From an extravagant Arabian Nights-themed private spa suite in Seminyak to the intriguing “Happy Marital Life” rituals (vaginal smoking, anyone?) in a very upscale spa, as well as to a Bali massage for gay couples on a honeymoon, I’ve tried to list original Real Bali experiences for you.
Some kinds of Balinese massage offered on the island can be pretty unique and are among the top things to do in Bali. I call them unconventional massages: they are not erotic, but they can put your body into a state that it is quite sensual. For a couple spending their holiday in Bali, it can be a very nice sensory foreplay, in a very nice, upscale Bali spa.
If you are looking for other ideas of things to do in Bali, you can also read my other travel tips, such as:
- 15 STUNNING, YET LITTLE-KNOWN, NATURAL ATTRACTIONS IN WEST BALI
- 7 UNCONVENTIONAL, EXTRAORDINARY AND UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN BALI THAT WILL IMPRESS EVEN JADED TRAVELERS
- 13 TRAVEL BLOGGERS EACH SHARE THEIR 3 FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN BALI
- 15 ULTIMATE LUXURY TRAVEL EXPERIENCES IN BALI
First, let me state again that unconventional massage, to me, does not mean erotic massage. It is more about clean, decent, well-know places offering quality massages with a twist. Plenty of places in Bali offer regular Balinese massages, from spas to hotels, from local women offering traditional massage on the beach in Amed to posh L’Occitane spa at Kupu-Kupu hotel in Ubud.
Here, it’s a more personal list, all about experiences that can create bonding memories between your spouse and you. And can also be great conversation pieces with your jealous friends once you are back home.
Arabian Nights massage in extravagant private suite at Prana Spa Bali
Picture this. You are not Mr and Mrs Smith, or Mr and Mrs Lee, anymore. You are a fantasy Indonesian royal couple, the king (raja) and his wife (rani), or maybe Oriental emperors from an imaginary country located somewhere in the Middle East.
Both of you are laying down, almost completely naked, side by side, in one of the private rooms of your palace. When you entered the room, a servant cleansed your feet. Next to your beds, in a sea of cushions, is a plate of delicious Turkish delights. You are getting the delicate “Queen Scheherazade massage”, while your husband is having a more muscle-relieving “King Shahryar massage”. You know that after the massage comes a private Kama Sutra yoga session and finally a romantic bath infused with natural herbal aphrodisiacs.
Does it sound extravagant? Over the top? It is! Just know that the most expensive massage package in the private suite of the Prana Spa Bali lasts 5 hours and costs 5,700,000 Rupiah (i.e. around AU$530, €373 or US$500). Obviously, the spa offers regular messages, in a great looking setting too, at a much cheaper price (e.g. signature body massage at 450,000 Rupiah (around €30). But this is an unforgettable experience, for instance during your honeymoon trip or just the afternoon before your vow renewal.
My personal advice:
- Book well in advance, the place is quite popular, despite the price tag
- Choose a shorter (1 hour), cheaper option, and still experience the exotic ambience
- Group packages are available, a great idea for a hen / bachelorette party
- Remember that you will have to pay a 21% tax on top of prices listed
For more upscale travel activities, read my suggestions of 15 luxurious things do in Bali.
Get your vagina royally smoked (like a high class Javanese lady)
Did you know that in Indonesia a whole beauty industry had developed around women’s “intimacy care” ? That upper-class Javanese women took part in a 6-day pre-wedding ritual that involves Kendedes (“vagina smoking” or “vagina fogging”) and Asmaragama (“love massage”)? Or that Vagina Spas (a.k.a. V-Spas or VG-Spas) were booming in cities all over Indonesia? And that you could discover such treatments in Bali, in upscale spas such as the very respected Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa in Nusa Dua?
All this is the result of an intriguing mix between folk tales, herbal remedies, hygiene, seduction and business savviness. The beauty industry has turned some Javanese traditions into expensive, elaborate rituals. Vagina beauty is very serious here: first, for hygienic reasons, as it is supposed to prevent and cure infections, among other things. Second, Indonesia women, like plenty of women in South-East Asia, believe that having a tight vagina is key to have better sex and retain a husband.
