Weirdest spa treatments in the world

From bird poo facials to snakes being roped in as masseuses, here’s our round up of some unusual services.  

Fire treatments or Huǒ Liáo
This particular spa treatment involves playing with fire, literally. Therapists place a towel soaked in alcohol and a special elixir on an area of the body, including face, arms, legs, stomach, and back, and then light it on fire. The cloth is on fire anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. The fire is then smothered with another cloth. The treatment, which is popular in Japan and China, is said to have a host of benefits—everything from stimulating the skin to getting rid of wrinkles to helping with indigestion and joint pain.
Photograph: micchel_mck / Instagram

Snake massage
This treatment replaces a therapist’s soothing hands with something a little unconventional—snakes. During the massage session, an armful of snakes are placed on the customer’s body and their movements are supposed to have a relaxing effect on the person. Usually a combination of big and small snakes is used. The big snakes are said to give a deep massage, alleviating muscle pain, while the smaller ones provide a light touch. Proponents say that the snakes’ movements coupled with the adrenaline rush from the fear has a positive effect on the metabolism. This massage is popular in South Asian countries and has made its way to western shores as well.
Photograph: schlangenverehrer / Instagram

Hay bath
Hay bathing is a tradition that goes back over a hundred years in the Italian Alps. A warm hay bath is said to be great for soothing aches and pains, stimulating the metabolism, and detoxing the body. The hay used for the bath is sourced from a particular area in the region and customers settle into the moist, fermenting hay for around 20 minutes for a refreshing session. They then move to a couch or water bed where they rest for 30 minutes.
Photograph: bergresortseefeld / Instagram

Venik massage
This is a traditional Russian massage that can get quite intense. The treatment takes places in a sauna and involves being covered in olive oil and then being rhythmically hit with oak leaves and branches. The branches and leaves are softened in warm water so as to not be too harsh. Once the treatment is done you have to jump into a pool of freezing cold water. The experience in the sauna is said to rejuvenate the body, boost circulation, and refresh the skin.
Photograph: travelbykate/ Instagram

Snail facial
Many skincare products today contain some form of snail slime thanks to the fact that it is packed with beauty-boosting antioxidants, proteins, and hyaluronic acid. It’s also a great source of elastin and glycolic acid. So some spas have decided to simplify things and let live snails crawl around on their customer’s body or face, leaving behind a trail of mucus, so that they can get the benefits directly from the source.
Photograph: eurotouch_esthetics / Instagram

Bird poo facial
For years Japanese geishas and kabuki dancers have used Nightingale droppings to repair skin damage and prevent blemishes. It’s now become an important part of the Geisha facial, which uses Nightingale droppings that have been treated so as to kill bacteria and then ground into a fine powder. The powder is mixed with water to form a paste, which is then applied to the skin. It’s claimed the paste exfoliates and brightens the skin, evening out texture and tone.
Photograph: wal_172619/

Crude oil bath
Crude oil is an important part of Azerbaijan’s economy, so much so that a luxury spa there offers guest a crude oil bath to help cure joint, neck, and other pains. Guests immerse themselves in a bathtub full of crude oil that’s a little warm, around body temperature. This is only done for up to 10 minutes, as doing so for longer would be bad for the heart. This is followed by a 40-minute cleansing treatment, where the crude oil is scraped off the body using special rollers that also massage.
Photograph: to_the_worlds_end / Instagram