Massage is something that I totally couldn’t appreciate when I was “young”. It’s soooo ticklish~~ I ended up enduring my giggles until I burst into laugher, influencing the masseuse too. Then, I started Events & Modelling on a full time basis, with long hours on killer heels – especially those 5″ stilettos during tradeshows, runways, etc. ?
Your back becomes so sore, and your feet become so numb until you can’t feel them anymore. FML seriously. 真的会死人 aka really can die. ?
That’s when I started my massage journey wherever I went. I travelled to Malaysia more frequently starting about a year back, and I started trying out various different massage parlours there too.
Google – like what everyone does nowadays to search for the best massage places in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. From blog reviews to TripAdvisor to random websites, I realised the places were more or less the same. It’s just as if someone went and reviewed the place online, then everyone else just followed and reviewed the same few places over and over again. ?
Don’t get me wrong – Some* of the massage parlours reviews are pretty decent. Some were pretty bad but crazily raved making me doubt those people who wrote the post if they ever had a decent massage in their life.
Most of these places that were highly reviewed had 1 thing in common when I personally tried them – the masseuses skills were not consistent?
So after trying out what the Internet has to offer, I started exploring random massage places and also by asking the locals – such as coffeeshop aunties, workshop/carwash uncles, etc.
In this post, I will talk about my favourite massage places that I go to frequently in Johor Bahru, Malaysia that is really good. This meant places that I had patronised at least 3 times or more with consistently good service and more importantly, good massage skills. I had enough of lousy massage making more tired and sore than ever.
… Worse still, bruises the next day (Simi sai lo. Pay to suffer). ?
No.1 Sabye-Sabye (Updated June 2018 – Pricelist & Massage Style)
This is the BEST massage I had in Plaza Sentosa – located in Johor Bahru, Malaysia so far. Whether in terms of skills or prices, it’s really the best. It’s quite different from the common Thai body-massage in Bangkok, since they use this in-house balm on you during the massage.
Unlike oil massage, Sabye’s balm feels minty, warm and far less oily than oil massage. It feels like tiger balm (mixed with some secret ingredients) but stronger and more effective in helping to release pain and tension. It’s so good that I wanted to buy one back myself, but K told me that his mum tried asking them to sell for the longest time ever but the boss refused.
The body massage area is separated by curtains, and it’s simply a mattress on the floor just like the traditional thai body-massage in Bangkok. Nothing fanciful.
Sabye Sabye closes and opens on-time unlike most massage parlours that will be more than willing to serve you even though they’re closing. So if you’re going for a 1-hour body massage, better make sure you reach before 9pm (also subject to the number of available masseuses).
Also, they don’t take tips (say what?!!!). K’s mum tried tipping them a few times but none of them took. ? Gosh! First and only massage parlour that I went to which refuses to take tips! Some (other) massage parlours even make it compulsory to tip their masseuses.
For example; the one upstairs in Plaza Sentosa that open 24-hours even has a tip column at the end of the official receipt where the masseuse will “advise” you on the average tipping rate. I’m more than happy to tip if it’s a decent massage and even more when it’s good. 真是的。不好的话还要我 tip-si，真不甘愿。?
Update June 2018:
With the new expansion, Sabye Sabye now has private massage rooms. Full body massage now inclusive of feet massage. Massage style has improved where they use more of kneading instead of cracking to loosen up your muscle. Equally good results (or maybe even better!) but more relax and enjoyment process.
Now they do sell the balm they use during their massage if you wish to buy back for your own usage. It comes in 2 separate bottles – warm and minty where the masseur mix it depending on your own need and personal preference.
Blk D, Plaza Sentosa (Jalan Sutera), Ground Floor, 80250 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 10 am – 10pm
No. 2 Let’s Relax Spa (Updated June 2018 – Pricelist & Massage Style)
We noticed that a new massage parlour opened right beside Sabye-Sabye sometime during end of last year, but didn’t think much of trying it because of the LED signboard and the cheesy name. They offer the exact same pricing and exact same massage duration that Sabye-Sabye offers.
