The spa at The Strand The ultimate in luxury, elegance and sophistication, this tranquil spa is everything you’d expect from the city’s most iconic five-star hotel. As if the soaring colonial ceilings, polished teak floors and Burmese antiques weren’t enough, it is the attention to detail here which makes it my favourite spa experience in Yangon. The small, private room is lit entirely by candles, giving you the feeling that you’ve stepped into a dream; your feet are cleaned in a bath scattered with real rose petals, and you are offered a choice of four blends of aromatherapy massage oil. Relaxation doesn’t come more relaxing than this.
There are only three treatments offered here: traditional Myanmar massage (“for people who like strong massage!” says spa manager Khin Zaw), traditional Asian foot massage and, most popular, The Strand massage – a fusion of Eastern and Western techniques including Balinese, Swedish, acupressure and aromatherapy. One of the best things about this place is that you are asked to complete a form before beginning your treatment asking you how you like your massage – deep, “firm but relaxing” or light – which means no awkward conversations with your therapist half-way through when they start crushing your spine. My therapist, Phu, was amazing – her touch was so light it was as if she was moving my body through levitation.
The spa has a beautiful, period-style bathroom, and you can opt to add a tranquil candle-lit bathing ritual to any massage, in which you will sip Shan tea while soaking away your troubles in a bath scented with fresh jasmine and rose petals. Heaven. The price may not be quite as heavenly of course, but, my, is it worth it.
The quality service at The Strand spa is what makes it the best spa experience in Yangon.Photo: Supplied
Address: 92 Strand Road, Yangon www.hotelthestrand.com
Inya Day Spa For indulgent spa treatments without the hefty price-tag, you need look no further than Inya Day Spa. More affordable than the more upscale options listed here, but boasting the same level of service, this green garden oasis complete with fish ponds is the perfect hideaway to relax and rejuvenate.
“Service is very important to us,” says owner Damien Lau. “I’ve been to places where the therapists were watching TV or talking while they give you a massage. It really bothered me, so when we opened in 2009 I wanted to make sure we offered great value treatments with international standards of service.”
Pop in for one of their signature massages with a body scrub, hot stone treatment, or facial. The spa also has a nail studio if you fancy a manicure after your treatment. The Thai massage is a bargain at only K20,000 for 90 minutes. The facials are a bit pricier, but the imported Thalgo products are quite literally a treat for the skin: I enjoyed a Hydra Moisture facial which left my skin squeaky clean. The spa caters to both men and women, offering special, manly facials for the gents.
At Inya Day Spa the fun doesn’t stop when your treatments ends. An onsite smoothie bar means you can continue your detox with a delicious, healthy smoothie made with fresh fruit, yogurt and natural honey. The blueberry – Damien brings the blueberries back from Bangkok himself – was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted: worth the visit alone, but obviously better after a massage.
The companys’ second spa, Thaya Day Spa, offers a selection of the same treatments as Inya, but in a smaller, more intimate setting, and makes for a good alternative if you live on the other side of the city.
Address: 16/2 Inya Road, Kamaryut, Yangon Thaya Day Spa, Building 17, 3rd floor, Junction Square, Sanchaung www.inyaspa.com
The glamorous La Source Beauty Spa is faveourite with local celebs.Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar Times
La Source Beauty Spa If you were to conjure an image in your head of the world’s most luxurious spa, I’d bet it would look a lot like La Source. Having recently moved to a quiet location tucked away from busy Inya Road, this newly renovated spa is glamorous... and then some. La Source is a firm favourite with local celebs and the A-list crowd, and its easy to see why: With its huge chandeliers and lavish interior – soon to include a mother-of-pearl-inlayed reception desk – this chic spa offers a host of treatments in a tranquil and contemporary atmosphere, a world away from the dirt and grime of Yangon.
Even if you’re not a celeb, you’re sure to look like one after you visit: The facials here quite literally leave you glowing. I enjoyed a classic facial, which includes a back and head massage. As well as some high-tech looking machines, La Source uses Decleor Paris products, which are not only like magical potion for skin, they also smell so good that, when my therapist left the room, I caught myself trying to lick my own face. Unfortunately for most of us, perfect skin is a no-pain, no-gain endeavour, so don’t be surprised if it isn’t all lie-back-and-relax: A therapist digging gunk out of your pores with a metal scraper is going to hurt a little.
