Yes, everything you’ve heard about getting a massage in Bali is true.
They are dirt cheap, insanely relaxing and available everywhere you look.
Imagine paying someone $7 to give you a full body rub down while listening to sounds of waterfalls, breathing in scents of lemongrass, and finishing with a warm ginger tea.
That is the magic of Bali.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are some serious questions you need to ask before entering just any old ‘spa’ you see on the street. Sometimes it’s just a case of the massage being poor quality, or the sheets not being changed between customers. Other times it’s the danger of being in a spa that is really a front for something else. Trust me, this blog is not one I'd ever thought I would write, but having been in a few awkward positions myself, I wanted to warn others about the potential problems around getting a massage in Bali.
Bali Massage – Rules of Thumb
Don’t go under $100k IDR
When we first got to Bali we wanted to be hardcore bargain hunters and were on crusade to find the CHEAPEST massages on the island. Every time we were roped in by a low $60k or $70k IDR massage price it was sketchy. ($4-$4.50 USD) The sheets were dirty, the ‘therapist’ was on her phone the whole time, or the massage was absolute shit.
We started to notice a pattern. Once we got to that $100k range ($7), it was a completely different world. That is the entry level to things like clean sheets, choice of oils, comfy beds and a trained masseuse.
The time where you could get a safe, clean and quality massage for $50k ($3) is gone folks. Sorry to rain on your parade.
But guess what, you can still get an awesome massage for just a few dollars more. In the grand scheme of things, is that extra $3 going to make or break you? Not at all. Getting a massage is a luxury in itself, and regardless if they are $5 or $10, that is still INSANELY cheap for what you get.
*Of course expats and regulars will squawk at this, rambling about how they get massages for $70k all the time. That's great, but it doesn't help first timers. Until you find a trustworthy place, stick to the $100k mark.
Don’t Go Down Alleys
Sounds like a no brainer right? Well you wouldn’t BELIEVE how many people we see solicited and brought down back alleys. As you are walking down the street, girls standing on the corners will yell out “You want MASSAGE!?” and hand you flyers. Look around. There is no spa behind them. Their spa is somewhere down a side street, if there is a spa at all.
This is a problem for a few reasons.
1- The girls handing out the flyers are usually young and in street clothes. They are not the people giving the treatments at all, but instead used to try and sell you on a massage. You will be handed off to someone else.
2- As a couple walking down the street they say “hey miss, you want massage?”, but when my husband walked down the same road alone later that evening, it was “I give you sexy massage?”…. ummmm. WTF!? So the same place that was going to give us a great, legit couples massage is also trying to solicit prostitution to my husband?? SICK! I obviously don’t need to explain why I wouldn’t want to go there for a massage.
3- There have been incidents where once you get to the real spa, the price has now changed to something higher. Or, there is no spa at all and you are propositioned to buy other things.
So the moral of this story is: stick to places that are on Google, have a storefront you can see, and preferably staff in uniforms. Everything else is an unregulated crap shoot, and not worth the $20k savings.
Check Reviews First
Before I will get a massage ANYWHERE I will look at the reviews first. Check TripAdvisor, Google, and Facebook. If a spa doesn’t have any reviews at all, I would avoid it! There are too many other great spots nearby that DO have raving reviews you can go to instead.
Checking reviews has helped us find some REALLY amazing spas that we now use regularly, and helped us stay away from some with atrocious practices.
Trust Your Gut
If you walk into a place and it seems shady or you feel uncomfortable in any way, trust your instinct and leave. If you lay down on sheets and they don’t seem clean, ask for them to be changed in front of you. The last thing you want is to be stuck face down on a table for 90 minutes while you worry and panic the entire time. That is not what you came in for!
How Much Should I Pay For A Massage In Bali?
