Kneading, stretching, pulling, rubbing or nibbling? (We’re referring to letting tons of little doctor fishes nibble away at your skin.)
Massage and spa treatments abound in Phuket. But how do you choose when you’ve got so many options? And more importantly, how do you ensure that you don’t end up becoming an unintentional recipient of a “happy ending” massage? Navigate your way through the plentiful massage options on the island with our handy guide:
Types of massages in Phuket
- Traditional Thai massage
During a traditional Thai massage treatment, the therapist uses his or her hands, elbows and feet to apply pressure on sen lines in the body. Expect to have your limbs and body parts stretched and pulled into various yoga-like postures, and to have your finger and toe joints cracked. The treatment may be painful at times, particularly when the therapist exerts greater pressure or contorts your limb to provide a good stretch. If it’s too vigorous or painful for your liking, request for a gentler pressure to be applied.
Massage oils are not used in this treatment. At professional massage venues, customers are requested to be partially clothed, or provided with loose cotton clothing for the massage.
- Foot massage
Ahhh…there’s no better way to unwind the day than with a pampering foot massage – particularly if you’ve been on your feet all day! A foot massage treatment usually starts off with a foot wash. Pressure is then applied to various points on the food to stimulate organs throughout the body. The experience is pleasant and relaxing – as can be seen from the look of bliss appearing on the faces of customers while they enjoy a foot massage!
- Swedish massage
Swedish massage treatments in Phuket involves long, soothing strokes, tapping and kneading to help improve the flow of oxygen to the muscles and release toxins from the body. The use of essential oils stimulates the nervous system, and helps to reduce stress and tension. It’s the ideal choice if you’re looking for a gentle massage treatment that doesn’t incorporate the stretching and more rigorous pressure used in traditional Thai massage treatments.
Therapists apply pressure on meridian points across the body using their fingers, palms, elbows, feet or additional devices. The treatment helps to reduce muscle tension, improve blood circulation and relax the mind.
- Fish spa
Dip your feet and calves into a pond filled with tons of little fishes, and watch as they rapidly swim towards your limbs. These little creatures, known as doctor fish, have been integrated a type of spa treatment as they are known to nibble away at dead skin.
- Happy ending massages
If you think the name of this massage sounds suggestive, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Happy ending massages, or naughty massages, involve more than just a good ol’ massage treatment. The majority of these parlours are located around Patong beach, and the tell-tale signs to look out for are:
- Dark interiors and tinted windows
- Young masseues donning skimpy clothing and make up
- Masseues and sales girls standing outside the parlours inviting customers to enter for a “special” massage treatment
Where to get a massage
Massage parlours in Phuket range over a wide spectrum – from cheap beachside and casual massage parlours, to upmarket spa venues and luxury spas located in hotels and resorts. Most venues are located in popular tourist areas like Patong, Kata and the surrounding areas. For an unbeatable experience, arrange for a massage therapist to be called in to your private villa for a personalised treatment.
Massages are a relatively inexpensive treat in Phuket. The costs may vary extensively depending on your venue of choice. Prices at a beachside or regular massage parlour may range between 300 – 500 baht for a full body massage. Prices may start from 1,000 baht for a massage treatment at an upmarket spa, and from 5,000 baht for treatments at luxury spas or hotels.
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