Malaysia’s culture is a melting pot of seemingly every other culture in Asia, which means the beauty game (and, FYI, the food) is crazy diverse. The city has huge Chinese and Indian populations, as well as a long history of Islamic Malay traditions — all of which have unique and varied beauty customs. From affordable corner-store massages to some of the most luxurious treatments in the world, there is truly something for everyone.
And the best part? They are all cheap AF.
With that in mind, here are the nine best spa treatments in Malaysia, only one of which requires putting something in your vagina (and no, I’m not talking about a couple’s treatment).
1. Sound Therapy
Available at Spa Village, Kuala Lumpur
This may sound like some weird, new-age treatment that you’d find at Canyon Ranch in Arizona, but it’s actually part of a traditional healing practice. You’re massaged on a vibrating floor with warm stones for the first 50 minutes, then the session ends with a 10 minute “sound bath” that, according to the spa’s website “envelopes the body with the frequencies of a Symphonic Gong, harmonizing the subtle energy and nerve paths, and leaving you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.”
2. Energy Healing
Available At The Geo Spa, Langkawi
The spa at the Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi is the most luxurious place I’ve ever been in my life. All of their treatments use the “ancient energy” of the Langkawi island and are meant to help reset your energy based on elements of water, air, earth, and light. I got the “King and Queen Couple’s Treatment” when I was there over Valentine’s Day, which “bonded my chakra” with my boyfriend’s and was straight-up life changing.
3. Mandi Bunga
Available at Tanamera Spa in Kuala Lumpur
The “Mandi Bunga” ritual is performed by the Chinese, Indian and Malays in Malaysia, and is meant to dispel bad luck. The treatment involves soaking in either kaffir lime, pomelo leaves or flowers from every color of the rainbow, all of which are believed to ward off misfortune. If a person is unwell or going through a hardship in their lives, it’s believed that washing your hands or hair, or soaking in these items (or a combination of them) will help you find better luck.
4. Bertungku Massage
Availabe at Tanemara Spa in Kuala Lumpur
This is the Malay version of a hot stone massage, that uses a heated river stone or hot iron compress to relieve muscles by confining muscles in the body. It’s often used post-pregnancy to cleanse a woman’s womb, but can be used by anyone at any time.
5. Ukup Wangi (Scented Body Steaming)
Available at Spa Village Pangkor Laut
In the imperial days, this ritual was a popular practice among princesses and court ladies getting ready for their wedding nights. Small baggies of warm oil and exotic herbs are rubbed all over the body during the steam, and the heat and moist air help open the pores so the scent will remain on your body for long after the treatment.
6. Tangas Bath
Available at Spa Village Pangkor Laut
This is the Malay version of Vagina steaming and has been used for centuries to help maintain the health of women’s vaginas after childbirth or their periods. It uses natural antiseptics like Daun Sireh (Piper betel) and Black Seed to help relieve and soothe irritations in your lady parts, and is also believed to help strengthen the uterus.
7. Ear Candling
Avaible All Over Kuala Lumpur
If I could start every morning with ear candling, I would. The ancient practice uses heat and oxygen to clear out your ear wax, and despite the whole “flame creeping slowly toward your face” thing, it’s actually safer than using a q-tip. In KL, you can find cheap, fast ear candling pretty much anywhere — there are spas on every block that offer the service (though “spa” is a generous term, given how grimy some of them are). You can read more about my experience and subsequent obsession with ear candling here.
Available At D’Care in Kuala Lumpur
Michael Phelps may have brought it to the mainstream, but cupping therapy has been a popular muscle-relief practice in Asia for centuries. It’s known for its ability to relieve deep-tissue muscle problems by using a heated vacuum to suction pressure and create localized healing. In the US, it costs a lot of money to get the treatment, but at storefront spas in KL Malaysia you can get it for next to nothing.
9. $15 Massages
Available at Chaang in KL (and pretty much everywhere else you look)
If over-the-top luxury treatments aren’t really your thing, KL’s massage scene is not to be missed. You can get a 60-minute massage for under $20. They’re pretty low-frills (as in, you may be in a creepy dark room or surrounded by other people) but worth it because the therapists are strong AF and really know their way around a tense muscle. Go for a foot, back or shoulder massage, and you’ll leave feeling like jelly.
Images: Courtesy of Brands