Chiang Mai Locator, Chiang Mai Thailand
CHIANG MAI LOCATOR - Leading you inside Chiang Mai

Thai massage styles and best massage places in Chiang Mai


Last edited: May 24, 2016 at 12:01:54

Chiang Mai is arguably one of the best cities in Thailand, if not in the world, to enjoy various kinds of massage but also to study massage. There are so many massage schools, practitioners and styles that everyone can find something of his/her liking here.
Whether you’re in Chiang Mai for a short holiday or for a long-stay, trying a massage should be a must on your to-do list, and it shouldn't be a punishment!
 
Most local massage styles in Thailand are based on Thai traditional or ancient Thai massage, although there are some minor foreign influences such as for example Swedish massage or Chinese massage (in the distant past however, much of Thai massage may actually have originated from other countries).
 
The most common types of massage in Chiang Mai are:
 
  • traditional Thai massage
  • foot massage
  • herbal ball massage
  • oil massage
Then there are more specialised kinds such as karsai massage while high-end spas often offer exotic massages such as Ayurvedic massage or bodywraps.
 
 

Choosing the best massage places

Most visitors coming to Thailand don’t have much knowledge or experience with Thai massage and tend to stick to the tourist areas, where you find various massage shops that are cute and convenient, but don’t always offer the best quality massage.
 
What type of massage suits you best depends on your personal preferences. Do you crave a feeling of luxury and a peaceful environment to relax, then go for one of the high-end spas. Do you want to fix that aching part in your back, then a therapeutical massage could be more beneficial. Do you want to combine the pleasure of a massage with helping some disadvantaged local groups in society, then try a blind massage or a massage by a female prisoner (personally, I didn't try the latter, because I don't think you'll get the best massage there, but especially Tripadvisor visitors find that very exciting and beneficial for their karma).
 
It's hard to say and very personal what is the best massage for you, because you may value other factors besides purely the quality of the massage more than someone else.
With other factors I mean: the luxury feeling, the level of hygiene, the music at the background, the smell of a certain aroma oil, the conversation with the practitioner, the degree of privacy, even the vicinity to your guesthouse etc.
 
Agreed, these other factors can be rather important: when you’re supposed to have a relaxing massage but you're lying down in a shared space or a space only separated by a curtain, you may get disturbed when overhearing other people’s conversations or noises.
 
Besides the pure quality of the massage and the other surrounding factors, you may feel a 'click' with a certain practitioner: he/she can find that sore spot that no one else could find with the exact right pressure. I felt great with some practitioners and introduced them to friends, but they just didn't have that 'click'.
So if you stay in Chiang Mai longer and you have time to try various places and various practitioners, you may develop a preference for this person at that massage place and that person at this massage place.
 
My personal preference is that generally I value the quality of the massage at say 80-90% and the surrounding factors at 10-20%, with certain minimum standards for privacy and hygiene. In other words, I'd rather have a spot-on massage in a modest place than a poor massage in a beautiful decorum.
 
In a way, choosing the best massage is like choosing the best food: there are a number of (more or less) objective factors that clearly decide in favour of a certain practitioner / cook and then there are some subjective factors and surrounding factors that no one can argue about.
 

Quality of massage

In general, the quality of the massage depends on the training that the practitioner had and his/her natural talent and interest. You can have a great massage at a simple place by someone who had basic training but really has a feel for it, and a mediocre massage at an expensive spa by someone who has been trained for months but doesn't feel your sensitive spots.
 
Most massage shops in town offer staff modest in-house training, the bigger 'massage chain stores' may (or may not) employ staff with a massage certificate from a proper massage school and the more luxurious spas often recruit staff that have been trained at the spa training schools.
 
My experience is that you get the best massages from those who are trained in proper massage schools and who are genuinely interested in learning the particulars of your individual body and giving you the massage you need.
If you don't know a certain good practitioner, for a good quality massage your safest bet is to go to a massage business that is associated with a massage school.
 

Therapeutical effectiveness of Thai massage styles

Truth to tell, although I do enjoy Thai massages, in general Thai massage styles don’t go as deep as for instance Chinese (Tui Na) or Japanese (Shiatsu) massage styles, although there are of course some good Thai practitioners. The reason for this is that not many Thai massage practitioners combine the practise of massage with a deep knowledge of the body, physiological and energy effects. Thai people don’t really have such an investigative nature and the root sources of Thai traditional massage that were documented in ancient books sadly went lost during a fire in the Wat Pho temple in Bangkok a few centuries ago.
 
