Massage places are hard to recommend; the experience is too personal. One person's hard press is another's slow torture. So, no, we didn't go get massages at all of these places to try to rank them. It's just not possible. Instead, we pulled out five of the most reputable massage spots in three different categories: Thai massage, the big names and blind massage. Remember that it's perfectly acceptable practice to ask to change your masseuse in the first few minutes, if you two don't click or you think they are inexperienced; don't suffer a wasted hour of bad massage because you're too shy to speak up!
Thai Spa and Massage
What's it going to cost me? Traditional Thai massage (298rmb), foot massage (328rmb) and Thai oil massage (398rmb), all for 60 minutes.
A few blocks from Jing'an Temple, Thai Lanna is one of Shanghai's older Thai massage establishments. The storefront is underwhelming, but once in it's bright tropical colors and Thai ornaments. The private massage rooms are upstairs. Open until 1am.
Lilawadi Thai Spa
What's it going to cost me? Full-body aroma oil massage (658rmb, 90 minutes), foot massage (278 rmb, 60 minutes)
Lilawadi Thai Spa is an expensive and fancy Thai spa chain that does massages, herbal hot packs and aroma oil treatments. It's more spa than massage and the location at the Bund Financial Center is really popular — book in advance. Closes at 10pm.
What's it going to cost me? Paradise spa (598rmb, 90 minutes), which includes a full-body aroma oil massage with pure coconut oil, and a bird's nest dessert.
A colorful and friendly shop near Lujiazui. Rooms are simple and down-to-earth, literally – mattresses are on the floor, just like in Thailand. The Paradise Spa is a 90-minute massage and spa treatment done with coconut oil and coconut cream. Closes at midnight.
Lann Thai Massage (Shimao Festival City)
What's it going to cost me? Lann Classic Traditional Thai massage (448rmb, 90 minutes)
What's it going to cost me? Traditional Thai massage (398rmb), full-body oil massage (598rmb), both for 60 minutes
This Julu Lu storefront is upscale but still comfortable. All masseuses are from Thailand. First-timers can usually score a discount, and there's a second store near the Jiashan Lu metro station. Open until 1am.
The Name Brand Chains
What's it going to cost me? Full-back oil massage (446rmb, 60 minutes), traditional Chinese body massage (346rmb, 75 minutes)
Dragonfly is synonymous with higher-end massage in Shanghai, and they've been around for many, many years. They have ten locations around Shanghai; the Nanchang Lu one in particular is quiet and private. Closes at 10pm.
What's it going to cost me? 60-minute foot massage (178rmb), four hands massage (650rmb, 90 minutes)
Zen Massage is one of those dark and aromatic places with tinkling music and hot tea when you come in. Relaxing. The location on Fuxing Xi Lu in an old villa is popular but expect to climb some stairs. Open until midnight.
What's it going to cost me? Aroma oil full body massage (260rmb), lymphatic detox (510rmb, 90 minutes), full body meridian nursing massage (460rmb, 60 minutes)
Yu Massage is a spa chain with multiple venues in Jing'an, Xuhui and Huangpu. It's decked out with a Chinese-style courtyard and it's just swimming in the scent of natural flowers, aroma oils and jujube tea. They've also got aromatherapy on offer, hot stone therapy, lymphatic detoxification, Chinese meridian nursing message, and mild moxibustion. Open until midnight.
What's it going to cost me? Whole body detox (616rmb, 90 minutes), foot massage (398rmb, 70 minutes), pregnancy massage (598rmb, 60 minutes), plus a 10% service fee.
Green Massage is a luxury spa chain with aromatherapy, traditional Chinese oil massages, lymphatic detoxification, and moxibustion. They also have a special massage package for relieving pregnancy discomfort. Green also operates the Urban Retreat at The Portman Ritz-Carlton.
The chain’s flagship store is at K11 Art Mall. Decor is a mix of industrial and Zen and amenities are thought through, like auto-heating beds and essential oil shower gel. Open until 12.30am.
Subconscious Day Spa
What's it going to cost me? Full body oil massage (320rmb, 60 minutes), foot massage (240rmb, 60minutes), traditional Chinese oil meridian massage (598rmb), SmartTicket deals here
Subconscious Day Spa is a chain best known for its massages but also does facials, nails, body treatments, medical manual therapy and waxing. They also house studios for classes like yoga, meditation, and Pilates. Fumin Lu is the most popular location, and you'll probably need an appointment for that one. Open until 11pm on weekends.
Qing Blind Massage
What's it going to cost me? 60-minute foot massage or 60-minute full-body tui na (98rmb), full-back oil massage (188rmb, 60 minutes)
Qing is just a few blocks from Jing'an Temple, located inside a lane that also leads to a hostel - you won't miss the sign board. Masseuses have very good reviews online.
Qing specializes in Chinese massage as well as traditional treatments like gua sha (scraping the skin), cupping therapy and moxibustion. Usually closes at 1am but hours are shorter in April.
Yilin Blind Massage
What's it going to cost me? Reflexology foot massage or full-body tui na (118rmb, 60 minutes), full-back oil massage (228rmb, 60 minutes)
Yilin Blind Massage has been around for 20 years, doing traditional Chinese tui na, reflexology, oil massages, shoulder and neck massage, detox moxibustion and other treatments like ear cleaning. They also offer home service for 348rmb (excluding transportation) for a 120-minute massage. Closes at midnight.
Double Rainbow Massage House
What's it going to cost me? Tui na (78rmb), foot plus full-body massage (176rmb, 100 minutes)
Double Rainbow has been on the corner of Shaanxi Nan Lu and Yongjia Lu for nearly two decades. Its bright green storefront, resembling a postal office, is hard to miss. It's a fixture of the neighborhood with many returning customers. Facilities are simple and there's not a lot of privacy guaranteed but look at those prices. Closes at midnight.
Ganzhi Blind Massage
What's it going to cost me? Tui na (128rmb, 60 minutes), moxibustion (158rmb, 40 minutes)
Ganzhi Blind Massage is another big chain with history. Its flagship location Wujiang Lu is one of the newest (opened in August 2019). Service is consistent with other Ganzhi locations, but the interior is much better-looking than some of its popular but older stores. It can be hard to find on first visit; look for Sephora. Closes at 11.30pm.
Yuan Ji Tang Blind Massage
What's it going to cost me? Tui na (they're doing an opening promotion at 98rmb, 60 minutes), cupping (68 rmb)
Located on the seventh floor of an old office building, very close to Found 158. The shop itself is quite new, and already has an online following with good reviews. Apart from tui na, moxibustion and cupping, this place also does acupuncture. Closes at 11.30pm.