Shenzhen is a popular place for Hong Kong people to go to get a massage. Prices are low compared with Hong Kong, though generally higher than elsewhere in China. A foot massage, pronounced “xi jiao”, (which actually often consists of massaging your shoulders, back, arms, legs, and feet!) costs 25-50RMB for 60-80 minutes depending on the location, time of day, and quality of the establishment. A full-body massage (pronounced “an mo” or “song gu”) costs 50-150RMB for 90-120 minutes.
In recent years many large spa and massage complexes have appeared in Shenzhen. For an entrance fee of around 100RMB (waived if you purchase around 160RMB of spa and massage services) you get 24 hours of access to a spa pool, saunas, showers, baths, and other amenities depending on the facility such as a gym or pool. Paid services often include Internet access, billiards, and rent-able rooms with KTV/karaoke and games. Complimentary items include drinks (sometimes restricted to juice) and fruit; food can be bought for 20–50RMB a plate. For around 50RMB for 45 minutes (not including a 10–30RMB tip and often a 10% service charge) you can have head, foot, leg, shoulder, back, or hand massage while lying in one of the many reclining chair-couches — two types at once if you wish — and watch personal TV, read a book, or relax. For around 150RMB you can have 90 minutes of full-body Chinese, Thai, or Hong Kong-style massage in a private room or with your friends. Chinese Medical Massage and aromatherapy oil massages are usually available at a premium. Masseuses and masseurs hail from various regions around China and are listed with pictures and statistics in catalogs and can be selected by number. Very few of them speak any English.
Spa complexes can be found around the border crossings with Hong Kong, so as to cater to the relatively rich Hong Kong population looking to unwind. In the basement of the Luohu customs and immigration building (not the LCC mall) free shuttles are available to various spas, some of which also have themed waiting areas with price lists and pictures of the facilities. Some spas have representatives standing around to give out discount tickets (often 20RMB) as an enticement.
Massage in Shenzhen Luohu
Off to Shenzhen for a massage? This Mecca has become a top destination for massages. Assuming though that you are interested in a legitimate massage with trimmings, an excellent example of a night-trip from Hong Kong may include the following: Take the train to Luohu and cross the border. Once on the Shenzhen side, as you exit the main building with the Shangri-la in front of you, you should take a U-turn to bring you into the parking area of the Border Crossing building. Here you’ll find a gathering of hawkers with discount vouchers (make sure to ask for them) for many of the more upper class spas/massage centers. You’ll probably also see small clusters of customers waiting nearby for the free shuttle bus to take them for their evening of entertainment and relaxation. Choose your spa and join the crowd. One popular spa in Luohu is called Queen Spa.
The short but comfortable shuttle bus ride to the spa is often enlivened by the company of the other customers also looking forward to a night in their favorite massage center. The mixture of patrons is quite eclectic, and a ride may have you sharing with a family of four, chattering excitedly about their impending family night out.
On arrival at the spa, you’ll normally receive the red-carpet treatment: legions of staff will simultaneously cheer “Huanying Guanglin” (welcome) as your bags are carried, and you are ushered into the foyer of the spa. You’ll then be given your locker key, and invited to proceed into the center’s changing rooms, and on to the main events!
After changing out of your clothes and enjoying your shower, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, you will then be given a light pyjama-like set of clothes to wear while in the spa. Frequently, there will also be complementary partial laundry services (for underwear.)
The next stage is to arrange your massage. In addition to what is usually an excellent massage with styles ranging from the ordinary (though very satisfying) “Chinese Style” to “Aromatherapy Style”, there is often an array of extra facilities available to the visitor. In my own favorite center, there are saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzis, a gym, a cinema, an internet/computer area, an array of very nice reclining seats with individual TVs, and many other amusements. The usually course is to pay for a 2-hour massage, after which you then have access to all the facilities for 24 hours (including a bed in the sleeping area). You can usually keep that room as a bedroom. There are of course VIP rooms with TV, mahjong, and other essentials.
After the massage, it may be time for the complimentary buffet dinner, following which a couple of hours spent lazily in a reclining armchair with personal TV may be just what is needed before retiring to bed. In the morning, after filling up again at the complimentary breakfast buffet, you may decide it is time to return to the real world.
Once showered and dressed (in the freshly laundered clothes), the shuttle bus will again whisk you back to the border where you can once again cross and resume life in Hong Kong.
The price? All of this is usually available at less than the price of a poor quality room in a 2 star hotel. At the time of writing, 150RMB was more than enough to cover the charges and tips!
Wikitravel.org, and Dave Towey