How to have a Unique Thai Massage Experience
Thailand is known for its massages. There’s practically a massage parlor on every block of every major city in Thailand, offering walk-in massages for an insanely low price ($10 USD anyone?). Of course, anyone can go into any one of these shops and hope for the best in terms of service and quality, but what if you’re looking for a more unique experience? While walking into a random massage place can be an experience in and of itself, being able to research and feel confident in your massage might hold heavier weight for you, particularly in times of COVID-19.
Before I go into recommendations, what exactly is a Thai massage? How is it different from other massages? Well, it’s not just because they’re given in Thailand. Thai massage is a specific type of massage that focuses on using pressure points to release muscular tension. Essentially, they press into pressure points along your spine and other areas of focus to engage and loosen your muscles. You remain fully clothed for a Thai massage; there is no use of lotions or essential oils. We had three massages while I was in Thailand, and the first one definitely left my muscles sore the next day, partially because I had a male massage therapist who can apply stronger pressure, and partially because my muscles were just not used to being engaged in that way. When someone pushes into your pressure points, it can be difficult not to automatically tense up. But aside from the initial soreness, I felt so loose afterwards! It is an art that is truly in tune with the body. One of my massage therapists could even tell where I had broken my ankle in high school as she worked on my legs.
Here are three ways I recommend to have a high quality and unique Thai massage on your next trip to Thailand:
1. Wat Pho
That temple in the middle of Bangkok with the giant reclining Buddha and all the pretty chedis? That’s the birthplace of Thai massage! Wat Pho began as an early higher learning center for many traditional medicine techniques, including as a school of massage. In fact, the massage school still operates today. You can not only get a massage at Wat Pho, but you can take a beginner’s class and learn the core methods of Thai massage while you’re there! I wish we had gotten a massage at Wat Pho when we visited, and I certainly will the next time I’m in Bangkok. The history and prestige of the temple makes it that much more special, even if it is a bit more expensive. For more information on a Wat Pho massage experience (particularly if you’ve never had a Thai massage before), check out this article.
2. Perception Blind Massage
Another amazing way to have a unique Thai massage experience is at Perception Blind Massage. This massage parlor, with locations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, employs all blind or visually impaired massage therapists. The shops’ interior design is dark and calming, inspired by the inability of their therapists to see. When you walk in and book your massage, you receive a card with a biography of your therapist, telling their story of how they lost their vision and found their way to Perception. Perception provides employment for Thai people who have lost their vision and therefore their traditional means of employment, believing that they “demonstrate their unique talent for massage therapy as they are able to fully focus their sense of touch in a way others cannot.” This was a truly heartwarming experience and, of course, a really great massage.
3. Spa or Resort Massages
And lastly, Thailand naturally has spas and resorts that offer high quality massage experiences, for a bit of a higher price. We had massages both at Health Land Spa in Bangkok and at our resort’s spa in Ko Samui. While more expensive, these spa experiences are still cheaper than you would get them in the U.S., and if you’re traveling from the U.S. or Europe they may be closer to your expectations of a massage. Some of the benefits of getting a massage at a high-end spa include private rooms (rather than communal massage areas), extra perks like tea and fuzzy slippers before and after the massage, and additional spa services right on site. At our resort spa, we not only had a massage, but got a banana wrap and facial as well. All for much cheaper than I could have gotten them at home, but at just as high of a quality. A spa Thai massage is a bit of a “treat yo-self” experience, and it is undoubtedly worth it.
Do you have other unique Thai massage experiences? Let us know in the comments!
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