Thai Bodywork & Massage in Thailand
Massage, particularly Thai massage, has long been Thailand’s business card .
So how to find a massage parlor in Thailand? Write down the instructions: get out of your hotel, go on a lively street, walk a maximum of 100 meters ... and you are there!
But how to find a GOOD massage parlor in Thailand?
This is more tricky.
1) Location: search for massage parlors on the main streets of a destination city in Thailand, not on side alleys, and dead ends. As for massage at the hotel, the following question arises: are professional masseurs working there or just the hotel’s staff?
2) Pay attention to the room, its size, cleanliness, design and particularly the furniture. Good massage parlors in Thailand buy special transformable massage tables which are not cheap and not easy to replicate.
3) Number of staff. A professional will not combine the positions of a masseur and a janitor! Usually, Thai people who invite you for massage in the street combine the functions of an administrator, cashier, cleaner, but don’t do massage themselves.
4) The private room is needed for certain types of massage such as oil massage. If you are offered to do a Thai massage in the common room an no curtains are available - leave without worrying! This type of massage is done in a separate room or at minimum in the privacy behind a curtain and you should be offered to change into a special kimono. In the common room of a Thai massage parlor, you can get feet, head, neck and shoulder massage.
5) Ask if there is a shower. If not, then after the oil massage you will be offered to wipe with a towel and you’ll most likely want to head back to your hotel and shower as you’ll not feel very comfortable without doing so.
6) If you decided on a massage place, trust them with your feet first. You will feel immediately if it’s worth it or not.
7 )Pick a massage place with average pricing. Staff might be new or inexperienced in places that charge lower than average and there is no need to pay more for the same service.
8) Pay attention to the uniform. Good massage parlors provide their employees with the uniform.
9) Pay attention to the physical form of the masseur. This job requires a lot of strengths and if a person is not in a good shape, is it unlikely that this massage therapist has the necessary experience and qualification.
10) Best practices - women from 35 to 45 years. They already have both experience, physical strength, and enough knowledge of body language and stress points to know if you’re comfortable or not.
11) Thai massage parlors are known for providing extra services so you can specify that you want ONLY Thai (or any other) massage for 1 hour.
Planning your ultimate trip to Southeast Asia, but your strapped for time? Check out our Thailand Itinerary 10 days
The next question is what kind of massage to choose?
The most common types of massage offered to tourists are:
Classic Thai massage has a healing effect on the body. The procedure itself is unlikely to give you pleasure, as you will be twisted, stretched, and the masseur will their hands, elbows and feet to apply pressure to certain places of your body. The key is to try to relax and let away the tension.
Thai massage has a very beneficial effect on the spine and internal organs even though sometimes you will feel pain. But, as Thais believe, where there is no pain - there is no gain. However, in order to heal and rejuvenate your body with the help of a Thai massage, one session is not enough, you need to do it 4-7 times. Thai massage can be done no more than twice a week!
Thai massage is not recommended if you suffer from varicose veins, diabetes, heart, and vascular diseases, you have serious injuries or you are pregnant.
If you had an injury in the past and it healed well, and you really want to try Thai massage, then at least warn the masseur by marking the problem area with gestures!
In good parlors with professional masseurs and not people from the street, the massage therapist will ask you if it hurts or not – and will apply the pressure based on your reaction. High end places will also include a sheet that you can show where the pain and tension areas of your body are.
Massage with oils has a relaxing and soothing effect, relieves stress, headaches and insomnia. During this massage, you will not feel pain, but only relaxation and pleasure. In an oil massage, not only will a few areas of your body be worked on, but you’ll be massaged from head to toe. This type of massage has no particular contraindications. The main thing to remember: do not eat before the procedure, because everything will be massaged, including the stomach! So the best way to do it is to get oil massage on the empty stomach. The massage is very pleasant and beneficial.
For this type of massage, you need to undress completely. In some parlors, the masseur covers your body with towels (5-6pcs.), so that you do not feel uncomfortable, and carries out the massage by opening one part of the body after another. After oil massage, there is always a feeling of hunger (quality indicator).
In some parlors they wash your feet, in others they wipe them with a warm, damp towel. Both options are acceptable. Sometimes special tools like wooden sticks are used to apply more pressure.
Foot massage is generally relaxing, but some masseurs make it more of a deep tissue massage – it is painful, but helps to reach the desired result.
Thai herbal massage
The masseur will bring something like electric pot to warm up the sacks with herbs. The sacks are about 15 cm in diameter, heavy and with a handle to hold on to. First, the masseur will massage your body through the towel, and then will press the sacks directly on your back. And the further movements will be done with the help of these sacks. The relaxing effect is remarkable, and they apply quite a lot of pressure, so do not think of this as a light massage.
