Like many Asian countries it is quite easy to find a massage in China. Yet often synonymous with the sex industry how do you distinguish the good non-sexual massage parlours from the seedy ones?
Based on my experience of visiting Shanghai over the last 12 years here are my 10 tips on finding the good places to go and which ones to avoid:-
1. Get recommendations on where to go for a massage in China
It sounds simple and it really is. If you know somebody who has spent some time living or visiting the Chinese city that you are in ask them where to go. If they have experience of a massage in China then learn from their mistakes if they made any. By now they should have a good idea of the decent places or at least give you warning of the seedy ones.
2. Girls in the shop window
Massage in China is big business. Lots of girls move across the country looking for work and end up in massage parlours in the popular big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. If you see lots of pretty girls stood at the shop window, smiling, waving, beckoning you in be very careful. It is true that sex sells and these girls are in the shop window for a reason. They are probably not very good at a traditional massage but for a price you can may get a very personalised service from them. Yes this is the place for a China sex massage.
3. Look at the name of the place
Finding a massage in China is a very competitive business. It doesn’t take long walking around the streets of Shanghai to find somewhere with a massage billboard. However check out the name of the place first. If it is an enticing name such as “Angels” or “Desire Massage” then alarm bells should be ringing. Look for the names of established chains of massage parlours who build a reputation on quality.
4. The price of a massage in China
There is a saying that you get what you pay for and this works both ways with a massage in China. Prior to writing this article I’ve just been for a massage at a big name chain of massage parlours in Shanghai. I paid 378 RMB (about £38) which is not really cheap in China. The masseur knew what he was doing. I have a tight right shoulder (probably from carrying heavy luggage too much) and there are a lot of knots there. He found this immediately and worked on relieving the pressure. Also whilst (thankfully) not as painful as a Thai massage I did grimace a lot as he found pressure points I didn’t know I had.
If however you go to the lower end of the scale and maybe pay 250 RMB there is a high chance the masseuse will try to up sell you some extra benefits whilst performing the massage.
5. Two price lists for a massage in China
I often forget about this one until I actually go up to choose the type of massage I want. You can find almost any type of massage in China and the better the massage parlour the better the choice. I ordered a typical full body oil massage. However the person on Reception asked if I wanted 5 star or 7 star service. Naturally 7 star is more expensive. I’m always resistant to up selling but made an enquiry as to what the difference was. Typically the response is 7 star “is the best service, much better”. It was also scheduled for 90 minutes as opposed to 60 minutes for the 5 star service. Call me a cynic but I’ll stick with the 5 star service thank you very much. I might be tight with cash at times yet when it comes to Chinese massage tips I think I know the right price for something.
6. Massage with a happy ending
This was legalised a number of years ago for a massage in China and truly ventures into the realm of a sexual massage in China. Beware of this being offered. For a male it will mean that your massage ends with a massage dedicated to your sexual organ and the equivalent will apply to a female.
7. Beware the pink lights
If there is a pink light by the massage salon then be warned that this place will offer a range of services, not just a strict massage in China. And if you are a guy, don’t be fooled by a blue light, you may not get a “pink” service but there are extras which may surprise you!
8. Type of massage available
If you look for a professional outfit then you are likely to find one. If the location advertises Professional Massage (专业按摩 ) Blind Massage (盲人按摩 ) Children’s Massage (儿童按摩 ) Chiropratic Massage (正骨按摩 ) or Pressure Point Massage (推拿按摩 ) then you are likely to be in safe hands.
9. Choose your masseuse or masseur
If you are really uncomfortable and want to reduce any risk then specify that you want somebody of the same gender as yourself to provide your massage in China. Of course if there is a blue light outside then maybe you should approach with caution.
10. If all else fails just say “No”
With the Chinese massage tips above you should be able to avoid an undesired experience (unless you are looking for a sexual massage then that is your choice – who am I to judge?). However, there is a chance that you’ve still stepped into a salon offering services you were not looking for (numerous salons offer both). So if your massage in China is not going as you expect or you feel uncomfortable then just say “No” or even “Stop”. If you are a Westerner in China the salons may assume you are after a certain level of service but you can quickly and politely confirm what you do and do not want. They won’t be offended and will then provide the appropriate service.
Before you go, here is something else I learned about China.
Are you interested in going to China? Plan your trip now with the China specialists.
Have you ever been for a massage in China? Do you have any massage tips from your experience to add to my 10?