Massages in Thailand. How does it work and how to spot them

And we’re back, folks! This time, I come with something special straight from the vibrant streets of Thailand. Here, together with my good friend Luc, we have explored not only the wonders of this exotic country, but something very particular: the famous Thai massages.

Thailand is known for its stunning landscapes, its delicious food and, of course, its massages! But what’s behind this famous tradition, and how do the massages here differ from what we might expect elsewhere in the world? And most intriguingly, how do you recognize the different types of massages on offer?

In this blog, I’ll take you on a journey through our experiences, discoveries and, yes, some rather curious situations. From foot massage on the street to luxurious spas in hotels, let’s dive into the world of Thai massages. Are you ready for this adventure, here we go!

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How do massages in Thailand work?

Have you ever wondered how a Thai massage really works? Well, friends, let me tell you about this fascinating experience. In Thailand, massage is more than just a spa treatment; it’s a wellness philosophy rooted in the country’s history and culture.

First, it’s important to know that in Thailand, massage is considered a healing art form. It is not only for relaxing after a long day of sightseeing, but also for balancing the body and mind. Traditionally, these massages incorporate techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.

One of the most unique things is that in Thailand, massages are performed in a variety of settings. You can get a relaxing massage in a luxurious spa, on a quiet beach, or even in a cozy corner on the side of the street. And best of all, you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a good massage here.

During our trip, Luc and I tried different types, from the famous Thai massage, which combines stretching and pressure, to massages with aromatic oils and herbal treatments. Each experience was unique and refreshing.

So, if you come to Thailand, don’t miss the opportunity to experience this wonderful tradition – your body and soul will thank you!

What are the types of massages in Thailand?

The image depicts the different types of massages in Thailand, as described in the blog section. Each part of the image illustrates a variety of massage, from the traditional to the more specialized such as Tok Sen, capturing the essence and unique technique of each, set in serene surroundings appropriate for a Thai massage.

If you thought there was only one type of massage in Thailand, prepare to be surprised. Luc and I discovered that there is an incredible variety, each with its own style and benefits. Here I tell you about some of the most popular types we found.

Traditional thai massage: This is the classic. It combines pressure and stretching techniques reminiscent of yoga. No oils are used and it can be quite intense, but it leaves you feeling an incredible sense of well-being.

Oil massage: Unlike the traditional one, here aromatic oils are used to relax your body and mind. It is softer and perfect if you are looking for pure relaxation.

Foot massage: It’s more than just a foot massage; it’s almost a science here in Thailand. It uses reflexology to stimulate different organs and systems in your body – Luc was impressed with the difference he felt after one of these!

Herbal massage: This type involves hot compresses filled with aromatic herbs. It is a combination of heat, aromatherapy and massage that brings you to a state of total relaxation.

Back, neck and shoulder massage: Ideal for those who spend a lot of time at a computer. It is more targeted and helps relieve tension in key areas.

Tok sen massage: This is unique and not as well known. It uses a mallet and a wooden chisel to gently tap the body. It sounds strange, but the vibration it creates is surprisingly relaxing.

How does the ‘happy ending’ massages work in Thailand?

The image shows a dim and ambiguous spa environment with a "No Entry" or "Restricted Area" sign, symbolizing the hidden and often controversial nature of these services. The focus is on suggesting caution and awareness without showing explicit or inappropriate content, while maintaining a respectful and informative tone.

During our adventures in Thailand, Luc and I came across an aspect of the massage world that is impossible to ignore: the famous ‘happy ending’ massages. It’s a touchy subject, but I think it’s important to talk about it to provide a complete perspective.

First, it is essential to understand that while these services exist, they do not represent the entirety of the Thai massage industry. Thailand has a rich history and deep tradition in therapeutic and healing massage, and most massage therapists are professionals dedicated to their art.

Massages with ‘happy endings’ are often more closely related to the sex industry than to the Thai massage tradition. These services, offered in some places, may or may not be legal, depending on local laws and how they are performed.

It is important to be aware that this type of massage can involve complex ethical issues, including exploitation and human trafficking. As travelers, Luc and I believe in the importance of making responsible and respectful decisions about the communities and cultures we visit.

If you come across offers of ‘happy ending’ massages, it is crucial to be informed and consider the legal and ethical implications. Opting for legitimate, traditional massage services is one way to support ethical practices and enjoy the true beauty of Thai massage.

In short, while ‘happy ending’ massages are part of the landscape in some parts of Thailand, they do not define the rich tradition of massage in this country. There is much more to Thai massage culture that deserves to be explored and appreciated.

