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Facing My Phobia At The Fish Spa In Bangkok


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Elene Raphael



Have you ever faced a fear head-on, challenging yourself to overcome it? This is the story of how I conquered one of my greatest phobias at a fish spa in the bustling city of Bangkok. A fish spa, also known as a fish pedicure, offers a unique and unconventional form of relaxation. Instead of the usual traditional foot massages, patrons dip their feet into warm water filled with tiny fish known as Garra rufa, or “doctor fish.”


I’ve always had an intense fear of fish. Their slippery scales, darting movements, and unpredictable nature made me shudder with anxiety. Even the thought of being in close proximity to these aquatic creatures sent shivers down my spine. However, as a passionate adventurer, I firmly believe in confronting my fears and pushing past my comfort zone.


My journey to overcoming my fish phobia began with a deep understanding of the underlying fear. Growing up, I had a few unpleasant encounters with fish that further solidified my fear. Whether it was accidentally stepping on a fish while swimming or witnessing a close friend getting nipped by one, these events etched a lasting impression in my mind.


However, I was tired of letting my fear control me, limiting my experiences and the joys that lay beyond. After extensive research and self-reflection, I realized that the fear stemmed from a lack of control. Fish, with their unpredictable movements, represented a loss of control that triggered anxiety within me.


Determined to overcome my fear, I stumbled upon the idea of a fish spa. The concept of willingly immersing my feet in water filled with these fish seemed counterintuitive, but I saw it as an opportunity to face my fear in a controlled and safe environment. With trembling hands and a racing heart, I made the decision to embark on this adventure.


Arriving in Bangkok, known for its vibrant culture and exotic experiences, I found myself standing outside a small fish spa tucked away in a bustling alley. The anticipation was palpable as I stepped through the entrance, my fear threatening to overwhelm me. The therapists welcomed me with warm smiles, putting me at ease and assuring me that everything would be fine.


Stepping into the fish spa, I was greeted with a soothing ambience. Soft music played in the background, creating a serene atmosphere. I gingerly sat on one of the cushioned chairs, bare feet hovering above the water. As I observed others surrendering their feet to the tiny fish, I took a deep breath, reminding myself that I was in control of this experience.


What is a fish spa?

A fish spa is a unique and unconventional spa treatment that involves immersing your feet in a tank filled with tiny fish known as Garra rufa. These fish, also called “doctor fish,” are native to Turkey and have gained popularity as a natural way to exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin. The concept behind a fish spa is that the fish gently nibble on the dead skin cells, leaving your feet feeling soft and renewed.


The therapy originated in the hot springs of Turkey, where people noticed that the fish had a knack for gently nibbling the skin without causing any harm. The trend quickly spread to other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and North America, becoming a popular form of alternative therapy.


Garra rufa fish have a unique adaptation that makes them perfect for this treatment. They do not have teeth, but instead, have small mouths filled with tiny, bristle-like structures called papillae. As the fish nibble on the feet, the gentle suction created by their mouths stimulates blood flow and removes dead skin cells, leaving the feet smoother and softer.


Many fish spas provide a relaxing and serene environment to enhance the therapeutic experience. Soft music, dim lighting, and aromatic scents create a soothing atmosphere, allowing patrons to unwind and enjoy the treatment.


It’s important to note that fish spas prioritize hygiene and the well-being of their patrons. The water in the tanks is typically maintained at a temperature that is comfortable for both the fish and the customers. Additionally, the fish are regularly monitored and well-cared for by trained therapists to ensure their health and safety.


While some people may find the idea of fish nibbling on their feet a bit odd or even intimidating, fish spas have gained popularity due to the perceived benefits. Beyond the exfoliating properties, some believe that the fish’s saliva contains enzymes that can promote skin healing and improve circulation. However, it’s important to approach fish spas as a relaxing and enjoyable spa experience rather than a medical treatment.


Whether you’re looking for a unique self-care experience, a way to relax and de-stress, or an adventurous challenge like myself, a fish spa can provide an unconventional and memorable spa experience. It’s a chance to indulge in something out of the ordinary while giving your feet some pampering and potentially conquering your fears.


