What is a Balinese Massage? A Mix of Technique and Harmony

balinese massage - what is it and what to expect in Bali

If you ever traveled to Bali (or maybe if you’re there just yet for your first time!), it’s impossible you haven’t noticed around the streets the many signs offering Spa and Balinese Massage: there are so many of them it’s impossible to miss them!

If you’re not familiar with massages, you’ll probably be wondering what is a Balinese massage, how is that different from other massage techniques and whether the experience would be worth trying!

On our journey through Bali, we had the chance to try it once, and in this article, I’ll tell you what exactly a Balinese massage is, what are the millennial history and techniques behind it, how this kind of massage revolves around all senses and why, if you’re looking for relaxation, you cannot miss such an experience too!

Let’s dive right in! 😀



1) What is a Balinese Massage?

2) History of Balinese Massage

3) The Technique of a Balinese Massage

4) Role of the Frangipani Flower

5) The Role of Scents

6) How much it costs a Balinese Massage in Bali?

7) What to Wear?

8) Conclusion: Beyond the Massage!




1. What is a Balinese Massage?

what is a balinese massage

A Balinese massage, as the name suggests, is a traditional healing technique original of Bali island (Indonesia), which blends medical techniques from several nearby Asian countries (such as India, Philippines, and China to name a few).

Professional practitioners use a combination of gentle stretches, acupressure, rolling, stroking, and aromatherapy to relax, ease muscle tension, improve blood circulation and provide an overall sense of well-being to the client’s entire body.

And this is essentially the particularity of a Balinese Massage: it is a full-body holistic treatment that unites a manual technique with aromas, colors and smells to create a complete sensory experience that goes beyond the mere massage!

2. The History of Balinese Massages,

originates thousands of Years Ago!

balinese massage in bali 2 history

There is no exact date for when the Balinese Massage technique was born, but locals remember that massages in Bali have been a tradition since grandparents can remember!

According to historians, the current holistic philosophy of the Balinese Massages is the result of a mixing of cultures: merchant ships used to come and go to the Island of Gods (Bali) and Indonesia to trade spices and popularized the various scents, not all original from the Bali island too, which are today used to complement the ritual of massages.

Then, the Hindus from India influenced the local massage techniques with their healing massage techniques and integrated herbal knowledge into the mix, while the Chinese influence brought to Bali the concept of acupressure.

As Hinduism and Buddhism are thought to have spread to the island of Bali between 600-800 AD, and their influence is still so relevant and visible in both modern religion and culture, historians think that the initial messages techniques from South-East Asia came around that same time.

Of course, with the passing of time and the increase of touristic demand for massages, home service massage and Spas in Bali, the techniques twisted and evolved several times since then, creating exactly that unique technique that today we call “Balinese Massage”.

3. The Technique:

Balinese Massages are a Sensorial Experience! 


technique of a balinese massage

Let’s take the elephant out of the room: there is NO specific flow during a Balinese Massage and there is NO single Balinese Massage.

A Balinese Massage is not a routine exercise and it’s not the same for everyone.

Taking aside the certain fact that every masseuse has its own slightly different technique, the philosophy behind the Balinese massage is to follow the response of the client’s body to maximize his/her mental wellbeing while providing a relaxing experience.

Locals name the Balinese massage according to where they learned it or the philosophy the masseuse follows: Sasak massage, Lombok massage, Urat Massage, Balinese Boreh, and Javanese Lulur Ritual… there are many variations, but they essentially all follow the same philosophy and procedure.

During any Balinese massage indeed, the masseuse usually starts by following the “Qi” lines of the body, which according to traditional Chinese medicine, are the lines through which energy flows through our bodies.

A massage through these lines, is believed to help restore the balance of energy within the body.

The spreading of energy through the body is helped with gentle stretches, kneading, skin rolling, stroking, acupressure, and reflexology.

The massage covers the whole body: back, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, ankles, feet, neck, face, and scalp! From my experience, I can say that at times it might be ticklish, but so relaxing too! 😀 

An average Balinese massage normally lasts at least 50 minutes (it’s a full body massage after all!), but can protract for 60 or 90 minutes at times 🙂

In addition to physical therapy, the experience of a Balinese massage aims to be a complete sensorial experience.

That is why spiritual music is usually played in the background, while aromatherapy and natural oils are used to induce different moods and relieve stress and anxiety (they are used both on the skin and absorbed through inhalation).