What is the difference between oil massage and a ‘special’ massage?

image that respectfully and informatively illustrates the difference between an oil massage and a 'special' massage in Thailand. The left side of the image shows a serene and professional oil massage environment, with a client receiving a relaxing massage with essential oils in a peaceful spa setting. The right side subtly suggests a 'special' massage, with a discreet sign or symbol indicating its nature, without showing explicit or inappropriate content. The image contrasts the two types of massages, focusing on the ambiance and setting of each, while maintaining a respectful and educational tone.

In our explorations in Thailand, Luc and I realized that there is an impressive variety of massages. Two types that often generate curiosity are the oil massage and the so-called ‘special’ massage. Although at first glance they may seem similar, they are actually quite different.

Oil massage is a relaxing and therapeutic form of massage. It uses a variety of essential oils that provide both skin and general wellness benefits. This type of massage focuses on soothing and relaxing the muscles, with long, flowing strokes. It is perfect for those seeking a soothing and rejuvenating experience.

On the other hand, the term ‘special’ massage often refers to massages with an erotic component. This type of service is more aligned with the adult entertainment industry and, in many cases, may involve activities that are outside the spectrum of traditional Thai massage.

It is crucial to understand this difference, especially for travelers seeking an authentic Thai massage experience. While oil massage is a legitimate and respected practice in Thai culture, ‘special’ massage can involve legal and ethical issues that travelers should carefully consider.

On our adventure, Luc and I opted to experience traditional Thai massages, which reflect the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. If you are in Thailand, I encourage you to explore the legitimate massage options this beautiful country has to offer.

What are soapy massages in Thailand?

image that subtly and tastefully depicts soapy massages in Thailand, avoiding any explicit or inappropriate content. The image depicts a luxurious and sparkling bubble bath environment, possibly with soft lighting and spa-style decor. The focus is on creating a sense of indulgence and relaxation in a high-end spa environment, without depicting any person or suggesting anything inappropriate, while maintaining a respectful and artistic representation.

Continuing our exploration of the various types of massages in Thailand, Luc and I came across something quite unique: soapy massages or soap massages. This type of massage is quite well known in Thailand, but it may not be what many expect when they hear about it.

Soapy massages are famous for their playful and sensual nature. The experience begins with a bubble bath, where the masseuse uses a large amount of soap to create a slippery and smooth experience. It is usually performed in a bathtub or on a waterproof mattress, with the masseuse sliding over the client to perform the massage.

It is important to note that soapy massages are more associated with the adult entertainment industry in Thailand. Although technically a massage, their main focus is to provide an erotic rather than therapeutic experience.

Given their nature, these massages are not representative of the Thai massage tradition and may involve ethical and legal issues. Luc and I decided not to experience this type of massage, as we wanted to focus on the more traditional and respectful massage practices of Thai culture.

If you find yourself in Thailand and are offered a soapy massage, it is important to be informed about what is involved. As always, we recommend making decisions that respect local laws and consider the ethical implications of the activities we participate in as travelers.

How to avoid ‘special’ massage places?

 imagen que ilustra de manera informativa y respetuosa cómo identificar y evitar lugares de masajes 'especiales'. La imagen presenta señales y símbolos claros y distintivos que indican un establecimiento de masaje profesional y tradicional, como una insignia de 'Terapeuta Certificado', un letrero de 'Masaje Tradicional Tailandés' y un ambiente de spa sereno. El enfoque está en promover la conciencia y ayudar a los espectadores a identificar servicios legítimos de masaje, sin mostrar contenido inapropiado o explícito.

In our adventures in Thailand, Luc and I quickly learned how to identify and avoid places that offer ‘special’ massages. While some travelers may be looking for these types of experiences, others prefer to avoid them. If you are among the latter, here are some tips that will help you distinguish traditional establishments from those offering ‘special’ services.

Research before you go: A simple online search about the establishment can give you a lot of information. Read reviews and look for recommendations from other travelers.

Observe the environment: Places that offer traditional massages tend to have a more professional and therapeutic atmosphere. If you see dim lights, overly flashy decor, or suggestive images, it could be a sign that the place offers ‘special’ services.

Pay attention to advertising: Legitimate establishments generally advertise highlighting their therapies and health benefits. If a place advertises aspects like ‘young and attractive masseuses’, it’s likely that they offer more than traditional massages.

