Thailand is awash with massage parlors and spas, making it supremely difficult to pick the right one. If you’re new to the area, its tempting to simply rush into the first convenient spot you come across. But as you might learn the hard way, its often best to do a little research and avoid the pitfalls of a bad spa experience — a lackluster massage, a masseuse falling asleep on you (yeah, that happened), or ending up in worse shape than you began.
On the bright side, if you want to treat yourself, Chiang Mai has some amazing spas that will pamper you wonderfully, while still remaining an affordable indulgence.
And for those who want to splash out for full-on luxury spa treatments, we’ve found you the perfect spots to do so.
While these are technically more of a weekly treat, its impossible to feel guilty about getting a foot or head/shoulder massage at the rate of 60 THB/30 minutes. Better yet, they are consistently good massages in a friendly, chatty atmosphere. While these aren’t the best spot if you just want to lie back in a serene environment, when your feet or shoulders need relief from hitting the market stalls, definitely take a break at one of the many massage corners.
If you have some serious kinks to work out, head to Pranom Health Massage in the open-air Kad Klang Wiang court in the Old City. Again, this isn’t the right place for you if you’re looking for quiet experience, but these women know what they are doing. If they sense the problem is in your shoulders, they won’t waste time on your feet, and that’s a huge plus in our book. Plus, at 150 THB/hour, you can go as often as necessary.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, and if you’re not a big fan of malls you might scoff, but Relaxation Massage & Spa in Airport Plaza is a nice treat. Plus, with its location next to the movie theatre, its a great addition to an already relaxing agenda.
Lila Massage helps support women who are newly released inmates facing discrimination and lack of employment opportunities upon their release. The ladies go through a rigourous 180-hour massage training course, and meet the requirements of the Chiang Mai Public Health Department. At Lila, you get great service, private rooms, and a peaceful, well-done atmosphere for hardly more than you would pay at any of the ubiquitous massage spots around town. Lila has 5 locations around town, so you’re never too far away from one.
SPAromdee Spa is the epitome of boutique service — if you make it a repeat experience, you can be sure the friendly staff and owners will remember your face. Upon your arrival, they always make sure to ask if you have any specific areas of the body that need concentration. Their Thai massages begin at 400 THB, while an Aromotherapy Massage begins at 600 THB, but they often offer packages and specials that are well-worth the price.
As soon as you walk into Cheeva Spa, the hustle and bustle of Santitham melts away. You’re prepped with a foot wash and tea in their quiet, relaxing main area before being led through the garden to a private villa. We tried the Sabaidee Package, which took us through a 3-hour, full-body scrub, a body wrap with white clay, honey facial treatment and Aroma Oil Massage and a back, head & shoulder massage. After you’re done, you’ll be presented with tea and a tasty mango sticky rice.
Cheeva offers many other packages and mix-n-match treatments, including saunas, baths and other varieties of wraps and facials. Cheeva specializes in couples and has several two-bed villas, as well as a honeymoon package for two. A basic, hour long Thai massage is 600 THB and the packages range from 1600-3900 THB — in our opinion, a very worthy indulgence that won’t leave you riddled with guilt.
You can go to Oasis Spa for a massage only, and it *will* be blissful, but while you’re there you should certainly take advantage of the amazing packages they offer. A Thai-chain with 8 branches in 4 cities, Oasis Spa began in Chiang Mai in 2003. Oasis takes its name seriously and every location creates a tranquil atmosphere — pretty much everything you dream of when you think of a “spa experience”. And the treatments themselves live up to their reputation — every step is taken to ensure you are comfortable, relaxed, and pampered by their highly trained staff.
We tried the Signature King of Oasis Signature Massage at their Baan Sean Doi Spa Resort location. After being greeted with a welcome drink, you are taken into your private room with a shower — as a side note, many Oasis Spa locations have beautiful views from their rooms. The massage itself is a two-hour treat, beginning with a Thai Herbal Hot Compress followed by a Hot Oil Massage, and you can tell the massage staff have been excellently trained. Regular Treatments run from 1000 to 2300 THB, Signature Massages from 1350 to 5900 THB, and Spa Packages from 1900 to 7500 THB.
The Nakara Spa is set within the elegance of boutique hotel the Ping Nakara. Located near the grandeur of the Chedi, the Ping Nakara’s talent is in combining that same luxury with an extremely personalized experience. The Nakara Spa reflects this personalization, something you’ll notice the minute you walk through their doors. The Nakara Spa specializes in Ayurveda, a type of traditional medicine from India that uses a balance of three fundamental body elements as a basis for health. After assessing the balance of your elements, their 90 minute introduction to Ayurveda uses accupressure points and relaxing oil treatments tailored to your personal needs (1900 thb). You can also choose from their extensive list of individual courses ranging from 1850 to 8350 thb, as well as packages for couples.