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Have you ever gotten a foot massage in China? It’s quite an experience. The one I enjoyed the most so far was years ago in Xi-an after we had visited the terracotta warriors (amazing by the way!) and walked all around the city. Our feet were starting to swell up and the massage really helped. But foot massages in China are much more than “just” a way to relieve achy feet. It’s a fun way to spend an hour or so just hanging out. Most massage places have private rooms for groups, so you can go with your friends and all just lay back and relax for an hour. It’s also common for business people to go get a foot massage together. And a foot massage in China is not restricted to your feet either. They usually have you sit on a chair first and massage your neck and shoulders for a while before going further down your back. After that your arms get a little massage from shoulders down to fingers. Only at that point can you lean back on your recliner and they will focus on your feet and calves. I have found this to be really relaxing – if at times a little harsh. While I have gotten a foot massage from a man before, it has mostly been Chinese women. They usually are very tiny and I wonder how they can be so strong! You really can’t be shy about speaking up when it starts to hurt you as it almost certainly will at some point. Also… if you are getting your nails cut, make sure to tell them (well, point and smile and gesture really) that you like your nails veeeeery long. If not, you might end up with half your nails being gone. I’m not even exaggerating. Apparently, the Chinese like their nails super short.

When we were in Guangzhou in January, we had some time to kill before dinner (the delicious hot pot feast, actually), so our friends took us to their favorite foot massage place. It was a really nice place in downtown Guangzhou. I honestly don’t know how you would find a good place without knowing any locals. The hotel spas are way overpriced and I’m not a big fan of being on display in a shopping center either. Maybe you could ask your hotel staff or tour guide where they would go? The place we went to had a chart at the entrance that listed the prices and you could choose between a beginner, an intermediate, or a master to massage your feet. This was the first time I have seen prices listed that way. We all chose the intermediate and I think we paid maybe $10 for the hour if I remember correctly. More than worth it! We were led down the corridor into our own private room and shortly after sitting down, four ladies came in and started working on our shoulders. We were then asked if we wanted our nails cut and so we went with it. It was quite an act! In came this guy with his scalpels and lamp and started slicing away. Very different from your average pedicure here in the US as you can see from the picture below. We asked for long nails and I ended up with the shortest toe nails I have ever had. I think I didn’t have to cut them for almost two months 🙂 In the meantime, the TV was blaring with what seemed to be a Chinese soap opera and we asked them to turn the volume down. Some other employees brought in cucumber water to drink and fruit to snack on. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience, but as I said, be willing to speak up when they go a little too hard for your taste. Another fun tidbit? Apparently, we all had digestive problems, or at least that’s what all our massage ladies told us based on how our shins felt to them. Weeeeell, we did eat out a lot in China

getting a foot massage in China

getting a foot massage in China

getting a foot massage in China

getting a foot massage in China

getting a foot massage in China

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