Other than ‘you must have one’, we hadn’t heard much about Thai massages prior to our initial experience. The first thing you should know about massages in Thailand is that they are not gentle.
The classic ‘Thai massage’ is a series of harsh (and sometimes painful) stretches and bends, rather than soft skin strokes. Whilst it may feel like you’ve just paid to be beaten up, you will feel ‘looser’ and more supple afterwards. If you are wanting a more gentle approach, try an oil or aromatic massage; but be warned that a surprisingly severe amount of pressure is still applied. Our most recent oil massage included small punches, clicking of joints, being kneaded with elbows, and a slap around the head. They will not only use their hands and elbows, but feet and knees too! One of us (Charlotte) dozed off mid-massage, only to awake and discover herself intertwined with the masseuse whilst being bent in half.
Secondly, Thai masseuses rarely focus on just the part of the body of which you have requested. Recently we have had the backs of our legs pummeled during a head massage, fingers pulled during a foot massage, and only today in the middle of a ‘light shoulder rub’, had the entire body pulled into a strange crab shape (Sarah).
A good massage parlour will include complimentary hot herbal tea, loose clothing, maybe paper underwear for a full body rub, and a towel to pat off any oil used during the massage. It will last typically an hour and is generally performed on a raised mattress on the floor or a platform. They’re also incredibly cheap and cost on average about 350 baht (approximately £8). Should you opt for the traditional Thai massage, we’d advise going to a recommended salon where you know the masseuses have had proper training – spines can be fragile!
If you are getting a massage with friends, they will usually leave the curtains between you open. A word of advice: if this is the case, do not at any point during the session open your eyes, unless you wish to see your friend’s foot by their ear, whilst they’re having their hips ‘opened’.
Thai massages are fantastic, well worth a try and are incredibly relaxing. We don’t want to put you off, but more prepare you for the flexibility the masseuse will awaken within you!
Finally, avoid massage parlours with red lights; unless you want an entirely different experience all together…
Charlotte & Sarah x