Think of Thailand, and chances are that thoughts of massage aren’t far behind. The Land of Smiles could also be known as the Land of Sighs, where parlours devoted to easing every ache dot every city on the map.
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.
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.
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
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