Understanding my phobia

To truly tackle my fear of fish, I had to delve into the deep-rooted emotions and memories that fueled my phobia. Understanding the origins of my fear was crucial in my journey of overcoming it.


As a child, I had a few unsettling encounters with fish that left a lasting impact on my psyche. One vivid memory involved accidentally stepping on a fish while swimming in a lake. The slimy sensation and unexpected touch sent shockwaves of fear through my young body. Another memory involved witnessing a close friend getting bitten by a fish while we were exploring a mangrove swamp together. The sight of blood and the pain my friend endured made a significant impression on me.


Reflecting on these experiences, I realized that my fear was not solely based on the physical attributes of fish, but rather on a sense of unpredictability and lack of control. Fish, with their slippery scales and darting movements, were a symbol of the unknown. Their behavior could change in an instant, and this uncertainty triggered deep-seated anxiety within me.


The fear of fish extended beyond their physical presence. It infiltrated my thoughts and affected my daily life. I would avoid going near bodies of water or participating in activities that involved fish, such as fishing trips or aquarium visits. The fear became an invisible barrier that restricted me from fully embracing new experiences.


Recognizing that this fear was holding me back, I decided to confront it head-on. I knew that facing my phobia would not only open up new possibilities but also allow me to develop a sense of resilience and personal growth.


With the help of therapy and self-reflection, I began to reframe my perception of fish. Instead of associating them solely with fear and anxiety, I started to view them as fascinating and unique creatures with their own place in the natural ecosystem. I educated myself on different species of fish and their behaviors, seeking to dispel the irrational fears that had taken hold.


Furthermore, I explored techniques to manage my anxiety and keep it at bay when confronted with fish. Deep breathing exercises, visualization, and positive affirmations became tools in my arsenal, empowering me to confront my fears with a sense of calm and control.


Understanding the origins and triggers of my phobia was a crucial step in my journey of overcoming it. It allowed me to approach the fish spa experience with a newfound sense of curiosity and determination. I was ready to face my fear and emerge stronger on the other side.


Overcoming my fear

Overcoming a deeply ingrained fear is no easy task. It requires determination, courage, and a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone. As I stood on the precipice of confronting my fear of fish at the fish spa, I knew that this would be a defining moment in my journey of self-discovery.


Before diving into the fish spa experience, I had to mentally prepare myself. I reminded myself of the progress I had made in understanding my phobia and reframing my thoughts about fish. I acknowledged the fears bubbling inside me but decided not to let them hold me back any longer.


Stepping into the warm, soothing water of the fish spa, I felt a combination of trepidation and excitement. As the tiny Garra rufa fish swarmed around my feet, I could feel the anxiety rise within me. But this time, instead of allowing fear to consume me, I consciously chose to face it head-on.


The sensations of the fish nibbling on my feet were initially overwhelming. Each gentle nibble sent a tingling sensation through my body. But as the minutes ticked by, I realized that there was no pain or threat – only a peculiar but harmless feeling.


As I sat there, surrounded by people peacefully indulging in the fish spa, I gradually began to relax. The environment, with its calming music and gentle lighting, played a crucial role in soothing my nerves. The therapists at the fish spa were also incredibly supportive, offering encouragement and reassurance whenever I needed it.


I focused on my breathing, allowing myself to sink deeper into a state of tranquility. I reminded myself that I was in control of this experience, that I could choose to let go of my fear and embrace the unknown. Slowly but surely, my anxiety gave way to a newfound sense of peace.


The process of overcoming my fear was not a linear one. There were moments where my anxiety resurfaced, but I persevered. I reminded myself of my ability to overcome challenges and pushed through the discomfort. Each moment of discomfort became an opportunity for growth.


As I continued the fish spa treatment, I couldn’t help but marvel at the transformation within me. The fear that had once paralyzed me had lost its grip. In its place, I discovered a sense of liberation and empowerment. I had conquered my fear and emerged stronger and more resilient.


Overcoming my fear of fish at the fish spa was more than just a personal triumph; it was a profound lesson in self-belief and the limitless possibilities that lie beyond our fears. It reminded me that growth, both personal and emotional, often requires us to confront the things that scare us the most. And in the face of fear, we have the power to not only survive but also thrive.


