Massage is one of Thailand's greatest and probably most original gifts to the world. In recent years its popularity has increased greatly. On Phuket Island, it is almost possible to find massage places and places giving massages everywhere, including on the beach. Generally, anywhere there are large numbers of restaurants, bars or shops there will also be some massage providers. Large, prestigious resorts also provide massage services to their guests.
This explosion in the availability of massage is not all good. Almost anyone can claim to be a massage provider and many providers don't quite know what they are doing and sometimes this can be dangerous. Many places, especially places with a claim to prestige and status, require that their providers be certified but this doesn't always workout either.
There is a relationship between the money paid for a massage and the quality of massage received but the relationship is certainly imperfect. Generally, getting a good massage is a matter of good luck and this is why customers who find someone they like keep going back to the same place.
But people shouldn't worry too much. Even massages which are not done quite correctly – with the proper power and strength, with proper hand placement, with the timing of the release, with correct transition and movement from one movement to the next - can still provide a high level of satisfaction.
It has also become confusing knowing what type of massage to get as many varieties of massage are now offered, some of which might simply be marketing ploys to get greater income. Also, those considering massage must honestly consider what they want before proceeding, otherwise they might be greatly disappointed. Do they want a real, genuine massage, or are they looking for a intimate experience. It is possible to get both, but this is not something one can usually plan for.
Actually, on Phuket Island, there are only three places offering soapy massages, although they are also probably available at high level resorts. These three places are:
The massage they offer is called "soapy massage" or "full body massage". This massage – which is often not a massage – begins with a man and woman in a large bath and ends with them in a bed. The pleasure of the massage will depend to a large degree on the skill and mental attitude of the lady.
The entire experience is supposed to cost somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 baht, depending upon the "quality" of the lady selected, but sometimes ladies can ask for a tip – and they are very clever at selecting the time to do this. Thus, the soapy massage experience can be disappointing.
Those wanting a "real" massage need simply go to any place offering massage, examine the "menu" and select what they want. The basic massage most places offer, and most customers want, is called "Thai massage", "Traditional Thai massage", or "Thai traditional massage".
It begins with a customer reclining on a mat, mattress or raised platform and involves a provider stretching, twisting, and pressuring various parts of a guest's body. When done correctly, traditional massage is supposed to improve almost all aspects of health and it feels great, too!!
Traditional massage is usually given from one to two hours, although the ideal length is probably about ninety minutes. Prices usually begin at 200 baht an hour and might be discounted for a longer massage. Prices at "nicer" or more centrally located places are more, but never more than around 300 baht an hour. Tips are usually expected or hoped for.
The second most frequently requested massage – in many places it has become the most popular massage – is the foot massage, which is also known by the name "reflexology". It involves applying herbs to, pressuring, pulling, pushing, and stretching various parts of the feet and leg up to the knee. Care providers use special tools or implements to do this.
Reflexology is based upon the belief that there are nerves in the feet which connect to other parts of the body, and that by massaging these nerves overall health and specific health problems can be solved or made better. Customers may sit in comfortable chairs but many – probably about 50 percent – find that the experience is painful. Prices for foot massage are generally the same as for traditional massage.
The next most popular massages among customers – and the most popular among providers - are oil massage and aroma massage, both of which involve covering the body with various good health-inducing oils and then doing the massage.
Providers like to do this massage because it is more expensive, usually starting at 300 baht an hour It can also be easy to do, simply involving rubbing oil over a human body! Customers like them, at least in part, because they are more erotic, or can provide the possibility of more erotic activity as it is done with the customer naked and in private.
If erotic activity does result in the course of the massage – it is certainly possible – then the provider will expect a tip. Those receiving these massages should be aware that the oils used can be harmful if used improperly. It is probably a good idea to get an oil or aroma massage at a spa or place with an excellent reputation.
More and more massage activities are being offered these days. Many of these activities might better be described as beauty treatments for woman – men can get them if they want! - and are probably best obtained at a spa or cosmetologist. But the line dividing the spa from the massage parlor is getting thinner and thinner, so one might try some of the new treatments and take it from there.
One massage that is very old, quite popular but NOT done at a spa or a massage parlor is beach massage, which is really just a traditional Thai massage done on the beach. These massages are done by older ladies, usually identified by a colored jackets, that roam the beaches with their mats searching for customers during the high season.
A beach massage typically costs 300 baht an hour or more and usually isn't of the same quality as those given in the shops, but most customers enjoy them completely and are satisfied. Generally, the provider does not expect a tip.
Those looking for lower prices with the same level of quality might try the massage shops of Phuket town, which would be where local Thai people would go to get their massages. It is to be expected that those places depending on tourists will charge higher prices. In any event, the massage experience on Phuket Island is an experience which is quite inexpensive but offers a high degree of pleasure – and maybe contributes to good health. Everyone should try it!!!!