I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I’ve been getting Thai massages for years and I’m always on the lookout for THE ONE. In case you’ve missed it, I’ve already talked about all the wrong ones you are likely to meet so I figured it was high time that I write about the practical and good sides.

The problem is getting a good massage depends greatly on the person giving the massage. You don’t say…

So, anyone who tells you that they had the best massage at OK Massage or Spa for You probably got a good masseuse and there is no guarantee that you’ll get her when you go there. Sorry. I’ve gone to the same place over and over again thinking, “I found it! I finally found it!” only to be bitterly disappointed by that girl who poked at my body like Buddhist Lent leftovers.

And then I’d find another place and repeat my naïve process all over again.

It occurred to me while I was blissed out on the table that I needed to write about what I knew so things could go smoother for you and share my general knowledge because, well, you deserve it.


// The best massages I’ve had, upon relaxed reflection, have been in small massage shops where there is one or two women working there. Naturally there are exceptions.

// At Kad Suan Kaew in Chiang Mai on Thursdays and Fridays, if memory serves, around 4pm there is a massage setup in front of the mall. They are the exceptions.

// The rule, on the other hand, is next to Boonthavan Court on Ratchadamdern Soi 1. I tremble as I type because they are that good. Those two ladies are THE BEST. I was in CM about 2 months ago and they were still there.

// The best one in Chiang Rai is on the second floor of Condotel. Her name is Bee, she’s a sweetie and it’s only her. (She’s closed on Wednesdays)

// In the North, women massage women, but in Bangkok I got an excellent massage from a man. He was much more conscious about touching me where he shouldn’t, more than any female masseuse I’ve had.

Now, men usually massage men and if you’re a dude and don’t want another dude massaging you, speak up. No, you are not homophobic, (are you homophobic?) you should be comfortable and if you are not comfortable then you need to say so.

// This brings me to the most important point and that is tell them where you hurt, problem areas and if you want them to be gentle. I’ve endured some pretty shitty massages when speaking up could have alleviated some of the problem.

I think we get scared, but just tell them “softer please” or whatever because a Thai massage is not like a Swedish massage. It can be thumbs of iron digging into your skin or worst, your temples. The very opposite of relaxing and I’ve scared you away by now, haven’t I?

// I’d recommend telling them to skip the face massage if you are having an unpleasant experience. It’s one of the last things they do and this can only make you feel worse if it’s “meh” or torturous already.

// You can also ask them to not to the twists at the end (where you are sitting up). I do. I find the back-cracking twist and the other shenangans at the end of the massage to be risky and not worth it.

This is a screenshot of my amazing acting from a VDO via ThaiGirlTalk. Click on this pic to watch or go here: http://youtu.be/bG8Lxdcokm0

// A lot of tourists just get the foot massage, but if you want to be brave, but don’t think you’ll like the Thai one, you can get an oil massage and that is much more like a Swedish one. Smoother, soothing, and yes, you will have to be naked.

// For the ladies, when you go get a massage, I’d recommend wearing a sports bra. You can always not wear one when you change into the provided pants and see-through top, but for those who want the coverage, a bra without tiny straps will be infinitely more comfortable.

// For a Thai massage, they usually work on your legs first (forever), then your arms, ask you to lie on your stomach, then work on your back, more legs (they can’t help themselves), then you’re on your back again for a head massage and then sitting up for some last minute twists and back thumping.

// Tipping is something you should do. I think there have only been one or two instances where the massage was so bad I didn’t tip. But generally, I tip 50 baht for a one hour massage. 20 baht seems to be the standard tip, but I think that is a rather shitty tip. I’ve been known to tip 100, too.

// The price of a massage depends on where you are at. The airport and Bangkok will be more expensive than Chiang Mai. It will also depend on whether you go to a fancy spa or not. To be honest, I haven’t felt much of a difference between the upscale places and the hole-in-the-walls. I think for the nicer places, you pay for the ambiance, the pampering, and like I said, I’ve had excellent massages from small businesses.

// Be totally willing to walk out after checking out a place.

// Cleanliness counts. If it looks or smells dirty, just leave. You don’t want to put on the clothes they haven’t washed or lie on the bed that others have laid on or be touched by a person who doesn’t use soap. Seriously. This isn’t you trying to prove how cool you can be “roughing it”. I was in such a place and she used a washcloth to massage me.

She never touched me with her bare hands. It was always the wash cloth against my skin while I got this massage. I began to wonder if she was protecting herself from me or the other way around. Yes, I immediately went home and took a hot shower. I contemplated shaving my head. Just kidding. Sort of.

What are your tips? What’s the best “PG rated” massage you’ve ever had?

30 replies on “🇹🇭 Tips for getting a good Thai massage

  1. Some of them will deliberately hurt you to see how much you can take. Stop them and tell them to quit hurting you or you will not give them a tip….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG. This is soooo true. We had the worst “massage” in Sukothai. They were so rough, it was like, “Did we do something wrong?” And another time in CM, the woman kept laughing when my friend was in agony. I think she thought it was funny.


