My First Thai Massage

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 01/10/10 •  5 min read

I’d like to preface this post by saying I have never had a massage in my life; or at least not a real one.

For years I have heard about these fantastic Thai massages that you can get for dirt cheap prices all over the country.  Well as it turns out, all of the legends were true, as every where you look you see all sorts of massages advertised for less than the price of a Big Mac back home.

Well yesterday morning I found myself with some time to kill, and decided to wander the streets near Khaosan Road and see if I could find an acceptable place to get my first massage.  I eventually wound up in a really cool side street behind my hotel, where I found one of the more lavish looking massage parlours (is that what you would call them? That sounds dirty…).  I spend a moment looking over their menu and a charming young Thai woman walks up and says “massage?”.  I pause for a moment before settling on the half hour Thai massage for 90 baht (a little less than $3).  As much as I wanted to go for the full hour, I felt a little unprepared for that. first-massage-street

She walked me back to a wooden bench where I removed my sandals and placed my feet in a bucket of water.  At this point I am wondering if “Thai Massage” meant foot massage?  It was the first time since I arrived that I felt truly clueless.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that she was merely washing my dirty, travel worn feet before proceeding with the main event.  After a quick rinse, she put me in a closet and motioned for me to drop my pants.

Didn’t see that one coming.

I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m not going to get a massage fully clothed, but you still never quite know how to act when a Thai girl tells you to strip.  At that point she handed me a pair of traditional pants that seemed like a cross between a pair of capris and a hospital gown.  I really didn’t know what to do with these.  Do I take my boxers off?  Do I tie it in the front or the back?  I’m confused.

She must have sensed my confusion as she walked in after a few minutes to offer help. Big mistake.  At that point she was met with a pants-less American who, still couldn’t figure out how to tie his new Thai trousers.

Eventually I figured it out, well you know, more or less.  There is still debate as to whether or not you are supposed to tie them in the front or the back.  But at least now I had something covering my happy region.

She then walked me upstairs into a beautiful massage room complete with relaxing music and a nice breeze blowing in from the window.

Crap, do I take off my shirt?  If I do will that freak her out? Where’s the instruction book on how to receive a massage??

The home of my first thai massage ever.

The home of my first real massage ever

I leave my shirt on, which I think may have been a mistake after she made a remark about how hot I must be.

Ok, we’re finally ready to start the massage.  I lay down and she hops on my back.  Mom, I hope you don’t straddle your clients when you work on them, as that would be quite awkward. (My mom is a massage therapist back home).

But this woman knew what she was doing.  She was digging fists, elbows and shoulders into my knot-ridden back, as I tried to relax.  Problem was, I still had so many thoughts running through my mind about the etiquette, that I was never able to fully enjoy what was happening to me.  I must say though, by the time she was done contorting my body in every direction imaginable, my body had less tension than I ever thought possible!

The experience was concluded by me redressing and drinking a cup of green tea in the garden.  As awkward and uncomfortable as I was, I could see myself getting used to a daily massage.  I’m even contemplating getting one of the “fish massages” that I’ve heard so much about.  There is one across the street from my hotel, so I may need to go check it out.

My flight is leaving for Krabi here in the next couple hours, and that is where I’ll be for the next month or so. It’s kind of amazing how much I have to write about.  The last few months I’ve been slightly less than inspired, and now I feel like the things I see just walking down the street are worthy of a post.

Anyway, I’m feeling a little tense, better go get a quick rub down before my flight!

And just for good measure, one of the more entertaining signs I have seen...

And just for good measure, one of the more entertaining signs I have seen…

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Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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17 comments on "My First Thai Massage"

  1. Haha, glad to be one of the first to have heard the story in person. Even as you told it nobody who’s lived here for years could agree which way to tie it…
    My first Thai massage a few days ago was absolutely excellent! But the second one was unpleasant. It seems to be luck of the draw who you get.

