Everyone loves the idea of a spa holiday, where you check into a luxury hotel and then have a massage and perhaps another kind of treatment every day of your stay. The problem, of course, is that the spa resorts tend to be very expensive, and the spa treatments add a lot more to the total.
For those who can’t quite afford this level of decadence, one great alternative is heading to Southeast Asia, where hotels and the treatments themselves cost only a fraction of what they do in the Caribbean, Hawaii, or the South Pacific. The one drawback for most people is it’s a long flight that isn’t cheap, but as long as you can stay over a week, you can easily make up for that and come out way ahead.
Cheap luxury hotels
In Hawaii and most of the Caribbean, a 4-star or above hotel on or near the beach will cost at least US$200 per night, and probably much more. However, throughout Southeast Asia, which is also tropical with warm weather every day of the year, you can get a 4-star beachfront hotel for as little as US$50 per night.
Obviously the prices are different depending on where you go. Phuket Island in the south of Thailand is the most expensive, with 4-star beachfront hotels starting closer to $100 per night, but even those are great deals compared to Hawaii and such. Other islands such as Ko Samui and Ko Samet are cheaper, and Cambodia and Vietnam are even lower. One of the best deals is Nha Trang in southern Vietnam, with east-facing beaches and a shorter rainy season than the others. This is where you can find luxury resorts facing the beach for even less than US$50 per night if you shop around a bit.
Beach massages and more
The other half of the spa holiday for less equation is the massages and spa treatments, and this is even better news. In the entire region you can rent a comfortable and sturdy beach lounge chair for anywhere from US$2 to US$10 per day. Once you are situated, you only have to make eye contact with one of the local massage women that are always nearby, and you can get a professional rub-down right in your lounge chair for anywhere from US$5 to US$10 per hour. Compare that to at least US$60 even in the Caribbean, and you see this is a fantastic deal.
Every 100 meters or so you’ll also usually find a permanent spa station with professional massage tables set up, and similar prices. You can also get manicures and pedicures and many other treatments for shockingly low prices.
On top of everything else, you can also get great meals for well under US$10, and interesting local cuisine for less than half of that. Even if your flight costs US$300 more and it takes a few more hours to get there, everything else is so cheap that you can live like kings and queens for under US$100 per day for two people.