Get Pampered at Shanghai's Xiao Nan Guo Spa

Get a Massage, Have Dinner, and Play Mahjong

Bowl of colorful flowers in spa
Getty Images/Jade

Spas, massage, Chinese traditional medicine, wellness; they all are at your fingertips in Shanghai. You can spend the equivalent of a couple of U.S. dollars on a 30-minute foot massage or go all out at a fancy five-star hotel and shell out a couple of hundred. And there's much in between. You absolutely should pamper yourself while in town, but it's up to you how much you spend.

If you want a good middle-of-the-line, not overly inexpensive but with real value for money, a half-day at Xiao Nan Guo is a good place to start. You can go alone or with friends; it's a social thing in China.

Xiao Nan Guo Spa at a Glance

Pros:

  • Pick and choose menu offers a dizzying array of treatment choices
  • Open 15 hours a day so you can go when you want and spend a long time; no reservations needed
  • Reasonably priced
  • You get to wear a tropical-print muumuu to lounge around in

Cons:

  • You have to wear a muumuu to lounge around in (guys get tropical-print shorts & shirt)
  • No smoking signs are ignored in main lounge area

All About Xiao Nan Guo Spa

Xiao Nan Guo Spa is a pretty well-kept secret. It's more famous for its restaurants in Shanghai serving traditional, local food. One of its outlets in Shanghai also has the large spa associated with it. Take one step inside the cavernous spa facility and you might never leave. 

The facility not only has a spa and restaurant, it also is a full-range entertainment venue with billiard rooms, mahjong rooms, a kids' play area, arcade, massage lounge, beauty salon and barbershop, and VIP private rooms. It is the perfect place for a group of gals, a family outing, company party or a tired couple just in from a long flight

Spa Visit

Make sure you understand the proper etiquette when visiting the spa. When you walk in, check your shoes at the door. Don your rubber sandals and head to the spa. Remove every stitch of clothing (no room for shyness here) and head into the shower/spa area. Have a bath first and then soak in a rose water or milk bath or head outside to the Japanese-style rotenburo hot spring. There's also a steam room and sauna to enjoy before you book into a scrub. Get prepared to lose an inch of flesh here; the women use plastic scrubbing mitts to exfoliate every inch of your body.

Ask for a cucumber mask and finish off with a milk and honey rub. Shower off and head back into the change room.

Massage and Lunch

After putting on the requisite muumuu, head up to the second-floor lounge and plunk yourself down in a recliner. Order up any of the multiple massages; a terrific combo is an hour-long foot massage accompanied by a hot ginger wrap. Then order up some dim sum and sit back and relax. There's no time limit, so you can have a nap and stay till dinner.