A spa day can do wonders for your body and mind, helping you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

But you’re probably thinking of deep tissue massages and foot reflexology. What if you wanted to try something adventurous? You could let snakes slither down your back for some adrenaline-tinged relaxation, or if you’re a foodie, bathe in noodles for a change. Here’s a list of some unorthodox venues that offer unconventional — and in some cases, downright bizarre — spa treatments.

(Main image credit:cottonbro/Pexels)

1
Ramen bath

Love ramen? Well, if eating it is not enough, you can also enjoy bathing in it. Though edible noodles aren’t used due to health regulations, the bathtubs are filled with pork broth, so you can at least enjoy the delicious aroma. Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone, Japan, offers these baths. It claims that the collagen from the broth cleanses the skin and improves the metabolism. The spa is also famous for its wine, chocolate and sake baths.

2
Snake massage

Imagine you’re lying on a massage bed and suddenly you feel something slither across your back. No, it’s not the gentle hands of your masseuse, it’s a snake. This one is not for the faint-hearted. Even though they are non-venomous, the adrenaline triggered by the fear of these snakes crawling over your body is said to boost metabolism. The reptiles are fed before each session as well as cleaned and bathed.

The Bali Heritage Reflexology and Spa in Jakarta, Indonesia, uses pythons for this unconventional therapy. Another spa based in Cairo, Egypt, uses a combination of pythons or around 28 types of non-venomous snakes during a session. In a Reuters video that went viral in December 2020, a client testifies that even though he was initially scared, it soon gave way to relaxation and boosted his confidence too. This thrilling treatment is also available in other countries such as the Philippines, Brazil, Russia, Israel and the US.

3
Cactus massage

A massage with a cactus probably sounds like a painful version of acupuncture, but it’s not as prickly as it seems. For this massage, heated nopal cactus paddles are used with the gooey side down on the skin after removing the needles. Also known as a “Hakali” massage, it is best for detoxifying, soothing and healing sunburns. The Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico, is famous for this nourishing treatment that revitalises your skin.

4
Hay Bath

This unique spa procedure allows guests to be covered in fresh, warm and damp hay for 15 to 20 minutes, followed by lounging on a waterbed for 30 minutes. A hay bath — considered to be a tradition for over 100 years — is said to have a detoxifying effect on the body, strengthening the immune system and improving metabolism. Hotel Heubad in Völs am Schlern, Italy, offers this treatment and utilises hay from the unfertilised Alpine meadows. Although it is temporarily closed, you can bookmark it for a future adventure.

5
Cold sauna therapy

Cold treatments have been used for centuries to alleviate pain. But have you ever experienced a temperature of minus 120 degrees Celsius? Japanese doctor Toshima Yamauchi developed such a treatment in the late 1970s to treat people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

In the spa version, people enter a cryogenic chamber with extremely cold temperatures for a period of one to three minutes. Proper clothing is required before entering the chamber — gloves, facemask, socks, shoes and headbands to cover the ears. The shock from the low temperature is said to remove toxins, release pain and reduce inflammation. It is also used for people who suffer from sleep disorders, stress and certain skin ailments such as psoriasis. Hotel Haikko Manor and Spa in Finland offers this therapy which is supervised by trained staff. It is also available in Canada and the US, though not commonly.

6
Venik massage

This traditional Russian treatment involves getting smacked on your back with bundles of oak or birch tree leaves. This massage is said to improve blood circulation, premature ageing of the skin and metabolism. All you have to do is go to a typical Russian bath house, called “banya”, which is warmed up like a sauna. The process involves a masseuse gently and rhythmically stroking your oiled body with leaf bunches that have been soaked in warm water. Once the massage is over, you’ll be asked to jump into a pool of cold water. In England, this therapy can be experienced at Banya No.1, London’s first banya that opened its doors in 2013.

7
Halotherapy

Halotherapy or salt therapy helps with respiratory diseases such as asthma, as well as sinus problems and digestive issues. This treatment is available in manmade salt caves, where all you have to do is sit back on a comfortable chair, listen to some calming music, maybe read a book and just breathe in the salt in the air. Selenium, which is found in salt, also helps slow down the process of skin ageing. Poland is one of the most famous destinations for this therapy, but it is also available in Australia and the US.