Phuket is known for its hedonistic holiday pleasures – beach club parties, sunset cocktails, luxury yacht cruises, seafood feasts and the like. Alongside these carefree pursuits there are a growing number of places for self-care, where travellers can heal their bodies and revive their souls while on a Phuket holiday. Yoga studios, intensive martial arts training, detox/diet centres, fitness boot camps and meditation retreats are just some of the restorative activities on offer. None is as prevalent in Phuket as the age-old healing art of traditional Thai massage.
Traditional Thai massage
Thai massage (also called assisted yoga massage) is a vigorous treatment by which your body is moved and manipulated in a series of bends, stretches, lifts and acupressure compressions to stimulate energy flow and restore balance.
WHAT TO EXPECT: During a Thai massage, no massage oils or lotions are used. Loose-fitting clothing is worn during the treatment, which was traditionally carried out on a low bed or mattress on the floor. These days, however, massage atop a massage table, spa bed or sun lounger is more common throughout Thailand.
TECHNIQUES: Experienced therapists have incredibly strong hands, and they also use their elbows and knees to apply pressure at various points along your body. A Thai massage session can also include cracking of the joints and neck and pulling the limbs.
BENEFITS: By the end of a one- or two-hour treatment, you’ll feel completely invigorated from head to toe. Given that some of the techniques can be rather forceful, be sure to talk with the therapist first, especially if you have any injuries or chronic pains that need to be handled with extra care.
The principle behind Thai massage is that life is sustained by a vital force, ‘lom’, that is circulated through the body along invisible pathways called ‘sen’. When these pathways are blocked it leads to illness, fatigue and imbalance. Thai massage is believed to help unblock the pathways and stimulate the flow of lom, thus restoring the body back to health and vitality.
Thai massage is an integral part of traditional Thai medicine, with techniques that have been passed down through the generations for more than 2,000 years. Ancient texts of Thai medicine have been lost to the ages but in 1832 King Rama III of Siam commissioned 60 stone etchings to be made using fragments of text found at the royal court. These stone plaques, displaying the treatment points and energy lines of the body, can be seen at Wat Po, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, in Bangkok, which remains an important learning centre for Thai massage.
Thai massage in Phuket
Phuket has a fantastic variety of places to enjoy a Thai massage, with salons on practically every street corner and in the shopping malls, masseuses for hire at the beach, and spas in a range of styles from modest tropical garden settings to sleek havens of luxury with elaborate facilities – or book a massage in the privacy of your villa rental.
A seaside massage is a must-try experience if you’re a beach lover on Phuket, with open-air massage services found along most of the main beaches including Kata, Patong, Kamala and Bang Tao. Take a stroll along the sand and you’ll soon meet some of the masseuses who work their healing magic on low platforms set under umbrellas on the sand.
Though the set-up is very simple some of these ladies are highly skilled, and getting a treatment to the sound of the waves is the ultimate way to unwind. Along with Thai massage, oil massage and reflexology foot massage are also available.
Thai massage is just one of many restorative services at Phuket spas, with body scrubs, body wraps, facials and herbal compress sessions among the other treatments on offer, along with hair styling, manicures and pedicures.
For a complete rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul, Phuket spas have some tempting packages as well, some lasting for four or five hours, or even all day. Packages can combine one or more massage therapies with baths, steam sauna sessions, skin treatments and holistic treatments such as sound therapy or aromatherapy. The most sought-after include romantic packages for couples (think rose-petal jacuzzi sessions, chocolate body scrubs and champagne), jet lag recovery, detox/purifying and anti-aging packages.
In-villa Thai massage
The ultimate sanctuary for a Thai massage or spa treatment is a Phuket luxury villa, where you can enjoy a healing session in complete privacy and peace. Some Phuket villas have full spa facilities that rival any of the top resorts, while others have inviting treatment areas, such as a shaded poolside gazebo, a lavish air-conditioned bedroom suite, a tropical garden with fragrant flowers or an ocean-view terrace.
Organising an in-villa Thai massage treatment is easy with the help of your villa manager who can suggest the best therapist for your needs and arrange for them to visit at your convenience. The costs depend on the treatment but they’re usually very reasonable in comparison to what you’d pay at a luxury resort spa.
When staying at a Phuket villa, you could even design your own wellness program by arranging for a yoga or personal fitness training session followed by a Thai massage, and then, of course, a refreshing dip in your villa’s private pool. And to make it a truly holistic wellness retreat, be sure to consult with your villa chef to have light and healthy meals prepared throughout your stay.
For those seeking a haven to unblock, unwind and awaken their senses, Phuket is an enticing choice. Early bird enjoys up to 15% discount when booking 120 days in advance. Last minute bookings enjoy up to 10% discount. Terms and conditions apply.