Thailand is the perfect destination for some R and R. From cheap foot massage parlors on virtually every street corner to interesting eastern medicinal treatments, knowing a massage is only minutes away makes the 20 hour flight seem a little more tolerable. Don your softest robe and sink into a world of zen.
Foot Massage Parlors
Some Thai foot massages are definitely better than others, but for the price, it’s hard to complain. For about 100 Baht a half hour ($3), there are many different techniques these fiery folk use. From baby powder to hot towels and special oils, virtually every experience is different even based on which therapist you get, which is half the fun to try them all. Foot massages are said to not only feel good, but are also good for your health to stimulate blood flow and improve reflexology so splurge and go nuts.
Ayurvedic Spa Treatments
A form of alternative medicine from India, Ayurveda in Sanskrit, is derived from āyus, meaning "longevity," and veda, meaning "knowledge" or "science." Many of the high end hotels in Thailand offer the treatment to balance the physical, mental, social and spiritual life through use of the elements - earth, wind, water and fire. The treatment usually starts with an assessment of your chi and then 1-2 masseuses douse you with a soothing combination of earthly oils for an hour or so, followed by a steam bath to soak in the herbs. Treatments at the Mandarin Oriental can last from 30 minutes to all day.
If you notice at the markets an interestingly large fish tank with people’s feet in it, you’ve stumbled across a fish spa, in which fish suck the dead skin off your toes. Be careful about choosing one that’s sanitary, as with any pedicure, there are some bad practices out there like starving the fish so they are more inclined to latch on and how the tanks are cleaned. You don’t want to end up with someone else’s foot fungus - ew! Somchai Pinyopornpanch, director general of the Public Health Ministry's Health Services Support Department says there are 1,341 fish spas registered with the Interior Ministry, but it is estimated a further 3,000 unregistered spas are in operation. Major point if fish tickle your fancy, no pun intended, make sure you go to a clean, licensed practitioner, not just any old tank off the street. Treatment typically costs 200-300 baht ($6-9) for a 30-minute session.
Note the Dermal Whitening Salons
The opposite of tanning salons in the western world, Asians are obsessed with lightening their skin. By applying a paste or cream, they essentially bleach the dermal layer of their skin to look more, well, white. We noticed many girls walking around with the paste directly layered on their skin waiting for it to absorb. It’s an interesting perspective on cultural norms as to what different regions of the world precieve as beautiful.