Getting a body massage in Pattaya (Thailand) is and rather should be one of the must do things for a tourist visiting the city. Pattaya is in fact one of the cheapest places in Thailand as far as the cost of a massage is concerned, though the quality of the massage varies depending on where you get your massage. A bulk of Pattaya’s massage business is run from tiny establishments called ‘Massage Shops’. These shops have some foot massage chairs in the front and a few massage beds/tables for doing full body massage in the back of the shop or on an upper floor. Their staff can be male, female, or even transvestite who are usually called “Lady Boys” in Thailand. The staff speak broken but passable English. “Where you from?”, “How long you stay?”, “You OK?” will be the sentences that your therapist will speak. You can answer in simple English and assume that they understood you. Do not try too hard because they just do not know English that well. As far as the timings go, massage shops in Pattaya open at around 11:00am and some remain open even up to 3:00am. However, the common closing time for them is midnight.
Choosing Your Massage Therapist
Massage shops in Pattaya allow their customers to choose their massage therapist, at least if you want male or female. The staff in Pattaya massage shops sit outside the shop while they wait for customers, and they work on a queue system. So, at any given point of time, one of the staff is the first in line to serve the next customer. However, a customer can still point at another staff and say “I want her” or “him”, or whatever. Such requests are usually honored unless the staff you choose refuses to serve you.
Are The Therapists At Massage Shops Well Trained?
Most of them are not well trained, but some of them are more experienced than others. The common training these therapists receive is a two-month/10,000 THB basic course at some unrecognized place. And if you speak to a therapist, they will tell you that the training was “not so good.” But this should not matter as long as you do not let a massage therapist push their elbow into your spine while giving you a Thai massage. Yes, a Thai massage can be unsafe at times. Please read this article: Cheap Thai Massage Can Hurt You!
Should You Tip The Therapist
Yes, unless the therapist has given you a bad massage on purpose. 20 THB for a one hour massage is the minimum tip and can go up to 50 THB if you really liked the session. For a great two hour session, you can tip 100 THB but 50 will still be ok. Say “thank you” when you hand over the tip money, then even a small amount works better.
Types of Massage Offered in Pattaya
Almost every massage shop in Pattaya will offer these types of massage:
Foot Massage (Typically 200 THB for 60 minutes)
A foot massage usually includes not just feet but also your legs up to thighs, and a quick arms/shoulders/back massage to conclude the session. Most customers choose to get a foot massage for 60 minutes, and it costs 200 THB. Some shops charge less than that. I have seen massage shops in some areas in Pattaya where the 60 minute price is 150 or even 100 THB. Don’t go looking for such shops because when the price drops, usually the quality drops too. It is rare to see a massage shop in Pattaya where the price of a foot massage is more than 200 THB.
What To Expect
In most shops where they charge 200 THB, customers have the option of asking for a pair of loose pajamas to change into before settling into the massage chair. Some shops do not offer pajamas but instead expect their customers to roll up their trousers so that the massage can proceed. That is not very comfortable. It is better to ask for pajamas and if the shop does not have them, you may look for another shop.
The therapist will wash your feet in a small plastic tub or rub your feet with a hot towel before starting the massage. Foot massage is done using some kind of a cream in which a balm has been mixed. The balm adds a strong smell to the cream but also makes the massage more beneficial.
Some therapists like to waste time just lightly rubbing your feet for the entire 60 minute duration. In such a case, you should tell the therapist to also massage your legs/calves/thighs or just do a stronger massage.
Thai Massage (Typically 200 THB for 60 minutes)
A Thai massage is one experience that you must get. This is the real deal. And try getting it for two hours at a time because in one hour, many of the important steps of the massage get missed. A two hour Thai massage in Pattaya will cost you 400 THB. Some shops offer promotions for two hours by charging 300 or 350 THB, but that is not very common. Anyway, 400 THB (13 USD) is not a very high price for a two hour Thai massage. In Health Land Pattaya, a 120 minute Thai massage costs 600 THB and even that is worth the price.
