Eastern Hemisphere, Travel

my Thai massage experience

A little over a year ago, there was a massage therapist named Rachel who shared a room in the back of the Pilates studio where I was a member. She specialized in Thai massage, which I’d never had. So as luck would have it, I entered a contest and won a free Thai massage from her. It was pretty different than all the other massage therapy I’d had in the past, which are variations, as I understand it, on Swedish and sports massage. The funny thing was that the Thai massage therapist was this tall blonde American dancer who looked like a Norwegian goddess and talked like a Boulder yoga teacher. And I think she learned Thai massage from someone in Colorado. So of course I wondered how her technique compared to a Thai massage, you know, in Thailand. Well, today I had a chance to finally find out. Here’s my report, in the form of a Facebook post.


This morning I got my first fully real Thai massage today. It lasted an hour. As with one of the Balinese massages and the Khmer (Cambodian) massage I had, they gave me some clothes like hospital scrubs to wear. The pants only went down to my knees, and the masseuse helped me tie them correctly. At least it wasn’t the little hair net underpants thing I had to wear at that one place in Bali. The spa was much more pedestrian than some of the others I’ve visited – just one big room with curtains dividing each person’s area, sort of like a hospital.

Unlike the Balinese and Khmer massages, this one didn’t start with a foot massage in flowery water. The approach felt like a cross between chiropractic adjustment and what I normally think of as massage. Parts of it were pretty intense, even though I asked for pressure level 1 (on a scale of 1 or 2). At least that’s what I think she was asking. Whatever the question was, my answer was a definitive 1! 🙂

Anyhow, most of it was “dry” over the clothes, but some used oil and/or tiger balm (judging from the smell) under the clothes, which sorta surprised me. She was all over me like a tiny and ridiculously strong monkey, and used hands, elbows, feet, and knees in ways I never would’ve imagined, including punching. The massage ended with work on the head and neck and shoulders while I was sitting up.

After I changed back into my street clothes, I went out to the front room and she served me a cup of hot tea with sugar. The price was 200 Baht, but I also gave her a 100 Baht tip for New Years. All told, that’s $8 US.

Kayla Xavier, we talked about this a year ago, so I’m happy to report I finally got my Thai massage in Thailand.


Since I wrote about my Balinese massage experience here on my blog, I figured I should put my Thai massage experience in the same place. We’re going to be in Thailand for another four weeks, so I’m hoping to get more Thai massages, several more.

The photo above is from wiseGEEK’s great article on Thai massage, used without permission.

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