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Muscle power to ease those aching bodies

Muscle power to ease those aching bodies

Phnom Penh is awash with massage parlours – and some even provide legitimate therapeutic services. Will Jackson and Bennett Murray went out and found six of the best establishments to get a satisfying back rub without any awkward questions

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When the stress has really built up, it may be time for a traditional full-body Khmer massage. At Champei Spa and Salon, $10 will get you a one hour run-down from head to toe that irons out every muscle. The masseuse starts at the feet, working up the legs and across the belly and back until she’s rubbing your scalp. She really gets into your body, using her hands and feet and gently contorting each limb into the right position as to not leave any tissue untouched.
Champei Spa and Salon, corner of Streets 57 and 322. Phone: 023 215 151.

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Up an antique wooden spiral staircase, above the Bliss clothing and accessories shop, lies an oasis of calm. White-washed walls, low lighting, intricately tiled floors, subtle aromatic oils and soothing music create the ideal ambience for a relaxing massage. Prices range from $22 for an hour-long deep tissue to a foot massage costing up to $44 for a “four-hand massage” with two therapists. Bliss isn’t the cheapest massage in town and, to be honest, the masseuses could put a little more “oomph” into their work, but the atmosphere is totally worth it.
Spa Bliss, #29 Street 240. Phone: 023 215 754.

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It would be a shame to get a massage at The Plantation Hotel and not stick around to enjoy the surroundings. Set on a half hectare, the lushly decorated hotel is a beautifully restored 1930s government building. While the pool is “guests only”, they ought to make an exception for people paying to use the spa. Massages come in either “energising” Khmer style without oil or relaxing massages with aromatic oils. They start at $15 for 45 minutes. A full 90-minute whole body aromatherapy massage costs $35. Follow that up with a cocktail at the pool-side bar and you are in for a good day.
The Plantation Hotel Spa, #28 Street 184. Phone: 023 215 151.

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Crossing over the adorable little footbridge into the U&Me Spa, regular patrons can’t help but feel a little shiver of anticipation of the rubdown to come. U&Me’s black-clad masseuses take their job seriously. Too often during a cheap massage you feel like they’re just going through the motions. Not at U&Me. They hunt down those muscle knots and rub, prod and knuckle them into oblivion like they’ve got a score to settle. Afterwards, you know you’ve been massaged. It’s not the most stylish spa, but for as little as $10 for an hour of traditional Khmer massage, it’s definitely good value.
U&Me Spa, #18 Street 306 and #216B Street 63. Phone: 016 219 798.

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Daughters of Cambodia is a faith-based organisation providing employment to victims of human trafficking. Hands ‘n’ Feet Spa offers specialist massages for tired and sore hands, feet, head and shoulders just for women. So a visit is soothing to your conscience as well as your aching muscles. Offering shorter sessions than most other spas, as little as 15 minutes, Hands ‘n’ Feet is good for quick relief for tired bodies. A 20-minute calming shoulder and neck massage without oil will set you back only $5 while the “weary wanderer” 25-minute foot massage costs $6.
Daughters of Cambodia Hands ‘n’ Feet Spa, #65 Street 178. Phone: 077 657 678.

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While Khmer massage is gentle and relaxing, nothing trumps the rougher Thai variety to beat out more serious muscle aches. For a mere $8 ($12 if you request oil), you can get an hour of classic Thai massage at this parlour inside the Goldie Boutique Guesthouse. The place is nothing fancy, but relaxing music and pleasant, professional staff deliver more than enough value for your money. The Thai masseuses do a lot of pulling, pressing and stretching, giving the massage a more medicinal than recreational flavour. But the relief afterward makes the occasional discomfort during the process worth it.
Sawasdee Massage and Spa, #6B Street 57. Phone: 0999 86 222


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