Many visitors looking for the best massage in Bali believe that the throngs of massage women on the beach or in the streets are offering traditional Balinese massages, but this is not always the case.
In fact, all of the healing methods came from Central Java’s Majapahit Kingdom. There isn’t much difference between Balinese massage and Javanese massage, which can lead to some confusion.
I was destined to find out what these differences were and in my search I found it rather challenging to find a “real Balinese” massage, which I could differentiate from other techniques including Javanese. I frequented as many massage parlors as I could in Bali to find authentic Balinese techniques, which more than one person performed.
Still, more and more people from other countries are coming to Bali, so there are more beach massage businesses to serve them.
It is cheap and quick; however, the focus is on quantity rather than quality, and it is not generally used to treat a specific ailment or chronic illness, reduce stress, or assist in the treatment of conditions such as stress-related tension, cancer-related fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep disorders, low back pain, and depression, to name a few.
Another downside is the lack of hygiene with towels and blankets being used for several customers and the women have no where to wash their hands after the massage.
If you just want to relax and don’t need a therapeutic massage to get the results you want, a beach massage might be enough. If you want to get the results you want, you’ll need to do some research to find the right therapist.
However, the origin of the word “Massage” can lead you down a rabbit hole of ancient languages and cultures. The interpretation of massage in French is “kneading friction.” In Arabic, massa means “to touch, feel, or handle.” Massa is a Latin word that means “mass, dough.” The Greek verb (mass) means “to handle, touch, work with one’s hands, knead dough.” The ancient Greek word for massage was anatripsis, and the Latin word was frictio.
Massage dates back as early as 2000 BC. In 460 BC “The Father of Modern Medicine” Hippocrates recommended massage saying “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing” and 493BC from the biblical passage: Esther,2:12 which documents daily “treatments with oil of myrrh ”
Massage has been practiced in Indonesia for eons, as demonstrated by sculptures representing massage in the famed stone reliefs of Borobudor, a Buddhist temple in Central Java dating from the 8th-9th centuries.
For ages, massage has been an important aspect of Indonesian culture, instilling inner and exterior health and beauty.
Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have had a significant influence on traditional Indonesian healing practices but how did these therapeutic methods end up in Indonesia?
Around 400 A.D., Hindu priests brought Ayuvedic medicine, which use aromatic oils for massage as well as plant-based treatments.
Later, wandering Buddhist monks introduced Chinese medicinal techniques following King Hayamwuruk marrying a Chinese woman during the Majapahit Kingdom in central Java and through her influence, the healing arts of acupuncture and reflexology were born.
Massage techniques were also influenced by spice traders from Arabia, China, and India, who journeyed beyond the archipelago.
Although most of the bigger islands have their own unique style of massage, the most effective healing techniques can be found in Java and Bali, where they evolved straight from the Majapahit kingdom’s traditions.
Many natural beauty therapies were performed by the kratons’ queens and princesses during the Majapahit era including massage for the purposes of relaxation, beauty, and healing.
However, after the death of the Javanese Hindu King Hayam Wuruk, the Majapahit Kingdom eventually collapsed in 1478 when Trowulan was sacked by Denmark. As a result, the Majapahit rulers fled to Bali, bringing with them their knowledge of healing, which explains why there are so many similarities in massage and healing techniques between Java and Bali.
Most Indonesians adopted techniques from India and China and used them to make their own styles, which have been passed down from one generation to the next.
Elements of pressure point massage, acupressure and reflexology can clearly be detected in most Indonesian massages.
In more recent times, Indonesians have learned massage through some kind of study abroad program or expat in Bali, adopting those massage techniques and blending them with their own traditional styles.
Massage in Indonesia is thought to help the body eliminate disease, regain its balance, and ensure continued good health .The Indonesian word pijit and the Javanese word urut are both used to define massage. Both are among the most common massage methods in Indonesia.
The most popular style of massage is pijit, which is mostly used for relaxing and toning. It primarily targets the muscles, involving medium to intense kneading and a repeated squeezing of the flesh between the fingers and palm of the hand.
Urut, on the other hand, is a more specific treatment for bone fractures and muscle injuries. Urut can be rather painful at times since it penetrates far deeper, affecting not only the muscles but also important neural pathways.
Its basic task is to restore and promote healthy blood circulation. Some of the same techniques as pijit are utilized in urut, but the pressure is much greater and more advanced expertise is required.
In order to heal properly, the urut practitioner, also known as a tukang pijit urut, has to have an in-depth understanding of the human body, including its skeletal and nervous systems.
To restore muscle tone, mend damaged bones, and eliminate toxins, people utilize their fingers, thumbs, palms, knuckles, and body weight. Urut massage is highly precise and technical, but it is typically good to tolerate the discomfort of a treatment because the sensation of well-being is soon recovered thereafter.