A good deal for a massage in Bali is $100k per 60 minutes, or roughly $7 USD
Good Massage Prices at Spa’s
If you are looking for a great deal at a store front spa, here is the range you will want to stay in:
Curtained or Private Room
$90-$130k IDR 60 minutes ($6-9 USD)
$130-$180k IDR 90 minutes ($9-$12 USD)
*expect to pay about $40-$80k more for places that offer choices of oil, foot bath, tea, or post massage showers.
Good Massage Prices at Hotel's
A massage at a hotel is going to cost more. They also might have a 10% government tax and 10% service tax on top of the prices, so watch out.
MANY hotels offer a ‘happy hour’ or daily promotion on the spa, so be sure to ask.
Here is what is considered a good deal for a 3-4 star hotel’s spa:
$150-$200k IDR 60 minutes ($10-$14 USD)
$200-$300k IDR 90 minutes ($14-$21 USD)
A massage at your hotel should also include extras like tea, choice of oil, a foot bath/scrub, post massage showers and other perks. That is one of the reasons you end up paying more for them, as they usually make it an entire experience. There is also something to be said about the convenience of getting a massage on site. I love not having to traverse the busy roads after a treatment.
What is a RIP OFF price for a massage in Bali?
For a spa on the street, anything over $450k IDR ($31 USD) is a rip off.
I’m sorry, but we tried some places that were $400-$700k IDR and they were NO better than a $200k massage. After $450k, you are paying for brand names, a location with high rent, or Instagram-able lobbies. I am sure there are places in Bali that are over $450k and are marvellous, but for the most part you don’t get a massive increase in quality.
At a luxury hotel we’ve seen prices range from $700k to $2m IDR ($50-$150 USD) for a massage, which again, is just a blatant rip off. If I am going to pay 20x’s more for a massage at a hotel, I would expect the experience to be 20x’s better, and I know from experience that is not the case. Yes the rooms are ultra lavish, luxurious and beautifully designed, but it’s too rich for my blood. I would rather get 20 very good massages for $2m than 1 super expensive massage for $2m.
Questions To Ask Before Your Massage:
When trying out a new spa, here are some questions you can ask the front desk. We commonly will ask questions and peek at the rooms before committing to a massage.
Do you have any promotions right now?
Can I see the rooms?
Do you change the sheets before each new customer?
Do you wash the oil off at the end of the massage?
Best Places To Get A Massage in Bali
We asked around a group of expats, seasoned Bali travellers and our friends who spend a LOT of time in Bali. Here are there top favourite places in Bali to get a massage: (just click on the name to go to their site/spa menu)
Various locations all across Bali – $125k for 60 minutes, $180k for 90 minutes ($8.50/$12.50 USD)
Seminyak – $220k for 60 minutes, $300k for 90 minutes ($15/$21 USD)
Legian – $85k for 60 minutes, 135k for 90 minutes ($6/$9.50 USD)
in Sanur – $195k for 60 minutes ($13.50 USD)
Legian – $110k for 60 minutes, $160k for 90 minutes ($7.50/$11 USD)
Ubud – $180k for 60 minutes, $235k for 90 minutes ($12.50/$16 USD)
Canggu – $125k for 60 minutes, $180k for 90 minutes, $225 for 120 minutes ($8.50/$12.50/$15.50 USD)
Nusa Dua – $180k for 60 minutes, $260k for 90 minutes ($12.50/$18 USD)
Kuta – $140k for 60 minutes, $180k for 90 minutes ($9.50/$12.50 USD)
Another NEW recommendation that has been popping up is:
Toursits, expats and locals have been using GoJek to get around for YEARS, but now the company is offering more than just rides. GoJek now has lifestyle services like GoGlam, GoClean and you guessed it, GoMassage.
Through the Go-Life app you can order a masseuse to come to YOU for a very decent price. I asked around to some friends who have tried it out and they all had decent experiences. Of course it can be hit or miss depending on who you get, but everyone I spoke to said it was at least satisfactory, if not great.
Express Massage (30 min) $40k ($3 USD)
Full Body Massage $90-120k for 90 minutes ($6-$8 USD)
AND…the therapist comes to you. Great deal!