We later noticed that Sabye-Sabye actually decreased their price in light of this. Their price have been fixed for so long despite countless massage parlours coming and going throughout the years around them.
It got us really curious as to why did Sabye-Sabye decreased their pricing with this particular opening of new massage parlour – Let’s Relax Spa? 🤔
That wasn’t enticing enough for us to try out Let’s Relax Spa.
I mean after-all, Sabye-Sabye never once failed me YET with any of their masseurs. Moreover, Sabye-Sabye’s pricing is now cheaper than Let’s Relax Spa’s making me a little happier to stick with Sabye-Sabye whenever I was there.
The reason why we decided to try out Let’s Relax Spa suddenly was because we got a tip-off from K’s mum – not because we were feeling RM 5 richer to try them out… 😂
Apparently, one of the top long-time masseuse from Sabye-Sabye left and opened a way more comfortable and luxurious massage parlour with a partner. That masseuse also brought along a few of the good masseurs along with her. 😮
I guess that’s explain the reason why Sabye-Sabye decided to break their streak and lower their long-standing prices?
Sofa-bed massage bed!? 😍
This is by most the MOST COMFORTABLE massage bed I’ve ever experienced! Even the most expensive massage/spa place I been too can’t beat this bed!
As you know, it’s usually a thin mattress aka “Tilam” at most Thai massage parlour… and the mattress will sink in with use. With such thin layering, it flattens even faster, leaving you closer to the cold, hard ground. Good massage parlours will always make sure their mattress is of quality at all times, but customers that are bulkier will just flatten it, feeling the ground – even it’s a new mattress.
We opted for a 2-hour full body massage. For me, I just let them assign any masseuse and I requested for the lady boss (that used to be the masseur the next door) for K as he has a very high standard for massage.
Oh my! Their massage style is exactly like the old Sabye-Sabye or even better!
Sabye-Sabye changed their massage style quite a bit ever since I noticed the opening of Let’s Relax Spa. I guess it’s probably to distinguish themselves away from their new competitor? It’s now more “formal”, with more traditional Thai cracking incorporated in their massage. It’s good for relieving your sore bones right away but you can’t really fall asleep with someone cracking your bones every now and then.
Huge sofa at the waiting area to enjoy your hot tea and dessert after your massage.
Personally I would prefer the old Sabye-Sabye style of massage which I can now enjoy at Let’s Relax Spa. Let’s Relax Spa also used balm during their massage but as a comparison, I would prefer Sabye-Sabye’s special mixed blend of minty, warm balm as I feel it instantly release pain and tension from your aching body.
Update June 2018:
Let’s Relax Spa’s massage standard seems to drop from the last time we visit. Still good but no longer the gold standard when they first open. Masseurs use more of their weight, elbows and knees to loosen your joints instead of massage using their hands now.
Let’s Relax Spa
Blk D, Plaza Sentosa (Jalan Sutera), Ground Floor, 80150 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Tel: +607 – 336 5955
Opening Hours: 9 am – 12midnight
No. 3 Century Health Care
Century Health Care is conveniently located in a corner of Level 1 of KSL City Mall (which also happens to have everything else, including a MBO Cinema, a Tesco Supermarket, Watsons, and well, basically everything you’d need). If you can’t find it, head towards the Discovery Walk of the mall. It’s right inside there.
I actually found this place almost 2 years back, but during then, the massages were only average, and the place was small and difficult to get a booking. But I gave them a few more chances after seeing that they had gotten much more experienced therapists and upgraded their premises to several times of their original size! Wow, they’re really good now!