    I innocently requested an oil massage yesterday only to realise half way through that it wasn’t a massage, it was a “massage” and I had something akin to your awkward etiquette problem along the lines of “how to politely turn down a hand job…”. It was actually quite funny how she kept “accidentally” brushing me in the wrong places with her arms, but I had to put a stop to it before she got carried away!

    Hey, which part of Krabi are you guys at? I’m doing research now to decide where the hell I’m going next weekend.

  2. Mate funny but you need to get away from KoSan road. Make your way over to victory monument, you won’t be disappointed.

  3. Nate says:

    Nice story! Good for you for embracing the awkwardness. And $3 for a massage, I’d be in there every single day. Looking forward to reading and seeing more about Krabi. Everything I’ve heard/seen about that place is amazing.

  4. HaHa….I think I would have felt the same way and done the same thing.

    Can’t wait to hear more…..more pics and maybe videos too. PLEASE!

    David Damron

  5. David says:

    I had my first massage in Thailand last November.

    You gotta get off Khao San Road.. If you want to save your money, find another part of town. It’s expensive there.

    If you have questions about Krabi, we were there for 2 weeks in November as well.

    Also, do yourself a large favor and head to Laos.

  6. $3 massages??? Wow, that in itself almost justifies the airfare to Thailand. Tho’ Benny’s story does cause one to reconsider. Sounds like you are using the time well Sean.

  7. Glad to hear you’re getting settled in there, Sean. Looking forward to seeing what you’re up to over the next few months.

  8. Rob Blasko says:

    I remember when a friend of mine was heading out to get his first massage, and he asked me if there was anything he should know. I gave him the basics of the unwritten “instruction book on how to get a massage,” and afterwards he said that he was grateful to have had the prep for fear of complete embarrassment. Then again, I wouldn’t know what the hell to do with those Thai capri/hospital pants.

    I’m starting to think that when I make my way to Thailand, I’ll need to avoid any Thai massages. At $3 for a half hour, I’d be getting rubbed down all the time and no one would ever see me again.

  9. Kristin says:

    As a former massage therapist in the states, I appreciate hearing all you guys are so apprehensive about getting hand jobs!

    Sean – how is your mom a massage therapist and you never got a massage? This story’s hilarious though. I can’t wait to hear more of your crazy (though probably quite awkward) adventures.

  10. Congrats on your first message.

    I try to get a message in the airport before every long haul flight or my neck and shoulders will be dead.

    There is nothing like cheap messages, though. My wife and I go 2 or 3 times a week when we are in cheaper countries.

  11. Josh Sager says:

    Damn, I wish I was over there now. I hope you’re still there in December, Sean, so we can hook up for some food and drink.

  12. Ian Borders says:

    Funny. I had my first massage when I moved to Thailand 6 months ago as well. Similar to Benny above, I innocently went for the oil massage. Needless to say, it scared me from getting massages for the first 5 months I lived here after that. But I went with a friend a couple weeks ago and got a Thai massage, and was amazed.

    I found if you go for the slightly more expensive ones, 200 baht (about US$6) and up, you get the real deal, rather than risking the uncomfortable situation of ‘extra services’.

  13. Sabrina says:

    Lol Sean, I can’t imagine all the crazy things you’re going to get into if this is just the first few days’ shenanigans. Also, I have trouble believing that your Mom never gave you a massage! Anyhoo – be safe & keep the pictures coming! Esp. ones of exotic animals haha

  14. Kevin M says:

    I was the same way with my first massage – so worried about the etiquette I found it hard to relax – this one was in Keystone on a ski trip. I would have tried it again for $3 though!

  15. Lauren says:

    My husband and I got two Thai massages when we were there in November, and they were amazing! One was actually quite painful (in Chiang Mai), but afterwards, my body felt completely relaxed.

    Ha, I love your description of Thai fisherman pants. I wanted to buy some when I went to Thailand, and I ended up with four pairs (including my husband’s – but they’re unisex so I can wear them all!). They are so comfortable, and they always fit perfectly. 🙂

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