While in Singapore to witness the first ever Youth Olympic Games, I kept hearing about people getting "fish pedicures." Because travel writers hate being the last in the know, I immediately began doing research. Apparently a "Fish Spa" is not a new idea and dates back to the early 1900s. One of the older and more famous ones, Kangal Spa, can be found in Sivas, Turkey. Initially used to treat psoriasis and other skin diseases, the concept has quickly become a tourist attraction the world around. The first one in the United States opened in 2008 in Alexandria, Virginia.
Visiting a fish spa is like going to an aquarium where you're not only allowed but encouraged to get up-close and personal with the marine life. You sit over the fish tank with your feet dangling in the water below and the Garra Ruffa fish (a.k.a. "doctor fish," which are mainly found in Eastern European countries) will nibble away at your dead skin. The extremely adventurous can choose to submerge their entire body in the tank. The experience is completely painless but not for the ticklish. The benefits include blood circulation, stress relief, and tension, and it helps relieve skin diseases.
In Singapore you can visit a spa chain called KENKO, where their newest location is billed as the world's first Fish Spa Internet Café. You can surf the web while the fish do their thing. Talk about multi-tasking! Another KENKO is found within the same complex as the iconic Singapore Flyer, one of Asia's biggest tourist attractions. At 541-feet tall the Flyer is an ultra-modern Ferris Wheel that gives stunning views over the city, including an up-close look at the newly opened billion-dollar Marina Bay Sands hotel (the world's most expensive hotel with the world's largest outdoor pool).
Lisa Costantini is a writer/editor currently traveling the world with her husband working on a project about sport and culture. More information can be found on their website at www.whysportmatters.com. Lisa will be blogging from the road for us as she and her husband travel through Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe over the next several months.
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