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. 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?