So, Thai massage can be very relaxing and beneficial to the body, but from a strictly therapeutical perspective the effectiveness is often somewhat limited up to a certain level, unless you find exceptional and excellent practitioners.
 
Combining knowledge and feeling with the massage is essential to really have an impact on the body-mind rather than just having a mechanical programmed Thai massage.
 
An example of an excellent practitioner who studied Thai massage thoroughly and combined it with knowledge of the body and passion is Mike Tan. Mike mainly teaches which is great for advanced massage students, but sporadically gives treatments.
 

Range of massage places in Chiang Mai

For the sake of your convenience, I'll categorize the various businesses offering massage into 3 groups from high-end to low-end. This will give you some framework to choose from, although frankly speaking there are no hard criteria to divide massage places into more than two categories (i.e. the high-end spas and all the rest). The level of facilities, services and quality simply overlap too much.
The only sound criteria you could use to divide places in categories are actually price, luxury and menu.
 
 
A. HIGH-END SPAS
 
These offer relatively expensive treatments ( >THB 800/hour)  in a luxury environment and have a wide menu with more than just Thai and oil massage. Expect beautiful rooms, a nice garden or nice surroundings, soft music at the background. Meant for a total relaxation experience for part of the day.
 
Examples: Oasis Spa, Cheeva Spa, Lanna Come Spa, Dusita Spa and all the in-house spas in 5-star hotels.
 
B. MID-RANGE PLACES
 
These are often chain massage stores, with several branches all over town and with certain minimum standards and a system in place. Menu offers a range of Thai, oil and herbal massage or so (about THB 350 - THB 800/hour)
 
Examples: Lila Massage and Fah Lanna Spa
 
C. BASIC PLACES
 
Basic and simple massage shops with cheap massages (THB 100-300 / hour)
 
Some bloggers use factors such as a shared room versus a private room as a criteria to distinguish between high-end and mid-range, but really there are many overlaps: even low-end places often have so-called VIP rooms.
 

Other tips for taking a massage in Thailand

In some massage shops, they use very inferior oil that keeps sticking to your skin and doesn’t rinse off even after taking 2 showers. If you’re into oil massages, bring a small bottle of simple baby oil if you don’t like the oil used by the shop.
In the same way, if you’re very concerned about hygiene, bring a towel of your own so you know you’re laying down on a fresh one. Most places are hygienic but in the lower end range you may have your doubts and then it’s nice to stay clean.
 
The cheaper places in town usually have shared massage rooms, which are normally quiet enough and for Thai massage you keep clothes on (often loose clothes provided by the shop), in other cases there are curtain rooms so curtains to separate your space from someone else. A private room is often called a VIP room although it may not be so VIP after all.
 
As for the time of the day, most people seem to prefer taking a massage in the afternoon or evening, so if you want to have more peace for yourself, mornings are a good choice or else just around dinner time (6-8pm).
 
How much to tip if another question often asked by visitors. Well, it all depends on you, but if the massage was good (enough) 50-100 baht is quite common.
 

Best massages in Chiang Mai

Here’s my list of favourites and why.
 

Top 1.   Shivaga Komarpaj

If you want to walk in and have a proper Thai massage, this is one of the best places to go to. This massage business is associated with Old Medical Hospital Thai massage school so all practitioners have proper training and a minimum quality level is guaranteed.
Prices are very cheap, the room is mainly a shared room but there are private rooms. In addition, there is a herbal steam sauna which is a fantastic combination with especially Thai massage and there are great promotional offers for sauna + massage at early times of the day.
 

Top 2.   IDI Thai Massage School

IDI (stands for Intellectual Development Institute) is again a massage school that has walk-in facilities for taking a massage. It’s another modest but good massage business which is associated with a massage school, which guarantees that the quality of massage you get is of a certain minimum standard. There are some great massage therapists here who can really give you a therapeutic massage.
Very reasonable prices but nothing fancy.
 

Top 3.   Thai massage Conservation Club

There are several massage-by-the-blind shops in Chiang Mai and I can’t say which one is better, but this place used to be one of my favourites as it’s located in the Old Town and it has a few good practioners.
Some practitioners are quite good because they feel and see with their hands, although their ability to adjust and focus on a certain treatment is somewhat limited, like almost anywhere in Thailand.
Nevertheless, it’s a pleasure and gives me a good feeling that these people can earn their living in this way.
 
