What better way to get rid of that pesky dry skin on your feet than plunging them in a tankful of hungry nibble fish? It might sound gruesome, but dispel any thoughts of piranha-like flesh stripping. Garra rufa are a species of fish that gently nibble and bite away dead skin, leaving you with perfectly soft and smooth tootsies.
Originally from Turkey, the strange spa treatment (technically termed icthyotherapy) has popped up in cities all over Asia, and in Bangkok fish spas can now be found everywhere from Khaosan road and Suan Lum night bazaar to normal condominium complexes, next door to the ubiquitous 7/11. Apparently 14 American states have banned the procedure on the grounds that it cannot be proven sanitary, but in Bangkok there are no such fears; anyone from stressed out execs to school kids can be seen enjoying the piscine pedicures. The fish are particularly recommended to people suffering from skin diseases such as eczema or psoriasis.
Glass shop fronts allow passersby to witness your winces as you gingerly submerge your feet into a tank filled with the little nibblers. Although the bites aren’t painful some find the sensation extremely ticklish. Anything from 15 minutes to one hour is recommended, and at the end, skin is admittedly smoother. It’s nothing that a brisk pumice couldn’t achieve, but it is much more fun.
Enjoy a fish massage from 125-150 baht for 15 minutes, and 200-250 baht for 30 minutes in the following locations:
Suan Lum Night Bazaar (fish spa located near Lumpini MRT station)
Chatuchak weekend market (accessed from Mo Chit BTS station or Chatuchak Park MRT station)
Siam Ocean World in Siam Paragon shopping mall (Siam BTS station)
Siam Fish Spa at Siam Square soi 7, opposite Novotel Hotel
Khaosan Road (Just look out for signs advertising fish massage in a range of locations)