Beawander

Beawander

[bee-won-der]
noun
  1. The documented wanderings of Bea. Mostly to let her family and friends back home know she’s still alive, but partly so she can remember herself. 
Best Massage in Chiang Mai: Tried 7 & Found 2 Favourites

Best Massage in Chiang Mai: Tried 7 & Found 2 Favourites

18 min read

Getting a massage in Thailand is a must!

Thai massage is world-renown and for 1/10 of the price back home, why wouldn’t you?! 

I’m on a mission to find the BEST massage place, specifically one that’s walkable distance from my place. From testing out different parlors, this is I learned:

Average Price is 200 Baht

The price range for a massage in Chiang Mai can be anywhere from 180 to 350+ baht. Naturally, the fancier the place, the more they can charge for their services. I’m not a sucker for ambiance, so…

FYI – it’s slightly more pricey in BKK, and at least double the price on the islands…maybe because I stuck to the touristy places. 

Foot & Full Body Thai Massage are the Same Price

I usually get the full body because I feel like it’s more bang for my buck. If you don’t want them to touch a certain place, you can always tell them beforehand. 

Don’t Complain that Thai Massages are Too Hard

If you want to relax, get a Swedish massage.

Unfortunately, I don’t think many spas offer that here… Asian massages are for health benefits, like energy or blood circulation by way of acupressure. It’s supposed to hurt, but it should hurt SO GOOD.  

Quality of Massage Comes From the Masseuse, Not the Venue

If you find the right person, stick to them like glue. No need to keep exploring different service providers – you’d just end up getting a lot of mediocre to poor massages, like me 🙁

Massages are a pretty personal thing; everyone has their own preference.

Not only do I like a lot of pressure, but the person needs to know exactly where my pressure points are and to hold it for the right duration. 

I’ll keep adding to list as I try out more massage places. In the meantime, learn some useful Thai phrases for massages or check out my post on the best facial place in Chiang Mai!

Lapas Massage

7.5/10
Area My Service Price Hours Credit Card Website
Nimman
Foot Massage
250 baht = $10 CAD
10am to 9pm
Yes!

There were good reviews on TripAdvisor, so I thought we’d give this one a try!  

It was my first massage in Thailand after a whole year, so I thought I’d warm up with a foot massage.

First, we soaked our feet in warm water, then the ladies washed it with some exfoliate. After we dried off, we slipped on some sandals and walked into a private room, where the massage began. 

The ladies were funny, carefully positioning the cucumbers on our feet while I took a picture. 

Kenny and I were catching up the whole time, so I wasn’t paying too much attention to my massage. However, I remember that it wasn’t strong enough.  

She started kneading my right foot before going up to my calves. Then, she used a little wooden instrument (not sure what you call it, but something to do with pressure points…) to poke and prod my feet. Usually, this hurts a lot for me, but surprisingly it was OK…probably because she had such a light touch.  

Repeat on the left foot. 

After both feet were done, we were asked to sit on the ottoman with our backs turned to them, so they can massage our head, neck, shoulders and back. She was all elbows – it was good! 

Would I Come Back Again?

While it was good, I found better places closer to me, so I probably won’t come back.

The Good Stuff:

  • Customer service
  • Decor, environment and ambience
  • Central location in Nimman 
  • Credit card accepted

What Can be Improved:

  • Not enough pressure

Note to Self:

Wear shorts or loose pants so you can roll up. Some places may give you their massage clothes to change into, but not likely for a foot massage and don’t count on it!  

PIM Massage

9/10
Area My Service Price Hours Credit Card Website
Santitham
Traditional Thai Massage
180 baht = $7 CAD
10am to 10pm
No 🙁

This place was recommended to me by my personal trainer.

Their menu is limited, but it’s all you need: Traditional Thai Massage – 1H and 2H (only 320 baht – $13), Foot Massage and Oil Massage. My trainer told me to get once a week on the day of my work out. It’s great for muscle recovery and you won’t be as sore the next day. 

We randomly went in there one day and, to my surprise, they were booked out. They told us to come back an hour later, and so we did.

It was SO worth the wait!

I specifically asked for Pim herself. There were 3 other masseuses, and I’m told that all the other ones are good as well. 

