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Thai Massage and Thailand Stories

Thai Massage in Thailand

Thai Massage and Thai culture

I have spent most of my massage career in Thailand. Thai Massage is not only the main style of therapy here, but it’s also a part of Thailand’s culture.

When you get a Thai Massage session in Thailand, it is a very different experience than in the West. You learn something about Thai people, you get to know them on a different level.

And you will have to let go of judgments based on your own cultural standards from your home country.

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The 11 Healing Arts Systems Of Thailand

The 11 healing arts systems of Thailand

Although Thai Massage might come first to mind when thinking about the healing arts systems of Thailand, there are actually many more than that.

This list highlights 11 of them, however it needs to be said that this is not meant to be the final list. There are other healing arts systems which are not mentioned here, however this list contains some of the better known ones.

1. Thai Massage

leg stretch Thai Massage

Thailand is famous for Thai Massage, and rightly so since this is where it was developed. However the actual origin of Thai Massage is India’s yoga system. It was imported into Thailand about 1500 years ago.

In the last 20 years it was discovered by westerners and since then it has become popular in many countries all over the world. Spas everywhere are scrambling to add it to their menu of services, and Thai Massage therapists are in high demand.

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Strange And Unusual Massage Practices

image of an elephant performing a so-called Thai Massage

How strange, or even weird can massage get?

Most people in the western world are used to professional, clinical massage therapy, done by a licensed therapist in a clean and professional environment. The therapies are mostly variations of Swedish massage, Deep Tissue massage, Sports massage etc.

However there is an entirely new world out there with very different kinds of therapies. Let’s start with the more infamous ones like massage as come-on for not so professional services.

Here in Asia they call them “Happy end massages”. I leave it to your imagination to figure out what that means. Let’s just say that only men take advantage of this variation.

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My Search For Good Massage in Vietnam

Saigon spa

Reception area of spa in Ho Chi Minh City where I went for my massage

Coming from Thailand, the land of Thai Massage

Finding excellent massage therapists is not an easy task anywhere in the world. This even applies to Chiang Mai, Thailand, which is something like the center of the universe for Thai Massage.

The city is overflowing with massage ‘shops’ as they are called there. That’s good for customers since the intense competition keeps the prices  low – lower than anywhere else in Asia.

With all those Thai Massage shops you would think that it should be quite easy to find good massage therapists. Not so! The majority of therapists are neither highly skilled nor very intuitive. They do not have a lot of training, and what to speak of sophisticated training.

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Thai Massage Therapy on Dog Gains Trust of Client

Can Thai Massage be done on animals?

dog massageWhy should Thai Massage only work on humans? You are probably thinking that Thai Massage is a system of stretches, and that cannot be done on animals. But that’s not correct.

Let’s redefine Thai Massage. In contrast to Swedish-style oil massage systems that are done directly on the skin and require taking off your clothes, Thai Massage is done fully dressed.

Therefore it requires different techniques like pressure, kneading, rocking and stretching. Oil  massage does not require movement on the part of the client, but Thai Massage uses lots of movement oriented techniques.

While stretching is part of the system, it is not its main definition. It is entirely possible to do a full Thai Massage without any stretching.

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Curious Double Standard in Thai Massage

Warning: If you do not have a sense of humor, STOP READING this Thai Massage article right now!! You have been warned! Read at your own risk.

Thai Massage signRecently I checked out the website of a major US Thai Massage association (I won’t name them here) to find out what it takes to publish an article on their site.

I enjoy writing articles about Thai Massage and have written over a hundred of them in the last 15 years or so.

I publish them on three of my own healing arts websites. They also have been republished by hundreds of other websites.

After practicing and teaching Thai Massage in Thailand and other countries for 16 years and running a large online Thai Massage training school, I have lots of interesting topics to share.

Western massage associations and their rules

But back to the website of the Thai Massage association. Their rules state that the article cannot appear anywhere else and that they have the rights to the article.

I have to submit proof who I have studied Thai Massage with, plus I have to submit evidence that I had a certain amount of study and practice hours, and at least one of my massage teachers has to be approved by them as a qualified teacher by their standards.

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Thai Massage Culture Shock

Open air Thai massage shop
Open air Thai Massage shop in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I love writing about Thai Massage. I have been practicing and teaching it for two decades. And I live in Thailand, the homeland of Thai Massage, which gives me a very different perspective from the western one.

I could write nice sanitized, politically correct massage articles that pass muster with the American regulatory agencies and professional associations. However there is great value in opening our minds to other perspectives as well.

Continue reading…Thai Massage Culture Shock