The decision to try a fish spa

The decision to try a fish spa was not one I made lightly. It required careful consideration, as well as a willingness to step outside of my comfort zone and confront my fear head-on.


After researching various methods of overcoming phobias, I stumbled upon the concept of a fish spa. The idea immediately intrigued me. I saw it as an opportunity to face my fear of fish in a controlled and safe environment, allowing me to gradually expose myself to the source of my anxiety.


While some might perceive the fish spa as a mere beauty treatment, I saw it as a gateway to personal growth and conquering my fear. It presented a unique opportunity to challenge myself and redefine my relationship with fish.


But making the decision to try the fish spa was easier said than done. The fear of the unknown loomed large in my mind. Doubts crept in about whether I would be able to handle the sensation of fish nibbling on my feet, or if my anxiety would spiral out of control.


Ultimately, it was my desire for growth and the knowledge that overcoming this fear would open doors to new experiences that propelled me forward. I knew that facing this fear head-on was a crucial step towards becoming a stronger, more resilient version of myself.


With shaky hands and a racing heart, I took the plunge and booked a fish spa session. The mere act of scheduling the appointment felt like a small victory, a tangible step towards conquering my fear.


Preparing myself mentally and emotionally became a vital part of the process. I reminded myself of the progress I had made in understanding and reframing my fear. I cultivated a positive mindset, focusing on the potential benefits and the personal growth that awaited me on the other side of this experience.


As the day of the fish spa appointment approached, I found myself vacillating between excitement and apprehension. But I remained steadfast in my commitment to face my fear head-on. I sought support from friends and family who understood my journey and believed in my ability to overcome this challenge.


Arriving at the fish spa in Bangkok, I took a deep breath and stepped through its doors. The therapists greeted me with warmth and reassurance, creating an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. Their empathy and understanding helped ease my nerves, and I began to feel a glimmer of excitement mixed with nervous anticipation.


The decision to try a fish spa was a pivotal moment in my journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It represented a conscious choice to confront my fears, break free from self-imposed limitations, and embrace the unknown. It was a testament to my resilience and determination to live a life unburdened by fear.


Little did I know that this decision would set in motion a series of events that would lead to a transformative experience, helping me not only overcome my phobia but also realize the infinite possibilities that lie beyond the confines of fear.


Arriving at the fish spa in Bangkok

As I made my way to the fish spa in the heart of Bangkok, anticipation and nervous excitement coursed through my veins. I had heard rave reviews about this particular spa and its serene ambiance, which only served to heighten my curiosity.


The bustling streets of Bangkok seemed to fade away as I arrived at the entrance of the fish spa. A sense of calm settled over me, accompanied by the welcoming smile of the spa’s staff. Their warm reception immediately put me at ease, alleviating any lingering doubts I had about my decision to face my fear.


Stepping inside, I found myself immersed in a sanctuary of tranquility. Soft, ambient music played in the background, creating a soothing atmosphere that washed away the stress and anxiety. The spa’s interior exuded a sense of serenity, with muted lights casting a gentle glow on the comfortable seating areas and beautifully decorated fish tanks.


The attentive spa staff guided me through the process, explaining how the fish spa worked and answering any questions I had. Their knowledge and expertise gave me a newfound sense of confidence, assuring me that I was in capable hands.


The spa’s commitment to hygiene was evident in the meticulous attention paid to cleanliness. The treatment area was impeccable, with pristine tanks filled with fresh water. The safety and well-being of both the patrons and the fish were clearly a top priority.


As I prepared for my fish spa experience, I took a moment to fully absorb my surroundings. The soothing aromas of essential oils mingled with the soft sounds of flowing water, creating an atmosphere that whispered tranquility. The ambiance alone was enough to calm my nerves and prepare me for the adventure ahead.


The fish spa in Bangkok had an air of exclusivity, offering a respite from the bustling city outside its doors. It felt like a hidden oasis, a haven where I could immerse myself in a healing and transformative experience.


As I settled into one of the comfortable chairs, I was overcome with a mix of anticipation and gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to confront my fear in such a nurturing environment, and anticipation for the journey of self-discovery that lay before me.


