On any visit to Phuket, getting a massage should be on the list of things to do. Massage in Phuket is a great way to relax after a long day of diving, touring, sailing, sunbathing, or whatever. Massage is an ancient and traditional form of healing derived from Ayurvedic medicine, and a Thai massage in Phuket is incredibly inexpensive compared with the west. After just an hour’s session you should feel relaxed and rejuvenated if done right. It’s also an ancient Thai art, and those who associate it with naughty massage parlours will be disappointed with a traditional Thai massage.
Massage shops in Phuket are found all over the island, but are more concentrated in the tourist areas of Patong and Kata. The Nai Harn area also has a large number of massage places, many of which have saunas onsite. Massage in Phuket Town tends to be concentrated at the larger spas.
These tend to be more expensive, although the cost of a massage usually includes a spa and herbal sauna as well. All of Phuket’s beaches are dotted with small beachfront massage stalls. There is something special about receiving a therapeutic Thai massage while staring out at the white sands and deep blue Andaman Sea.
A massage in Phuket usually costs about 200 baht per hour at one of the smaller, out-of-the-way shops and can go as high as 1,000 baht for the full royal treatment at one of the upmarket health spas. On the beach, expect to pay 300-350 baht an hour to one of the passing women.
Recommended Phuket Massage Parlours
There are countless massage parlours spread all over Phuket Island, in all of the main areas. Older women tend to be the most skilled masseuses and places with a young, attractive staff out front are usually offering more than a traditional massage. Favourite massage parlours:
Gae’s Massage and Sauna: Located on Saiyuan Road, Nai Harn, this place is popular with locals and offers massages and saunas in a charmingly rustic location.
Hutavat Thai Massage: One of the least dodgy massage parlors in Patong has a quiet, clean and professional atmosphere. Open: 09:00-22:00; 45/12 Phrabaramee Rd., Patong Beach. Tel: (076) 342 427.
Phuket Herbal Sauna: Offers good value for money and is one of the better herbals saunas on the island. 2/3 Moo 8, Chalong Road, tel: (076) 280 910.
Boo’s Original Thai Massage: One of the oldest traditional Thai massage parlours on Phuket. 78/12 Moo 3, Kamala Main Road, tel: (076) 385 821.
Varieties of massage in Phuket
There are several different types of massage available that focus on different forms of relaxation and healing. The main types of massage in Phuket are:
Derived from Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese healing techniques, Thai massage aims to balance and re-align the body’s natural energies. A typical Thai massage lasts for two hours, during which the therapist will use pressure points and stretching techniques to increase energy flow along key pathways in the body to relax, rejuvenate and heal. Although some of the stretches resemble professional wrestling holds, you will leave with a great feeling of wellbeing throughout your entire body.
This is another popular massage treatment in Thailand involving a rub-down with aromatic oils. It’s less intense than Thai massage, which can become a bit painful if knotted muscles are properly worked, and the lubricated massage is a more sensual experience. Opt for this if you have a painful back from activities, it works the tissue but lacks the full yoga-like treatment of a Thai massage. In the more sulubrious areas, some of the massage ladies attract male customers with the intention of massaging extra bits for a tip!
Foot massage – reflexology
This style of massage is based on the idea that there are reflex points in the hands and feet that are linked to every point in the body. It is believed that the entire body (part-by-part) can be affected by stimulating these points. Reflexologists use pressure, kneading and friction to promote general good health. It’s common to find foot massage offered on sidewalks near night markets and such, where you can relax for half and hour of leg treatment for 100 baht or so.
Also called oil massage, Swedish massage in Phuket is a blend of long strokes, tapping, kneading and friction to increase oxygen flow to the muscles and release toxins. The aim is to stimulate the nervous system and soothe feelings of stress using therapeutic oils. It is generally much more gentle than a Thai massage but can be a really sensual experience.
Shiatsu / Acupressure
Shiatsu massage in Phuket uses the principles of the Chinese qigong (chi-gong) art to stimulate the flow of energy through the major pathways of the body.