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Whether it is a total wind-down for the mind, body and spirit, or simply the desire for some quick-fix serenity, lots of travellers in Bali are spending hours (and sometimes days) being massaged, scrubbed, perfumed, pampered, bathed and blissed-out. Here is your guide to seeking out a bit of rest and relaxation in Bali.
Every upmarket hotel worth its stars has spa facilities (almost always open to non-guests) offering health, beauty and relaxation treatments. Day spas are also common, many of the best booked up days in advance during the high season. The cost can be anything from a 20,000Rp beach rub to a multi-hour sybaritic soak for $100 or more. In general, however, the costs are quite low compared with other parts of the world and the Balinese have the perfect cultural background and disposition to enhance the serenity.
The Balinese massage techniques of stretching, long strokes, skin rolling and palm and thumb pressure result in a lowering of tension, improved blood flow and circulation, and an all-over feeling of calm. Based on traditional herbal treatments, popular spa options include the mandi rempah (spice bath) and the mandi susu (milk bath). The mandi rempah begins with a massage, followed by a body scrub with a paste made from assorted spices, and ending with a herbal-and-spice hot bath.
Good spas can be found wherever there are tourists. Day spas are particularly common in Ubud, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Here are a few top picks:
Kuta and Legian
Mandara Spa, Jl Padma. This divine spa, part of the Hotel Padma Bali, is decorated with water features and impressive stone sculptural reliefs.
Jamu Spa, Jl Pantai Kuta, has treatments as yummy as they sound, including tropical nuts, coconuts, papayas and more, often in fragrant baths.
Jari Menari, Jl Raya Seminyak. Its name means "dancing fingers" and your body will be one happy dance floor! Many people say this is the best place for a massage in Bali, a claim backed up by numerous awards.
Prana, Jl Kunti, is a palatial Moorish fantasy that is easily the most lavishly decorated spa in Bali.
Nur Salon, Jl Hanoman 28, Padangtegal, is set in a traditional Balinese compound filled with labelled medicinal plants.
Ubud Sari Health Resort is a spa and hotel in one. Enjoy a "total tissue cleansing" with organic and natural ingredients.
It is worth remembering that in a place as relaxing as Bali you do not necessarily have to visit a spa to be soothed. These low-key places in Bali make every day an indulgence:
Air Panas Banjar has hot springs percolating down through a series of pools amid lush tropical plants; soak in the top pools, or get a pummelling massage from the water as it falls into the lower pools.
Lovina is a relaxed, low-key, low-rise. Lovina is Kuta's polar opposite. Even the waves are calm. Here you can get Balinese or Ayurveda treatments in simple, soothing settings.
Nusa Lembongan. What better place to mellow out? Quiet, white-sand beaches; simple rooms right on the beach; incredible sunsets. This is the Bali that many imagine, but rarely locate. Find your inner peace amidst the serenity.