I love a great massage and facial treatment as much as the next girl, but Baby’s got bills to pay. So when I travel for a spa getaway, where are some of my favorite affordable destinations? From South America to East Asia and Central America to Oceania, here are my top picks for affordable spa trips.
Nestled high in the Andes around 13,000 feet, Papallacta is blessed with numerous hot springs, beautiful scenery and a great thermal waters resort. Termas de Papallacta has a full spa with great weekly rates, step-out access to hot spring pools and waterfalls from both the rooms and the treatment area, a rustic quiet room with fireplace to await your treatment, and a gourmet restaurant all on site. A one-hour hot stone treatment on a Thursday evening sunk me . . . wait for it . . . thirty bucks. Rooms were comparable to mid-range business hotels here in the States. Ours came with partially-furnished kitchenette so we could do breakfast, snacks and other simple meals on our own, enjoying the wood stove and thermal pools just off the patio.
San Carlos, Costa Rica
While the nearby world-famous Tabacon might be all the rage with the luxury travel crowd, my money’s on Termales del Bosque in San Carlos. A rustic, woodsy retreat with hot spring pools built alongside a cool, fresh water river boasting blue morpho butterflies, this is definitely a quality getaway for a fraction of the cost. With a stone hut positioned atop a thermal pool with essential oil receptacles serving as an aromatherapy room, you can take a eucalyptus steam and step out into the jungle to shower in a stream of cool water spilling out of an empty tree trunk. From there, stroll up the hill to one of the spa huts for a deep tissue treatment or lymphatic draining massage. Afterward, you can hit the thermal pools again for the afternoon, and enjoy a frosty drink from the jungle bar on site.
A massive city with plenty of additional tourist attractions to enjoy, Bangkok is busting with affordable spots to snag a spa treatment. A one-hour Swedish or a thirty-minute foot massage, each are less than $30. Since drinks are a song and a street-side dinner of pad Thai can be scored for a mere 50 cents, the entire destination makes for a serious budget getaway for spa lovers. To extend the Zen experience, check out one of the countless temples in the city or take a river bus ride to enjoy the scenery.
Bali is affordable enough in its own right, and budget massages are easy to find all over the island. But one of the most relaxing places you’ll come across is the wood carver’s village of Ubud. It’s full of great home-décor shopping, temples, fun restaurants and the home of the famed Monkey Forest. Ubud is also home to one of the best massage deals I’ve ever run across, and it’s available at Nur Salon. I was there years ago, and paid roughly $12 for the full three-hour experience. While their current price list isn’t available online, I’ve heard from numerous fellow travelers who’ve returned that it’s still quite affordable, as is the rest of their treatment line.
When it comes to finding an affordable spa getaway, destination choice is a large piece of the puzzle. These four are my favorites for combining fun with affordability.
What are your favorite places to grab an affordable spa getaway with the girls?