Unless you have loads of cash and are planning a five-star luxury vacation- clean, cheap, and posh spas are hard to come by in South America. Most of us who are gals-on-a-budget don’t have the cash to spend the day in a classy overseas spa. However, if you are anything like me, after a few weeks of traveling like a vagabond with dirty socks, dirty hair, and an pungent odor coming from somewhere, you start to crave a day at the spa. So how do you treat yourself to a spa day without breaking your budget in South America?
Local Bath Houses
Keyword: Local. I live in a big city in South America and there are bath houses and spas that cater to tourists and upper-class families and spas that cater to the locals. After living in Cochabamba, Bolivia for over six months I went from paying a six dollar entrance fee for my sauna (yes it is cheap, but surprisingly adds up fast) to paying a one dollar entrance fee at a local sauna and spa. How did I find it? I asked the locals where they went to spa. Yes, my spa is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall and featured the blow up hot tubs types, but for a one dollar price tag, it’s clean enough and does the trick. If you are looking to spa in your South American neighborhood, ask the locals where they go.
Hotel Day Pass
Sometimes five-star hotels will offer a daily guest pass to outsiders to use their amenities. In bigger cities you can find hotels such as The Ritz Carlton and Hilton Worldwide, who offer day packages for around $25 to $30 dollars for unlimited use of their pools, saunas, and access to their lounge and bar. If you are looking to splurge a little then treat yourself to a massage, which tend to be significantly cheaper in general in S.A. In any case, spending the day at a five-star hotel spa is a great way to hit the re-charge button after days of traveling out of a backpack.
I have had some of the best and cheapest massages in South America. When I was traveling along the Coast of Ecuador I got daily beach massages in tiki thatched huts for around $15 dollars for one hour. The masseuses that I have encountered in South America have been incredibly professional and talented. That doesn’t mean I haven’t dodged a few sketchy massage parlors here and there. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Use your gut and discerning intuition before immediately choosing any hole-in-the wall massage parlor.
How do you “Spa” while abroad?