Yang sheng, meaning “nurturing life”, is a holistic, Chinese-medicine-based approach to health. It’s a way of life for many in Taiwan, demonstrated through a concern with balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and healthcare treatments.

Various massage traditions are represented in Taiwan – acupuncture-point, deep-tissue, Thai, Shiatsu, and Swedish, to name a few. There are also foot reflexology centers, usually recognizable by a foot map sign displayed on the front door. Foot massage works under the theory that each part of the sole corresponds to a bodily organ, and stimulating the zones on the foot restores the energy flow of that organ.

Skin scraping (gua sha) and cupping (ba guan) are two common blood stimulation techniques that operate through the skin. Skin scraping involves scraping the skin with a rounded tool (like a spoon) until it breaks out into a rash. Cupping places vacuum cups on the flat and fleshy parts of the body, usually the back, to create suction. Scraping and cupping work on different levels of the body but they are both believed to drain the body of toxins and help with muscular pain and respiratory illness.

There are plenty of ways to partake of these varieties of treatments. Single-chair masseuses dole out shoulder rubs at night markets and train stations. Homey parlors advertise full-body massages alongside cupping, scraping, facials, and hair removal. Those wanting to splurge can indulge in a marathon thera-beauty session at multi-story wellness centers.

Western-style spas in Taiwan, as elsewhere, have hydrotherapy facilities, aromatherapy rooms, and private massage chambers. Your best bet for finding these treatments are luxury hotels in major cities. A few independent salons in Taipei may also offer similar services.