Massage by the blind in Chiang Mai
Massage by the blind in Chiang Mai
 

Top 4.   Thai massage in a temple

Temples in Thailand are more than just houses of worship: they also perform important social functions and sometimes are even used for businesses, commerce and parties. In most bigger temples, you can find some Thai massage, which is not done by the monks but by massage practitioners and some of them can be quite good.

Top 5.   Relaxation Massage & Spa Promenada

A surprisingly good and nice massage in a location you wouldn't expect: Promenada shopping mall way out of the old centre. Enjoy a massage here when you've taken your queue number at Immigration for a visa extension or so and you know it'll still take a few hours.

 

About me

I’ve been living in Chiang Mai for nearly 10 years and I’ve tried tens of massage places in town. This article is meant to sketch more about the background of Thai massage in Chiang Mai and to give you a better picture than you can get from what one-time visitors (on for example Tripadvisor) and short-term travel bloggers (such as Justine Wharton) write about massages in Chiang Mai.
If you have any questions regarding massage, just drop them below as a comment, I'm happy to help.
 
Vincent L.
 

Leave a comment

Your Name or Pseudo
Your Email (not displayed)

Giva Posted on October 17, 2016 at 20:50:19
I'I be in Chiang Mai In november, 5 and I'I like to do short course thai massage between 07-11/11/2016.
I'l want to know about: 1) price 30 hs course; 2)Didatic material;3) Teacher; 4) Accommodation etcc
I hope your answer!



