Filipino massage is a treatment I discovered during a trip to the Philippines. One of my favorite indulgences about traveling to south-east Asia is trying the range of massage and well-being therapies on offer. The prices are usually beyond reasonable, and with exceptionally high standards. Locations are typically sleek spas and salons in peaceful environments.

My spirits instantly lift the second I step inside, and drink a cup of fragrant ginger tea. Travel for me isn’t just about seeing new sights, it’s trying something new in the country I’m visiting. 

Filipino massage: what is hilot?

Hilot is an ancient Filipino technique of healing, commonly used to relieve tension and stress from the body. Practitioners are called Manghihilots. They identify pressure points in the body and release tension through light to medium strokes using coconut oil. 

Hilot has reportedly been around for 3,000 years, but I only came across it during a trip to the Philippines. After 5 days into my travels, and still jet-lagged, I was very ready for my first Hilot experience.



Filipino massage – spa time

On the recommendation of several locals, I booked my Filipino massage at The Spa Wellness at the Fort in Manila. A spacious lobby with a circular sofa in the centre welcomes clients as you enter. A trickling waterfall against a dark graphite backdrop accompanies the staircase leading to the reception area.

Hilot massage

The healing power of banana leaves

At PHP 1300 (£20; $31), the Hilot massage is one of the most relaxing and memorable ways to spend 75 minutes.

The hilot healing begins

I waited in anticipation as my masseuse began to work. The pressure of the strokes was firm as I’d requested, and the smell of the warm virgin coconut oil instantly sent me into total relaxation meltdown.

Drawing on its healing roots, warm banana leaves are applied to my back. I found out later this is to help the masseuse find the body parts that have an unbalanced energy.

After doing this, they can then devote their time to reducing the tension. It was a massage unlike any other I’ve tried before, and I walked away feeling ‘healed’ more than anything.

Hilot massage is hard to find

That said, I wanted to do a little research into Hilot Filipino massage when I returned to London. I did find a few places offering the massage, though a little out of my way. If you happen to live in the south-east of England, there’s a salon in Surrey that offers 1 hour for a very reasonable £30.

I for one am a true Hilot convert and hope to see more places offering the treatment. Its authenticity and roots in traditional healing makes it just as effective as other well-known therapies, and I’ll be doing my part to help spread the word.

Nb – Prices correct at the time of writing

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.

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Filipino massage

Filipino hilot massage

Lisa R sitting in a wicker chair

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