What’s best about this place is that it’s a one-stop shop for a beauty overhaul. In addition to facials, treatments include L’Oreal Professional hair services, waxing (including Brazilians, if you swing that way), body wraps, massage and manicure/pedicure. Nothing like a bit of multi-tasking, is there? They also cater to men, and offer a bespoke gentleman’s facial – though gents are of course welcomed for any treatment. “We do a lot of men,” they say. “We’ve waxed a lot of hairy backs.”
What’s more, despite its grand façade, La Source is not as pricey as you might think. It falls into the mid-range category on this list, and for such a high-class experience, that feels like a bargain.
Address: 12E Inya Road, Kamaryut, Yangon 13/13 Mya Sandar Street, Chan Aye Thar San, Mandalay www.lasourcebeautyspa.com
Spa at Sule Shangri-La The spa at Sule Shangri-La is another one that falls into the upscale bracket as far as Yangon spas go. Actually, make that the upper end of the upscale bracket. But impressive facilities and a tempting menu of treatments make this one of Yangon’s most tranquil hotel spas.
The spotlessly clean treatment rooms are completely private – so you won’t have to listen to the groans of the guy next door – and each comes with its own shower, complimentary toiletries and fluffy, fluffy towels. It’s so comfortable, you could practically live there.
“We always meet Shangri-La’s international standards. I don’t think anyone else can say that,” says Htay Hann Su Phyone, health club service manager. She is right: Service is of the highest standard here. The therapists are friendly, discreet, and provide you with clear instructions before your treatment begins – so there are none of those awkward “should I take my knickers off?” moments.
Treatments include deep tissue, foot reflexology, “head, back and shoulder massage,” and, the most popular massage, the “Aroma Relax”, which uses a blend of essential oils and firm yet relaxing techniques to restore the natural harmony of the body. For a really indulgent experience, not much beats one of their relaxing spa packages: the Oasis Beauty package, includes a bespoke facial, foot scrub and Aroma Relax massage, designed to leave you glowing from head to toe. I tried the Oasis Relaxation package, a luxurious body scrub combined with the Aroma Relax massage. I can’t speak for the whole thing because I drifted off at some point, but the bit I remember was blissful.
The spa at Sule Shangri-La: The ultimate in luxury. Photo: Charlotte Rose / The Myanmar Times
Address: 223 Sule Pagoda Road, Yangon www.shangri-la.com
T8 Zen Spa Better known for its string of hair salons, T8 may come with fewer fancy trappings than the other spas on this list, but it also comes with some surprisingly good, inexpensive treatments for those looking to indulge without breaking the bank. If it’s luxury you’re looking for you’re not going to find it here but, as my grandmother used to say, you can’t buy champagne with a lemonade purse, so keep your eyes shut and suck it up.
With branches in both Yangon and Mandalay, treatments on offer include facials, massage, body scrubs and masks, manicure/pedicure and a range of aesthetic facial treatments using scary sounding machines such as vaccum suction and galvanic something-or-other. They even have their own mini-sauna.The products may not be top-of-the-range, but I was pleasantly surprised by how clean my skin felt after a facial here – and treatments are so affordable you can enjoy an express facial, Thai massage and express manicure here for under K30,000.
There are private “VIP” rooms available, each with their own shower, but not-so-important folk will enjoy their facial or massage in a curtained-off cubicle. The place is clean, and the therapists friendly and professional – though they don’t speak English, so expect a lot of awkward gesturing and waving around of towels when it comes to explaining the removal of clothing.
A gift voucher for this place isn’t going to earn you many brownie points but trust me, you could do a lot worse than T8 Zen Spa if you’re looking for a cheap massage. And if you won’t trust a girl with chewing gum still stuck in her hair, it’s gonna take more than a massage to fix you.
Address: 147 Anawratha Road, Kyautada, Yangon Diamond Plaza, Mandalay