Fish Spa Phenomena

The Fish Spa Phenomena

The Fish Spa has its origins in Turkey where the 'Spa Fish' Garra rufa is now protected from commercial exploitation. Something of the history and expansion of the Fish Spa Phenomena has already been described in 'Is The Fish Spa a Con or a Cure?' which was researched and written in May 2009.

Since that time the Fish Spa has taken off big time and especially so in Asia where they have become something of a 'must do' novelty for tourists. Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines and now even the United Arab Emirates all have their share of Fish Spa's. The first official Fish Spa to open in the UK opened in 2010.

Depending on the country in which the spa is located the claims of the benefits offered will differ.

Pattaya in Thailand is an extremely good model to represent how the Fish Spa Phenomena has taken off. Just three years ago there was just one Fish Spa located in a Beauty Salon on Third Road. The next two to appear were one close to Monster World and one located close to Starbucks on Second Road. Neither of these seemed to be doing a roaring trade. There was only casual interest. Then almost overnight the Fish Spa took off, big time.

In Pattaya in the latter part of 2010 Fish Spa's can be found in or outside (sometimes both) practically every shopping mall. There are shops devoted to the Fish Spa and Fish Spas can even be found in Bars. Several Massage Parlours also have a Fish Spa on site. When twinned with a massage parlour or a bar sometimes there will be small change in the name from 'Fish Spa' to 'Fish Massage' and there can even be a move away from just dangling ones feet in the water to full immersion.

They are popular because there is novelty value and they are especially popular with Russian tourists.

Costs will depend on the location of the Fish Spa. This full body fish massage is situated at the entrance to Walking street. Off the main drag you could get a full hour for half the price.

Twenty minutes for 100 Baht is quite cheap too. 150 to 200 is not unusual for the same length of time.

The above is typical of the arrangement in and outside shopping malls. Your feet will be washed and dried first. You then gently lower your legs into the water and the fish start their work.

This is in a Bar
This is in a Bar

The above is in a bar. You will note that the clients are not only drinking but smoking as well which hardly makes it an ideal environment for the fish. This is purely a novelty experience for the customers. They can get an oil massage after the fish massage just across the road and a soapy massage two doors up.

This same bar also allows full immersion massage provided that the customer brings a bathing costume.

Fantastic Claims are made
Fantastic Claims are made


It is hard to believe that a Fish Spa could help with some of the claims made below.

Fish Spa Therapy

The Fish Spa is definitely a Phenomena and also something of a Fad. It still has a lot of mileage in it as a business as it is relatively cheap to both set up and run and with the right location and pricing can be extremely lucrative.

As it moves into Europe it will get something of a boost and once it is proved that there are some genuine benefits and curatitive powers the Fish Spa may well be with us for a long time to come. Undoubtedly it is beneficial to those with psoriasis. Whereas it may not cure it can give tremendous relief.

I have watched the Fish Spa Phenomena boom and the bubble has not burst yet. There is money to be made here, big money. If you are interested in setting up your own Fish Spa you need to know more about the fish and the set up.

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Comments 16 comments

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Who would have thought of fish eating your body! Thanks for sharing.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

dallas93444 - It's a funny old world but there is money to be made. Thanks for reading.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I think you named the pros and cons very well.

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

I'll take 5 gallons of hungry fish! Perhaps ladies with bikinis to be the "assistants." Now I need to hire a staff to accommodate all of the reservations!

Maybe if I just charge the tourist to swim in the river...

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you Hello, hello

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

dallas93444 - There are places in Asia where you can be groomed by fish in a river. Different species of fish though. As to ladies in bikinis, the stuff of dreams ;-)

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I had seen a documentary a while ago about the spa in Turkey, but had no idea the experience had blossomed commercially. Thanks for these wonderful pictures. The video is super...That would be me, yanking my feet out of the water!

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Sally. Yes it really has taken off big time. Almost tripping over fish spas these days. I imagine that in the West there is a whole gamut of health and safety considerations without even giving a thought to animal rights and animal welfare.

Edwin Clark profile image

Edwin Clark 6 years ago from Thailand by way of New York

There's a magazine filled with Thai franchises and fish spas is one of them. It didn't state the price to start one but I'm guessing it won't cost that much for Westerners. There use to be many inside malls in Bangkok but many have since closed due to bad sales or the rent is just too high.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Edwin Clark - I think it has got as much to do with business acumen as rent. Where I see one close I see another two set up. It needs a good location, staying power and becoming established.

mysisters profile image

mysisters 6 years ago

Enjoyed your Hub. I have never heard of this before, but looks very interesting. How much does this treatment cost?

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

mysisters - It really depends on where you are. If it is your feet or your full body which is to be immersed. I have see it range from free up to about five dollars for twenty minutes. The usual is somewhere in the middle.

profile image

J Yoder 5 years ago

I enjoyed reading your article on this. It is truly a unique experience to have a fish massage. My husband and I got to experience it this spring when we were in Vietnam. It cost us around $1 usd for 30 min of foot fish massage.

We reacted much like the lady in the video. lol. It was really fun though. :) And afterwards my feet felt so soft!

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

@J Yoder - It is one of these things you must try at least once. Thank you.

Anath profile image

Anath 4 years ago

definitely something I would like to try as I always like my feet to be on top condition.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 4 years ago from South East Asia Author

Can't do any harm....I'm told my feet are perfect ;-)

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