Last but not least, the place where the massages take place, the balanced floral decorations, and the views are all essential factors to deliver a true 360° Balinese massage.

In the next paragraphs, we will see all the aspects one by one that make a Balinese massage so special 🙂


4. The Frangipani Flowers are

an ever-present feature of Balinese Massages!

The frangipani flower used for massages in bali

Balinese people love Frangipani flowers and their therapeutic properties.

In the Hindu religion, they’re believed to be natural extracts that bring enlightenment and goodness. 

If you’re going to take a Balinese massage in Bali, you can be sure to see Frangipani flowers as decoration: on the floor, behind the masseur’s ears, on your massage bed, even on you! ;D

The smell of Frangipani flowers is gentle, fresh, natural, like, and tropical.

If I had to describe it, I would say it feels like a mix between roses, pineapple, citrus, banana, and coconut… it’s hard to describe a smell, but it felt just “right” and so “Bali Paradise” 😉

The colors and the scent of Frangipani are used during Balinese massages for relaxing the client both through the vision and the smell.

5. The Massage Journey continues with the Scents!

parfumes and oils used during a balinese massage

As said before, the Balinese massage is a complete sensorial experience and that is achieved also through smells!

If you’re taking a Balinese right in Bali, you can expect the masseuse to use special oils produced only on the Bali island, such as ylang-yland oil, jojoba, sesame oil, coconut oil, or frangipani oil.

Some oils are usually also burned to create a comfortable ambiance. Usually here are used Lemongrass or Cempaka incense.

Foreign spices such as sandalwood, lavender, lemon, and musk are also increasingly common.

From my experience, I truly cannot recall how many different smells we experience, it’s like a Walzer of fragrances dancing together on the rhythm of the background music and the gentle stretches of the masseuse: I would call it an unexpectedly relaxing journey! ;D

6. Massages in Bali

are Extremely Cheap! 

breathe in the view during the massages

Forget the “western” prices: in Bali, massages are generally cheap and affordable by most!

During our stay in Bali, we tried both an exclusive Spa in Ubud and enjoyed a cheap massage in Seminyak, paying as few as 110-150k IDR each (about 6-9 euros/person for one hour!!!).

It seemed too good to be true, but it was true and it was damn good too!

Of course, depending on the place you’ll visit, and the extra services you’ll want to book, you might spend much more than that (the sky is the limit, as everywhere!). Just know, that convenient options are available all over the island 🙂

On our trip, we found the cost of living in Bali much lower compared to where we come from (Italy) and prices are of course tailored to the local cost of living. If you’re interested in knowing more about the Cost of Living in Bali, check out Numbeo for more info.

7. What to Wear for a Balinese Massage?

massaggio balinese cosa indossare

The question that probably will come to your mind just before entering for the massage:

What should you wear for a Balinese massage?

Well, that’s pretty simple… you don’t need anything! ;D

As the massage is full-body, you won’t need any towel on you during the massage.

The Spas in Bali will always provide you with simple (and often too-small and semi-transparent) disposable underwear.

Just put it on, forget about it, and enjoy 🙂

8. Conclusion

tea for balinese massage

And here we come at the end of this article!

In this article, we’ve seen the various aspects that make Balinese massages so special and unique.

All in all, a well-performed Balinese Massage is a beneficial experience for both physical and mental health, and if you’re traveling to Bali this is an experience that I would suggest you try 🙂

Before going, I’d like to ask you what do you think about the article. Was it useful to you? Did you enjoy the read? Do you know more fun facts about Balinese massage that we could use to integrate the article for future readers?

Let us know in the comments below! 😀

Hereafter I will leave you also a few more articles we wrote about Bali, that you might be also interested to check out: 

1) The Top 10 Most Beautiful Places You Need to Visit in Bali

2) Bali: Hotspots Map and How to Move Around

3) Bali: How Much it Costs and How to Plan Your Budget

4) Bali: What to Pack for Your Trip

5) Bali: 5 Life-Saving Tips

6) Our Romantic Experience in a Balinese Luxury Villa

7) Drift Diving in Lembongan – A Memorable Experience

8) From Desk to Paradise: Why Digital Nomads Love Bali so Much?

Thanks a lot for reading,

and see you in the next article 🙂


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