Ever wondered about massage and prostitution in China?

Seeing pandas, eating dumplings, and climbing the Great Wall are some of the usual things that foreigners do when they travel to China.

But there are two alternative forms of Chinese ‘entertainment’ that you may be exposed to while you’re here – massage and prostitution.

In this article, I’ll tell you more about this including what happens in massage parlors, the legalities around adult entertainment in China, and the risks involved.

But first, let me clear up the two different kinds of massages that are available across China.

Health spa massage in China

man receiving head massage

Head massage is popular in China. Image by Sylv1rob1 on Shutterstock.

Massage in China can be broadly categorized into two very different kinds:

  • Health spa massage
  • Happy ending massage

It’s important to know the difference, as you don’t want to be involved in any awkward situations!

A health spa massage typically offers a range of options including head massage, deep tissue massage and foot massage.

The masseuse will use numerous Chinese massage techniques including ‘tui na’ which is a traditional form of manual therapy done on top of your clothes.

The establishment might be really fancy and private, or it could be a very basic shop where the door’s open and people walking past can see you.

China Love Cupid adChina Love Cupid ad

In China, you can even get a ‘blind man massage’. It’s thought that the heightened sense of touch that blind people need to compensate for the loss of their sight makes them better masseurs.

There is nothing shady about these massages and they’re perfectly legal too. In fact, they’re so relaxing you may find yourself drifting off to sleep!

I won’t go into any more detail about this as there’s an entire article about traditional Chinese massage and the various techniques you can enjoy.

Happy ending massage in China

Foreign man receiving a massage in China

Make sure you know which kind of massage you’re getting in China. Image by Minerva Studio on Shutterstock.

What on earth is a happy ending massage?

Well, in China the process goes something like this: you’re shown to a room in the massage parlor, given a range of options and asked to choose a girl.

Most of the girls are young, attractive and friendly, and willing to make conversation. To get the best service, men often opt for the most expensive massage.

The chosen girl then hands you a pair of shorts, turns on the shower and leaves the room. Once you’ve had your shower, you put on the shorts and lie down on the bed.

After a few minutes, the girl will come back. If you’ve ordered a drink, she’ll bring that with her too.

The massage will then begin. Some of it won’t be any different to what you can expect at a health spa – you’ll still get your head, arms, back and legs seen to in the same way.

The girl will shift her focus onto the middle part of your body, and that’s where the massage gets more erotic.

I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!

Towards the end of the massage the girl might make a lot of noise. Whether she’s really turned on or just putting on an act is arguable – believe what you like.

Establishments that offer Chinese sexy massage are discreet, though you can find them all over the country, from Shanghai to the smaller cities.

Are happy ending massages legal?

massage parlor sign

The legalities around erotic massage in China are unclear. Image by LMPark Photos on Shutterstock.

Getting a happy ending massage is a popular pastime for many men in China.

But is it legal?

Well, in 2011 two men were arrested for running a happy ending massage parlor in Guangdong province. They were convicted of organizing prostitution and sentenced to five years in prison.

The verdict was subsequently overturned by a higher court that ruled masturbation does not count as prostitution.

China Love Cupid adChina Love Cupid ad

In Beijing, however, the police see happy ending massages as violating the prostitution ban, and massage parlors have been the targets of crackdowns.

As it’s a bit of a grey area, if you are going to visit one of these places, be very discreet and consider the risk.

This could involve:

  • a slap on the wrist (like a fine) or
  • having your visa revoked in a worst-case scenario.

However, it’s worth noting that the Chinese authorities’ focus would be more likely on the business than the customer.

Prostitution in China

Prostitute sitting on bed

Prostitution is a flourishing, underground industry in China. Image by Ronny 80 on Shutterstock.

This is the second shady form of entertainment that some people visiting China may be tempted to try.

I’m sure this doesn’t require any explanation – it’s simply the act of paying money to have sex!

Prostitution in China is a flourishing trade in most cities across the country.

In Dongguan, one of China’s sex industry hot spots, prostitutes who have come from rural areas are able to financially support their families living in other provinces.

Many women find sex work better than their former factory jobs, where they could work grueling hours in harsh environments for around 2,000 yuan a month.

In the sex industry, they can earn significantly more than that while working fewer days.

Is it legal?

Prostitution in China is not a grey area. It’s most definitely illegal under Chinese law.

(Check out the things banned in China page if this topic interests you.)

It’s widely known that corruption is rife in China. Local pimps probably have to pay the police quite a pretty penny in bribes to look the other way.

When the police feel a little skint, they raid some of the local brothels and slap the owners with a fine of several thousand yuan. After a few days in jail, these people are released and go back to their old ways.

According to a professor at Renmin University of China, only about 1 percent of the nation’s prostitutes have been swept up in crackdowns.

Where are Chinese brothels located?

China spa massage

A spa may just be a spa and not a brothel. Image by Unsplash.

Many brothels are brazenly located in busy streets in the city centers. But to foreigners, they can look exactly like any other innocuous shop.

Think twice if you see the word ‘spa’ displayed at a shop entrance. In no way does it guarantee that erotic services are on offer.

Many taxi drivers, however, would know where the real establishments are. It’s just a matter of asking the right person.

From what I’ve heard, some of these establishments have ingenious ways of avoiding detection by the cops.

For instance, there are secret doorways inside wardrobes. Just like a James Bond movie!

There’s also the invisible side to prostitution in China – popular apps like WeChat make it easy for sex workers to get in contact with potential customers.

Stupid things foreigners do

As an English teacher in China, I once knew a fellow foreign teacher who saw a prostitute but refused to pay her.

Why? Because she didn’t satisfy him!

She called the police and he was the one who got arrested, dismissed from his job and deported from China.

Foreign teachers must also have an HIV test to work in China so it’s just not worth indulging in this kind of activity for a cheap thrill.

Psst! One quick tip

If you want to search online safely while you’re in China, it’s best you do it with a VPN on your device. This helps you escape online surveillance and remain anonymous.

You’ll also need a VPN to access all major foreign sites like Google, Gmail, WhatsApp, Insta and Facebook.

You can refer to this review for the best VPN for China, or skip the review and tap on the button below.

Just make sure you download it before you arrive as the signup page will be blocked in China.

Stay safe in China

While paying for a happy ending or even sex is common in China, remember you’re subject to all local laws and penalties.

So, it’s a case of ‘buyer beware’. Always stay safe in China!

If you liked my blog on massage and prostitution in China, then you’ll love my A to Z of Chinese girls. Check it out!

This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice; it is the writer’s opinion only. Main image credit: Aodaodaodaod on Shutterstock.

FAQ about massage in China

What are the different types of massages in China?

There are two very different types. A health spa massage is usually a traditional Chinese massage involving soft tissues or acupuncture points. The other type of massage is a happy ending massage.

Can you get a happy ending massage in China?

Yes, though establishments are discreet and you may not know where to find one unless you ask a local, such as a taxi driver.

What happens during a Chinese massage?

During a health spa massage, the masseuse will focus on any sore points and try to increase blood flow to the area. Different techniques include pulling, pinching and kneading. A happy ending massage may also involve these techniques but the focus will shift to one certain area of your body.

Do you wear clothes during a Chinese massage?

Yes. In a traditional tuina massage, the massage is performed on top of your clothes. For other massages, you may be asked to take some of your clothes off.

What is a full Chinese massage?

A full body massage is typically a head-to-toe massage, but it’s an expression that has different meanings for different people. Chinese massage therapists typically focus on the areas that you want them to focus on, though they will probably look at the interconnected body parts as well.

China Love Cupid adChina Love Cupid ad