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7 unique spa treatments from around the world

Getting pampered at spas are part and parcel of luxury travel for many people. While there’s nothing wrong with conventional treatments, some travellers are looking for a spa treatment that’s a little bit different – and we’re not talking about sand baths and seaweed wraps. In this guide, we’ll visit the place where innovation meets wellness and take a look at 7 truly unique spa treatments from around the globe. From Poland to Indonesia, let’s explore 7 of the most unique spa treatments in the world. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive in!

Snake massages in Indonesia

Imagine lying down on a massage table, ready for the warm oils, when all of a sudden you feel something slithering on your back. It might make you squirm, but this treatment, known as snake massage or snake therapy, is a well-known spa treatment that’s particularly popular in Indonesia.

So how does this treatment work?  Trained therapists come out with a (non-venomous) snake, and place it on your back. They’ll allow the snake to move around freely, or guide the snake to specific spots of tension or discomfort.  Their slithering motion creates a very unique sensation that many people say is relaxing and soothing. Apart from that, many people also believe snake therapy stimulates the release of endorphins!

Lithotherapy in Brazil

Rich in quartz deposits, Brazil is a hotspot for crystal healing – AKA lithotherapy. In short, lithotherapy is about using crystals to help our bodies and minds feel their best. The basis of lithotherapy is that all natural things have vibrations and energy. That includes crystals. Building on that theory, lithotherapy suggests that the energy these crystals give off can sync up with the body’s energies, helping to balance, uplift, and clear our chakras.

There’s no definitive science behind the treatment, but many people swear by it, with every crystal having a unique structure and energy. They’re placed on different parts of the body, and are supposed to get rid of any negative energy, while promoting the influx of positive energy.

3. Elephant therapy in Thailand

Based on a historically deep respect for elephants, elephant therapy is a one-of-a-kind avenue for healing and wellness.

Through a series of very structured interactions, people spend time engaging in activities such as eating, bathing, and walking alongside the elephants.  Spending time in the natural rhythm of the elephants is said to create a space for self-reflection and vulnerability, as people embark on a journey of self-discovery with these gentle giants.

Halotherapy in Poland

Better known as salt therapy, halotherapy is an age-old practice that involves spending time in a closed space breathing in small dry salt particles. The fine salt particles have been shown to repair skin cells, combat aging, and soothe respiratory conditions such as asthma.

It’s a simple process that started when miners in salt caves in Poland discovered that their breathing problems eased up when they spent time in the caves. Since then, it’s grown to a point where you could spend time in a specially-designed spa, or spend a night in a genuine salt mine deep below the ground!

Nightingale facials in Japan

It’s also known as uguisu no fun, this skincare routine isn’t for germaphobes! It’s reported to have amazing benefits for skin rejuvenation and brightening. The special ingredient? Bird poop.

Specifically, the faeces of the nightingale. The enzymes in nightingale faeces help to gently exfoliate the skin, removing dead cells and impurities to create a smoother complexion. Along with that is a high concentration of guanine – which is said to give the skin a luminous glow. The nightingale faeces is sanitised, powdered, and mixed with water to create a paste which is applied to the skin.  Despite the fact that it’s kind of gross on the surface, uguisu no fun continues to be a popular spa treatment in Japan.

Cactus therapy in Mexico

Don’t worry, this isn’t a weird form of acupuncture. Cactus therapy is a type of massage that scrubs cacti with blunted or removed thorns over the skin. The cactus has its leaves soaked in warm water before it’s scrubbed on your skin. The reason it’s such a great idea? 

For starters, it’s amazing for exfoliating. Secondly, some cacti used in the treatment are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are great for your skin. While it’s especially helpful for people with dry skin, anybody can (and should) enjoy this unique treatment.

Psammotherapy in Morocco

You might have heard of volcanic sand baths – and old tradition where people are covered in sand that’s been heated by geothermal volcanic activity. It’s said to be great for the skin and the body. This one’s a bit different. These sand baths date back hundreds of years, and they’re definitely not for everyone.

The process involves going out into the Merzouga desert in Morocco, and getting into the sand in the middle of the desert – which is around 45°C.  It’s burning hot, and people aren’t allowed to spend more than 10 minutes in sand. When they come out, they have to be covered in a hot towel, because the change in temperature can cause their bodies to go into shock!

So why is this popular at all? Well, it’s said to eliminate toxins in the body, and has shown to be incredibly helpful in treating rheumatism, arthritis, back pains, and skin diseases. But note that you can only do this between June and September, and you have to get a doctor’s sign-off before you’re allowed in the sand!

Efrat Sagi-Ofir

Efrat Sagi-Ofir is CRO & Founder of Air Doctor. Air Doctor is a startup that connects travelers to a global network of 20,000 local medical doctors through an easy-to-use app, to receive appropriate medical care from anywhere in the world. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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5 Comments

  1. An absolutely fascinating read which has made me decide that none of these treatments is for me. Especially not the one involving slithering snakes.

  2. Well, these would all make for a different water-cooler chat when people ask, “What did you get up to on your holiday?”

  3. I’ve fed and bathed elephants in Sri Lanka which was supposed to be for the elephants’ well-being and it also made me feel good. There could well be something in the elephant therapy idea.

  4. I’ve read reviews and posts of spa treatments around the world and there’s a whole lot of new weird and wonderful ideas here.

    Very interesting though there’s some that I’d give a miss like the bird poop.

  5. A friend of mine who was in a poor state tried an Ayahuasca treatment on his Latin America travels and swears that the treatment turned his life around.

    I know that the jury’s out on Ayahuasca’s benefits and side effects but I thought that it might have made it into this round-up.

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