We started with my right foot and worked up my right leg, then repeated the same thing on my left. Her magical hands worked my upper body while I laid down. Time to flip over. There was a face rest so you don’t have to twist your neck. She did the same thing on my back – started on my lower body then moved up to my upper body.

This was as traditional as a Thai massage can be. Just as I thought she forgot to go over a place, she did it later in a different sequence. HOLY SMOKES, the pressure was amazing!! Pim certainly knows what she’s doing! 

Some parts were almost painful because I was super sore from my workout the day before, but I was still able to doze off to sleep at times. I toughed it out and I was rewarded. I was 70% less sore the next day – fast muscle recovery, indeed! 

After the massage, we changed back into our street clothes and were served some cookie and black tea.

Would I Come Back Again?

Hell yeah, I need to try their 2-hour session! 

The Good:

  • The massage is BOMB – Pim knows what she’s doing
  • Walkable distance to me
  • Cheap! 

What Can be Improved:

  • Credit cards not accepted (but at 180 baht you can pay cash)
  • Ambiance, but again I don’t care too much for that

Feb 2019 Update: 2H Massage

Dudes & Dudettes – it was SO worth it.

320 baht for 2 hours! How can you not?! 

I booked Koh – my trainer says they’re all good but she’s the best one! You will recognize her – she’s the one with the foot…You’ll know what I mean when you see her.

She actually gave me 2 hours and 15-20 minutes. My trainer confirmed with me afterward that Koh always gives you a little extra. It’s so nice of her to do that 🙂 

Koh’s got STRENGTH, so prepare for that. She’s an EXCELLENT choice if you like a strong massage that really work out the knots, loosen up the tightness and speed up muscle recovery. Definitely worth tipping!

I wanted to book her again but HOLY, that woman is very popular. You need to book her weeks in advance and just keep that schedule perpetually.

I tried to book over FB Message, but the language barrier made it a bit confusing and difficult. Best to just go and talk to Pim directly herself.

I booked another 2-hour massage but with Lak next week. Koh had some family emergency so she hasn’t been at work for a few weeks. Hope her and her family are doing alright. 

Pim told me that Lak is also very good, and I believe her. 

Pranom Health Massage

6/10
Area My Service Price Hours Credit Card Website
Tha Pae Gate
Traditional Thai Massage
180 baht
10am to 10pm
No 🙁

Last year when I visited Chiang Mai, this place gave me the BEST massage I ever had.  

I stumbled in just wanting a foot massage, but it was so good that I immediately got a full body right after. I had different ladies for each massage and both knew what they were doing. 

It’s one of those hole-in-the-wall places. It’s under a roof but all outdoor, barely any privacy but I’m not too fussy. 

As you can imagine, I was ecstatic to come back again…unfortunately, I was met with disappointment!  

I went for the Thai massage and my friend got the oil massage – same price! I thought there was a room in the back for those people who need to…be less clothed for their service, but they just put curtains around the floor bed.  

They told me that I didn’t need to change because my street clothes were loose and stretchy enough. Fine with me, I prefer not to change into their massage clothes anyway.

She asked me to lay down on the mattress, wiped my feet with a damp towel and got to work. Like most places, she started with my feet, legs then upper body. She instructed me to flip over and stood on my hamstrings!

After she elbowed all over my back, she put me in positions where she could twist me and potentially crack my back. Kind of like a chiropractor. 

So, what was the issue?

First, it wasn’t strong enough. It just felt like a half-assed job, like she was patting my body. I had to stop her and went to ask the receptionist to translate for me.

Second, although my masseuse did put more effort in afterward, the precision, depth and timing wasn’t quite right. It felt like she was poking me in the different areas. Some parts were good, some just hurt and others didn’t do a thing. 

Third, when lying down on my front, they didn’t have a face rest so I had to twist my neck to put my cheek down on the ground…not the best position to be in for longer than 5 minutes. 

I guess some memories are always sweeter than reality. 

Would I Come Back Again?

This actually was my second time back, but I won’t be returning again.
It wasn’t the best and it’s a tad far for me.

The Good:

  • The price
  • Central location near Night Bazaar, Tha Pae Gate, Sunday Market

What Can be Improved:

  • THE MASSAGE – I don’t think they’re all properly trained
  • Credit cards not accepted 
  • Ambiance…it’s not even inside

Note to Self:

I learned that oil massages are my least favourite. The oil usually gets in my hair and I feel sticky afterward so I’d want to shower right away. Inconvenient if you have plans right after.  

