Tibetan Tranquillity

Moc Huong Spa Gallery’s new location in Thao Dien is especially designed for those who need a relaxing escape for a couple of hours

A trip to Thao Dien is often a relaxing experience of itself. Nestled in former wetland, the spacious expat enclave often feels a world away from the crowded hustle and bustle of District 1 or neighbouring Binh Thanh; it’s wide tree lined roads contrasting sharply with the packed steamy hems of the latter locales.

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Heading to this peaceful riverside district for a spa day, then, feels all the more indulgent. Indeed, this is exactly why the owners of Ho Chi Minh City’s premier spa brand Moc Huong chose to locate their latest venue here, with their inaugural venue in the Ben Nghe area, District 1, having become a little too cramped for comfort.

Manager of the new branch, Tam, explains: “With Moc Huong Spa Gallery, we hope to create an oasis that people can come and escape to, enjoying a few hours relaxing in peaceful, spacious surroundings. Our District 1 branch caters more to those needing a quick massage, or tourists, which has its place, but here we wanted to create something a little more special for people that live in the city.”

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Indeed, arriving at Moc Huong Spa Gallery is enough to set even the most anxious person at ease, its gracious French colonial inspired exterior exuding an easy, oriental elegance. Painted a Mediterranean terracotta hue, the expansive, newly renovated building overlooks a courtyard featuring a picturesque water feature, the slow trickle of which is audible from inside the therapy rooms that flank it.

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Designed to accommodate families and groups, the rooms are dedicated either to foot massage or Thai massage. As one might expect, both are immaculate and sumptuously appointed, the former featuring plush reclining chairs while the latter houses six soft beds from which clients are pummelled and pulled back into shape as only the Thai’s know how.

On my solo visit, however, I headed inside the main house where I was to enjoy the spa’s latest treatment: The Moc Huong Healing Bowl Massage. Incorporating both Tibetan singing bowl therapy and deep tissue massage, the treatment is an all-round, indulgent experience designed to synchronize body and mind that is being offered exclusively at the new Thao Dien branch (the second in the area).

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“This is a really special treatment for us. Only two of our 70 therapists are able to do it as it takes many years to learn how to use the bowls properly. It is designed to be a mix of meditation and massage, with the bowls helping to put people into a deep meditative state before their treatment. It is very good for treating stress and anxiety,” Tam assures me.

For my treatment I was assigned to Manh, otherwise known as ‘number five’, with Moc Huong operating a number system for all of their masseuses. This, Tam explains, helps their foreign clients to rebook the skilled therapists that have administered their treatments.

After changing in to the spa’s signature brown waffle robe, I was led to my therapy room, where Manh first bathed my dusty Saigon street feet before rubbing them with lemon-grass infused rice bran oil. This, I later found out, is used throughout the spa, with all ingredients sourced to ensure the highest and purest quality.

The treatment began with the singing bowls: large bronze cylinder’s that emit a humming, hypnotic drone that was originally intended to aid monks in
their meditations—and indeed still do. For the first 15 minutes of my massage Manh expertly played these around my body, inducing a near coma as I drifted peacefully along with the vibrations.

As Tam had promised, this prepared me perfectly for the treatment that followed, which combined elements of traditional Vietnamese massage with a predominately Swedish deep tissue approach. The emphasis was certainly on relaxation, with Manh’s expert hand again encouraging me toward sleep. Indeed, were it not for the whir of the air conditioning unit, I may have quite peacefully napped.

Emerging, suitably chilled, I re-joined Tam in the plush reception area. Over a cup of warming ginger tea we discussed my treatment, with the manageress producing a singing bowl to demonstrate how the sounds are created. Taking a bowl myself, I soon discovered why only two of the spa’s therapists are able to offer the treatment; it certainly takes a practiced hand.

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As Tam explains, ensuring that therapists are fully qualified and experienced is an important hallmark of Moc Huong, and one she takes very seriously:

“I’ve been in the spa industry for over ten years now. I used to be a massage therapist myself and so I understand how a treatment should be. I like to keep a close eye on everything to make sure customers get the right experience. For many people, an hour or two is a lot to take out of a busy day, so this really should be the best way to spend that time,” she says.

Indeed, those seeking a little relaxing indulgence would arguably be hard pressed to find a better place to spend those hours than Moc Huong Spa Gallery.

Moc Huong Spa Gallery is located on 26 Ngo Quang Huy, D2. The Healing Bowl Massage is priced at VND400,000 for 60 minutes up to VND650,000 for 120 minutes.

Images by Vy Lam

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