What To Expect From A Thai Massage (And Where To Find One)

thai massage

Flickr CC/Thomas Wanhoff

The concept of a Thai massage might invoke a picture of a Thai masseuse walking on top of the patient’s back, but in reality, Thai massage is much more complex and is a must-try on any trip to Thailand.

What Makes Thai Massage Different

thai massage

Flickr CC/graceyoga

Think of Thai massage as a mix of acupressure, assisted stretching and deep-tissue massage influenced by Ayurvedic principles. That means your masseuse will knead your knots away, as well as realign your spine, hips and other joints.

Be warned: This means your masseuse will be getting up close and personal with you. Your personal bubble boundaries might be tested when another person starts contorting your limbs into assisted yoga poses, but your arms and legs will feel amazing afterward.

However, as always, be vocal about anything that makes you uncomfortable. A massage should make you relax — not feel even more tense.


The most traditional way to experience Thai massage is at Wat Pho, one of the most magnificent temples in the city. You can view the temples and gardens and then relax during a classic massage.

For a more upscale experience, head to Asia Herb Association. Prices start at around $20 for an hour-long massage with herbal oils. If you want a taste of Bangkok’s high life, head to a spa located inside of a hotel. Many of these hotels are also the locations of rooftop bars with amazing views of the city, so if you can’t afford to stay here for your entire Bangkok trip, you can at least have a taste.

Chiang Mai

Inside the old city of Chiang Mai, you’ll find massage spot after massage spot. We like Orn Healing Hands, The Giving Tree and Green Bamboo Massage, although you can’t really go wrong with a foot massage anywhere after a long day of wandering through the charming streets here. Look for prices around 200 Thai baht (about $6.50).

The Islands

Although each island has a wealth of amazing massages, you could start with Phuket’s Santosa Detox and Wellness Center, Koh Phangan’s Tanaporn Massage House, Koh Samui’s Magnolia or Koh Lanta’s Serenity Massage. Trust us — you’ll want more than one.


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