Facing My Phobia at the Fish Spa in Bangkok

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I have a few random phobias, and a few of them are about animals.  One is birds, especially pigeons — touching them, them landing on my head, poop landing on me from the sky.  But my biggest phobia of all is my fear of fish.

Growing up, we would spend our summers camping on a lake in New Hampshire.  And I loved it — every year, I was always the last one out of the lake.

But when I was around eight or ten or so, I saw fish swimming around in the lake, and I developed an intense fear of feeling them touch me in the water. I would scream for my dad to save me. (And this was only a few years ago.)

This fear has continued to this day.  Whenever I get in a lake, I constantly swirl my legs around so that the fish will hopefully get the memo that a human is standing there and not to go near her!

But now that I’m on the trip of a lifetime, I decided to face my fear first-hand: at the fish spa.

Fish spas are all over Bangkok and much of Southeast Asia.  Basically, you sit with your feet in a giant fish tank and the fish chew the dead skin off your toes.

I found a cheaper one on Khao San Road, where 150 baht — about $5 — got me 20 minutes in the tank with the fishies.

I then spent about 19 of the 20 minutes screaming bloody murder.

The video:

So, did it work?  Well, the tips of my toes were certainly smoother, but I’d draw the line there.

I think I’m all set on fish spas for the rest of my life.

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21 thoughts on “Facing My Phobia at the Fish Spa in Bangkok”

  1. Well done! I only saw one of these spa’s for the first time in a shopping centre in England?? before we left for this trip.

    Would it be wrong to lay in the tank completely?

  2. Hehe, great job Kate. I remember a few years ago, my first encounter with a fish spa. I am not afraid of fish, but I am rather ticklish…especially on my feet. I giggled uncontrollably for the first 5 minutes on my first attempt. Now I think my brain has adapted to the feeling and I can just go right in an enjoy it! Nice to jump into your fears and do it!

  3. I don’t have any giant fear of fish but I’m not so sure about the fish tank. Mostly I’d just feel bad for the fish who’d have to chew the skin of *my* feet, LOL! Way to go on embracing a new experience!

  4. I remember doing this in Siem Reap a few years ago and loved the way it felt. Just ticklish enough to put you in a good mood 🙂 Kudos for getting in!

  5. Haha I love your posts about trying crazy new things! I don’t have a fear of fish but I am incredibly ticklish, I have trouble getting normal pedicures so I think one involving fish would be especially difficult for me.

    1. Thank you, Rease! I’m incredibly ticklish as well…I have to inform every doctor, massage therapist and um, you can see where I’m going with this one….but yeah, I have to tell people I’m ticklish so they don’t freak out when I hit them.

  6. Haha, you did it! And, while perhaps you’ll never do it again, at least you can say you faced that fear!

    And, I know I shouldn’t laugh at people facing phobias, but your video clip made me giggle!

  7. Kate! I did this in Singapore and had just about the same reaction – it is the weirdest kind of creepy feeling ever. My boyfriend could only get through it by covering his eyes, because he said that somehow made it not so bad.

    Your trip looks absolutely fabulous – congrats on taking yourself on such a great adventure. Look forward to reading more about your travels.


  8. Amazing! I have to try it! I’m also terrified of fish! When I was about 14, I had a fish tank in my bedroom, but one night, while my parents were away, I couldn’t sleep and the bubbles were so loud that I decided to switch it off. I woke up to a huge tank full of dead fish and had to remove them all myself because my dad wouldn’t be home for a week! I’ve been terrified ever since but really really want to try this!
    I’ve been trying to pluck up the courage for 18 months…I go home next month so I think its time….
    Wish me luck!!!

  9. Wow! I can’t wait to try this! I’ll be visiting Bangkok next month and this is definitely on my list of things to do. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I love all of your stories. Good luck with your return to USA!

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