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Spas and massages

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Spas and massage parlours of every description are ubiquitous throughout Chiang Mai. Here’s a summary on what to expect and some suggestions on where to go.

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Traditional Thai massage is quite vigorous and involves some heavy kneading of pressure points and some strenuous joint bending. For those not used to it, it can be a fairly painful experience.

Not your average prison massage centre. Photo taken in or around Spas and massages, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Not your average prison massage centre. Photo: Mark Ord

Consequently—as with the sometimes painfully burning food—much is toned down for foreign visitors and the more gentle Swedish-style massage is also popular. Bear in mind that whatever the parlour or spa, any masseuse can have an off day, and while training standards ought to be higher in more upmarket spots, there’s always going to be a certain hit or miss element involved. Plus of course what’s a great massage to one person may be torture to another.

Catchy name. Photo taken in or around Spas and massages, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Catchy name. Photo: Mark Ord

When a massage parlour becomes a spa is a tricky question. You will come across all levels in between in Chiang Mai but to us spa implies more emphasis on setting and surroundings, and a wider range of more niche treatments including reflexology, aromatherapy, herbal baths and so on as well as beauty treatments such as masks, manicures, pedicures and waxing. For a simple massage, you sign up for an hour or two with a choice of perhaps body or oil massage and maybe a head, shoulder or foot option as well. A spa however is designed to keep you there all morning. Aside the name outside, the price list will be a dead giveaway.

Your standard, traditional massage by a professionally trained masseuse in a clean and kosher parlour should cost around 300 to 400 baht for a two-hour session. (Two hours is considered the usual period for a complete massage.) Larger hotels often have in-house massage services and you usually pay a bit more for the ... Travelfish members only (Around 700 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Popular attractions in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Chiang Mai.

Best places to stay in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Chiang Mai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Mai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Mai.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Chiang Mai.
 Read up on how to get to Chiang Mai, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Chiang Mai? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
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