What To Expect
A Thai massage is a full body massage for which the customer remains fully clothed. Even small massage shops give the customer a loose shirt and a pair of pajamas to change into for this massage. It is best to take off everything that you are wearing and then put on the loose shirt and pajamas for the massage. It is a strong massage that will test your endurance, as to how much pressure and pain you can handle because the therapist will just keep going. You need to know this: A good Thai massage will make you uncomfortable for a part of the session. That is to be expected, but if it starts to get too uncomfortable, you can tell the therapist to do “less strong” or “not strong”. And no elbow in your spine, do not forget that. If your therapist starts to do that, just stop them. None of them is trained for that kind of a step.
The massage starts with you lying on your back. After half time, the therapist will ask you to turn and lie face down. The second half of the massage sometimes includes the therapist climbing on your back and walking over you. This is fun if the therapist is not too heavy. If you intend to experience this part of Thai massage, pick a therapist with a slender body. The massage concludes with a head/face/shoulder massage. One test of a very good two-hour Thai massage session is that you will fall asleep during the massage. A good therapist will keep doing a regular massage while you sleep but some others will slack off. Now you will have to first wake up to tell them to do an honest job!
Oil Massage (Typically 300 THB for 60 minutes)
Oil massage is also a full body massage and it is done with some kind of ordinary oil which will not be aroma oil or coconut oil. In this massage, you are not wearing anything, except for a towel that the therapist will keep on your body to cover it. No small massage shop in Pattaya will give you any disposable underwear for oil massage. However, some shops do have them and you may ask if you think you need it. In Pattaya, wearing or not wearing disposable underwear does not have any bearing on whether or not the oil massage takes a naughty turn. If both the therapist and the customer are willing, even a fully clothed Thai massage can turn into something more. Most of the time, an oil massage with just a towel covering your body will end without any incident. An oil massage in Pattaya costs 300 THB for 60 minutes and sometimes 500 THB for 120 minutes. The two hour discount is an exception, not a rule.
What To Expect
An oil massage is gentle, never strong. At first, you lie face down and the therapist will massage your legs and back. Later they ask you to turn face up. This is one difference between a Thai massage and an oil massage in Pattaya. A Thai massage starts face up whereas an oil massage starts face down. Almost all therapists follow this unwritten rule. They first rub oil over your body and then apply some pressure. You can ask for “strong”, but the therapist may or may not oblige. Oil massage does not have the painful steps like those in a Thai massage, and therefore, it is a pleasure massage. If you are staying in Pattaya for a few days, you may get Thai and oil massages alternatively. I personally find a Thai massage more useful and prefer that to an oil massage.
An oil massage session of just 60 minutes will end too quickly. It is better to ask for 90 minutes and pay 450 THB. Sometimes, I ask for a two hour session with one hour ‘Thai’ and one hour ‘oil’. Such a two-hour session would cost 500 THB and will have the first hour for Thai and the second hour for oil massage. This kind of mixing has an advantage. Because the Thai massage will be done on a low-rise bed or a mattress, you can ask the therapist to continue the oil massage also on that same low-rise bed. Otherwise, in many shops they have high massage tables for oil massage which are not as comfortable as the mattresses used for Thai massage. If you are taking just an oil massage, ask the therapist if they can do it on a low-rise bed.
Similar to Thai massage, an oil massage also ends with a head/face/shoulder massage. You may take a shower in the shop before or after an oil massage. If you intend to take a shower, ask the staff if they have that facility before going in.
Aroma Oil / Coconut Oil / Aloe Vera Gel Massage (Typically 500-600 THB for 60 minutes)
These special massages are similar to oil massage except that the ordinary massage oil will get replaced by a special oil or gel. For this kind of a massage, it is better to take shower before the massage but not immediately after. The special oil/gel will have some good effect on your skin that you would like to leave on for some time.
At the end of massage, after you have dressed back up, they offer you a drink of either cold water or a warm herbal tea. Take your pick.
How To Avoid The Naughty Aspect
You are in Pattaya where the word “massage” is synonymous with “fun”. Many times while you are getting a massage, they will offer extras. This can happen in any massage shop, even in those that display notices like “No Sex”, and even in the more expensive massage establishments in Pattaya. If you are not interested, just politely say no, and let the massage proceed. It may happen that your “No” disappoints the therapist and they lose interest in the massage. You will end up wasting your 200 or 300 THB. Well, it happens and you should consider that a small price to pay for being in Pattaya. Disappointments will be there but in the end, there will be more hits than misses and you will go home with many happy memories of Pattaya.