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Where to de-stress (without re-stressing) in Shanghai

With cozy-looking spas exhibiting their colourfully neon-lit store signs on every street corner, China is no exception to the Asian wellness heaven.

However, unlike the soft and rhythmic Balinese or Thai massages so famous in the west, Chinese massages can feel more as if a sledge hammer is being applied to one’s back. Here are some tried and tested addresses to ensure a one hundred percent de-stressful experience that will make you feel as fresh and perky as a new-born baby.


Zen Massage

Candle lit corridors and aromatic fragrances are only some of the elements that make Zen stay true to its name. It is a hidden sanctuary on Shanghai’s busy roads that is loved amongst expat and tourists alike, making it a truly fail-safe option! During peak hours it is however recommended to book in advance – otherwise you may end up having to wait or get cosy with other guests in a shared room.

NB: On weekdays Zen Massage has an unbeatable happy hour (11 a.m. – 6 p.m, RMB 208 — 60 minutes Oil Massage + 30 minutes Foot or Head and Shoulder Massage). I especially recommend the Wulumuqi Road location


Yu Massage

If you are looking for a more local and no-frills version of the massage parlour, Yu is the place to go. Its Ancient-China themed wooden decorations and dim lighting, will quickly make the day slip off of your shoulders and have you dreaming about a time where Empresses and Emperors still ruled over the vast Middle Kingdom lands.


Dragonfly

A pricier and more westernized version of the Chinese wellness experience, offering not only massages but also other wellness services such as a well-frequented nail spa. It is an all-time favourite amongst expats, and definitely more polished around the edges when it comes to the surroundings – however the quality of Dragonfly’s massages equals those of Yu and Zen.


Good to know: Massage Vocab Kit

·      Hello 您好
·      Goodbye 再见 /拜拜
·      Thank you 谢谢
·      I want a male/female masseuse  我想女生/男生
·      We want separate rooms 我们想分开的房间
·      Could you focus on my lower back/shoulders/legs/feet/head please请你关注我的后背/肩膀/腿/脚/头
·      My back/shoulders/legs/feet/head hurt, please be careful •我的背/肩/腿/脚/头部受伤,请小心
·      This is just right 这样是正好
·      Ok, you can continue like this 可以
·      A little stronger please 重一点
·      This is too strong, it hurts太重,有点疼
·      Lower 低一点
·      Higher 高一点

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