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Whether you are looking for a relaxing experience or to assess your pain, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and other major spots of Cambodia have plenty of massage day retreats options that can help: from traditional Khmer massage styles to Thai Massage and Acupressure, there is a range of types available for all sorts of needs. Discover 7 amazing Cambodian massage styles here:

Rustic Traditional Cupping

Cupping therapy, also known as myofascial decompression, has a long history. It dates back to ancient Chinese, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern cultures. The practice of cupping therapy spread to Cambodia through ancient Chinese influence back to the time of the Angkor era.

The therapy involves using glass cups. The purpose is to create a vacuum with a candlestick to apply pressure and suction to the skin. It is followed by vigorous rubbing with oil pouches to improve circulation. Cupping therapy is a folk practice more developed in Khmer rural areas. But you will still find it in major cities of Cambodia such as Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Though it is particularly spread in the Phnom Penh or Siem Reap suburbs. 

Day in and day out, Khmer people, even from the cities, are still using cupping massage. They aim to cure a cold, the flu, or similar ailments.

Rustic Rubbing Massage

People in Cambodia actively use coin rubbing, also known as “Coh Kjol,” as a form of traditional medication. They treat symptoms of the common cold, such as headache, dizziness, and nausea. This practice actively involves using a coin or another blunt tool. In this vigorous “coin-rub”, a coin and herbal balm are used to enhance blood flow and eliminate negative energy and body heat. Doing so, it creates parallel stripes on the chest, back, neck, and shoulders.This method is believed to be effective in treating flu and cold symptoms. It aims to releases excess “cold wind”, which is considered the cause of illness. The reddish marks on the skin actively symbolize the disappearance of the “cold wind” from the body.

The scientific support for the idea of “cold wind” entering or leaving the body is lacking. Though, many people actively believe in the practice and actively claim its efficacy. The rubbing massage creates a tense experience that may cause skin irritation and red marks for a few days.

People in Khmer rural areas actively practice rubbing, similar to cupping therapy. However, it can still be found in major cities like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, and once again particularly in the suburbs. The Cambodian urban class seeks this type of therapy to restore their health after their immune system weakens.

Thai massage

Thai massage, contrary to popular belief, did not originate from Thailand but rather from India. It is based on the principles of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. If not Khmer, it is still among the Cambodian massage styles mostly practiced.

The practitioner actively utilizes stretching, pulling, and rocking techniques on a fully-clothed person lying a mat. These techniques work to improve energy flow, relieve tension, promote relaxation, and enhance flexibility and circulation. The techniques can be so intense that it reminds you of yoga. Not that surprising as Thai massage, like yoga, have India’s origins. But unlike yoga, here you don’t have to make the effort: the practitioner does the job for you! (we love yoga but it is also good to unwind and give yourself a treat ;))

Thai massage is a wellness practice that has many health benefits including reducing headache intensity, back pain, joint stiffness and pain, increasing flexibility and range of motion, cooling the mind, lowering anxiety, and reviving energy. The techniques used in Thai massage include hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms, and sometimes feet to relieve tension in the muscles and improve energy flow along the body’s lines of energy. The massage involves movement and participation rather than lying down. You will wear your own clothes or the practitioner may have you change into provided garments. This practice doesn’t require to use oil. Thai massage lasts between one and two hours.

Widely spread in Thailand, it is also very popular in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and other major urban centers of Cambodia. 

Anma and Shiatsu Massage by Blinds

Shiatsu is a traditional Japanese massage technique originating from the 6th century.
Blind individuals practiced the Anma technique, which means “calmness through touch” in Chinese, and it evolved into its current form.. Anma, which involves kneading, rubbing, tapping, and shaking, originated from Tui Na techniques in China and became popular in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and then in other provinces through medical schools for the blind. 

Shiatsu involves applying pressure to specific points on the body with the use of thumbs, fingers, palms, or elbows. There are 365 points on each side of the body that can be located through small indentations on the skin. The masseur balances themselves by placing their knees on the floor while maintaining an upright posture and using their hips for movement.

Here also, some bending movements might be similar to yoga and, once again, you just have to relax… The masseur is doing all the efforts for you…

Shiatsu aims to bring balance and vitality to the whole body, while also treating various physical conditions such as digestive, musculoskeletal, and nervous system issues. It calms the mind by acting on the parasympathetic system and demonstrates its ability to relieve muscle tension and pain. By applying pressure, Shiatsu blocks pain signals from reaching the brain and replaces them with other signals.


Foot Reflexology Massage

Foot reflexology is very popular everywhere in Asia, from China to Thailand. It had already spread in Cambodia during the time of the Angkor era. To that day, the Khmer people are skillful practitioners. This technique involves pressing the soles of the feet over with great precision to target energy pathways and muscle fiber knots found throughout the feet. The masseuse or masseur can use their hands, forearms, knuckles, elbows, or feet to apply pressure along specific points on the feet as they massage away tension and loosen any blockages that could be hindering your circulation. 

In Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, there are many reflexology therapy locations that are easily recognizable by the display of a map of the foot’s meridian points outside the storefront.

Cambodian Deep-Tissue Massage

Deep-tissue massage (“Chap Sohsai” in Khmer) also known as Khmer massage is among the Cambodian massage styles that offer the most stimulating experience. It helps to speed up the healing process, removing lactic acid and toxins from muscle tissue and promoting blood and energy flow. This type of care implies the use of medicinal herbal oil and involves long strokes along with kneading, pressure, and rolling movements focusing on particular areas of your body that need attention. This technique can be especially helpful for those suffering from chronic pain, imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, postural problems, or stress-related issues.

Traditional Khmer Spa Treatment

To finish that tour of 7 massage styles practiced in Cambodia, let’s mention Traditional Khmer spas: These spas are day retreats centers that typically include practicing massage and using both oils and herbal balms. The therapist will apply pressure along specific points to release tension and clear blockages in the body’s energy pathways you might experience. This type of wellness health care actively reduces stress, promotes relaxation, and enhances the potential for improved circulation throughout the body. The therapist may also use Ayurvedic herbs, scents, and oils as part of their therapeutic practice. The final element of this traditional Cambodian spa experience is being wrapped up in a hammam tent. You absorb some medicinal herbs while breathing and sweating, allowing your lungs and skin to get beneficial substances more deeply.

In addition, the massage adapts to suit the needs and preferences of each individual. For example, some will prefer a lighter touch while others will prefer a deeper massage. The therapist may also incorporate stretching and acupressure techniques to further release tension and promote relaxation. Herbal balms and oils provide not only physical benefits but also benefits for the mind. The pleasant scent they emit triggers a deep feeling of calm and plenitude. The hammam tent wrapping is a unique and integral part of the Khmer spa experience. It allows a profund rejuvenating relaxation and the release of toxins from the body. The combination of massage, aromatherapy, and hammam tent wrapping creates a holistic spa experience that promotes overall wellness and relaxation. The whole spa experience lasts generally about 1,5 hours. A must-try if you are visiting the country of famous Angkor Wat. If you are in the city, you can visit ouor spa. For more information, read Discover Khmer Spa Therapy In Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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About the Author: Sra Thnam


Enriched by her experiences in holistic traditional healing and caring, Kim is inspired by spreading the Secular Khmer Wisdom. She is gratefully convinced that Khmer Healing Culture Tradition is tremendously efficient either as a healing treatment than as prevention in a cure.

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