  2. I never had any Thai Massage so I cant say anything about it but everytime in China I go multiple times for massage. I’ve got very bad back and shoulder problems so I am looking each time forward to my trip to China. Here in Europe no one could help me with massage yet but in Xi’an it works right away 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My b/f tells me that the massages in China are far superior than Thai massages. Probably something to do with all those thousands and thousands of years of history or something 😉


  3. Yes, I’ve had to “tap-out” a few times and tell them to lighten up. In my town most places have one or two working and depend on roving “on call” masseuses when they get busy. My tip would be when you get very good one ask if they can come to your house and get their phone number when the owner is not around. Most will jump at the opportunity to keep all the money and not split it with the “house”. Just a suggestion. Great blog, keep’em coming Lani.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is an excellent idea. My mom did this when she was here. And I recall one massuse that I loved and I’d ask for her when I was in a particular place, but she stopped becoming available. I should have gotten her number. Yes, they are “on call” and more around, very true. A good point to remember.

      “Tap out” – 555. Thanks, Pat!


  4. I have gotten many Thai massages during my travels to Thailand but I think the more memorable one was at a beach resort in Phuket. The ladies were set up in a gazebo outside and you could hear the waves in the distance. Plus, it actually felt relaxing. But, then again, all Thai massages were better than my only and only visit to a Chinese doctor where the guy tried to massage the pinch nerve in my back away and I ended up all black and blue in the area.


    1. Sorry about the Chinese doctor. I know about the bruises you are talking about. I’ve been sore from bad massages for days because they think if they work harder on you then you’ll feel better.

      Your beach resort massage, on the other hand, sounds divine. Definitely where ambiance pays off. Hearing the waves, yes. Relaxing!


  5. I love thai massages, but boy do they hurt! Like some of the others said, it’s like they think it’s funny to see how much you can take. I’ve had massages where I was in agony the whole time while they’re working on my legs, but I felt really good afterwards (like my legs were jello), so I felt like that was worth it! We always got our massages at a nicer resort + spa In Chiang Mai because the ambience was nicer and more relaxed. I could really go for one right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me, too. 🙂 I think I could go for them everyday if it was relaxing…which is funny because I remember this woman telling me that massages were like exercising and I was like, uh, no they are not the same.


  6. I’ve only had a couple of massages in my life by Chinese masseurs in Malaysia and Singapore. Reputable massage shop, like a beauty shop in the mall. I got shoulder and neck massages. Both times walked away stiff, painful and tender. This is even despite me saying go gentle, please do that area softer. It could just have been two bad experiences. Then again, I’m reedy thin so there really isn’t much for masseurs to grab and squeeze…


    1. Oh, no. Don’t say reedy thin! Yeah, sometimes I think these women hate their jobs and pour their frustrations out on to the bodies they work on. But I swear there are good ones out there!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But…but…I’m skinny so there is literally nothing for masseurs to grab on when they massage me. So, it’s a case of me, not you 😀


  7. I go regularly to Chinese massage. If it is well done it hurts, but it’s worth it. After a couple of days you feel like new 😀

    In Beijing I used to go to special clinics where blind people work as masseurs, but they are hard to find in Suzhou. They only one I tried closed a few months ago 😦


    1. I had a place that I loved, but they closed down. Years later a friend visiting texted me, “Where is that place?”

      Blind massages are here, too. Some claim they are the best. I actually haven’t tried it yet. I need to.

      Some massages do hurt, but you know when it’s going to be beneficial. I appreciate a slower approach. I hate it when they are “just going through the motions” or racing. Not relaxing! 😛


  8. This reminds me that I really need a massage.
    I have switched from Thai massages to aromatherapy oil massages down here… I realized that for the same price I could be relaxed and enjoy it more. This is a great post though, I know I will use it! Thanks Lani!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You are so right about the best massages being places with just one woman. A lot of LA women love Burke-Williams, a big chain spa with lots of steam rooms, etc., but you never know exactly what you’re gonna get — could be Sadist of the Iron Thumb, could be Butterfly Wings. And the turnover rate is huge, so any masseuse you like will be gone next month. I found a fantastic little place owned and operated by the masseuse herself in a strip mall. Love it.

    I always try and warn any masseuse that I am a super wussy white girl and bruise easily. Sadist of the Iron Thumb didn’t believe me until I came back and showed her the line of bruises down my calves the next day.


    1. Ah! That’s terrible that you had to go back to prove it. That doesn’t make you wussy, by the way, I bruise easily, too. It’s just the way you are. Ug…yeah, the things we go through to relax, eh? 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The best massage I’ve had in CR is at the hot springs at Praesert , close to the National Park, followed by a hot soak in the private bathhouses, works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Awesome tips!! I wish I lived in Thailand so I could check out some of the places that you recommended!!

    I was skeptical of Thai massages at first because I heard they stretch and pull you, but after having a few of them both in Thailand and in the states I have to say–they’re pretty damn good.

    How do you feel about the ones that walk on your back? I just had that done at a place here and it was surprisingly good.

    Also, another woman started massaging my wrists even though I said my shoulders were aching. She said massaging the wrists helps alleviate shoulder pain…? What do you think of that?

    Anyway, good to read your blog again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I don’t mind the ones where they walk on your back. Sometimes it’s nice, sometimes it feels a little scary.

      As far as the shoulder and wrist thingy, I don’t know. I’m sure everything is connected, magically and since we place our bodies in their hands, there is a lot of trust involved.


  12. I’m curious if you meant the massage place opposite Boonthavan Court or next to Boonthavan Court. I just got a massage at the one next door and wasn’t super impressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The one next to it. I’ve never gone to the one across from it. That’s part of the reason why I hate making recommendations, massages dearly depend on who you get and once upon a time, it was two ladies who did great massages. The last time I went, about a year ago, those women were not there, but I still got a good massage.


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