Bali has so many affordable beauty salons, spas and massage parlours to choose from that I can keep up a regime of beauty treatments that I could never justify back home. Western branded skincare products like Garnier and Ponds are about a third cheaper here and there’s many beautiful locally-made lotions and potions you can try too. Top quality dentistry and cosmetic procedures are also available on the island.
So, with so many options, how do you choose where to go? Firstly, the basics, you do get what you pay for; go super cheap and you’re likely to get untrained, haphazard service, go expensive and you’re going to get the full luxury spa treatment, paying just under what you would pay at home. I prefer the middle ground, heading for spas that are both local and professional.
Here in Sanur, I have my favourites that fit my affordable and professional criteria. I use different businesses for different services, as I’ve found generally each has a different area of expertise.
Facials are great. After a facial my skin is glowing and everything ‘lifts’. My husband, Dave, agrees that after a facial I look a decade younger than my 51 years although sadly this only lasts a few hours before gravity kicks in! Ayu Spa Beauty Salon, located by Luhtu’s Coffee shop on Sanur Beach, is my go-to for facials. For $8.50 I get an hour and a quarter of pampering; face and hands massaged, good quality local skin products, steam treatment properly administered (not all spas have a steam machine so check first), eyebrows tidied, blackheads removed and a divine mask! I also always get my hair cut at Ayu for just $5.50.
Massages are an integral part of the Bali holiday experience and they’re available everywhere. I personally don’t take up the many offers of “massage, massage” on the beach as I don’t fancy sand with my massage oil, don’t like the beds and am dubious about the level of training these masseuses have undergone. However, many people I know love beach massages and they are super cheap.
Certainly, avoid massage parlours with any ‘X’ in their signage as this is a code to indicate that customers get more than just massage if you get my meaning.
I like very strong massages so for this reason I don’t do massages in beauty salons or spas as the ladies there give more relaxing massages. Rather I head for a massage specialist spa, of which there are many, where I am happy to pay a dollar or two more than at a beauty spa. Good Massage has a great reputation and even has a specialist called Michael who all the local expat community go to if they have back or neck problems. He is a genius and he also has his own pricelist.
I now go to Aqua Spa, the masseuses there trained at Good Massage, but the prices are cheaper, the massages excellent. Like all massage places you can choose from Balinese, Thai or Shiatsu styles. At Aqua, I request the massage table with the face hole and pay just $8.50 for an awesome hour of Balinese style massage.
I must mention cream baths; a service when conditioning product is massaged into the hair and scalp making your locks shiny and soft. Despite the fact that I have super short hair I get cream baths because they should include an hour of concentrated massaging of the head, neck, upper back and arms–heaven for $8.50 at Ayu Spa.
As for waxing, manicures and pedicures, these services are available everywhere but aren’t really my thing. I strongly advise to not just check the pricelist, but more importantly take a look at the hygiene of a place before you walk in or book for any of these services. Gel nails are now available widely and from what I’ve seen the products and technology are just the same as at home, but prices are equal to half price or less.
I have also had dental work done in Sanur. I had two teeth rebuilt with root canal work for $300 all inclusive. Many people come to Bali specifically to have dental work done as the dentists are Western trained and excellent. There are large dental practises that specialise in Western visitors, however I found a local Sanur dentist, Diana Wardhana, to be just as professional and much cheaper than the big players in Kuta. If you are planning a holiday around dental work, shop around online and book a schedule of appointments before you get on the island as these places are busy and book out in advance.
Appearance and plastic surgery is very popular in Bali. Again, you’ll find Western training and standards for a fraction of the price back home. My small experience of this world was a little confusing. A friend had an extraordinarily successful eye, and half facelift at an anti-ageing centre in Kuta for just $4,500. At the same place I paid $200 for injections to kill off spider veins in my legs and decrease the ‘smoker’s creases’ around my lips…absolutely no result, I couldn’t see any change. Neither could the doctor, so she gave me a top up of another product for just $15 and still nothing. Probably a blessing in disguise: my curiosity about appearance medicine has been cured!
Whether you’re living or holidaying in Bali, be sure to make the most of the pampering available. I certainly am, because comparing Bali to the other countries I have lived in, Bali has it just right both with price and quality. It’s a pampering paradise.