Treat yourself on vacation: Dr. Fish and clean feet.

Dr. Fish are the name given to two species of fish: the Garra Ruffa and Cyprinion macrostomus. They eat the dead skin cells from your feet and legs in spas known as Dr. Fish spas. The name can vary a bit, and there are a couple large franchise operations that provide support, supplies and fish for the spa operators.

We first ran across this in Cambodia at the Siem Reap Night Market. We were walking down the narrow aisles of the night market and hear laughter and many, many happy voices. We approached the well lit open air stall and found a large shallow pool filled with people laughing, giggling, and generally having a fantastic time. Even though my wife didn’t want to try it, I jumped on the opportunity and got both feet wet. I found people from all over the world were sitting around me and the environment was perfect to initiate conversation with each other. As someone observed it’s impossible to sit there and not engage in conversation with each other.

The second time we tried it, was in Chiang Mai. This time, my wife & I opted out instead allowing my daughters to experience it for the first time. I think they are more interesting to watch than me!

This fish spa was set up differently, indoors with a row facing the window and two other rows facing each other. By the time my daughter tried this, Dr. Fish were no longer quite such an oddity and were finding a place in most tourist venues around Asia. Even the Aquarium in Bangkok has one.