With my feet dipped into the inviting warm water, I gazed upon the gentle ripples caused by the movement of the Garra rufa fish. Their tiny shadows danced beneath the surface, reminding me that this was the moment I had been preparing for – the moment where I would face my fear and emerge stronger on the other side.


As the therapists began the treatment, I closed my eyes, allowing the sensations and emotions to wash over me. The journey to conquer my fear was about to reach its peak, and I was ready to embrace the unknown and discover the hidden strength within me.


Entering the fish spa

Stepping into the fish spa, I felt a combination of nervousness and exhilaration as I approached the designated area for the fish spa treatment. The therapists greeted me with warm smiles as they guided me to a comfortable chair beside one of the fish tanks.


I took a moment to observe the tanks, filled with clear water and teeming with tiny Garra rufa fish. Their small, silvery bodies glided effortlessly through the water, creating a mesmerizing sight. Though my anxiety threatened to resurface, I reminded myself of the controlled environment and the transformative experience that awaited me.


The therapists explained the process in detail, assuring me that everything would be gentle and well-regulated. They emphasized that the fish were trained to exfoliate the dead skin cells from the feet, providing a soothing and rejuvenating experience.


With their guidance, I removed my shoes and socks, placing my bare feet into the warm water of the fish tank. The therapists encouraged me to relax and let the fish do their work.


As I cautiously lowered my feet into the water, I immediately felt the tickling sensation of the fish swimming around them. The initial contact of the fish nibbling on my toes sent a shiver down my spine, but I knew this was a crucial moment of reckoning.


I closed my eyes, allowing myself to fully immerse in the experience. The feeling of the fish gently nibbling on my feet was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was a combination of tingling and vibrating sensations, as if tiny masseurs were working their magic on my tired feet.


At first, my muscles tensed and my mind raced with anxiety. But as the minutes passed, the rhythmic motion of the fish and the soothing ambiance of the spa began to work their magic. I consciously let go of my fears, surrendering to the transformative process.


I focused on my breathing, taking slow, deep breaths to calm my racing heart. I reminded myself that I was in a safe environment, surrounded by professionals who understood my fears and were there to support me every step of the way.


Gradually, the sensations became familiar and oddly comforting. The fish seemed to recognize the contours of my feet, their movements becoming more precise and purposeful. It was as if they could sense my acceptance and trust.


The initial discomfort gave way to a sense of tranquility and acceptance. The fish spa became a metaphorical cocoon, where I shed not only dead skin cells but also layers of fear and apprehension. It was a journey of rejuvenation for both my feet and my spirit.


Entering the fish spa was a pivotal moment in my quest to conquer my fear. It symbolized my willingness to embrace the unknown, to let go of control, and to trust in the transformative power of facing our deepest fears. As I sat there, feeling the gentle nibbles of the fish, I knew that I was on the path to personal growth and healing.


The sensation of fish nibbling

The sensation of fish nibbling on my feet was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was a curious and unique feeling that initially triggered a mix of nervousness and excitement. As the tiny Garra rufa fish swarmed around my feet, their gentle nibbles sent waves of delicate vibrations and tickling sensations through my entire body.


At first, the sensation was slightly unsettling. The tiny mouths of the fish created a tingling feeling as they delicately grazed against my skin. It was as if they were exploring every nook and cranny of my feet, searching for the dead skin cells they were renowned for devouring.


With each nibble, I felt a sense of release and renewal. The movements of the fish were swift and precise, as if they were on a mission to do their exfoliating work with precision. The sensation was not painful but rather gentle and soothing, washing away the stresses of the outside world and immersing me in a state of tranquility.


As the minutes passed, I noticed a subtle ebb and flow of sensations. Some areas of my feet felt more sensitive than others, with the fish focusing their attention on those spots. It was a reminder that the fish were attuned to the needs of my skin, targeting areas that required more exfoliation or attention. The haptic dance between the fish and my feet created an intimate connection that transcended the surface level of physical touch.


The vibrations and tickling sensations enveloped me, causing a cascade of reactions within my body and mind. I experienced a sense of surrender, allowing the fish to take charge of my feet and relinquishing control over the outcome. With each passing second, my anxiety melted away, replaced by a newfound sense of peace and acceptance.


