Most people who visit Thailand have a to-do list of things that they want to experience, and Thai massage is always very close to the top of that list – it’s right up there with temples, pad Thai and elephant rides. With so many massage options available to visitors, it can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for so to help you out we’ve put together a list of five places in the city to get a genuine Thai massage.
Unlike Western massage styles, the Thai massage focuses on pressure points. Treatment often begins with the feet and gradually moves upwards towards the head. Rhythmic compressions and manoeuvres are methods employed in order to relax and realign energies in the body. Varying amounts of pressure are applied to energy lines along the body in accordance with the Ayurvedic principles of balancing one's energy.
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You can’t really walk down a street in Bangkok without coming across a massage shop, they really are as ubiquitous as 7-Elevens. Massage shops are usually spread over several floors. On the ground floor you will find a row of chairs and footstalls where you will sit if you request a foot massage. Upstairs will be a series of mattresses separated by curtains that are used for Thai massage, and you get to put on some pyjamas that make you look like a 19th century labourer, so the massage therapist can bend and stretch your limbs easily. Because there are so many in the city, it would be impossible to pick out a selection of the very best, so it’s more a case of common sense. Often smaller hotels will be able to make recommendations too. Most massage shops will speak basic English and prices will be advertised outside the shop; on average it costs 200-300 baht for an hour’s Thai massage.
With three handy locations in Bangkok, Asia Herb Association is a smart choice for those who want a massage treatment that is designed to accommodate foreigners as well as locals. You will need to book ahead but the receptionists speak English, pick a time and duration and you can select the treatment once you get there. Here a Thai massage for an hour will cost 400 baht for 60 minutes. You can also get oil massages, scrubs and Thai herbal ball treatment here. You are given a tick sheet at the start where you can ask the massage therapist to focus on certain areas of your body, highlight any health issues you might have and choose the amount of pressure you would like. There are private rooms in which you can enjoy the treatments either alone or as a couple.
- Sukhumvit 24 Shop 20/1, Sukhumvit Rd (5 minutes walk from BTS Phrom Pong) Tel: +66 (0)2 26174013
- Sukhumvit 31 shop 20/1, Sukhumvit Rd (15 minutes walk from BTS Phrom Pong) Tel: +66 (0)2 26122012
- Sukhumvit 55 Tonglor Shop 58/19-24, Sukhumvit Rd (5 minutes from BTS Thong Lor) Tel: +66 (0)2 39236313
Wat Pho is considered the home of traditional Thai massage, with the guiding principles of massage actually inscribed in stone within the temple grounds. Massage skills have been honed and cultivated at Wat Pho for centuries so you are in really good hands. Wat Pho also run a school, so if you enjoy the treatment you could even take a new skill home! We recommend that you book your massage before you look around the temple as after midday it can get busy. A massage in the air-conditioning here is a welcome treat after visiting the temples. A recent refurbishment has added floor to ceiling windows that offer a great view of the glittering buildings, but if the sun is out they will close the thick blinds and you can forget about the bustle of Bangkok. An hour Thai massage is 420 baht, but the price is worth it to experience your own slice of history. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00 until 18:00
- Location: Maharat Road. Close to the river (about a half mile south of the Grand Palace), Old City (Rattanakosin)
From the outside Health Land looks like a retro mansion and inside it’s a little like a hospital but if you speak to the locals this is often their number one pick for massage treatments in Bangkok – the facilities are high quality and the massages are great value with a two hour Thai message costing only 500 baht. Other treatments include foot reflexology, body polish and facials as well as enjoying the spa Jacuzzi or tourmaline sauna that is designed for one person. Be sure to book ahead as Health Land is extremely popular, and a word of warning, staff at the reception desk may not be the friendliest welcome team around but once you get are enjoying your Thai massage you will soon forget about this.
- Health Land Sathorn, 120 North Sathorn Rd (10 minutes walk from BTS Chong Nonsi) Tel: +66 (0)2 6378883
- Health Land Asoke, 55/5 Sukhumvit 21 Rd (10 minutes walk from BTS Asoke and MRT Sukhumvit) Tel: +66 (0)2 2611110
- Health Land Ekkamai, 96/1 Soi Sukhumvit 63/Ekkamai (15 minutes walk from BTS Ekkamai) Tel: +66 (0)2 3922233
- There are also branches in Pinklao, Chaeng Wattana, Rama 2 and Srinakarin.
It is often said that because of their lack of sight, blind masseurs are more in tune with your body and can provide a better treatment. It is also a great source of income for blind people, who often struggle to find employment in Bangkok. The Foundation for the Employment of the Blind in Bangkok has set up a massage shop in the building on Chan Kao Raod. Open from 9:00 until 20:00, a Thai massage here is great value at 200 baht an hour. It may seem strange at first, but the massage therapists are very friendly and you soon relax and enjoy the experience. The Foundation is located a little way from the skytrain system, but getting a taxi from town will be pretty stress free, or take the BRT (a special bus with its own lane) from Chong Nonsi to Thanon Jan (Chan Road), and it is a short walk from there.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 20:00
- Address: 2218/86 Chan Road, Chongnontri Yannawa, Bangkok (02 678 0763)