Ask directly: There is nothing wrong with asking directly about the services they offer. A legitimate establishment will be more than willing to talk about their treatments and massage techniques.

Trust your instinct: If something seems suspicious or you feel uncomfortable, trust your intuition and look for another place.

Remember, Thai massage is an ancient and respectable practice that offers numerous health benefits. By choosing places that respect this tradition, you will not only enjoy an authentic experience, but you will also support ethical practices in the massage industry in Thailand.

What are the red zones and go-go bars for Thai massages?

image that generically and respectfully depicts the vibrant nightlife in Thailand's red zones and go-go bars, avoiding explicit or inappropriate content. The image depicts a lively street scene at night with neon lights and a bustling atmosphere, capturing the energy and activity of these areas. The focus is on the general atmosphere of nightlife, including bar signs and entertainment venues, without depicting individuals or suggesting anything inappropriate, maintaining a tasteful and appropriate representation.

A part of the nightlife in Thailand that Luc and I observed, although we did not participate directly, are the well-known ‘red zones’ and go-go bars. These areas are famous, or infamous depending on your perspective, for their vibrant nightlife and often for their connection with the adult entertainment industry.

The ‘red zones’ are areas in Thai cities where the nightlife is particularly active. These zones house a variety of establishments, including bars, clubs, and places that offer massages. However, it’s important to know that many of these massages are linked with the sex industry and are not representative of the traditional practice of Thai massage.

Go-go bars, on the other hand, are establishments that typically offer dance shows and entertainment. Although they do not focus on massages, some of them may offer massages with a more erotic focus.

For travelers looking to experience Thai massage culture in its most authentic and respectful form, these zones may not be the ideal destination. These areas are more suited for those interested in exploring nightlife and adult entertainment.

Luc and I decided to focus on the cultural and traditional experiences of Thailand, so we chose not to explore these zones deeply. However, we understand that they are part of the wide spectrum of what Thailand has to offer to different types of travelers.

How do prices work for a ‘special’ massage in Thailand?

The image shows a visual comparison of different massage environments, from a modest local spa to a luxury spa at a high-end resort. Each environment shows a price tag, representing the range of prices one might expect. The focus is on the variety of massage experiences available in Thailand, from affordable to premium options, without suggesting anything inappropriate or explicit, while maintaining an educational and respectful tone.

In our exploration of massages in Thailand, Luc and I learned quite a bit about how the pricing structure works in this industry. Understanding this is crucial, especially for distinguishing between legitimate services and those that might not be.

The prices of massages in Thailand can vary significantly depending on various factors, such as location, type of massage, duration, and the level of luxury of the establishment. For example, a traditional Thai massage at a modest spa could be surprisingly affordable, while the same service at a luxury hotel could cost much more.

An important thing to keep in mind is that excessively low prices or ‘special offers’ can be a red flag. Sometimes, very low prices are used to attract customers to establishments that offer additional services of a more erotic nature.

On the other hand, extremely high prices do not necessarily guarantee better quality or a more legitimate experience. Some places might inflate their prices to give an impression of exclusivity or to target less informed tourists.

My advice is to research and ask around. Read online reviews, ask locals or other travelers who have visited the area. And remember, it’s always good to ask about the services included in the price before committing to a massage, to avoid misunderstandings or surprises.

In summary, the prices of massages in Thailand are as varied as the services offered. By being informed and aware, you can ensure that you get the experience you are looking for, respecting legality and ethical practices.

What are the Soi 6 in Pattaya, Thailand?

The image depicts a lively street with neon lights, bars and a bustling crowd, reflecting the dynamic and lively character of nightlife in Pattaya. The focus is on the overall atmosphere and energy of the street scene, without depicting specific locations or suggesting anything inappropriate, maintaining a respectful and tasteful representation.

During our trip through Thailand, Luc and I came across Soi 6 in Pattaya, a street that is quite famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) for its vibrant and unique entertainment scene. Located in the heart of Pattaya, Soi 6 is known for its bars, adult entertainment venues, and lively nightlife.

Soi 6 is a short street that stretches from Beach Road to Second Road. During the day, it appears as a typical Thai street with shops and restaurants. However, as night falls, it transforms into a bustling center of nightlife.

What sets Soi 6 apart is the high concentration of bars and venues that offer adult entertainment. These establishments are known for being more open and direct regarding their nature and services offered, compared to other nightlife entertainment areas in Thailand.

