Herbal thermo-therapy has arrived in Siem Reap in the shape of Asia Herb Association, a new Japanese-owned spa on Sivutha specializing in herbal treatments and massages.
With four branches already established in Bangkok’s chic Sukhumvit area, one in Chiang Mai and another in Kyushu in Japan, this is the seventh shop to open and the first in the Kingdom.
The spa’s signature treatment is its massage using herbal ball compresses filled with 18 different organic herbs – a traditional Thai remedy. The therapy is extremely popular with Bangkok’s Japanese expat community, general manager Jun Takabayashi says, with 40 per cent of its clientele being from Japan, as is he.
“We have an organic farm in Thailand in Khao Yai National Park, where we grow herbs, fruits and vegetables,” says Takabayashi. “Our products are all our own. We also make organic herbal soap and massage oil.”
The spa’s owner got the idea for herbal ball treatments when she was suffering from severe lower back pain, and found the hot compresses extremely helpful. She decided to use the method in her first spa, opening in Bangkok ten years ago.
Herbal balls have been used in Thailand for generations, and are known for their healing properties for chronic muscle, back and joint pain. The compresses are made up of various herbs, chopped up and wrapped inside a cotton ball slightly larger than a tennis-ball.
“There are 18 kinds of herbs inside,” says Takabayashi. “Including ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, mint and kaffir lime. We make it hot by steaming it and then after the massage we press it on the body. It is good for muscle pain and is also detoxifying.”
Asia Herb Association also produces many delicious-scented organic products, ranging from herbal bath balls to body wash. The range comes in different aromas including holy basil, chamomile, lemongrass and citronella. In addition, it sells microwavable herbal ‘hot pads’ filled with rice that can be heated and placed on the body to alleviate pain and stiffness.
There are 13 treatment rooms where customers can choose to be pampered in an array of aromatic treatments by therapists who have been trained in Bangkok. The rooms are airy and simple, featuring warm, ochre-coloured walls and intricate, fairy light-style displays handmade by a Thai designer.
If Asia Herb Association proves as popular as its Thai predecessors, there are plans to open a second spa in Phnom Penh this year.