Fish massage, also known as fish spa treatment that has grown in popularity over recent years, has become one of the must-try activities among visitors to Viet Hai, an island commune off Cat Hai District in Hai Phong City, northern Vietnam as the service offers them a fun and rewarding experience.
Visitors can reach Viet Hai Ecotourism Village in the namesake commune, situated in the center of the Cat Ba National Park, by foot or boat to experience the fish massage service and immerse themselves in nature.
It normally takes around 6-7 hours to walk over 10km through a primeval jungle in the national park to reach the destination.
Visitors can opt for a boat or canoe ride from the Beo waterway station to Lan Ha Bay to arrive in Viet Hai, also a fishing village.
Between October and April, which is an off-peak travel season for domestic holidaymakers, international tourists are often spotted cycling around the village, admiring the beauty of local ancient houses, taking boat rides, catching fish, or trekking up the nearby Hai Quan hill, which is some 700 meters high above sea level.
|Visitors stroll along a street in Viet Hai Commune, Cat Hai District, Hai Phong City, northern Vietnam. Photo: T.Thang / Tuoi Tre|
Following these interesting activities, tourists will rest along a cool spring and enjoy a fish massage.
Fish massage entails putting feet in a water tank containing massage fish to get them exfoliated.
Tran Thi Hai, owner of a fish spa business in Viet Hai, said most visitors did not miss out on fish massage during their trips to Viet Hai.
Her family's income improved significantly thanks to this business, Hai said.
Massage fish, scientifically known as Garra Rufa or dubbed 'doctor fish' or 'nibble fish,' are originally from Turkey.
They require special care and thrive in a range between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius.
Hence, fish spa businesses usually assign two employees to take care of the fish all day long, Hai said.
Aside from eating away the dead skin of the feet, massage fish are mostly fed with thin rice paper.
The fish are fed once a day at 11:00 pm so as to work productively. If they are fed too much, they would be fat and idle.
Customers are charged VND20,000 (US$0.84) for a 30-minute fish massage.
|Fish massage offers visitors an interesting and rewarding experience. Photo: T.Thang / Tuoi Tre|
Nguyen Thi Nhat Linh, a 33-year-old native of northern Thai Binh Province, said she was recommended to try a fish massage in the commune by her friends, so her family decided to come there to experience the service.
“Fish massage helps me reduce tiredness. It’s interesting seeing hundreds of fish nibbling my feet,” Linh said.
Hai said that this foot therapy also helps relieve stress, activate the nervous system, and boost blood circulation.
Apart from making the hand and foot skin smoother and softer, fish massage aids in treating sores on fingernails and toenails, especially psoriasis.