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Thai Massage: types, benefits, techniques

by Pierre To
11 minutes to read
Thai Massage: types, benefits, techniques

To know everything about Thai massage, the different types of massages offered in the salons, the vocabulary, the history, the techniques of traditional Thai massage...

The Thai massage is, like the smilea speciality of Thailand which should not be missed.

Names of the different Thai massages

Massage = nuad or nuatte - นวด
Foot massage = nuad tao - นวดเท้า
Oil massage = nuad nam manne - นวดน้ำมัน
Body massage = nuad bo rarn - นวดโบราณ
Herbal massage = nuad samounpraille - นวด สมุนไพร

Whether it is for an energetic massage, specific to a health problem or just an oil massage for a pleasant moment of relaxation, you will have no trouble finding a massage parlour in ThailandEven in remote parts of the country.

The different types of Thai massage

Before entering a massage parlour, it is important to know what you are doing there, as there are several types of massage:

Foot massage: nuad tao

Foot massage

Thai foot massage is a very relaxing massage that promotes a long-lasting sense of well-being.

It starts with a foot cleaning in scented water, then after quickly putting massage oil on one of your feet, it will be wrapped in a towel while the masseuse works on the other.

Foot massage stickThe massage will be done with the hands and the help of a small wooden stick used to exert pressure on certain areas of the foot (acupuncture points) which are linked to important organs.

This massage actively stimulates the muscles, lymph and energy points of the body.

It will help you to relieve blood circulation disorders, digestive problems, nervous system disorders and joints.

Body massage: nuad toua

Thai massage 2Before the massage, you will be asked to put on cotton pyjamas.

This massage helps to harmonise the energy networks necessary for the proper functioning of the organs, as well as for nervous and emotional relaxation.

But it is important to know that it can be painful, often the masseuse will ask you if you want a strong or light massage.

If you don't want to suffer, you can just tell him "bao bao" light...

But you should know that the masseuse usually knows what she is doing and that a massage can be painful because there is a circulation problem and that is why she will insist on the point where it hurts.

Thai oil massage: nuad nam man

Oil massageIt is a very pleasant, sensual moment of relaxation and it is also an olfactory journey, with the application of essential oils.

For this massage, you will have to take off all your clothes, even your underwear (if you don't want to get oil on them), you are just given a towel to cover your private parts.

This is a head to toe massage, the masseuse uses fluid and linear movements with oils to stimulate your body's energy lines and revitalise your muscles.

In some massage parlours, you will also be offered special massages with medicinal plants:

Thai massage with medicinal plants: nuad samounpaille

herbal massage packsThe herbal massage is practiced with bundles filled with steamed medicinal plants.

For this massage, you will be given cotton pyjamas.

This is a very pleasant massage during which the masseuse alternates deep pressure with ballotins and superficial touches, from the feet to the head, to relax the muscles in depth.

The packs are applied directly to your skin so that the plants release their active ingredients and relieve tension.

See also :
Medicinal plants in Thailand

Intimate massages

Afterwards, you should know that, whether you are a man or a woman, depending on the salon and if the massage is done in a private room, the masseuse may offer you a more intimate massage by charging you extra.

There are also large massage parlours, the soapy massage parlor, where the masseuses stand behind a window with a number hanging from their chest.

This is special "massages". where a sexual relationship is included in the service.

Prices for massages in Thailand

Thai massage prices

Thai massage prices in Koh Phi Phi

The price varies according to the region, it is always more expensive in tourist areas unless there is a lot of competition, the type of salon, if the massage is done in a large room or a bedroom, if there is air conditioning or not...

Body massages in small villages are done in common rooms and can cost as little as 150 baht for an hour.

In general, you will find salons offering traditional (body) or foot massages from 200 to 500 baht.

Oil massage is generally more expensive, from 250 to 600 baht.

Herbal massage ranges from 450 to 800 baht.

It is customary to leave a tip of 40/50 baht (or more) to the masseuse if the massage was well done.

Traditional Thai massage (nuad bo rarn)

stretching during a Thai massage

Stretching during a massage

When it comes to Thai massage, nuad bo rarn, we talk about the body massageor nuad touaIt is the most widely practiced massage in the country.

Three elements characterise Thai massage

Dynamic and fluid stretching exercises

These exercises are usually based on yoga postures, but no prior knowledge of yoga is required, the masseuse takes care of everything, you just have to let yourself go.

Energy" work

It consists of applying pressure to specific areas or points along the body's energy lines called sen, which are acupuncture points.

The practitioner applies pressure with palms, thumbs, fingers, arms, forearms, elbows and feet.

Thai massage, Nuad Bo Rarn

The massage should be done in a meditative attitude

This is evident in the good masseusesThey are very focused, trying to get in tune with the patient.

Wat Pho Massage School

Wat Pho massage school in Bangkok

The origins of Thai massage

Thai massage originated about 2,500 years ago, following the arrival of Buddhist doctors and monks from India in Thailand.

With its origins in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Thai medicine considers that all forms of life are animated by an invisible energy, the prana.

According to Indian medicine, the energy, prana, circulates in the body through the nadis, a network of 72,000 energy channels.

When energy is blocked or restricted, there is an imbalance that leads to health problems.

Thai massage focuses on the 10 main nadis, which are the main energy routes, known as "sen" and which allow the whole body to be treated.

Wat Pho murals

Wat Pho murals

In ancient times, Thai massage was passed on orally from master to student in Buddhist temples or in the families of masseurs.

L'art of thai massage Thai massage arrived in Europe in the 1960s, but it was in the 1980s, with the publication of the first English-language book on the subject in 1990, that Thai massage spread to the West.

In Thailand, massage is considered a therapeutic treatment that is practiced in temples as well as in hospitals.

The benefits of Thai massage

Thai massage relieves muscle tension, energy blockages (when prana, the energy, cannot flow), and makes the body more supple and mobile.

Thai massage has a relaxing effect that calms the mind and gives a general sense of well-being.

It is used to treat circulation problems, back pain, headaches, anxiety, fatigue and stress.

You really shouldn't miss it if you are in Thailand, because Thai massage makes life more harmonious, keeps you healthy and makes you feel good, happier.

Video: traditional Thai massage gestures

A presentation of the Thai massage techniques by the Ban Sabai massage parlour.

Learn Thai massage

Traditionally, it was taught in Buddhist temples as Wat Pho massage school from Bangkok which is open to foreigners and offers courses in English.

But with the growing interest of travellers, there are now Thai massage schools with instruction in English, and sometimes even in French, in most major tourist cities.

You can find accessories for Thai massage at :

Thai Massage Shop on Amazon

Sources : wikipedia.org ; Photos : Traditional Thai massage: Bhattharasinthorn Kosawan & Chot-Anan Kittiraweechot Thai stretching massage: Hochgeladen Massage pavilion in Wat Pho: Heinrich Damm Wall paintings in Wat Pho: Heinrich Damm; Thai massage in cobra position, Thai massage 2, Thai massage in sitting position: Marcin Bober

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