As the fish continued their gentle nibbles, I noticed a subtle change in the texture of my feet. The exfoliation process was effective, as the dead skin cells were gradually being removed, revealing smoother and softer skin underneath. It was a reminder of the therapeutic benefits of the fish spa, as it not only provided a unique sensory experience but also promoted the rejuvenation and health of my skin.


The sensation of fish nibbling was not just confined to the physical realm; it also had a profound impact on my emotional well-being. I felt a surge of gratitude and awe for these tiny creatures, whose purpose was to diligently nibble away my fears and insecurities. They became agents of transformation, guiding me towards a new perspective and a deeper sense of self-discovery.


By allowing myself to fully embrace the sensation of the fish nibbling, I embarked on a journey of self-acceptance and trust. The peculiar yet surprisingly pleasant feeling became a symbol of my willingness to let go of control and surrender to the unknown. It reminded me that sometimes the greatest growth comes from embracing the unexpected and letting life’s currents guide us towards transformative experiences.


Coping with anxiety at the fish spa

As I sat at the fish spa, entrusting my feet to the tiny Garra rufa fish, I had to find effective ways to cope with the anxiety that threatened to overwhelm me. The anticipation, tinged with nervousness, made the experience both challenging and rewarding.


First and foremost, I focused on my breathing. Taking slow, deliberate breaths helped calm my racing heart and bring my attention to the present moment. Deep inhalations and gradual exhalations allowed me to find a sense of grounding and stability amidst the swirling waves of anxiety.


I also employed visualization techniques to shift my mindset. I envisioned myself in a serene, peaceful environment, surrounded by calm waters and gentle fish. This mental imagery helped counteract the fear and anxiety, replacing them with a sense of tranquility and serenity.


The therapists’ presence and supportive nature played a crucial role in helping me cope with my anxiety. Their kind words, encouragement, and reassurance provided a safety net during this vulnerable moment. Their understanding and empathy reminded me that I was not alone in my journey, and they were there to assist and guide me every step of the way.


At times, I would repeat positive affirmations silently in my mind. Phrases such as “I am safe,” “I am in control,” and “I can conquer my fear” served as powerful reminders of my inner strength and resilience. By channeling these positive thoughts, I was able to divert my focus from anxiety to empowerment, fostering a sense of confidence in the face of fear.


I also recognized the importance of acknowledging and expressing my emotions. Rather than suppressing my anxiety, I allowed myself to feel it fully, embracing it as a natural part of the process. By accepting my emotions without judgment, I was able to navigate through them with greater ease.


Seeking distractions proved to be helpful as well. Engaging in light conversation with the therapists or fellow spa-goers provided a temporary respite from my anxiety. Sharing stories, exchanging laughter, or discussing shared interests helped shift my attention away from the fish nibbling and onto more pleasant conversations.


Moreover, I reminded myself that the fish spa environment was carefully crafted to promote relaxation. The soothing music, dim lighting, and aromatic scents created an ambiance that encouraged calmness and tranquility. By immersing myself in this environment, I allowed the external atmosphere to influence my internal state, reducing my anxiety and promoting a sense of peace.


Although coping with anxiety during the fish spa experience was challenging, it ultimately became an opportunity for personal growth and resilience. By employing various coping mechanisms, I was able to acknowledge and navigate through my fears, paving the way for a transformative and empowering experience. Coping with anxiety at the fish spa became an exercise in self-discovery, inner strength, and the realization that I am capable of overcoming any hurdle that comes my way.


Gradual relaxation and enjoyment

As I settled into the fish spa experience, an incredible transformation began to unfold. What started as a nerve-wracking encounter with my fear gradually gave way to relaxation and enjoyment. With each passing moment, I found myself embracing the unique sensations and fully immersing myself in the therapeutic embrace of the fish spa.


As I relaxed further, my body eased into a state of bliss. The rhythmic nibbling of the Garra rufa fish on my feet became a soothing sensation, akin to a gentle massage. The initial apprehension and nervous tension melted away, replaced by a deep sense of comfort and relaxation.


