Yes, the most intimate experience, and a great culture experience. The intimacy is not derived from the clothing, you are always fully clothed- but how else do you describe a two hour experience where a member of the opposite sex rubs your head, legs, back, arms, washes and massages your feet, walks on you, sits on you and then serves you a nice glass of hot tea?
That is why I describe the massage are a cultural experience and an essential part of any visit to Thailand. With the language barrier, communication with your masseur is limited. You will learn how comfortable Thai people are in close quarters; how their level of service and desire to make you happy is unrivaled and how comfortable they are with their own bodies- and yours.
A Thai massage in Thailand is not like the Thai massage in America, the quality of the masseuse is much higher in Thailand and the massage is much more physical- lots of pulling and stretching.
To help understand the basics of a Thai massage:
- You are fully clothed- you change into a shirt and pants provided by the spa, the clothing is loose, most people where their underwear beneath the clothing (bra not necessary)
- Oil is not used in Thai massage as the entire massage takes place over the clothing
- The massage is a combination of rubbing key points and muscles of the body, pulling and stretching the muscles; this is not a deep tissue massage.
- A massage table is not used, you lie on a padded mat on the floor with a pillow
- The massage can be private, private party or public- yes, part of the fun is going with a group. A private massage would be you in a private room while a public massage involves you have a private curtained area in a larger room. A private party is multiple people (friends) having a massage in one room- yes, you can talk and laugh and the masseurs synchronize the massage so everyone is getting rubbed, pushed and pulled to roughly the same agenda.
- Massage is for 1 or 2 hours, the 2 hour massage covers the entire body- beginning with your feet being washed and massaged, then legs and arms being stretched and massaged. You roll over, the back of your legs and back are massaged and then usually the masseuse takes a 5-minute break. When the massage resumes, your head and neck are massaged, some final twisting and arm stretching and you are done.
Of course, I am describing the “real” Thai massage and suggest a high quality reputable spa for your massage. I do not suggest a Thai massage in your hotel, it will be overpriced (usually Thb2,000 to 4,500 for a two hour massage) and can be very bland and not traditional.
I recommend Health Land Spa with 5 locations in Bangkok. While it does not have the small and intimate feel, it is a very well run spa with well-trained masseuses, farang (English) friendly and a great value with a two-hour massage costing Thb450 (around $14.00). Their website: http://www.healthlandspa.com/home.html. Your hotel should be able to make a reservation for you at Health Land.
This is a physical massage, it will hurt a bit and you will pulled and stretched to the edge of your comfort. Choosing a high quality spa will ensure properly trained masseurs; you can relax and let them do their magic. This is a great experience; I have a massage two times a week and always feel wonderful the following day. You will also be shocked at how quickly two hours goes by.