White Orchid Massage

9.5/10
Area My Service Price Hours Credit Card Website
Tha Pae Gate
Traditional Thai Massage
200 baht
9am to 12am
Yes!

Upon recommendation by my friend, I came here the same day I went to Pranom Health Massage because I was SO not satisfied with the one I got. 

Naturally, I got the full body traditional Thai massage and my friend had the foot, neck, back shoulder, and head massage. Both were the same price.

I soaked my feet in warm water, they scrubbed with some exfoliate, dried it with a towel and off I went into one of those “rooms” with curtains to change into their massage clothes. It’s enough privacy, the curtains are closed the entire time. Sidenote: They should consider replacing the pants – pretty worn out.

She did the massage in a slightly different sequence than what I’m used to. She started from my lower left body to my upper left and repeated on the right. Flipped me over, and the same thing on the front. So, instead working horizontally, she did it vertically. Not bad! 

It was AMAZING!!

I had Nuch – she has short hair and wears glasses. Ana, I hear is also good. 

This lady sure knew what she was doing. The pressure was just right and she touched on all my pressure points with such precision and held it for the exact amount of time I needed. I fell asleep 3 times (this is how I know it’s a good massage) and my own snore woke me up. 

After the massage, they served us some yummy Thai milk tea. If I’m in this neighborhood again, I’d definitely come here! 

If I compare it to PIM, it’s just as good of a massage, but they win on better environment. 

Would I Come Back Again?

Actually, I did go back a second time, but I got someone else who wasn’t as great. Next time, I’ll make an appointment with Nuch ahead of time.

The Good:

  • Nuch knows what she’s doing!!! 
  • Good price
  • Central location near Night Bazaar, Tha Pae Gate, Sunday Market
  • Accepts credit card
  • Good customer service

What Can be Improved:

  • I really can’t think of one…it was excellent; I was still thinking about how good the massage was the next day! 

Feb 2019 Update: 2H Massage

It was just as good as the first time. Damn, Nuch sure knows what she’s doing and I expect nothing less. 

Nuch has officially spoiled me. No other masseuse will ever compare lol 

This girl got magic hands – she STRONG LADY, she knows her way around different muscle groups and pressure points, and knows exactly what to do to untie those knots. 

Please tip her if you book with her! 

For those wondering, the difference between a 1-hour and 2-hour massage is quite big. 

This is what you get with a 2H massage:

  • They spend more time and go deeper on EVERY part of your body because they’re not rushed.

    I took a Swedish massage workshop over a weekend and it was TOUGH fitting in a whole body massage in an hour – it’s a lot of body parts to cover.

  • They turn you on your SIDE and massage you from that angle

    That was different, but much needed. I didn’t know my armpits could be sore…live and learn!

The 2H massage was only 400 baht and they accepted credit card.

Don’t be alarmed when they walk from you with your card. They go to the tattoo parlor 2 stores down to use their credit card machine. I had to go with them because I have to enter a PIN.

When compared to Koh from PIM Massage, Nuch is definitely easier to book through FB Messager.

White Orchid is slightly more pricy and further away for me, but I keep coming back! 

Nirvana Massage

6/10
Area My Service Price Hours Credit Card Website
West of Nimman
Traditional Thai Massage
200 baht
10am to 11:45pm
Yes!

I read really good reviews only about this place, so I thought to give it a try. 

Naturally, I opted for the traditional Thai massage while one friend went for a foot massage and the other one got the oil massage. 

I noticed signs that said if the maassage is after 9 pm, all services will be an extra 50 baht. I’ve never seen this anywhere else before. 

At first, they told us that we couldn’t all start at the same time, but then that figured itself out. Still not sure what the issue was. 

I went to the washroom before I started my massage. When I came out, they had forgotten about me!! I awkwardly waited in the lobby and when the receptionist noticed, she called one of the masseuses. They were laughing about the…mix up(?) when she came to lead me to the massage room upstairs. 

I changed into their massage clothes and laid down. I waited for what felt like forever.

