There is a popular trend in Taiwan to let fish eat the skin off of your feet. These places are usually related to "hot springs" in some way. I have done this a few times, but the last time we were in Jiaoxi it seemed like the town specialised in fish foot massage places. In fact, I later found that Jiaoxi is the foot massage capital of Taiwan.
Letting fish eat the skin off your feet is really uncomfortable at first. Me and my wife could not but laugh for the first few minutes, it is a very tingly experience. After a while though, you get used to it, and it is quite relaxing. My wife was especially happy that she didn't have to buy a foot bandage to get rid of her excess callus. I originally was riding around town looking for regular outdoor hot springs to soak in (because our hotel room didn't have one) but ended only finding this. The total price for us to relax here for an unlimited time was 60 NT per person. However it was outdoors and so also incredibly hot.
History of Fish Foot Massage:
The first documented evidence of this fish foot massage seems to have originated in Greece, a practice called Ichthyotherapy, which was meant to heal various ailments and sores. The fish most commonly used is the doctor fish which has no teeth. I have no idea how or when this Mediterranean practice became popular in Asia, but now it seems like a standard spa treatment in many Asian countries.
Some people, mostly American scientists, have spoken against this practice, calling it unsanitary. Usually the same fish are used on different people, which may cause certain diseases to spread. Because of this, fish message therapy has been banned in 14 U.S. states. Source:
So maybe this might not be the most sanitary activity, but its fun! Don't let those pessimistic American scientists deter you. Getting your feet eaten slowly by tons of little fish is an experience of a lifetime that you can tell your grandchildren, so just go out and do it.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.