Who doesn’t love a Bangkok massage? Whether you go for a traditional Thai, relaxing oil, or stimulating foot massage, you can be sure that you’ll be leaving feeling calm, focused and with any kinks ironed out.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of spas, massage centres and parlours all over the city — plus more than a few offering additional illicit services…
We’re here to sort the good from the bad, tell you what you need to know and how to avoid the naughty ones.
This is your guide to massage in Bangkok.
- Types of Bangkok Massage
- A Note on Naughty Massage
- Best Massage in Bangkok
While Thai massage is the most commonly available massage in Bangkok and Thailand at large, it’s by no means the only one.
Let’s take a look at the various massage options available.
So respected is Thai massage in Bangkok that it’s actually considered a branch of traditional Thai medicine, evolved from various ancient practices around 2,500 years ago.
There’s much more movement (albeit passive) from the customer here, with the practice often referred to as ‘assisted yoga’. The masseuse will guide you into various stretches as they pull and compress you along the sen lines of your body.
You’ll be fully clothed — usually given some loose fitting, pyjama style top and trousers — and there’s no oils or lotions used.
It’s fair to say that Thai massage is an acquired taste, particularly for people more used to soft and gentle Swedish massages, but there’s nothing like it for loosening up the body and relieving aching muscles.
The centre of Thai massage is Wat Pho in the old city. The temple complex is the centre of Thai medicine and home to a massage school.
‘Oil Massage’ is offered at most spas and massage parlours in Bangkok although it’s technically not a practice in and of itself.
Generally, you can expect a Balinese massage when you book an oil massage in Bangkok — that’s a very calming and relaxing form of massage which increases circulation. The masseuse will use the oils to gently knead and stroke the skin.
Oils will vary according to establishment, and occasionally you’ll be able to pick which oil you’d like to be used.
Here are some of the most common:
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Jojoba oil
- Baby oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Sesame oil
Thai Herbal Ball Hot Compress Massage
Often offered in conjunction with a Thai or oil massage is the option to have a Thai Herbal Ball compression.
The Ball is composed of a special blend of herbs wrapped in a muslin cloth, tied and heated before being applied to the skin in a hot compress.
The heat opens up the pores, allowing the skin to absorb the benefits of the Ball.
It’s meant to promote relaxation and speed up circulation while relieving sore muscles and joint pain as the herbs used possess an array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Herbs often found in a Thai Herbal Ball include:
- Kaffir lime leaves
Foot massage in Bangkok is also really popular and widely available.
Unlike reflexology (below), foot massage is generally solely for the purpose of relaxation. The masseuse will often use oils, and will massage from your toes up to your shins and your calves.
Reflexology is a reasonably popular Bangkok massage that stems from the belief that certain ‘reflex’ areas on your feet and hands correspond to certain organs and glands.
Manipulation of these reflex areas can lead to pain relief and increased blood supply to the corresponding areas.
Reflexology is also known to ease stress and headaches, as well as provide pain relief for arthritis.
Ayurvedic massage is one of the world’s oldest practices and has even informed the development of Thai massage.
Its purpose is to break down and release toxins while purifying the customer’s dosha – that is, their unique mix of energies. It’s often combined with an effective lymphatic drainage massage which is supposedly good for boosting immunity and detoxifying the body.
Usually, an Ayurvedic massage in Bangkok will be a hard body massage using dosha oil — a mix of different essential oils to suit the individual customer. It will sometimes be followed by a steam and a scrub.
It’s a well known truth that there’s more than a handful of, ahem, ‘naughty’ massage parlours in Bangkok.
And by ‘naughty’, we essentially mean a place where you can expect a side of blowjob with your oil massage.
While we know that there are lots of people after exactly this kind of ‘added extra’ type of service during their time in Bangkok, there are also plenty of people keen to avoid any accidental excursion into the city’s somewhat fluid prostitution scene.
We’ve heard more than one story about women, for instance, finding themselves in a somewhat sticky situation after wandering into a cheap, neon-lit massage parlour for what they assume to be a budget massage, only to later discover that their masseuse thought they had something more in mind — take this blogger who found herself dealing with a wandering finger.