Our Personal Massage Recommendations:
My husband Trevor calls this “The best value massage in Bali”. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done! They are a chain with multiple locations across the island and they have a certain standard of service they need to live up to. Beds are separated by curtains, and yes you can hear people talking next to you, but you are going to get a great massage for the price. Plus, they do a TON of work on your BACK! Lots of spas in Bali spend way too much time on the back of your calves, and only spend a few minutes on your back. Carla spa’s massages are back focused and cheap! They get bonus points for cleaning the oil off of you at the end of the massage too.
Trevor went to Carla Spa every day for almost a month, racking up over 20 massages here.
Trevor’s advice: Not every therapist here is amazing. If you have a great massage, get their name so you can request them next time. Otherwise it can be hit or miss.
Price: $130k for 90 Minutes ($9 USD)
There is a chain of hotels in Bali called ‘Sun Island’ and they put all spa staff through the same training. This means you should get the same (ish) quality massage at any of their locations in Legian, Seminyak and Kuta. I actually had the best massage of my life at their Sun Island Legian location. They have daily specials that are quite a big discount off the posted prices, which will put them in the ‘good deal’ realm.
Price: (with promotion) $180k-$200k for 60-90 minutes (around $13 USD)
This is a bargain find on the outskirts of Seminyak. We were staying for a while at the boutique hotel Kamar Kamar and found Murano Spa located right next to it. Murano has a beautiful lobby area and private couples treatments rooms with waterfalls and romantic showers/baths. Very nice vibe and atmosphere. The massage is good, but the price is even better! It’s only $100k for a 60 minute and $140k for a 90 minute, making it a great value pick!
Note for the ladies: At this particular spa, when you turn over from you back to your front, they don’t cover you up. You basically lay there topless for a few minutes while they massage the front of your shoulders. This might be weird for some women, so just go in knowing the girls will be out.
Price: 60 mins= $100k, 90 mins =$140k ($7-$10 USD)
Bali Massage Horror Stories
After trying out over 20 different spas and having 100+ massages in Bali, of course we were bound to run into some bad apples. Fortunately, our horror stories weren’t the worst case scenario. We didn’t get robbed, we didn’t get hurt and thank god we didn’t have any ‘happy ending’ propositions.
Kashlee's Bad Massage Stories:
We were hunting for a place to get a couples massage and it started raining. We ducked into a the first spa we saw, which also happened to have SUPER cheap prices (I think it was 60k for an hour?) It was pouring outside, so even though it went against our $100k rule, we decided to give it a shot.
It was a pretty questionable place, but I just told myself “whatever.. you are in Bali..just go with it!”
The massage started and immediately I wanted it to stop. The ’therapist’ was petting me with one hand? Literally… it felt like she was petting me with the back of her one hand. What was the other hand doing? Was she on her phone? Taking pictures of me? Doing something else? I tensed up like crazy. Then it got worse. She started sniffling and clearing her throat like crazy. She sounded really, really sick. She was making those nasal gagging sounds you make when you are congested AF. Then I felt a drip on the back of my neck. WTF was that? Oil? Snot? Why was she still petting me with one hand after 5 minutes?
I started freaking out. I guess my stress was palpable because Trevor immediately asked “Are you okay!?”, to which I replied “NO! NO I’m not! I want it to stop!”
Trevor’s therapist got off of him, but mine sat down on my butt and just stared at him. “She wants to stop, please get off of her now!” He said forcefully. She just sat there (on my butt), mouth agape, completely stunned. I was literally STUCK underneath her. A gruelling 45 seconds later, and after Trevor must have told her to stop about 10 times, she finally got off me.
We quickly started to get dressed when a manager (?) burst in and started yelling at us, all while I was trying to cover up. “Why you no want massage!?” We tried to explain that she was sick, and the massage was CREEPY and we just wanted to leave. The 2 therapists were now out at reception talking to the other staff as they slammed stuff around and got all vocal about us wanting to leave.