It’s important to mention that Soi 6 does not represent the entire culture or tourist offerings of Pattaya or Thailand. Pattaya is a destination with a rich variety of attractions, including beautiful beaches, excellent restaurants, and shopping opportunities. However, for those interested in nightlife, Soi 6 offers a unique and direct experience.

During our trip, Luc and I passed through Soi 6 to observe and understand this aspect of Thai nightlife culture. While it is an intriguing part of Pattaya, we always recommend travelers to be aware and respectful of local laws and cultural norms when exploring different aspects of entertainment in Thailand.

What are Beer Gardent, Beer Bars and Bar Girls in Thailand?

The image shows an outdoor or semi-open air environment with people enjoying drinks and light snacks, surrounded by tropical plants and warm lighting. The scene is vibrant but tasteful, showing the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of Thai beer gardens and bars, without suggesting anything inappropriate or explicit.

During our trip in Thailand, Luc and I encountered various aspects of Thai nightlife, including beer gardens, beer bars, and bar girls. These are common elements in many Thai cities and form part of the country’s nightlife entertainment experience.

Beer Gardens: These are outdoor or semi-open spaces where people gather to drink beer and enjoy light meals or snacks. Beer gardens in Thailand often have live music and a relaxed atmosphere, ideal for groups of friends looking to socialize and enjoy the tropical climate at night.

Beer Bars: These are small, casual bars, usually located in complexes or rows along the streets. These bars are known for their informal atmosphere and often have pool tables and televisions broadcasting sports. Beer bars are a popular place to socialize and meet new people, both locals and tourists.

Bar Girls: In some beer bars, you may encounter bar girls, who are employees of the bar that interact with customers, serve drinks, and sometimes play bar games like darts or pool. It’s important to note that while some bar girls may be available for companionship beyond the bar, not all participate in this type of service, and the nature of their work can vary widely.

It’s essential for any traveler to understand and respect the cultural and legal norms of Thailand when interacting in these environments. Luc and I observed that, although these places can be fun and offer a window into a part of Thai culture, it’s always important to maintain respect for the people working and socializing there.

In summary, beer gardens, beer bars, and bar girls are part of the diverse nightlife entertainment scene in Thailand. They offer opportunities to enjoy the nightlife, socialize, and experience Thai hospitality.

What about karaoke beer gardens in Thailand?

The image shows an outdoor or semi-open air environment with a karaoke stage, people singing and others enjoying drinks and socializing around tables. The scene is vibrant and shows the fun, communal spirit of Thai karaoke beer gardens, with tropical decor and warm lighting, without suggesting anything inappropriate or explicit.

During our tour of Thailand, Luc and I had the opportunity to experience a fun and popular form of entertainment: the karaoke beer gardens. These places are a unique fusion of two beloved aspects of Thai entertainment culture: karaoke and beer gardens.

Karaoke beer gardens are outdoor or semi-open spaces where, in addition to enjoying beer and snacks, visitors can sing their favorite songs. These places are equipped with karaoke systems and offer a wide selection of songs, both local and international.

The atmosphere in a karaoke beer garden is vibrant and festive. Groups of friends, families, and even solo performers take to the stage to perform their favorite tunes. What impressed us most was the sense of camaraderie and fun; it doesn’t matter if you’re a talented singer or just there to have a good time.

Besides being a place to sing and enjoy drinks, karaoke beer gardens are also social meeting points where people gather to relax and socialize. In some places, there might also be live performances or DJs playing between karaoke sessions.


Our adventure through Thailand, exploring the world of massages and nightlife, has been a truly enriching experience. From the relaxing traditional Thai massages to the vibrant nighttime entertainment scene, Luc and I have seen and learned a lot.

What we take away is a deeper appreciation for the diversity and cultural richness of Thailand. Massages here are much more than just relaxation treatments; they are a gateway to the country’s history, culture, and traditions. Whether it’s a foot massage on a bustling street or a luxurious treatment in a spa, each experience has been unique and enlightening.

At the same time, our foray into nightlife and entertainment has shown us a different side of Thailand. It has taught us the importance of approaching these experiences with an open mind, respect, and awareness of the country’s cultural and legal norms.

For any traveler heading to Thailand, our advice is simple: stay curious, be respectful, and open to learning. There’s much more to Thailand than its beautiful beaches and temples; its people, their traditions, and way of life have so much to offer.

In summary, Thailand has left us with indelible memories and valuable lessons. We are grateful for every massage, every conversation, and every smile we’ve shared in this beautiful country. Until next time, Thailand!

I invite you to visit my previous post: Travel Stories with Luc #2