Maybe because I was hangry or the mix up rubbed me the wrong way, but if I waited any longer, I would have gotten up, gotten dressed and gotten out. 

She came in the nick of time.

And so my massage began. She didn’t engage with me at all. Although the massage had enough pressure, it didn’t feel like she got the right spots. And the times that she did get it right, she didn’t hold it for a long enough period of time for me to find relief. 

At one time, point, I remember thinking “is my one hour up yet?” All 3 of us came out from our massages feeling the same way. It was mediocre at best.

Would I Come Back Again?

No. 

The Good:

  • OK price
  • Accepts credit card

What Can be Improved:

  • The massage itself
  • Location – a bit of a walk from Maya Mall
  • Customer service

Nimman Thai Massage House

8/10
Area My Service Price Hours Credit Card Website
West of Nimman
Traditional Thai Massage
250 baht
10:30am to 10pm
Only if >1000 baht

I also read good reviews about this place, so I thought to give it a try. 

Also, my friend was working there, so I booked with him. 

I’m going to be a bit unhelpful here because…he was great, but he no longer works there. 

Let me tell you about my experience there though.

They’re a bit hidden. Located right across from Warmup Cafe. (Most of you guys know where that is. If you don’t, you will very soon!) is an empty parking lot. The massage shop is inside the plot of land on the left. 

The foyer itself is serene and beautiful and very cozy and relaxing when you enter. They have menus in English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese to cater to all the tourists that come through. 

They give you a bottle of water upon arrival and a pair of slippers as you wait for them to lead you to your individual room.

Yes, you get your own room here, not just curtains that act like walls. The rooms are quite snug, but better than nothing.

You change into the massage clothing they laid out for you and wait for your person to come.

It’s quite dark inside the room with just a candle or a dim light on. If you get cold with the AC or fan blowing, there should be a blanket in each room to cover yourself with.

After the massage, you are led back into the lobby waiting area and served thai milk tea with some cookies and a wet wipe.  

Would I Come Back Again?

It was good, don’t get me wrong.

But since I found 2 places that I really like (one of which is walking distance for me), I probably wouldn’t purposefully come back again unless I knew I would be in the area.

The Good:

  • Decent price for Nimman area
  • Good location – along main road in Nimman
  • Customer service was great
  • Ambiance was excellent

What Can be Improved:

  • Only accepts credit card for >1000 baht

Sunday Night Market Street Massage

5/10
Area My Service Price Hours Credit Card Website
Tha Pae Gate - Along Sunday Night Market
"Full Body" Thai Massage
160 baht
5pm to market closing
Cash Only
No Website

By far the worse massage I’ve gotten in town.

Quality is comparable to Nirvana and Pranom, but I deducted a star for the lack of…a rooftop?! A 5/10 star rating is pretty much a fail to me.

I guess you get what you paid for, so I really can’t complain that much. 

You can only choose from foot massage or full body massage. Durations are 30 min and 60 min. Price point is 70-80 baht for half hour or 140-160 baht for an hour. 

70 baht for plastic patio chairs or 80 baht for comfier chairs you can incline into. We opted for the latter, but for 1 hour – 30 min on the feet and 30 minutes on upper body. You can’t really call this a traditional thai massage….

My massage was very unsatisfying. It just felt like she couldn’t be bother to do a better job.

I asked her to adjust the strength a few times and she did for 10 seconds. My feet were still so sore after that I had to massage myself when I got home.

I’m sure there are good masseuses that work there, but I don’t have the time or patience to try each one. So, I’ll stick to the better ones that I know – the tried and true! 

Would I Come Back Again?

…Only if my feet were sore from walking the Sunday Night Market, I wanted a place to sit down for a bit and didn’t care about getting a decent massage.

The Good:

  • CHEAP – 60-80 for 30 min or 120-160 for 1H
  • Location – inside night market

What Can be Improved:

  • The massage itself – don’t expect anything amazing
  • Customer service
  • Getting a roof – what happens when it rains? 

That’s a Wrap For Now

I think that’s enough massage parlor hopping for a while. 

For the Newcomers: Hope it helps you guys cut down on time and money spent on finding a good massage place! 

For the CM Veterans: I’m sure there are other shops you like that I haven’t listed or tried yet. Feel free to let me know so I can check them out! 

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