cheap massages on Koh Samui

The Thai treatment

Three decades ago on Koh Samui, the only place to get a massage was on the beach. Thai women used to walk the shores with a few towels and ointments and offer massages that left the body feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. While for many a beach massage is an essential part of any Samui holiday, people can now also choose from a number of other different venues for their therapeutic rejuvenation.

Since reaching Koh Samui became easier, it has blossomed in popularity and has seen a corresponding number of massage parlours and health spas open for business. There are now spas offering traditional massages, oil massages, Swedish massages, shiatsu massages, reiki massages, herbal baths, saunas, detox treatments and even colonic irrigations, taking care of lots of ailments, relieving stress and giving the body a general renaissance.

Getting a massage at a spa such as Eranda Herbal costs around 1,600 Baht for a 90-minute session. Massages at spa resorts, including Absolute Sanctuary, the Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa or Tamarind Springs Forest Spa, are usually only available as part of a multi-day therapy programme, with prices well into the tens of thousands of Baht. These spa health programmes are perfect for people looking to turn their lives around or alleviate physical discomfort.

Samui visitors just looking to get rid of minor aches and pains or take stiffness out of muscles and joints will find the standard Thai massage does the trick nicely, however. A beach masseuse now charges 250 to 300 Baht per hour for a traditional massage.

At shops located in all the major towns and tourism hubs on Samui, the same style of massage costs between 50 and 100 Baht more an hour. Most have a sandwich board outside the premises with the massage tariffs. Some shops have air-conditioned rooms, which are well worth the money on a hot afternoon. Oil and foot reflexology massages are a little more expensive, both on the beach and in the shops.

Massages at these prices won’t leave you short of funds to enjoy this tropical paradise’s myriad attractions. At popular Chaweng Beach, many of the hotels have spa and massage facilities, and there are also massage parlours every 50 metres or so on Beach Road. Ohm Massage is one that seems particularly popular. For a splurge, the Mata Hari Day Spa offers a full range of massages as well as beauty treatments and saunas at prices a little higher than average, but still a bargain for such an atmospheric environment.

Relaxation station

Over at Lamai, Samui’s other principal tourism hub, the choice of venues for a budget price massage is vast. Relaxation Place Massage has two locations here, one behind the Subway sandwich bar and the other near McDonald’s. Both have been decorated in style and boast soft music and lighting, while the burning incense provides the ideal ambience for a rejuvenating massage that will renew the mind and body.

Massage choices at Relaxation Place are traditional Thai, oil, herbal, after sun, aloe vera, hot stone, reiki, Swedish and cellulite. An after sun massage is an especially good choice for those who have spent too long on Samui’s splendid beaches. Custom made massage beds and chairs enhance the comfort of customers, and facial treatments, manicures and pedicure are also available. The Relaxation spa is unique on Samui in that it offers a loyalty card that gives a bonus treatment after 10 visits.

Spa Samui Resort at Lamai was the island’s original health spa for detox, massages, yoga and meditation when it opened in the early nineties, and the spa added Samui Village to its portfolio 10 years ago. While many people take advantage of residential programmes to improve their general well-being, others visit just for the massages, which start at around 400 Baht an hour for conventional Thai and oil massages, reflexology massages and ampuku Japanese abdomen therapies.

A walk around Lamai will also reveal a number of other great massage and beauty shops. Mui Massage, close to the Pavilion Hotel, is particularly recommended and has several skilled masseuses from the Isarn region of the country working in a cool, air-conditioned room. A traditional massage is around 300 Baht an hour, but this is often reduced for repeat customers.

Even those massage shops without English language signs above are easily recognised by the masseuse sitting outside asking, “You want massage sir?” Although Chaweng and Lamai are home to the bulk of the massage establishments, there are other establishments at Bophut, Maenam, Choeng Mon and even at the relatively quiet southern beaches of Ban Hua Thanon and Ban Khao.

The noted Fisherman’s Village at Bophut has lots of smaller massage salons. Steam massages with herbal compresses at Baan Sabai are a good reason to head for Big Buddha Beach, besides the Buddha statue itself of course.

Front desks at most Samui hotels and guest houses will arrange for skilled masseuses to give massages in the privacy of guests’ rooms. This personal service does not usually work out much more expensive than a beach massage and is on a par with one in a spa.

Visitors who have never had a massage before might want to check out the massage professionals at work on Chaweng and Lamai beaches and decide what is best for them. A traditional massage is a bit much for some, as masseuses use strong hand and body pressure to realign energy lines, muscles and pressure points. It might be better to opt for reflexology, herbal or oil treatments if you’re a newby.

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