Unlike in Java, Balinese massage is normally administered by a guy, and it is usually a stronger massage that goes right to the source of the problem. The massage usually involves applying a lot of deep pressure to the muscles.
STANDARD BALINESE MASSAGE
Skin rolling involves rolling the skin between the fingers and thumbs, then immediately pulling up on the muscles and releasing, and finally cupping the hands and drumming them over the back and legs.
The Balinese enjoy “cracking” their necks, fingers, and toes, and the louder the sound, the better. The Kecak dance inspired one particularly distinctive Balinese technique: moving the elbow down the side of the spine while shaking the hand, vibrating the back.
It appears to be intimidating, yet it is really rather enjoyable to experience. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of different types of Javanese massage, many of them follow a similar pattern and apply many of the same techniques as Bali massage.
Over and over, the edge of a coin is rubbed against the skin on your back in a single line. The process is then repeated in lines all the way down the back. It appears to be a systematic lashing, but it is apparently intended to stimulate the peripheral circulatory system and aid in the delivery of the medicinal oil to your system.
Indonesians usually request that a coin be dragged over their skin repeatedly to relieve a cold, flu, or “masuk angin” (bad wind), which can appear in a range of symptoms such as weakness, weariness, or stiff or hurting muscles, all of which are often linked to poor circulation.
This procedure, known as kerokan, is still widely used in rural communities and is quite painless if done correctly. The back, neck, shoulders, buttocks, and stomach can all benefit from this treatment.
Indonesian massage has evolved dramatically in the last decade, thanks to the expanding spa industry in Bali and Java. Local therapists have been taught innovative massage techniques by international spa specialists. Although the titles of massages on spa menus range from Traditional to Indonesian, Javanese, or Balinese, the differences are sometimes misunderstood.
Because Swedish or Shiatsu techniques have been added to the Indonesian techniques, the massage often differs significantly from its alleged origin.
Many of the spa therapists do not come from a family that has a history of massage and healing. Instead, they merely do the routine that they have been taught.
With this expanding trend, small villages will soon be the only places to get authentic Javanese and Balinese massage. However, the core elements of an Indonesian massage will undoubtedly continue in spa treatments.
Meanwhile, as some Indonesian therapists work in spas overseas and Balinese massage courses are offered in countries like Hong Kong, Indonesian massage may gradually gain international recognition.
Where to get the Best Massage in Bali
Spa Bali Ubud
Address: Payogan Village, Ubud (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 11 am until 4.30 pm
Bookings: +62 361 8989540
- Price for Ubud Traditional Spas best massage in Bali start at US$12+ for a 60 minute Ubud Royal Massage and US$22+ for a 60-minute Balinese Reflexology massage.
Address: Jalan Gunung Sari Peliatan (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 8 am – 8 pm
Bookings: +62 361 977 888
- Price for Spa at Maya’s best massage in Bali start at US$67+ for a 60-minutes Relaxing Balinese massage and US$68+ for a 60-minutes Body Scrub.
Mandala Spa at the Villas by Bisma Eight
Opening hours: Daily, 9 am to 9 pm
Bookings: +62 361 908 8888
Price for Mandala Spas best massage in Bali start at US$32+ for a 45-minutes Swift Remedy massage and US$35+ for a 60-minutes Foot Treat pedicure
90 minute “Healing Remedy” IDR 700k, 60 minute calming remedy…IDR 500k, 45 minute “Swift Remedy”… IDR 475k (optional shower), 60 minute “Complete Remedy” body massage followed by a 45 minute body exfoliate…IDR 850k, 60 minute “Mom to Be” (parental massage)…IDR 500k, 60 minute “Alit Alit” remedy (kids massage)…IDR 400k, a “Well Heeled” (foot massage)…IDR 500k.
Address: Mambal, Abiansemal, Badung Regency (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 8 am to 9 pm
- Price for FiveElements best massage in Bali start at US$57+ for a Bathing Ritual and US$110+ for a 90-minutes Coconut Harmony oil massage
Massage Bali Seminyak
Address: Jl. Dewi Sri No 88E Kelurahan Legian (Location Map)
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 9.30 am – 18.30 pm
Bookings: +62 812 2888 8837
- Price for Lumina’s best massage in Bali start at US$17++ for a Hot Stone Massage and US$270++ for a clinical body treatment.
Address: Jalan Taman Ganesha No. 9 Petitenget, Kerobokan, Bali 80361 (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 9 am – 10 pm
Bookings: +62 361 3021 888
- Price for Spa Arila’s best massage in Bali start at US $46++ for a Balinese Massage and US $35++ for a 45-minutes Body Scrub.
