Tired from an exhausting day of planes, buses, ferries, you find yourself hankering for a massage. You make your way to the massage parlor and find yourself overwhelmed by the choices: Thai massage, shiatsu, aromatherapy massage… Of course, you’re in Thailand, you’ll do it the Thai way, but should you stick with just a Thai massage or go for the Thai hot compress massage? What exactly is a Thai massage? Read below to be in the know before your next trip to the spa.

WHAT’S IN A THAI MASSAGE?

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An authentic Thai massages involves applying deep pressure on points that make up your body’s energy line system, known as Sen lines. These are very similar to the meridians referred to in Chinese acupuncture or acupressure therapy. In addition, stretches are applied to enhance the flexibility of connective tissues and the flow of energy within the body.

In a 2-hour Thai massage session, expect to join what seems like an Acroyoga session. From the pulling of toes, fingers, and ears, you may find yourself on your belly with a pair of feet pushing into your buttocks as your arms are pulled back to stretch your back. At times, you will find yourself folded over with masseuse pushing you down with her weight. This is the reason why Thai massage places require a thin, firm cushion that allows these moves.

WHAT’S A THAI HOT COMPRESS MASSAGE?

In addition to the deep rub and deep stretch, a Thai herbal compress, known as luk pra kob, means a “herbal pressing sphere” will be gently pressed and rolled on several points of your body. This massage is meant to soothe tired, sore muscles.

This ancient practice involves steaming therapeutic herbs like ginger, prai, turmeric, and lemongrass wrapped in a muslin compress. The addition of a hot compress treatment usually adds around 20 to 30 minutes to your massage treatment.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Depending on the location, the price for a 1-hour Thai massage can range from 200THB to 500THB. Keep in mind, you’ll have to pay a little bit extra for the spa ambiance and the fringe benefits; some of these include hot tea, a shower area, a sauna, and steam bath.

WHERE DID THE THAI MASSAGE COME FROM?

The Thai massage is part of the four branches of Thai medicine that originated from a legendary Buddhist physician in northern India; it’s said he attended to Buddha himself. To add to his celebrity profile from 2500 years ago, he was also the physician of the Magadha King Bimbasara and the Sangha Buddhist nuns and monks. The ancient practice was adopted by the Thai along with Buddhism. This is probably why some of the stretches done during a Thai massage resemble yoga poses.

With the sack of Ayutthaya by the Burmese, it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact beginning of the Thai massage. It was only after World War II, when Thai tourism boomed, that the technique became popular around the world.

HAPPY ENDING?

Save yourself the awkward moment and don’t even bother. Stay clear of red light districts and seedy areas if you are looking for a decent massage. Another recommendation from some locals is that the sign should clearly state they offer a Traditional Thai Massage.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THAI MASSAGE EXPERIENCE?

We’ve summed up the FAQs in this article, but first timers would definitely want to know more about the Thai massage experience. Help them out by commenting below.