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A Visit to a Tunisian Hammam (Bathhouse)

Updated on May 1, 2013

So you are planning a trip to Tunisia?

One place that you must visit on your holiday to Tunisia is a trip to a traditional Hammam.

A Hammam is a traditional public Tunisian bathhouse. It is a place to bathe, relax, and socialise. Although you will still find a Hammam in every town, there are fewer around these days, since the availability of modern plumbing has allowed people to bath in their own homes.

Some informational that will help you prepare

At large Hammams, there are separate entrances for men and women. Some smaller bathhouses may cater exclusively for one gender. You will not find mixed gender public Hammams. Some hotels will have their own private bathhouses.

When visiting a Hammam you should take with you a swimsuit or extra underwear, a fresh change of clothing, your favorite shampoo and conditioner, a scrubbing mitt and a beautiful handmade soap. It is also acceptable for ladies to bathe in their bras.

Some Hammams will sell small bottles of shampoo and guest soaps but since your visit will be something to remember why not make it a complete experience and before you travel, buy your own special soap.

A soap that is traditionally used in Hammams is Tadé Savin Noir du Hamman. It is a 'black' soap that is used to cleanse, tone and exfoliate. With clay for drawing out impurities, laurel oil to disinfect and sea salt to exfoliate this soap is truly worth taking with you.

You will also be given a Fouta towel for your visit. Fouta Towels (pronounced foo-ta) are traditionally offered at Tunisian Hammams and are sometimes known as French Towels, Spa Towels or Turkish Towels. They are used like a towel, to cover your body and to dry yourself.

Your Hammam visit will cost around 10 dirham (AU$1). You should expect to tip your masseuse (if you have a massage) 10 - 15 dirham (AU$1-$1.50) and it is also customary to tip the attendant 1 or 2 dirham as you leave.

A visit to a Hammam is a truly wonderful experience. I highly suggest doing some research before you go so that you have a good understanding about Hammam etiquette and ensure your experience is one to remember.

While on your holiday you will have plenty of opportunity to buy a Fouta from a local artisan. Fouta's were traditionally worn by a Moroccan desert tribe called Berber's. Nowadays the Fouta towel is famous all around the world. A fashionable trend in Europe for many years, they are now very popular in Australia as an alternative to the traditional 'toweling' beach towel. Today they are still hand-woven my local artisans on large looms with the men operating the heavy looms while the women add the finishing touch of hand knotted fringing.

Luxuriously large (2 metres x 1 metre), each Fouta is hand woven from 100% Egyptian cotton and is fully machine washable. Fouta's are very absorbent and don't pick up unwanted sand. The more you use them, the softer and more absorbent they become. They are so much more than just a highly absorbent towel! They are very versatile and can be used for the beach, pool, spa, picnic, travelling or as a wrap, blanket, throw or tablecloth.

Once you have owned one, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

For more information about foutas visit The Fouta Project. They have a wonderful selection of genuine Tunisian Fouta towels available and ready to be posted Australia-wide.

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    • farmerdrew profile image
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      Andrew 4 years ago from Noosa Coast, Queensland, Australia

      @aesta1: It is so relaxing. I real 'must do' when visiting Tunisia!

    • farmerdrew profile image
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      Andrew 4 years ago from Noosa Coast, Queensland, Australia

      @ajbenjamin: Yes, I have so many places on my bucket list!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Ahhh...where the eunuchs who would scrub your body? I have red about hammams and it must be wonderful to go there often.

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      ajbenjamin 4 years ago

      I haven't been to Tunisia but I've been to Morocco and that is a fascinating country. I have Tunisia on the bucket list!