Address: Jalan Petitenget No. 7, Seminyak (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily,10 am – 10 pm
Bookings: +62 361 73 50 73
- Price for Sundari Day Spa’s best massage in Bali starts at US$26+ for a 90-minutes Traditional Balinese massage and US$29+ for a 90-minutes Deep Muscle Healing massage.
THE CARE SPA
Address: Jalan Raya Kerobokan No.112 A, Seminyak (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 10am – 10pm
- Price for the Care Spas best massage in Bali starts at US$15+ for a 60-minutes Relaxing Massage and US$32+ for a 90-minutes Refreshing Scrub Massage.
Address: Jalan Kunti I No.118x, Seminyak (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 9 am – 10 pm
- Price for Prana Spas best massage in Bali starts at US$57+ for a 60-minutes Shirodhara Ayurvedic treatment and US$36+ for a 60-minutes Signature Body Massage.
Massage Bali Canggu
Address: Echo Beach, Canggu (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 10 am – 8 pm
- Price for Therapy Spas best massage in Bali start at US$12+ for a 30-minutes Reflexology treatment and US$19+ for a 60-minutes The Healing Act massage.
Address: Pantai Batu Bolong St No.69, Canggu (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 9 am – 10 pm
- Price for Amos Spas best massage in Bali starts at US$30+ for a 30-minutes Give Me Oxygen facial treatment and US$16+ for a 60-minutes Relax Me massage.
Address: Pantai Batu Bolong St No.83C, Canggu (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 9 am – 9 pm
- Price for Spring Spas best massage in Bali starts at US$19+ for a 60-minutes Spring Signature Massage and US$35+ for a 60-minutes Codage Hydration Facial.
Bukit Penninsula Luxury Spa Bali
Address: Jl. Villa Kandara Banjar Wijaya Kusuma Ungasan (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 9 am – 8 pm
- Price for Karma Kandara’s best massage in Bali starts at US$89+ for a 75-minutes Sacred Balinese Massage and US$82+ for a 90-minutes Coconut Blessing treatment.
Address: Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera 1A, Jimbaran, Indonesia (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 9 am – 9 pm
Bookings: email@example.com / +62 361 908 8888
- Price for Raffles best massage in Bali starts at US $350 per person for a 150 minutes Sanctuary Escape.
Address: 645H+VP Cengiling, Jimbaran (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 8 am – 6.30 pm
- Price for Senses Spa at La Joya’s best massage in Bali start at US$18+ for a 25-minutes Body Scrub and US$25+ for a 50-minutes Thai Massage.
Address: Jl. Uluwatu II No.108X, Jimbaran (Location Map)
Opening hours: Daily, 10 am – 10 pm
- Price for Calma’s best massage in Bali starts at US$28+ for a 60-minutes Balinese Massage and US$28+ for a 60-minutes Garden Scrub.
Healing Village Spa at Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Address: Jimbaran, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Banten 80361
Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Price for Healing Village Spa’s best massage in Bali starts at US$28+ for a 60-minutes Balinese Massage and US$28+ for a 60-minutes Garden Scrub.
More Pricing: “Balinese” 60 mins Rp 1,750,000, 75 mins Rp 2,100,000, 90 mins Rp 2,300,000
“Warm Riverstone” 90 mins Rp 2,300,000, “Deep Knead” 60 mins Rp 1,750,000, 75 mins Rp 2,100,000,
90 mins Rp 2,300,000 “Extreme Ease” 60 mins Rp 1,750,000, 75 mins Rp 2,100,000, 90 mins Rp 2,300,000
“Warm Herbal Oil” 60 mins Rp 1,750,000 75 mins Rp 2,100,000, 90 mins Rp 2,300,000
“Four-Handed Harmony” 75 mins Rp 2,900,000, 90 mins Rp 3,600,000, “Mother-to-Be” 90 mins Rp 2,300,000, 120 mins Rp 2,800,000
Anything above $450k IDR ($31 USD) for a street spa is extravagant. Massages costing $400-$700k are no better than those costing $200,000. I’m sure massages costing more than $450,000 in Bali are fantastic, but you don’t get a significant boost in quality. It’s also a question of taste for luxury hotels to give massages ranging from $700k to $2m ($50-$150 USD). If you’d rather pay 10 times more for a massage at a hotel, that’s great, but you should know that there are massages available for 10 times less that are just as wonderful, if not better. Yes, the rooms are opulent, elegant, and exquisitely decorated, but if you’re on a budget, you can have a massage twice a day for the price of one…the whole time your in Bali.
Looking to eat healthy while you are in Bali? Check out some of the best healthy markets in Bali.
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