What Is Traditional Khmer Massage?

Southeast Asia Is Famous For Massage & Cambodia Is No Different!

Have you ever been to Southeast Asia before? If you haven’t, let me tell you you’re seriously missing out! Tropical climate, finger licking street food, and as far as massages are concerned……unbeatable! Next time you’re deciding on a vacay, pick from one of the Southeast Asian countries; you won’t be disappointed!

What’s also particularly interesting about all of the countries in Southeast Asia is that they have their own style for everything. Food, culture, clothes, and massage!

Thailand has the world famous Thai massage, Indonesia has Javanese and Balinese massage, and Cambodia has the Khmer massage!

So if you’re wondering just what the heck a “Khmer” massage is….it’s basically the Cambodian people’s take on physical healing!


How Did The Khmer Massage Originate?

Legend has it that this sort of massage technique was used to soothe the tired aching bodies of traveling monks who were exhausted from all their activity. Since these monks were heavily involved in spiritual work, the Khmer massage was a great means to heal their bodies from a physical standpoint.

Khmer Massage Became Really Popular With Monks!
Khmer Massage Became Really Popular With Monks!

From that point on the practice became a huge hit with the local people, and as many would say….the rest is history!

Today you will find countless number of establishments all over Cambodia that offer traditional Khmer massage to both tourists and locals alike. If you’re ever in town, here’s a guide that discusses the best spots for Khmer massage in Cambodia!


4 Interesting Things To Know About Traditional Khmer Massage!

“It’s just another variation of the Thai massage!” If that’s what you guessed, you’re dead wrong. However, I wouldn’t blame you as it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that 2 different styles of massages are similar.

It’s only when you speak to a trained therapist do you begin to understand the little intricacies and nuances between each style!

What are some of these intricacies that make Khmer massage so popular for tourists visiting Cambodia? Let’s look at 4 of them below!

#1 It’s Oil Free!

Yup you read that right! Traditional Khmer massage is done without a single drop of oil. From everything I know about Khmer massage, it’s this that has always had me most perplexed!

And that’s because Southeast Asia absolutely loooooves their oil massages!

I’ve yet to come across a place in Southeast Asia that doesn’t have some variation of the oil massage, and I’ve traveled extensively to Southeast Asia! (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia etc.)

With Khmer massage, the idea is that oil isn’t really required in order for the massage to be effective. I guess it makes sense because there’s a lot of stretching involved.

“Can I still ask for oil when I get a Khmer massage?”

Yup there’s nothing stopping you from asking your therapist to perform the same techniques but with oil. If you’re looking for ultimate relaxation, there’s no better massage than an oil massage, and I will argue this to death with any of you!

Khmer Massage Is Typically Performed Without Oil!
Khmer Massage Is Typically Performed Without Oil!

#2 It’s Usually Done Fully Clothed!

“Usually” is the keyword here, so don’t quote me on this! That’s not to say you can’t get a Khmer massage without clothing like any other massage. Just like everything else, the masseuse may inquire if you have a preference.

This second point ties into the first. That is, if there’s no oil being applied, then no need to remove any clothing! I don’t know if this is a good or not so good thing to be honest. It’s not about being in your undies, but I can’t see myself ever enjoying a massage while being fully clothed.

Massage is all about healing strokes and motions and if you ask me…clothes just get in the way of things!

#3 It’s Deep Tissue Intensity!

This is one thing about Khmer massage that confuses the heck outta people! Many people think Khmer massage is a lot more relaxing when compared to Thai massage which is definitely true, however Khmer massage is still considered a form of deep tissue therapy.

That means you can still expect a moderate to high intense massage!

If deep tissue therapy is not your cup of tea, then you may want to reconsider getting a Khmer massage. Also it’s important to be aware of the dangers of deep tissue massage before getting one. Here’s a post I wrote that goes over these dangers in greater detail!

Traditional Khmer Is Very Much Still A Deep Tissue Massage!
Traditional Khmer Is Very Much Still A Deep Tissue Massage!

#4 It’s “Full Body” From A Therapist’s Standpoint!

What I really mean to say here is that a therapist trained in Khmer massage will not shy away from using his/her entire body (hands, arms, feet etc.) to apply the massage and stretch routines.

This is another area where Khmer is somewhat similar to Thai massage.

Most of us in the Western world are only used to receiving massage from a therapist’s hands or at most arms, but having someone’s legs or feet wrapped around your torso….well that might be stretching it for a few!


Should You Give Khmer Massage A Try?

If you’re adventurous and love to try different massage types, yes you must try Khmer massage!

However, I must provide a disclaimer: Khmer massage is very much a form of deep tissue therapy!

For those who cannot tolerate deep tissue intensities, you may wish to reconsider getting a Khmer massage. Alright, that’s all from me. I do hope you enjoyed reading and got some value out of today’s post. If you did, a share on the social channels will be greatly appreciated. Lastly, if you have any questions please drop a comment below. I’ll see you in the next one!

About Eve

Just an average bloke intrigued by massage and its incredible benefits. Oh, did I mention I also own a massage chair? More on that in the blog posts!

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