This belief is so spread out that you can walk into any store, small and big, and ask for special herbal teas (“jamu”) that can keep your vagina clean and tight. So, people who cannot afford high-end spas can still get their tight vagina in a tea bag.
Now, let’s be proper. To a non-initiated eye, Balinese spa menus do not carry such exotic items as vagina smoking. But if you go to the high-class Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa, you will find, among the “Happy Marital Life” beauty and massage rituals range, the 4.5-hour long “Royal Marital Happiness” package. Here’s what you get :
- Relaxing aromatic foot bath
- Pelvic floor exercise + basic relaxation
- Asmaragama massage
- Volcano body wrap
- Intimacy care
- Bust treatment
- Milk flower bath
- Light meal + orange juice
- Spa Gift
Let me translate 3 items for you:
- Pelvic floor exercise + basic relaxation: It is is like Kegel exercises done with a sensual goal in mind. Actually, if you live in South-East Asia, you’ve probably heard of this.
- Asmaragama massage: this “love massage” is supposed to to increase sexual stamina. Asmaragama massage oil contains some natural aphrodisiacs that “improve the elasticity” of blood vessels.
- Intimacy care: this is vaginal smoking, also called Venus Smoke in the US. This is supposed to cleanse, cure and beautify your vagina. Basically, you sit on top of a chair with no seat. Under you, fumes waft from a burner containing ratus, i.e. very nice smelling dried scented herbs.
For a cultural and medical discussion of vagina care in Indonesia, read this Princeton University paper: Evidence from the 2005-2007 Yogyakarta Vagina Practices Study.
The “Royal Marital Happiness” package is 4.5 hours long and costs $168. Click here for the address, directions, contact and more photos of the Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa for a Nusa Dua massage.
If you are looking for more unconventional activities in Bali, read my article : 7 extraordinary things to do in Bali.
Friendly Gay Bali Massage for same-sex couples
With gay marriage being legal in several countries now, I thought it interesting to search for nice gay-friendly Bali spas offering massage sessions for same-sex couples. Now, Bali is itself quite gay-friendly (Read my blog post about gay-friendly Bali villas). Even though traditional family is as important to Bali Hindus as to other Indonesians, their attitude towards homosexuals is much more relaxed.
You could certainly walk into any regular spa and ask for a massage for 2, for your partner and yourself. But I want to make it stress-free for you, as there is a very nice gay-friendly Balinese spa located in Umalas, near my Villa Adagian. The “Antique Spa” is open to everybody, gay or straight, and they have male and female therapists. But they definitively cater more to a male clientèle, with beauty and spa treatments specific to men.
Although they offer services like pedicure and manicure, Antique Spa is better known for its massages, reflexology and aromatherapy. For instance, one of the most popular items in their spa menu is the Kamashila body and beauty package. For this 2-hour long package, you can pick 1 option among the following options:
- Aromatherapy Massage + Cream bubble bath (+ head scalp massage)
- Aromatherapy Massage + Body Shampoo
- Aromatherapy Massage + Body Scrub
Now, a word of caution. Body shampoo is what it sounds like: your whole body gets washed, bit by bit. So, it can become quite sensual (but not sexual) at some point. If you are afraid of your own reactions, do not take this option. Or just think at your next appointment at the dentist’s, this should calm your nerves down.
Antique Spa’s staff is very nice and efficient and the place is very clean. But the spa is starting to age a bit. Although the official website still mentions the restaurant, it has now been closed for some time.
The other thing to know is that it is located in a quieter part of Umalas 2 (north of Seminyak). My villa Adagian is on Umalas 1 road, where Antique Spa is on Umalas 2 road. It is close, but Umalas 2 is a very, very long road, that at times goes through rice paddies. You may feel lost, but use my Google map to find it easily.
Click here for the address, directions, contact and more photos of the Antique Spa in Umalas for a gay Bali massage.
I hope that these unconventional Bali massages will have brought ideas to you. If you choose to sat at Villa Adagian, you can also get a “regular”, great Bali massage in a spa listed in my 10 top places near Umalas.