It’s relatively easy to avoid these type of establishments — usually they’re pretty upfront about the services on offer.
Places offering body to body, soapy, erotic, testicular and nude massage, as well as those where the masseuses sit outside, hawking for clients, wearing sexy outfits or costumes, may well offer some extra paid-for services on the side.
Suggestive names can sometimes hint at there being more than meets the eye.
Such places also tend to cluster together in and around the red light districts – Sukhumvit Soi 33, for instance.
While by no means is every cheap massage parlour offering these services on the side, it’s still worth being aware of the signs just in case. You’re unlikely to accidentally end up in a brothel if you’re happy to spend a bit more at a regulated spa.
There are hundreds of places to get massages in Bangkok — TripAdvisor actually lists almost 1,500 — but quality of both massage and setting can vary quite widely.
We’ve picked out the best places to get a massage in the city’s most popular neighbourhoods.
Our pricing scale is based on the advertised price of a 1 hour Thai massage (or nearest equivalent):
$ — 100 – 450 baht
$$ — 450 – 750 baht
$$$ — 750 ++ baht
As the major tourist and expat hub of Bangkok, there are more than a handful of excellent Sukhumvit massage parlours to choose from.
Baan Sabai Spa
Sukhumvit Soi 26
Located near K-Village in Phrom Phong, Baan Sabai is a great spa, offering a comprehensive programme of treatments including deep tissue, hot oils, traditional Thai, herbal scrubs, herbal ball compress, hot stone and gold oil massage, as well as hydrotheraphy and sauna sessions.
Yunomori Onsen & Spa
A Square, Sukhumvit Soi 26
Also in Phrom Phong is Bangkok’s first authentic Japanese Onsen — a bath in healing water sourced from the springs of Wat Wangkanai. The mineral content of the water detoxifies and relaxes the body prior to your massage.
Thai, aroma and herbal compress massages are on offer, as well as body scrubs.
Sukhumvit Soi 21 and 63
Health Land is a popular, low-cost spa chain with branches throughout Bangkok that offers reliable, high quality massages in clean and professional surroundings.
There are lots of massages on offer here, including Thai, reflexology and herbal compress, as well as facials and body polish treatments.
Su Esthetic Home Spa
Sukhumvit Soi 26
This is a Korean home spa in Phrom Phong that promises to fuse the best of Korean, Thai and Chinese treatments to best heal and harmonise the mind, body and spirit.
Packages including Korean steams and scrubs, and Japanese hot tub sessions are available, as well as face and body massage.
Asia Herb Association
Sukhumvit Soi 31, 24 and 55
Asia Herb Association is another spa chain with branches all over Thailand that offers a high quality and professional service, where you can even choose which areas of the body you want paid attention to during your massage.
Treatments on offer include oil, traditional Thai, herbal compress and foot massage, as well as enzyme scrubs, facials and herbal steams.
Sukhumvit Soi 31
Footmaster is known as the place to go in Sukhumvit for reflexology massage, although they offer a lot more besides: Shiatsu, intensive Thai, 4 hands, herbal compress, Ba Guan and Gua Sha massage, as well as alternative treatments like ear-candling, milk baths and foot cleansing.
Mandarin Ginger Spa
S59 Executive Apartment, Sukhumvit Soi 59
One of the best Thonglor massage spas in Bangkok, the Mandarin Ginger Spa offers a wide array of treatments using only natural and organic products.
A la Carte treatments range from foot massage through traditional Thai to hot oil, Swedish, aromatherapy and sports massage. There are lots of other body treatments and facials available too.
Sukhumvit Soi 31
Oasis is one of the most luxurious Sukhumvit massage spas in the area and boasts a few other branches throughout the country too. Therapies don’t come cheap but are of a high quality, and are generally scheduled for at least 90 minutes to allow for total relaxation and surrender.
Aromatherapy hot oil, 4 hands, music therapy, Ayurvedic, reflexology, Tok-Sen and herbal hot compress massage are all on offer, plus a variety of packages.
Divana Massage & Spa
Sukhumvit Soi 25
Divana is another luxe spa in Sukhumvit where you could quite easily while away a day.
