Surely almost everybody visiting Thailand, will most likely be tempted to have a Thai Massage. How else? Together with the beaches, islands, and beautiful Buddhist temples, Thai Massage is perhaps Thailand’s most successful export product!
Yet, today, when we enter a mid-end or high-end Spa facility in Thailand, the Spa menus, packages and treatment courses with offerings of Chocolate Flavored, Seaweed Soaked, Jasmine Rice Milked, Warm Creamy Coconut Extract Massage, and Herbal Red Wine Steam Scrub Wrap services make us wonder where the heck we are.
The question if perhaps we ended up in a 5-Star Michelin restaurant in Europe, or in a full-fledged Caribbean Wellness Cruise-Ship retreat, undoubtedly creeps under our skin. Yep, globalization means globalization, and our good old traditional Thailand globalizes just like the rest of us.
Nevertheless, even high-end Wellness facilities and Top Spas in Thailand cannot avoid offering “common” Thai traditional treatments and services to stay somewhat credible as a “Thai Spa,” even if their services are decorated with a Signature Massage spread of organic avocado whipped cream cherry topping.
So, in this article we’ll help you to get a grip on the 5 most common and still very popular Thai Traditional Massage treatments, where you can get them, what they are, and what you can expect to pay for them.
Traditional Thai Massage
The “most common” Thai Massage treatment is still the most popular session and consists of a full body, head-to-toe clothed massage, which usually takes about 1 hour with a maximum of yes… 4 hours. It all depends, and you can yourself choose the duration you like, and of course, pay the price attached to a longer session.
There are many different styles of doing Thai Massage, but in general your body will get stretched, cracked, and squeezed, turned around from left-to-right in both sitting and lying position, and most likely you will get some acupressure done with the thumbs, knees, or elbows. It’s all for your own good and sometimes a bit painful now and then, but remember… it’s what they call Good Pain in Thailand.
You can get a Thai Massage on the beaches, the markets, the shopping malls, in hotels and guesthouses, at the airports, in street font massage stores and shops, in mid-end and high-end Day Spas, and in luxurious Wellness Retreats. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya or on Koh Phangan… Thai Massage is just simply everywhere!
Prices start as from 150 THB (Thai Baht) for an hour up to 5,000 THB an hour — you can have it as expensive as you like. Usually, you can already have a decent, serious, trusted Thai Massage session starting at about 250 THB for an hour.
Advice: if the practitioner asks you if you like it hard or soft… in heavens name say “Soft, please!”
Thai Foot Massage
After Thai Massage, the Foot Massage treatment is a sure thing to find on every Spa service menu, even on the menu from the little old Thai lady offering massages on the beach. It’s immensely popular, also with Thai people, it’s usually cheaper than a Thai Massage session and it generally only takes about 30 minutes up to 1 hour.
A quickie, cheap, and very relaxing, and not for nothing very popular. Prices can start as from 100 THB for 30 minutes, up to 2000 THB for an hour, depending on the facility and ambiance.
If you ask the practitioner to please not use wooden sticks or tools (if you like to walk normally in the days after), you can’t go wrong, and basically you can get a Foot Massage in any shop. Often, a Thai Foot Massage doesn’t concern the feet only, but also the calves and the upper legs, and some practitioners end the session with a brief head, neck, and shoulder treatment.
You’ll often notice the phrase Thai Foot Massage & Reflexology, but don’t think too much of the reflexology part, it’s often just “to say so.” Serious Foot Reflexology is a therapeutic treatment, another game and rather rare in offerings, in fact, you will need to inquire and “know where to get those.”
Thai Oil Massage
Like with Thai Foot Massage, which is sometimes offered as Thai Foot Massage & Reflexology, you’ll often see Thai Oil Massage and Aromatherapy on the menu. Of course, there’s an obvious link between oil and aroma, because the (essential) oils used are often aromatic oils made or extracted of plants, flowers, and/or herbs.
Thai Oil Massage certainly needs a spot in the Top 5 of Thai Massage treatments, as it’s very often offered and very sought-after because of the deep relaxation it beholds. It usually costs more than a plain clothed Thai Massage (in fact Thai Oil Massage can be seen as an unclothed Thai Massage), because of the oils used, and the bed and towels needed (which get dirty).
Prices start around 350-400 THB for an hour, and like everything else in Thailand… the sky is the limit of the price you’ll pay, all depending on location and ambiance. Unlike Thai Massage, a Thai Oil Massage is usually given in a separate room to guard your privacy.
Thai Head, Neck, and Shoulder Massage
In fact, the Thai Head, Neck, and Shoulder Massage is a subset of a full body clothed massage, but much shorter and limited to the body parts mentioned. It’s easy for both the receiver and therapist, it can be given seated, and virtually everywhere.
Session times take as from 15 minutes up to maximum one hour usually. Costs can start at about a 100 THB for 15 minutes (again depending on the setting). You’ll often see this kind of treatments given on the streets, night markets and in shopping malls, but surely also in street front shops, mid-end and high-end spas.
Hot Herbal Compress, Herbal Ball or Herbal Pack Massage
And finally the Thai Hot Herbal (Cotton) Ball Massage, a hot steamed pack or wrapping around Thai leaves and herbs for a deeply soothing, calming, and relaxing treatment. By the way, Cold Herbal packs are also possible, depending on the goal of the treatment.
Usually the treatment is given in a separate room with regard to privacy. Depending on the style of the practitioner and treatment, the session is given on the naked body or over the clothes. In the latter case it’s wise then to have disposable clothes or clothes that are allowed to get stained.
In fact, originally, it’s a highly therapeutic treatment using specific mixes and recipes of herbs to relieve or cure certain ailments. Session times usually take about 1 hour up to 2 hours max. Pricing can start at about 350-400 THB for an hour up to again… whatever “the fool wants to pay.”