The birthplace of the global phenomenon that is Thai massage, Thailand subscribes to the idea that the manipulation of the limbs and various pressure points can be good for your health. A technique honed since before the Sukhothai era in the 12th century, Thai massage requires recipients to wear loose pyjamas, which can be a boon for those too uncomfortable to let it all hang out. But what of those who cannot even be bothered to change their clothing? The answer: Thai foot massage, for those who simply want a reason to sit somewhere quiet for a while.
Supposedly taking its precepts from ancient Chinese medicine, foot massage (or reflexology) is said to promote blood circulation, organ function and, of course, ease the typical pains that accompany daily life. Some even believe that foot massage on its own can cure ailments. Not surprisingly, Bangkok abounds in excellent foot massage outlets to suit every price point and mood.
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Named after the “fifth level of heaven”, this urban retreat under the Grand Hyatt umbrella is the swankiest (and priciest) option on the list, but the luxury treatment rooms, innumerable options and stellar service make a foot massage here a worthy investment. Indeed, patrons can choose from four types of foot massage: Thai-style reflexology, a detox massage with scrub, a hot stone massage with ginger oil, and relaxing shea butter massage. Should you choose to indulge in a full-day package, you will also get to use the fitness room, pool, tennis courts and even group fitness classes.
Open 9am-11pm daily
The Thonglor outlet (58/13 Thonglor Rd) of this city-wide massage chain, is for style mavens looking for a place to relax before hitting the nightlife and restaurants down the road. Behind the sleek glass facade is a traditional massage spot sporting all the comforts of (a very stylish and lemongrass-scented) home. The massage room, with its dim lighting, curtains for privacy, plush chairs and blankets, continues the “home” theme, if that home also happened to have a very skilled and experienced masseuse in it.
3. Nuch Massage
The ultra-popular offshoot of a nearly 20-year-old Bangkok chain brings in hordes of customers willing to queue for a foot massage in a city filled to the brim with massage parlours. Perfect for tired shoppers in need of a reprieve from the Emporium and EmQuartier malls across the street, Nuch (622 Sukhumvit 24) has revolutionised the area’s massage scene, providing quality service in an accessible location and at an affordable price. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the quiet foot massage room houses comfortable seats in which customers can relax during their sessions.
Open 9am-midnight daily
Probably the most well-known of all of the city’s spa chains, Healthland is considered the go-to for locals in need of a pick-me-up. Billing itself as a “one-stop shop” for total wellness, this spa chain has been around for nearly 20 years, offering everything from Ayurvedic oil massage to, yes, foot reflexology. The most popular outlet is in the central business district on Sathorn Road, where patrons typically gather before a night out at one of the trendy cafes a short walk away. Surprisingly enough, for all the swish surroundings, foot massages here are actually quite reasonably priced.
Open 9am-11pm daily
5. Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical & Massage School
Why not try a Thai massage at its birthplace? Wat Pho (392/25-28 Soi Pen Phat 1, Maharaj Rd) – considered one of the most sacred temples in Thailand and home of the stunning 46m-long Reclining Buddha – is not only a must-see tourist destination, but also home to a school that teaches Thai massage as a traditional medical practice. In fact, the temple has ancient references to traditional cures for common ailments written on numerous tablets, and the herbs for many of those medicines are grown on the temple grounds. Considered the first institute of higher learning in Thailand, the school offers traditional massages in an open-space room, including foot massages that will set you back a mere 280 baht (about US$8.50) for a half-hour session.
Open 8am-6pm daily
– TEXT BY CHAWADEE NUALKHAIR
PHOTOS: GRAND HYATT ERAWAN BANGKOK FACEBOOK (I.SAWAN RESIDENTIAL SPA & CLUB), ASIA HERB ASSOCIATION FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM (NUCH MASSAGE, HEALTHLAND, WAT PHO THAI TRADITIONAL MEDICAL & MASSAGE SCHOOL), 123RF.COM (MAIN PHOTO)
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.