Nomad Guides Chiang Mai
Get a 1-year Thai visa from overseas
Tulou Chinese Restaurant
Save up to 89% on banking fees wiring money internationally
Rent an apartment in Chiang Mai
Latest members (All our Members)
Chiang Mai Communities
arafat tutu
100% lost loves spells - marriage broken relationship+27710570936‎
Maama Tutu and Dr Arafat Love and Marriage spell call +27710…
arafat tutu
Traditional Herbalist Healer - love Spell Marriage Spells+27710570936‎
Maama Tutu and Dr Arafat Love and Marriage spell call +27710…
arafat tutu
Success Magic Business Spell Caste Call +27710570936
FINANCIAL PROBLEMS +27710570936 Looking for jobs increase …
arafat tutu
Lost Love Spells - Get Your Ex Back‎ +27710570936
Love spells and broken relationships contact Maama Tutu +277…
arafat tutu
Best Female Spell Caster - Lost Love Spells Expert@+27710570936
Maama tutu and Dr Arafat love spells @+27710570936 This lov…
arafat tutu
Sandawana oil for money/business/lucky +27710570936
Maama Tutu +27710570936 Sandawan Oil and skin: A high conse…
arafat tutu
Expert Woman Healer - Sangoma And Native Healer +27710570936
Maama tutu and Dr Arafat love spells @+27710570936 This lov…
arafat tutu
Noorani Magic Ring Sangoma And Traditional Healer +27710570936
The magic ring or wallet can help in the following: do you n…
arafat tutu
Wealthy Magic Wallet To Bring U Money Everywhere +27710570936
The Magic Money Wallet Doctor +27710570936 has got strong cu…
Russell Strand
Alumlight
שלום אני ראסל Strand לעבוד כבלוגר בא…
Mama Shamie
Lost love spells caster / psychic healer +27737053600
World’s no.1 female lost love spells caster Mama Shamie +2…
Mama Shamie
African traditional healer with black magic +27737053600 lost love spells caster
Lost Love Spells Caster /Spells Caster In Johannesburg,Canad…
Admin Locator
Chiang Mai Toastmasters Club
Speak English, Build confidence, Conquer your fear, Master t…
James Graneria
Chiang Mai Social Group Of Friends
Do you want to meet up with fellow peers in Chiang Mai? Are …
Peter Cook
Mahasiddha
Mahasiddha Yoga (tantrayogathailand.com) - Just north of the…
Simon Laroche
Language Exchange
Free of costs language exchange between farang and Thai…
Admin Locator
Couchsurfing Chiang Mai
Weekly meet up with local Thai and Couchsurfers, long stayer…
Steve Kramer
Chiang Mai Fencing Club
Dedicated to the sport of Fencing, playing Foil, Epee, and S…
Admin Locator
Latin Tunes @Meridien
Salsa lovers gather at the Meridien, salsa in style, every l…
Admin Locator
Salsa @Sahara
Salsa dance lovers swing it out on Thursday at Sahara, Nimma…
Admin Locator
Bird Watchers
Regular outings for bird lovers…
Admin Locator
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transsexual group (LGBT)
Our LGBT group aims to allow friendships between both Thai a…
Admin Locator
Monday Jam night @ Boy Blues Bar
Every Monday night is Jam night at Boy Blues Bar Bar. Many f…
Admin Locator
First Northern Thailand Toastmasters Club The Confidence Builders
Meets the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month at 6pm. 053-21…
Admin Locator
MahJong group
Saturday mornings 10 am. Contact Ruth at 085-615-1413…
Admin Locator
Hash House Harriers: CSH3 (Saturday mixed Hash)
Mixed family hash runs every Saturday. Pick up point is The …
Admin Locator
Al-anon
Support group open to those affected by alcoholism in a rela…
Admin Locator
OA (Overeaters Anonymous)
Every Saturday from 4-5 p.m. Please ask the guards or nurses…
Admin Locator
Film Space
Every Saturday night screening at 07.00 pm (Free Admission!)…
Admin Locator
Expat Club
General Meetings on the 4th Saturday of the month, except De…
Admin Locator
Open night @ Sangdee
All are welcome to perform. Sirimangkalajarn Soi 5 from 8 PM…
Admin Locator
Meditate with the Green Papaya Sangha
In the tradition of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. T…
Admin Locator
Pool League
Every Friday at 9pm at participating bars in a home and away…
Admin Locator
Chiang Mai Expats Club Coffee Morning
Coffee meetings are on 1st and 3rd Friday of each month Frid…
Admin Locator
Alliance Francaise Films
Alliance Francaise Films: Every Friday at 8 PM…
Admin Locator
Trinity Baptist Church
Meeting for old-time worship and fellowship with Dr. Jack L.…
Admin Locator
Traditional 2nd hand market
A Traditional 2nd hand market - Every Saturday morning from …
Admin Locator
Big Day Out
1st Sunday of every month. Live music and BBQ, 080 1222561…
Admin Locator
New Beginnings group of Alcoholics Anonymous
Open meetings at 10:00am on Sundays.…
Admin Locator
International Group of Alcoholics Anonymous
Chiang Mai International Group of AA meets every morning at …
Admin Locator
Classic Cars of Lanna
Meets the last Sunday of every month…
Admin Locator
Softball
Every Sunday 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm We have bats and gloves… ju…
Admin Locator
Alcoholics Anonymous
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. Info: 084-485-0100, chi…
Admin Locator
Salsa dancers
Salsa dance lovers swing it out on Tuesday at Coffee Monster…
Admin Locator
“Informal” Expats Ladies Lunch
“Informal” Expats Ladies Lunch: The lunch buffet at the …
Admin Locator
“Formal” Expats Ladies Lunch
“Formal” Expats Ladies Lunch: First Thursday of every mo…
Admin Locator
Nicotine Anonymous
Nicotine Anonymous: Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1 p.m., 086-19…
Admin Locator
Quiz Night @ Garden Bar Lotus Hotel