We found our flip-flops and got the heck out of there! As we were walking (running) away from the spa, Trevor mentioned that the girl on top of me was not a girl, but rather a transgendered individual. Which is great and all, honestly I have no issue with that, but I would have liked to know those kinds of details ahead of time! The entire situation was just super sketchy and dodgy.
I had gotten a massage at this hotel’s spa the day before and it was 10/10 amazing! It was so good, I wanted to go back for another the next day. I saw it was a different girl, but figured the standard at the hotel would be the same, so I thought nothing of it.
About 20 minutes into my 90 minute massage, as she was working on my calf, her hands just….stopped. And she was holding my calf. I could only think there was like a weird alien inside of leg ready to burst out and she was frozen with shock just staring at it. I counted to 10. Still nothing. I jerked my leg and said “Is everything okay”!? She all of a sudden started back up and just whispered “sorry”.
She had fallen asleep.
Okay, that was weird, but I figured she could recover from this and just give it a great effort for the remaining 70 minutes.
She continued to fall asleep 3 more times at different stages of the massage. One of the times she started falling on top of me!
This might not sound awkward, but I can assure you it is. I was stressing out like crazy because I would feel her hands stop, then a slow sinking into my body. I couldn’t relax because I was just anticipating the next time she would stop massaging, while holding different parts of my body in her hands, and drift off.
I couldn’t say anything because I was so creeped out. If it had been a couples massage, I would have signalled to Trevor to get me outta there, but I was alone.
Trevor's Bad Massage Stories:
Bait and Switch
I got roped in by a super low price, thinking I had hit the jackpot, but instead, they relentlessly tried to sell me on other services the entire time. There is nothing relaxing about being asked 100 times if you want a manicure, pedicure, waxing, body scrub or facial. They even started asking me if my wife needed hair braiding or eyelash extensions. It just went on and on the entire massage, no matter how many times I said no.
Social Media Addict
My usual spa was booked up, so I tried one across the street that was again, under my usual $100k rule. From start to finish there was nothing good about the massage. The spa was insanely loud with staff yelling, laughing and shouting. The bed was uncomfortable and the cleanliness of it’s sheets questionable. But here is the ringer.. I caught my therapist not once, not twice, but THREE times on her phone. I started to wise up that something was not right when I could only feel one hand massaging me. I quickly opened my eyes and looked back and there she was, scrolling through her phone and laughing at something on the screen. I asked “Are you really on your phone right now?!”, to which she just said “oh sorry sir” and put it away. But that didn’t stop her from taking it back out every chance she got, even after I asked her to stay off her phone.
We’ve heard stories about people being photographed and taped while they are being massaged, and I don’t want to be one of them.
Other Bali Massage Horror Stories:
I guess in the realm of things, our bad experiences could have been a lot worse. I did some research and found a few people that wanted to tell their Bali massage nightmare stories. I was told all different kinds of horror stories that made me feel grateful for the tame experiences I’d had.
We heard from people who had:
– Had things stolen from their bags/clothing while face down on the bed
– Had been extorted for more money after the massage was over
– Caught people taking pictures and video of them basically naked (tiny black disposable see through undies don’t leave much to the imagination!)
– Had been injured by their therapist not being at all qualified in a certain type of massage
– Gotten rashes from soiled sheets
Here is where I also want to address the ‘happy ending’ topic. I don’t think that is something anyone needs to be worried about in Bali. If you are not actively SEEKING that kind of dodgy service out, you are not going to mistakenly run into it. Balinese people don’t want to touch you sexually, and certainly not for $60k. If you stick to places with good reviews, a public storefront and trained staff, you’re changes of running into something perverted are slim to none.
In contrast to the bad stories (which only account for a small amount of Bali massage experiences), Bali is a great place to get a wonderful, high quality massage!
Massages in Bali are still some of the cheapest and best quality in the WORLD.
9 times out of 10, you're going to have a relaxing, therapeutic and magical experience. Try out a few places, learn what types of massages you like, and tip for great service!