Don’t expect “piano” style massage though… nor Chinese style massage, despite the Chinese words everywhere. These guys have mostly Indonesia masseuses, and do Javanese style (despite what the menu writes) massages. This also means hard, strong, and very effective massage which is not for the weak-hearted. You might actually scream from the pain, but there is no bruising the day after, and you can clearly see the “toxic” discharge from your bodily “output” in the next few days.
My personal favourite is the “Full Totality” package, which is honestly pretty reasonable at RM 110 for 60 minutes of Body Massage + 60 minutes of Foot Reflexology… this isn’t your your “relaxing” massage where you fall asleep, so 60 minutes is more than sufficient.
They have a gua sha-ish technique which honestly might not be for everyone.
The rooms are not that luxurious, being divided by partitions – but they have couple room options available!
Bear in mind that they don’t provide clothes, so you’ll have to go naked (except for the underwear, of course!).
Century Health Care & Beauty
KSL City Mall, Level 1, Unit 32, 33, 34
Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 10 am – 10pm
No. 4 Thai Imperial
I always drove past Thai Imperial while heading towards KSL City shopping mall in Johor Bahru, but never really thought of trying (despite my friends telling me that it’s pretty good) because I’ve had a super bad (and gross) experience with another massage place along the same row. Until one late night (almost 1am), I happened to be around that area again and I thought, “Why not give it a shot?”.
The very first moment you step into the place, it felt like an upscale holiday resort – very Bali-ish!
The best way to test out your masseur’s skill is to opt for traditional massage (without any fancy oil or treatment).
To be honest, K didn’t like it as he felt that his masseur did a pretty bad job (didn’t massage his left and right side equally). But it was a pretty good massage for me! Especially the last part where the masseur placed a warm towel over your face and gives you a facial massage (Omg! I fell in love this part. ?)
I managed to convince K to try the place again a few weeks later (even though he was very reluctant) because I really liked their massage, and they open till really late at night! After trying for a second time time, both of us agreed that Thai Imperial is kinda like the fancier atas version of Sabye Sabye (without the balm) – but still, pretty solid massage skill.
So we figured out that it might possibly be a one-time off not-so-satisfying experience for K during his first time.
There’s actually also a membership package (RM 300) which entitles you to quite a huge members-only discount… we bought it the first time we were there as the discount was rather significant.
After completing the first package we bought (currently on the 2nd one! ?), Thai Imperial made it to my list after K’s approval.
Thai Imperial 泰皇廷
201, Jalan Dato Sulaiman, Taman Abad, 80250 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Tel:+60 7-333 1355
Opening Hours: 12noon to 3am
No.5 Wang Zu Bu Luo 王族部落
Pretty grand isn’t it? Wang Zu Bu Luo provides more of a Chinese-style of massage. It’s also more “atas” aka high-class but then again with the exchange rate, it’s still cheaper than in Singapore.
They have private rooms for singles and couples.
Shower room with basic toiletries provided. (Example; Bathroom, towels, shampoo, soap, body lotion, etc.)
Free Nano Sauna and light snacks buffet for spending >$128 RM (~$42 SGD). It’s not like the usual sauna that’s scorching hot. Nano Sauna is of a comfortable, warm temperature where you can bring and use your phone while detoxing.
I foresee that this will be flooded with Singaporeans sooner or later because it opens until late night. Also, for those that don’t drive, they provide free transport to and from Malaysian custom (or any nearby places within Johor Bahru, Malaysia). Those who drive don’t need to worry about parking too, as they have a free valet service to make sure you get a parking lot (see those cones in the first photo fencing place?).
Currently they’re having promotion of 3pax for the price of 2pax OR 20% discount. Promotion is on-going until further notice.
Wang Zu Bu Luo 王族部落
No.10,Jalan Sutera, Taman Sentosa. 80250 Johor Bahru, Johor.
Tel: +607 – 335 8118 / 332 9118
Opening Hours: 11 am to Late Night
That’s all for now because I don’t have photos for the rest of the massages places I went and… they’re also all under probation whether it’s good or not before I decide to post them here. ?