What is a Thai massage? Let’s start with what a Thai massage is not. It isn’t a Swedish massage, obviously. It isn’t full of soothing strokes and gentle, caressing touches. There’s no nudity, very little skin to skin contact, and no oils or lotions. Now, you can certainly get that at any of the plethora of massage parlors in Thailand. As a matter of fact, the massage parlors here have a menu that rivals that of the Cheesecake Factory. Thai massage, foot massage, oil, aloe, ear spa, and the list goes on and on. Wait? Did I say ear spa? I did. Let’s delve in and answer the question of, “what is a Thai massage,” and discover your options at these divine places.
Thai Massage – $6 for one hour
Prepare to need an intermission, I did. The massage girl leads you past the patrons getting their feet rubbed, and up the stairs to a room away from the main floor. Upon arrival she hands you a pair of genie pants from Aladdin and matching shirt. If you are new to Thai massage, but not new to massage, you will scratch your head. I thought I just got undressed and laid face down. Nope. You get dressed in full Thai massage uniform. What happens next is absolute insanity.
One hour of being walked on, contorted into forced yoga poses, and bent into a pretzel is exactly what a Thai massage is. I felt like I was drawn, but not quartered. I was accused of an atrocious crime in the Middle Ages, four ropes tied to each of my limbs, the other end tied to horses. The animals slowly marched, pulling me in every direction, just waiting for the crack of the whip–a signal to pull me apart. And then, THANK GOD! At the very last moment, by some miracle, I was deemed innocent. My sentence not fully carried out. But, I am now 3 inches taller and have the wingspan of an albatross. To put it mildly, if you don’t feel like the rope in a game of tug-o-war at the end of your hour, then the massage girl failed you.
Foot Massage – $6 for one hour
Quite possibly the best $6 one can spend. You are led to your chair and you sit. Your shoes and socks are left at the door. Bare feet are mandatory upon entering. Once nestled into your chair, you put your feet on the ottoman. For the next hour, you are pampered. The girl kneads your feet and prods your toes with some mystical black tool. She slathers your calves with a magical balm that leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.
Fifty minutes of foot, calf, and lower arm massage lead into the best part–the finale. You sit on the ottoman with your back to the masseuse. For the last ten minutes, she pushes her elbows into your shoulder blades and stretches your back and arms with one unique motion. Sadly, your hour is up, and you must be on your way.
Oil Massage -$9 for one hour
A hybrid of Swedish and deep tissue, you certainly can’t go wrong with this option. You are led to the same area as those poor, unsuspecting rookies getting a Thai massage. Instead of donning the full Thai massage uniform, you are handed only the pants. For this massage, the recipient, not the masseuse, is topless. Unlike in the States, the masseuses aren’t afraid of giving your glutes the proper attention they deserve. After all, it is your biggest muscle, and you have two of them! Oil is liberally applied to your back, shoulder, arms, legs, and chest. This hour passes much to fast, and it’s time for your complimentary tea.
Neck and Shoulder Massage – $9 for one hour
Have you ever had a massage in the States and you just wish they would ignore your legs and feet? Please just focus on those knots behind my shoulder blades? Sometimes your poor ol’ back and shoulders ache and just need extra attention. Well, this is the massage for just that. Much the same as the oil massage, but with a severe focus on head, neck, and shoulders. After your hour is up, you’ll be asking for another. This is Susan’s favorite, and she is so spoiled that she now has her own special masseuse–her name is Earn.
Ear Spa – $9 for 40 minutes
Can you hear me? Can you hear me now? After this, you will hear everything. Past the foot massagees you go, but not upstairs. You go to the back of the main area, in a chair that lays nearly flat. Your feet are propped onto the same ottoman as if you were getting a foot massage. Your are then wrapped in towels from your head to your knees. I felt like I was being mummified, alive.
The girl turns your head to one side. You see nothing. A long tube is placed inside your ear. Your ear canal holds the foot long tube into the air. The girl, what is she doing? Oh, don’t mind her, she is just setting fire to the opposite end. The heat draws every single thing that is living in your ear to the surface. Wax, dead skin, crickets, it all comes out. Yes, crickets. After both ears are done, so are you.
Foot Scrub – $6 for 30 minutes
To be honest, I was disappointed. The worst value on the board, but it still was alright. The details are in the title. The girl brings a tub for your feet, you place your feet in the tub, and she washes them. Plain and simple. Well, it’s a little more than that. She scrubs, and files down the callouses on your heel and big toe, but that’s about it. I would pass on this if I were you, there is just too much other goodness with which to choose.
These are the six options that I have personally experienced. My guess is as good as yours when it comes to the other menu choices, but I am sure they do not disappoint. Located on Beach Road in Jomtien, Pattaya, Nai Massage is our parlor of choice. We watch the waves crash into the sand as we lay back, our legs outstretched, our feet in a divine state, and all for just six dollars per hour.