Beautiful hair, skin and nails are just a normal part of everyday living for the rich and famous. But for the rest of us mere mortals being pampered in a salon is a special and rare moment. In Indonesia you can be like the rich and famous.

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MOST WOMEN WOULD like to be able to trot off to the salon whenever they need a lift. Not just for birthdays, anniversaries, or weddings, but whenever they feel like it. Yes?

PSSST … in Indonesia you can afford to do just this – spoil yourself without feeling guilty.

Because most of the time it costs a fraction of what you would pay at home.

And in Indonesia’s culture of caring, the professional attention you receive will be brilliant.

The spas and beauty treatments of Bali are famous. But you will find the same kind of services in the towns, cities, and shopping malls throughout most of Indonesia.

And, other than in the big hotel and resort spas, they will typically be super cheap, as well as surprisingly sophisticated.

Women having facials in Tiny Beans salon Jakarta

Some Indonesian salons and spas are set up to cater for mums and kids. These ladies are luxuriating at the Tiny Bean salon in South Jakarta – Pic

How about your own 'personal' pamperers ?

If you stay in one town for long enough you may well be greeted by an attendant who provides your regular treatments and knows your preferences (just like those rich and famous).

You might even have your own regular designated spot in the salon and your own team of personal pamperers.

Though mainly patronized by women, treatments are also available to men.

And the bold guys who are persuaded to step up and try some of them are in for a pleasant surprise. I know because I am one of them.

The cream bath is a very Indonesian style of pampering – it’s a treatment that can be very expensive elsewhere – Pics

Woman with high hair receiving cream bath

The famous must-try Indonesian cream bath

Nope it’s not about plunging into a tub of gooey dairy product sprinkled with flower petals – the Indonesian cream bath is a very indulgent, enjoyable, and supremely relaxing hair treatment.

Basically, it is a luxuriant super scalp massage and is available in both spas and hair salons.

First your hair is thoroughly washed and rinsed. Then you will be offered a choice of thick creamy hair conditioners with slightly differing prices. You can choose from a regular chemical preparation or premium ‘organic’ emulsions with likes of avocado and aloe vera.

The conditioner will be applied liberally to your hair and scalp and your hair wrapped in a towel. You will be left for about 10 minutes.

A long, slow, extended massage

Next comes a long, slow extended scalp massage with fingers working in the conditioner. The massage will extend to your neck and shoulders and it feels great.

Then you are wrapped once more and go into a steamer for around 10 minutes (bring your own book – the magazines are all in Indonesian).

Next your hair will once more be thoroughly washed and possibly have a hair tonic added. The finale is a blow dry to leave your hair soft, light, and smooth. And leave you feeling truly pampered and wonderful.

The whole process will take about 45 minutes to an hour and the cost typically will be a mere Rp50,000 to Rp80,000 (AUD$5 to $8). Can you believe it?

Treatments for both the guys and the gals

Most customers are women, but for you men who still have hair, the cream bath is a MUST try. If you don’t, you are missing out on one of life’s truly pleasurable experiences.

Both hair salons and spas also offer moisturizing facials for women and men with a variety of formulas applied as masks to soften and freshen your skin.

I didn’t want to know when a facial was first suggested for me, but eventually I weakened and found it to be a great experience.

Subsequently I routinely tried to persuade male visitors to try both the cream bath and the facial. Those who did so invariably came back and thanked me profusely.

The Indonesian cream bath is now popular in salons in Singapore and elsewhere, but you will typically pay 600% to 800% more.

Hair salons offer a full range of other expert and inexpensive treatments and services – shampooing, cutting, styling, coloring, straightening and more at bargain prices.

Barbershop savings for the guys

Men can have their haircut in a barbershop for around Rp35,000 (AUD$3.50). That price usually includes a hot towel and head, neck and should massage!

In provincial towns and cities men’s barbershop haircuts can cost as little as Rp15,000 to 25,000.

nail salon shopping mall South Jakarta
Creating nail art at Beauty Bar, Jakarta

ABOVE – Nail technicians at work at the Nsil Shop salon in Gandaria City, South Jakarta, and (LEFT) creating beautiful nail art at Beauty Bar salon, Jakarta

Indonesian salons are specialists at creating beautiful nails

Indonesians are in the vanguard of the world-wide fashion trend for beautiful nail treatments. Every big shopping mall seems to have a nail salon. Often with as many as 12 or more nail technicians.

Manicures and pedicures are carried out expertly and affordably. Expect to pay around Rp50,000 (AUD$5) for a basic manicure and nail polish.

But the real action is in the nail art. You will have your choice of fake nails, acrylic coatings and extensions, and beautiful and intricate designs.

All this will cost more but even a beautiful two-hour nail art treatment can be had for around Rp600,000 (about AUD$60).

So what about full body and therapeutic massages?

The short answer is that massage is HUGE in Indonesia. So much so that it deserves a complete article on its own. We’ve gone a step further and provided you with two. Click on the following links to be taken to them:

The marvellous magic of massage in Indonesia

What to expect in an Indonesian massage salon


One of the joys of a visit to Indonesia is the outrageous pleasure you can enjoy from expert personal pampering in a way that may be well beyond your reach at home.

Do it. Give yourself permission to enjoy it all. Allow time for being spoilt in the way that is the province of the well-off and idle rich back home. File it all away in the store of memories of your visit.

If you feel guilty about how much care you are receiving and how little it costs, then calm your conscience by giving your attendants an appropriate tip. They will deserve it.

And an important tip – The better hotels you stay in will usually have excellent spa and massage services and maybe a hair salon. Mostly they are excellent.

BUT pluck up your courage and seek out the beauty, nail, and hair salons, and the massage  and spa venues in business districts. Ask guides or locals for recommendations or simply check out what is on offer in the big shopping malls – typically they are professionally run. 

If you do this you will save a bundle through lower pices.