Surrounded by the tranquil atmosphere of the fish spa, I let go of any remaining anxieties and allowed myself to surrender to the experience. The worries and stresses of everyday life seemed to fade into the background, overshadowed by this uniquely serene moment.


The gentle movements of the fish created a symphony of tactile sensations. Their nibbles felt like playful flickers and caresses against my skin. It was not just the physical sensation that brought me joy, but also the symbolism behind it – the realization that I was embracing and conquering my fears in a peaceful and harmonious way.


As time passed, I became more aware of the profound connection that developed between the fish and myself. It was as if they understood my fears and insecurities, responding with unwavering gentleness and care. In their presence, I felt a sense of trust and camaraderie, knowing that we were on this transformative journey together.


The more I relaxed, the more I discovered the joy of being fully present in the moment. I let go of any distractions and allowed myself to bask in the serenity of the fish spa. With each passing minute, I felt a sense of gratitude expanding within me – gratitude for the opportunity to challenge myself, gratitude for the therapists who supported and guided me, and gratitude for the fish and their incredible ability to provide both physical and emotional healing.


As the fish continued their delicate nibbles, I found myself slipping into a state of pure bliss. The worries and weight of the world seemed to dissipate, replaced by a lightness of being. In this delicate dance between the fish and my feet, I discovered a newfound appreciation for the simple pleasures in life.


As I basked in the relaxation and enjoyment, I realized that the fish spa was not just about conquering my fear; it was about embracing self-care and nurturing myself from the inside out. It was a reminder to prioritize my well-being, to seek moments of tranquility and rejuvenation amidst the chaos of daily life.


Gradually, the fish spa experience came to an end, but its impact would resonate within me long after leaving the spa. I emerged with a sense of rejuvenation and a renewed perspective. The gradual relaxation and enjoyment I experienced at the fish spa served as a reminder of the transformative power of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and embracing the unknown. It was a testament to the incredible potential for growth and joy that lies within us, waiting to be discovered.



The experience of facing my fear at the fish spa in Bangkok was a journey of personal growth, resilience, and self-discovery. What began as an anxiety-inducing challenge transformed into a liberating and transformative adventure. Immersing my feet in the warm water filled with Garra rufa fish opened up a world of possibilities, allowing me to confront my fear head-on in a safe and controlled environment.


Throughout this experience, I gained a deeper understanding of my fears, learning that they were rooted in a fear of the unknown and a lack of control. By bravely stepping into the fish spa, I confronted these fears and redefined my relationship with fish. I let go of the negative associations and allowed myself to appreciate the unique beauty and symbolism behind this unusual spa treatment.


The fish spa experience provided not only an unconventional form of relaxation but also a journey of self-acceptance and personal growth. The sensations of the tiny fish nibbling on my feet brought about a gradual relaxation, dissipating anxiety and allowing me to fully immerse myself in the moment. It was a testament to the power of trust and vulnerability.


Coping with anxiety at the fish spa taught me invaluable lessons about resilience and the importance of self-care. Through deep breathing, visualization, and positive affirmations, I navigated through my fears, emerging stronger and more empowered on the other side. The supportive therapists and the peaceful ambiance of the spa played crucial roles in creating a space for healing and personal transformation.


The gradual relaxation and enjoyment I experienced at the fish spa reminded me of the beauty found in presence and letting go. It taught me the significance of embracing the unknown and surrendering to the process of growth. The fish, with their gentle nibbles, became catalysts for self-discovery, symbolizing the immense potential for change when we confront our fears with courage and determination.


The fish spa experience did more than just help me overcome my fear; it opened my eyes to the power of stepping outside of my comfort zone and embracing new experiences. It taught me that within fear lies an opportunity for growth and liberation. It reaffirmed that by facing our fears, we can unlock hidden strength, resilience, and personal transformation.


In the end, the fish spa journey was not just about exfoliating and rejuvenating my feet, but about exfoliating and rejuvenating my spirit. It was a reminder that growth often lies just beyond the realms of our comfort, waiting for us to take that leap of faith.


So, let me encourage you to embark on your own adventures, to confront your fears, and to embrace the unknown. Just as I found liberation and joy at the fish spa, you too can discover the transformative power of pushing past your limits and embracing the beauty that lies within each moment of growth.