Aside from running, I always try to have cheap massage in places where I travel. I’ve had a massage in Jakarta and Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Siem Reap (Cambodia), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia), and countless other domestic and international destinations.I never go a month without having a massage at least once.
During my 70-day solo backpacking trip in Europe, however, I never had a massage. Not once! I couldn’t afford it! Here in the Philippines, I could have a good Swedish massage for PhP99 (1.75 euros or US$2.25 promo price) and Thai massage for PhP250 (US$5 or 4 euros). Everywhere in Europe, it cost a minimum of 50 euros!
That’s why when I got back to the Philippines in April, I had my fill of cheap massage sessions left and right. I have two favorite massage places in Quezon City: Nuat Thai and Heaven & Earth. (Note that these are CLEAN massage parlors. For those who are after another kind of massage, go elsewhere.)
I started appreciating the value of a good massage in 2003, and I’ve always chosen a combination of Swedish and Shiatsu for their therapeutic effect on my highly-stressed out body.
I was very happy then when Heaven & Earth Spa (which offers these) opened in Cubao in 2005. Very centrally located in Araneta Center (facing Eurotel), I could always rely on dropping by there after a hard day out in the city and getting the usual P199 massage.
Unfortunately, they’re getting popular nowadays, so just dropping by is no longer an option. They only have a few beds; three in the first floor and around three in the second floor. It would be best if you call in advance to make a reservation: (63 2) 913-4679.
Why I like Heaven & Earth Spa:
- They still offer the cheapest, but good, massage in the area. Regular full body Swedish massage costs P199.
- If you go during the dead hours (10am to 1pm), a one-hour massage costs only P170.
- If you’re the first customer (did this once!), it’s only P99, and service remains the same.
- All their therapists are experienced, and I never had a bad massage experience there.
- Location-wise, it’s perfect for me. I could go there and have a massage before I go home to Montalban.
What I don’t like about it:
- If you go there after work or in the evenings, getting a spot is a matter of luck.
- They don’t give out a loyalty card except to those who go there once a week. Unfortunately, I’m still not that rich to afford a massage that often, so I don’t get the card.
Nuat Thai is slightly more expensive than Heaven & Earth, but I always go there whenever I have the chance. They started in Cebu and has only been in Manila for a couple of years, but they’re already gaining some following. I love Thai massages; all those stretching moves are good for my body, especially my back. I had my first Thai massage in Cebu, and I loved it so much that whenever I’m traveling, I always ask around if there’s a Nuat Thai branch.
When I went to Thailand, I looked forward to having authentic Thai massages, thinking that if Nuat Thai was good, the real one must be excellent!
Unfortunately, the ones I had in Sangkhlaburi and Pattaya were way inferior to the massages I have had in Nuat Thai. The massage parlors in Thailand were also noisy! The therapists would always talk to each other (I would hear the words Philippines and Filipinos every now and then.), chatting the whole time you’re having the massage. It’s really far from the relaxation I always get in the Philippines.
The Nuat Thai branch I always go to is along Matalino St. in Quezon City, near the Heart Center of the Philippines. Its cheap massage costs only P250 for one hour. If you want oil on your back (an option I always get), just add P50.
Why I like Nuat Thai:
- They’re the best in their price range when it comes to Thai massages.
- Very relaxing atmosphere, with darkened cubicles and soft instrumental music.
- They give out a loyalty card and it doesn’t expire in one year!
What I don’t like about it:
- You can’t request your therapist. For all the years I’ve been going there, it was fine because I never had a bad massage. The last time I went this week, though, the woman who attended to me seemed new. Her strokes were uneven and she didn’t know how to pop my back (first time it happened to me). Next time I go, I will try to request for a good one.
- Location-wise, it’s no longer convenient for me since I don’t live in Quezon City anymore. However, it’s not much of an effort to go there from Cubao.
- It’s not allowed to take a picture inside. #fail
Other recommended Nuat Thai branches that I had tried:
- Nuat Thai Timog, Quezon City
- Nuat Thai Katipunan, Quezon City
- Nuat Thai Concepcion, Marikina City
- Nuat Thai Limketkai Mall, Cagayan de Oro City
- Nuat Thai near IT Park, Cebu City
- Nuat Thai Sta. Maria crossing, Zamboanga City
How about you? Have you tried having a massage? Where’s your favorite?
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Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!