonders for dry, scaly skin. You can really feel the exfoliating beads scrub away your dry skin. The treatment is THB3,000 for a full 1.5 hours with the last part being an oil massage with Guinot Hydrazone Crops that moisturizes your skin.

You can also find an invigorating scrub at the St. Regis Bangkok’s Elemis Spa called the Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow. A 45-minute session costs THB3,800. It’s one of the the most relaxing treatments ever and the entire spa is designed for those who enjoy a bit of decadence. The body scrub treatment here is a little different as the masseuse will cover your body with a layer of warm oil prior to the scrub. After all your dead skin is sloughed off and washed away, the moisture is restored by an additional layer of lotion to leave your skin soft and firm.

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