What’s the Difference Between Shisha and Hookah?

Posted on by Paymon's Las Vegas in

While most hookah lounges have knowledgeable staff to help first-time users or anyone who needs assistance, if you’re like many people, it’s a little uncomfortable to try things when you feel unsure about proper “lingo.” We very much want our customers to feel welcome and at ease, so let’s get started with just a basic primer of two very important terms: Shisha and Hookah. People use these terms interchangeably sometimes, and they are connected, but let’s look at the terms more closely.


In some regions, the actual pipe is called the “shisha;” although this is also the primary term used when referencing the tobacco that is smoked. This tobacco is traditionally soaked in flavored juices and placed in a hookah bowl. The shisha is often fruit-flavored. (You can see Paymon’s unique hookah menu here: https://bit.ly/2u5d3Fv.) The shisha goes in a “bowl” that goes on top of the hookah and is smoked when heated with coals. So, shisha is the name for the aromatic and flavorful tobacco that is used within a hookah, but the term is also taken to mean the pipe itself – especially since the Persian word for glass is shishe.


Hookah is the actual pipe through which one smokes shisha. A hookah is distinguishable from other pipes because it is a water pipe. A hookah has a water basin at the bottom, so when a user inhales the vapor, it passes through the water before it’s taken into the body.

Most hookahs are made of glass and seem more like works of art than smoking devices. They were originally invented in India, but the practice of relaxing and sharing a bowl of shisha has become an important part of culture throughout the Middle East as well as India. The hookah has only been popular in the Western world in the last 20 years or so.

Now, people all over the world have taken up this activity, with the hookah rising in popularity across the Americas, (Where The “Hookah Lounge” concept was created, and the name was trademarked by our very own Paymon Raouf!), Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

It boils down to this — “hookah” is the pipe, and “shisha” is the tobacco used in a hookah, but those are formal terms. If you hear someone talking about either hookah or shisha, you won’t be wrong in thinking they’re talking about using a beautiful glass water pipe to share a bowl of aromatic tobacco in a practice that literally goes back centuries. In today’s hookah world, many users and professionals use these terms interchangeably. Modern hookah is evolving while keeping the appreciation of the relaxing rituals involved with using this delightful smoking method. Hookah vernacular is evolving too.

To get the full-on hookah experience, visit us at Paymon’s Mediterranean Café and Hookah Lounge. Our Hookah Master will introduce you to the splendor of smoking shisha by guiding you through the entire process. Knowing what to expect and how best to enjoy the experience will elevate it for you. It’s a scientifically-proven fact that nicotine increases levels of dopamine, and other feel-good endorphins in the brain, and although our Shisha does not contain much nicotine, it still induces good feelings, but the way we smoke shisha becomes much more than that. Hookah smoking is an enjoyable and satisfying ritual to be shared with friends and those we love to be around.