Shoulders and head massage
In Thailand, shoulder massage is not the most important one, so 75% of the time they will go to the head. There are almost no contraindications. This type of massage is meant for relaxation and to sooth the mind and soul. Personally, I almost fell asleep. Hand massage is also included in this procedure. If desired, in good parlors they can also wash your hair.
Other types of massage
Massage with aroma oils is more expensive and essentially the same as an oil-massage, but with the addition of 2-3 oils of choice. We don't see the point for paying much more, as you might not even feel the fragrance of aroma oils unless your upper body is massaged.
"Honeymoon massage" is sometimes combined with spa treatments. The main differences: a beautiful setting, the couple is massaged on the adjacent tables at the same time. Not all parlors practice that.
"Massage with 4 hands." It's usually an Oil massage and is more expensive.
Massage with the use of objects: sticks, pebbles, herbal bags, balls, etc. It does not give special advantages, but there will be new sensations.
“Fish Massage” which can hardly be called a massage and is known to everyone who has ever been to Thailand. Sit down and lower your legs in the aquarium, and the “hungry” fish do their job. Not recommended for those who are very ticklish.
Not typical massage parlors in Thailand
We already gave you tips on how to find a good massage parlor anywhere around Thailand. Now we are going to recommend you some massage places that are unique and stand out from others.
Wat Pho is not only an ancient temple but is also considered the birthplace of traditional Thai massage with fundamental massage guidelines. Massage skills were honed and cultivated at Wat Pho for centuries, so you are in really good hands…literally! Wat Pho also has a school, so you have an opportunity to take a course in massage! We recommend that you book a massage before you go to the temple. An hour of traditional Thai massage costs 420 THB ($13USD), but the price is worth it to experience your own piece of history.
If you opt for a traditional Thai massage wear something loose, as you don’t take your clothes off during this type of massage. Alternatively, you will be provided something to change to.
In addition to the price above you also need to add on the cost of entry to Wat Pho (currently 100 THB or $3USD).
2 Sanamchai Road, Phra Borommaharachawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10020 (Immediately south of the Grand Palace)
By Taxi: Ask the driver to take you to Wat Pho (or Wat Phra Chetuphon as it is known to most Thais)
By MRT: The closest station is Hua Lampong; take a taxi from there.
By Boat: Take the Chao Phraya River Express to Tha Thien, the closest stop from Wat Pho.
Open every day from 8:00 – 18:00 hrs.
Massage by the Blind
It is believed that due to the lack of vision, blind masseurs are more in sync with their body and can provide better treatment. It is also an excellent source of income for blind people, who often struggle to find work in Bangkok. The Foundation for the Employment of the Blind in Bangkok created a massage parlor to provide a source of income for blind people, who often struggle to find work. Thai massage here is extremely good with only 200 Baht per hour ($6USD). Masseurs are very friendly, and you will relax and enjoy the experience.
Location: 2218/86 Chan Road, Chongnontri Yannawa, Bangkok (02 678 0763)
Getting There: By taxi or by taking the BRT from Chong Nonsi Station to Thanon Jan (Chan Road).
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 20:00
Phone number: +66 (0) 2 678 0763)
On the pricier end is Perception Blind massage the cost of one hour Thai massage being 450 THB($14USD). This massage place has excellent Tripadvisor reviews. This massage parlor is more modern and the appointment can be made online. Amazing Thai Bodywork
The concept is to help women prisoners adapt to life after release from prison by teaching them a new profession. This place has been open for 14 years and inmates are selected and trained scrupulously. Here you can only get body massage or foot massage for a rate of 200 THB per hour($6USD). Prisoners receive 50% of the money they generate which will help them get a fresh start after prison.
You can not make any appointment, so we recommend coming there as early as possible as a lot of people willing to attend this massage institution.
Location: 100 Rachawithi Road, Siriphum T, Muang Chiang Mai.
Opening hours: Mn-Fd from 8 am to 4:30 pm; St-Sun from 9 am to 4:30 pm.
Alternatively, visit Women's Massage Center by Ex-Prisoners with polite and helpful staff, and high-quality Thai bodywork.
Yam Khang fire massage at Ban Rai Kong Khing village
Thai Traditional Fire Therapy or Yam Khang is an ancient massage style which is found in northern Thailand.
This healing practice uses heat, oils, and only the feet to massage the body of the patient. Yam Khang massage is a rare find and you can get one in Ban Rai Kong Khing which is a small village located in the Hang Dong District outside of Chiang Mai.