They offer massage therapy, full day spa, facial treatments, spa treatment, Divana signature and Divana Mantra treatments — specially crafted luxury programmes with multiple treatment types.
Massage therapy includes foot, Siamese, aromatherapy, anti-stress, Siamese herbal compress and ‘East West Allure’ treatments.
Le SPA with L’Occitane
Sofitel, Sukhumvit Soi 15
As you’d expect from the Sofitel, the in-house spa is consummately professional, hygienic and a true spa experience, offering massage, facial and body treatments, alongside beauty programmes.
One of the most ostentatious offerings is the 90-minute Golden Siamese massage for the princely sum of 4,500 baht. An oil massage using Thai techniques, the treatment ends with a hand and foot wrap, as well as gold leaf placed on the face to ‘oxygenate delicate skin.’
Silom often gets a bad rap for massage as there is an evident seedy scene, particularly around the Patpong area. However, there are plenty of excellent spas in the area — try on these for size.
Ruen-Nuad Massage Studio
This low-cost massage studio in Silom offers truly excellent therapies and treatments in a professional and relaxing setting.
There’s no fuss here — in addition to a few combination packages, on offer is just traditional Thai, foot and aromatic oil massage, as well as facial and eye treatment.
Perception Blind Massage
Sathorn Soi 8
One of Bangkok’s most unique spa experiences, Perception Blind offers Thai, foot and aromatherapy massage by blind and visually impaired therapists.
Sook Sabai Spa
YJA Building, Saladaeng Soi 1
Another highly rated and reasonably priced spa, Sook Sabai can be found between Sathorn and Silom just off Rama IV.
They offer a wide array of treatments, including foot, traditional Thai and herbal ball compress massage. Body scrubs and facials are also on the menu.
Sabai Corner Spa
Sathorn Soi 9
Nearby Chong Nonsi BTS station is the Sabai Corner Spa, a very clean and professional establishment offering skillful massage treatments and other therapies.
They offer 12 different body massage options, as well as hand massage and reflexology.
Not far from Rama III in deepest darkest Sathorn is the brilliant Zense Massage, which offers very low-cost, high quality treatments in a spa setting.
Foot, head & shoulder, herbal hot compress and aroma massage are all available, as well as reflexology and foot spa.
Dahra Beauty & Spa
A lovely retreat in Silom, Dahra is one of a few sanctuaries among the area’s less than quality massage parlours. Take a look at their website if you’re after exclusive promotions.
They offer a wide variety of treatments, including royal Thai, foot reflexology, Thai herbal, aromatherapy, Swedish, sports and Shiatsu massage.
South Sathorn Road
Lullaby is one of the most luxurious spas in Silom and Sathorn, and even incorporates a massage and spa school too.
Traditional Thai, 4 hands, foot reflexology, hand, migraine relief, aromatherapy, vital oil, sports, swedish, Golfer & Yogi and hot stone massage are all on offer, as well as pre-natal services too.
Silom Soi 21
Infinity is often touted as one of the best spas in Bangkok, with highly trained staff, a relaxing and professional setting, and industry leading products.
Massage therapies include Infinity Aroma, Relax-atherapy, Infinity Thai, Foot Reflexology, and many other facial and body treatments.
Covering the area around Siam, Chit Lom, Phloenchit, Lumphini Park and Rajadamri, there are lots of high quality (and comparatively high priced) spas in the Siam neighbourhood to cater to the generally well-heeled clientele.
Tucked down Soi Ruamrudee, not far from Phloen Chit BTS station, The Touch is probably the area’s best bargain massage retreat. With fully qualified therapists, regulation from the Ministry of Health and a commitment to using only the freshest natural ingredients, you can expect a professional and high quality massage here.
Services are limited to traditional Thai, aromatherapy, reflexology, therapeutic and herbal compress massage.
Ai Sa Waan
Nearby Chit Lom BTS station Ai Sa Waan is a fabulous massage studio in the Siam area, particularly notable for their excellent traditional Thai massage treatments.
They also offer reflexology and aromatherapy oil massage, as well as foot and body scrubs.
