Sun. Mar 29th, 2020

Natural River Fish Spa Review – Khanom Thailand

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Tontarn Resort and Spa, Khanom, Thailand

Natural River Fish Spa Review – Khanom Thailand

My visit to a natural fish spa in a river in Khanom, Southern Thailand was memorable.  I remember a trip to the natural fish spa at the Tontarn Resort and Spa in Kuan Thong sub-district of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand.

There was a rage for fish spas where these “Doctor Fish” the operators keep the fish in glass tanks in shopping malls and even night markets.

You may see the fish spa tanks in Malaysia and Bangkok, Chiangmai and other cities.

However, in Khanom, experiencing the natural fish spa in a  river setting is what Thailand does best to promote eco-tourism.

Natural Pools in the River

Tontarn Resort and Spa has a natural fish spa set in a lush nature sitting on a stream with outdoor pools.

The pools teem with Garra Rufa fish, also called “doctor fish”.

This small species of cyprinid fish is native to the river basins of Turkey.

The Turkish people find the healing properties of the fish to ease the symptoms of psoriasis and eczema.

The beautifying effect that Garra Rufa fish have on the skin is dramatic.

These little fish will only eat and remove any dead skin, leaving healthy skin to grow.

There is two marked differences between the natural spas compared to normal fish spas.

For starters, these fish are larger and could measure up to three inches.

Second, there are hundreds and possibly thousands of fish in the interconnecting pools.

A fish spa in a natural river setting is what Thailand does best to promote eco-tourism. Photos: Doris Lim
There are timber decks to sit around the pools in the cool settings. Photos: Doris Lim

Natural River Fish Spa Treatment

The experience of the fish gently nibble away at the skin of the feet can be ticklish at first. The fish will only nibble away dead skin.

Many people will scream out when the fish nibble.

Even though the sensation is just ticklish, many are apprehensive to put their feet into pools full of fish.

Garra Rufa fish don’t bite but gently suck the dead outer layer of skin off. During the removal, the fish produce an enzyme that has a vitalizing effect to grow the new skin.

As I had a pedicure a week before my trip, the fish only took a few precautionary nibbles.

I had a good laugh looking on.

My companion screamed whenever he put his feet into the water. His rough soles and hairy feet were a magnet for the fish.

Most of the fish in the pool would leave other feet to “attack” whenever he dipped his feet in the water.

Natural River Fish Spa Review - Khanom Thailand
This boy with his parents was screaming when he saw the fishes swimming in the pool waiting. Photos: Doris Lim
A group of friends trying the fish spa by putting their legs in the water together.
It’s fun to go in a group to try this relaxing treatment. Photos: Doris Lim
The fish will only nibble away dead skin and the sensation is ticklish to most people. Photos: Doris Lim
Most people are ticklish to put their feet in the river with fish.
A closer look at “Dr. Fish” cleaning the soles and cuticles around the toes. Photos: Doris Lim

Ticklish? YES!!!

Most visitors will laugh or even squeal as it can be ticklish depending on your sensitivity. It is relaxing to soak your feet in the cool waters.

At the end of almost an hour, we got up from the ponds. Our feet felt soft and silky. The new skin feels softer and healthier.

The operators informed us that the local elderly are fond of this popular treatment as the process helps promote blood circulation.

It was an enjoyable experience and a lot of fun!

Precautionary Measures for Natural River Fish Spa

According to Wikipedia, this species of freshwater fish is used for treating skin diseases. Garra rufa, the Red Garra is a nibbling fish, a small species of cyprinid fish native to rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes in Anatolia and the Middle East.
Since the early 21st century, they have integrated Garra rufa into a spa treatment where they feed on the skin of patients with psoriasis. I find the doctor fish treatment helps to ease the symptoms of psoriasis, however, this is not a cure for the disease. There is no cure for psoriasis that exists. Using the fish as a spa treatment for the wider public is still widely debated on grounds of efficacy and validity.

For visitors suffering from psoriasis or other skin conditions or sensitivities, check with the spa first.

What else is on the Farm?

Tontarn Resort and Spa has a sheep farm and shares the paddock with goats and alpacas. This is one of the many ecotourism hot spots for sustainable travel in the Land of Smiles.

Tontarn Resort and Spa | 100 Moo 1, T.Khuntong, A.Khanom, Near Center,
Khanom (Nakhon Si Thammarat), Thailand, 80210 | Telephone: +66 81 945 0263

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