Quiz Night at the Garden Bar Lotus Hotel Chang Puak. Teams o…
Admin Locator
Chiang Mai Photographic Group
Chiang Mai Photographic Group: meets every other Wednesday a…
Admin Locator
Open Microphone Night
Open Mike Night at the UN Irish Pub every Wednesday, from 8.…
Admin Locator
Co-dependants Anonymous
Co-dependants Anonymous: Support group for those having prob…
Admin Locator
Friends of Bill
Friends of Bill meeting (General 12 Step meeting, all addict…
Admin Locator
Swiss Lanna Society
Swiss Lanna Society weekly informal gatherings, 6:30 p.m. ev…
Admin Locator
Royal British Legion
Royal British Legion meeting has moved to Basic Line Hotel S…
Admin Locator
Badminton
Badminton group meets every Tuesday from 2-4 PM at the Munic…
Admin Locator
Judo
Judo group meets at the MMA club near the Railways station o…
Admin Locator
Money Club
CM Money Club meets last Thursday of every month. Info: Don …
Admin Locator
CM Geeks
The Chiang Mai Computer Club meets every Tuesday. It is open…
Admin Locator
Chiang Mai International Rotary Club
The Chiang Mai International Rotary Club meets on Tuesdays a…
Admin Locator
On-location Sketching Group
On-location sketching group: Monday mornings from 8:00-10:30…
Admin Locator
Karate Practise
Karatedo Federation Wado-kaj organises free Karate practise …
Admin Locator
Tai Chi - Chi Kung
Every Monday and Wednesday 8am at Suan Buak Hat Public Park …
Admin Locator
Women's Book Club
CM's International Women's Book Club meets every last Monday…
Admin Locator
Gentleman's Club
The Gentleman's Club for real gentlemen and males approachin…
Admin Locator
Back to Basics Group of AA
Back to Basics Group of Alcoholics Anonymous meets Monday to…
Admin Locator
Hash House Harriers CH3 (male only)
Male runs every alternate week on Mon/Tue. Pick up from The …
Admin Locator
Jam night @ Boy Blues Bar
Swinging music with live jam, every Monday from 9pm…
Admin Locator
Ball hockey by CM Highlanders
CM Highlanders plays ball hockey every Monday.…
Admin Locator
CM Travel Club
Chiang Mai Travel Club gathers at Sangdee every 2nd Monday o…
Admin Locator
Upstairs at Sangdee
Performing artists every Monday at Sangdee. For those intere…
Admin Locator
Hash House Harriers CSH3
Mixed family hash runs every Saturday. Pick up point is the …
Admin Locator
Sri Sathya Sai Baba Group
Study and discussion group for CM devotees of spiritual mast…
Admin Locator
Gay and Lesbian Club
Regular meetings…
Admin Locator
Readers & Book discussion group
Monthly over lunch to discuss a previously agreed book, cmre…
Admin Locator
Dining Out Group
Once a fortnight, alternating between Asian and Western food…
Warren Lee
Racquet Ball
Though there isn't a proper racquet ball court in Chiang Mai…
Alan and Melanie Kornfield
Circle of Light
The Circle of Light Group is a reading & discussion group fo…
Roland Mogg
Chiang Mai Beach Volleyball Club
Welcome to CMBVC! We are one of Chiang Mai's most active spo…
Amy Dapice
Urban Sketchers Chiang Mai
Urban Sketchers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rai…
Jenny Jung
Maum meditation
Maum meditation is throwing away the false mind,and is Chan…
Skylar Santian
New Life Foundation Thailand
New Life Thai Foundation is a unique international, mindfuln…
Cinlada Srisuparat
WED ZOUK BAREFOOT at Birds Nest Cafe
We would like to invite you all for our regular zouk meet up…
Ken Lang
Tons of Time!
Weight being a problem for us all these days, but truly bein…
Rod Savvides
Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan step by step.. Daily weekday classes every …
Claudio Caselli
Yin Yoga with Claudio
Price: 200B - Contact Claudio: 0847 744705…
The Yoga Tree Chiang Mai
DANCEmandala
This movement meditation practice is for anyone that is insp…
Natha Yoga
Esoteric Integral Yoga
The Esoteric Integral Yoga course is an in-depth course prov…
Soragarn Sangsai
Football Club
Football Chiang Mai - Football fan in Chiang Mai…
Ratthawisutth Klomchitt
Chiangmai AutoCAD Training
AutoCAD for Engineering and Architecture drawing training…
Documentary Arts Asia
Documentary Arts Asia Monday & Thursday Showings
The Documentary Arts Asia Theater has regular screenings of …
JAY LEE
Income Tax discussion
How to legally claim tax rebate as a foreigner working in Th…
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Backgammon
Anyone interested in forming a group?…
Elf B
Tantra Yoga Community
A unique course about the extraordinary spiritual adventure …
Chiang Mai Improv Theatre
We are all about PLAY! Come and regress to being 5 years old…
Laughter Yoga
A laughter yoga class and circle at the Yoga Tree Chiang Mai…
TEFL 360
TEFL
TEFL Courses…
Bambi Rabid
Comedy Workshop
Think you're funny? We're looking for people who'd like to…
Jessie Q
Chiang Mai Jugglers and Prop Enthusiasts
Wanna meet and play with other Prop Manipulation geeks? Lear…
John Bales
Chiang Mai Chess Club
Welcome to Chiang Mai Chess Club…
Warren Lee
Squash Players Chiang Mai
There are 2 main groups of squash players in Chiang Mai. …
Warren Lee
Salsa
There are a few groups in Chiang Mai that gather for salsa, …
Writers without Borders
If you're an expat in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or, more specifi…
The Yoga Tree Chiang Mai
livingBIODANZA
An exploration of dance and movment, the BIODANZA way, of ho…
Steve XiengMieng
Green Papaya Sangha
Meditation in the tradition of Vietnamese Zen Monk Thich Nha…
Simon Laroche
Bridge Chiang Mai
Welcome to Bridge Club of Chiang Mai…