Le Meridien, Witthayu Road
There are a handful of 5* hotels in this neighbourhood, most of which have their own in-house spas — and Le Meridien is no exception.
Spa Athénée is unique in that it adapts each treatment to the client’s blood type, in order to best stimulate your immune system and calm your mind. There are a huge number of massage, facials and body treatments on offer — and every facial comes with a lymphatic drainage massage.
Alma Link Building, Phloenchit Road
Omroom is actually a centre of personal growth rather than a traditional spa, but they offer private lymphatic drainage massage therapy for either 60 or 90 minutes.
Panpuri Organic Spa
Gaysorn Plaza, Phloenchit Road
Found in the luxury shopping centre Gaysorn, Panpuri is exactly what it sounds like: a spa using only the highest quality, authentic organic spa products.
Massages generally see a combination of practices and techniques, with a mix of organic blended oils. Signature treatments include the Mali Moonlight Massage, Prana Stress-Relieving Massage and the Samruam Luk Pra Kob Herbal Tranquility Massage.
Another hotel spa; this time we’re at the Centara Grand in Central World. As well as plenty of treatment options, they also have full hydrotherapy systems, including herbal steam bath and an infrared sauna.
Massages include Royal Thai, Salt Pot Muscle Meter, Nuad Tao, 4 hands and Hai Muea. They also have a number of packages and couples’ promotions, as well as multi-day packages.
Witthayu Soi 1
An authentic spa on the Wireless Road, Bhawa is a truly relaxing retreat away from the buzz of the city.
Bhawa offers a choice of different programs to ‘reflow your Qi’, as well as signature treatments and spa lover packages. Massage on offer includes traditional Thai, aromatherapy, meditation, pre-natal and skin-renewal. They also have hot stone, herbal compress, Ayurveda, drainage detox and sports treatments available.
Under the cover of the Old City, we’re including the riverside neighbourhoods, as well as those around Rattanakosin Island and the Banglamphu area near Khao San Road.
Wat Pho Traditional Massage School
Sanamchai Road, Wat Pho
As the official school of traditional Thai massage, Wat Pho is the place to go for a massage if you’re feeling weary after a day of temple hopping — although you could face a long queue if its a busy day.
They offer just traditional Thai and foot massage for either 30 or 60 minutes in a public room.
On the river, very close to the Grand Palace, is the unassuming-looking Anothai Massage. Reasonably priced with friendly staff and clean surroundings, they offer a surprisingly comprehensive array of treatments and packages.
Ruamm Urban Spa Retreat
Khao San Road
Generally regarded as the best massage on Khao San Road, the Ruamm Spa is really a retreat away from the backpacker chaos and the reams of sub-standard streetside foot massages lining the famous road.
They offer Thai, foot, herbal compress, aromatherapy, hot balm healing and aloe vera gel massage, as well as body scrubs and foot spas.
Just round the corner from Khao San Road is the beautiful wooden house that’s home to the Pai Spa — an award-winning, authentic Bangkok massage.
Massage therapies include Thai Heritage (with optional oils), Herbal Compress, aromatherapy, deep tissue and reflexology. They also offer an array of facials and body treatments.
Massage in Garden
Staying on Soi Rambuttri is the Massage in Garden experience, widely recognised as a tranquil oasis in the heart of Bangkok.
The Oriental Spa
Mandarin Oriental, Oriental Avenue
From bargain to ultra-luxe: the Oriental Spa at the Mandarin Oriental is one of the most superior places for massage in Bangkok, thanks to the serene setting, highly skilled staff and array of treatments on offer.
They even have speciality suites (complete with private whirlpool and steam room) for the ultimate in spa indulgence.
Specialist massage therapies include jetlag, Swedish and traditional Thai.
Shangri-La Hotel, Soi Wat Suan Plu
Equally luxe is CHI at the Shangri-La, just down the road from The Oriental. Continually ranked as one of the best spas in both Asia and the world at large, CHI can easily lay claim to providing the best massage in Bangkok.
They have developed a number of different customised massage treatments, including CHI Rescue Release, CHI Balance, CHI Hot Stones and Yin Yang Harmonising Massage.
Featured image is by Tara Angkor Hotel (used under Creative Commons)