นวด – Thai Massage
Thai massage is everywhere in Thailand and it’s so cheap that it’s accessible to most everyone. The standard rate at your average Thai massage place in Chiang Mai is 150 baht an hour – that’s currently about $4.78 USD. I get about 1 a week.
If you’ve never had a Thai massage, it’s not an oily rubdown, but rather you get your energy lines (sen) worked with what sometimes is brute force. You’re given fisherman’s trousers and a loose fitting shirt to wear, and generally are massaged on a mat on the floor. Sometimes the room is shared with other people getting massages. Most of the time it starts from the feet with a large focus on the legs. It can almost be like having someone do yoga for you with all the stretching that is done.
When my sister Wendy came for a visit, right after I picked her up from the airport, I took her to get her first, but definitely not last, Thai massage.
I took her to a place I like in the old city called Viangchaokun Thaimassage and Spa. (Yes, Thaimassage is one word. In Thai language there are no spaces between the words which makes reading kind of challenging, but that’s another story). It’s a very elegant and very Thai place. It’s 180 baht an hour ($5.72 USD), but I figure it’s worth the extra 30 baht for the foot wash alone.
Upon walking in you are given slippers to wear, served herbal tea, and given a menu of massage options to choose from. They give you massage clothes and a locker to put your things in. Next is the foot wash, and afterwards it’s upstairs for the massage.
Unlike many Thai massage places, Viangchaokun has massage tables, rather than mats on the ground.
Since the goal is to relax, I did not take any pictures of the massage itself. Each massage therapist does their own variations, and when you find someone you whose touch suits you, it’s like pure gold. My current favorite is a woman named Gae. She is a petite younger Thai woman who is gentle, yet firm, and every touch has a purpose.
Sometimes Thai massage can be very intense and even a little painful. I’ve occasionally been worked the way someone would tenderize meat. There are others where they’re just missing the spots you need. And then there are the ones that are juuuuust right.
Wendy thoroughly enjoyed her first massage, and in her 9 days in Thailand, she got 5 Thai massages, and one foot massage. Sometimes I feel a little spoiled having this luxury, and at other times when I’m in pain, I really think massage should be affordable for everyone.
Just another of the many reasons to love Thailand.