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).