Why you need to get a massage in Thailand literally every day (twice a day if you have the time)

Thailand is cheap but, apparently, not for everyone.

Over the summer, New York Post, among many other outlets, pointed out backpackers in Thailand were begging for money to get home. This situation is pretty gnarly, and there are reportedly dozens of millennial hobos starting a massive pandemic of epic proportions by begging/playing a guitar/doing the nae nae/whatever they can to “get home.”

Since some reports have been floating around that visitors now need approximately $300 cash upon Thailand’s arrival. Immigration/customs will check their “entry cash” to prove they are not going to making “beg packing” a weird trend. In fact, sources have reported that “entry cash” has ranged from $300 to $700 per passenger.

Naturally, this is fake news/alternative facts/the Russians.

Thailand never issued such a statement and, if the country did, there wouldn’t be discrepancy on the amount of required cash to enter. But the biggest proof of it being false? I just landed in Thailand, and not one customs official asked me to show this cash entry. And come on, guys. A new law enforced for 30 million annual travelers to weed out a handful of begging backpackers? Ridicul-ay.

Thailand is one of the cheapest destinations to travel to in Southeast Asia (scratch that… the world.). How any backpacker runs out of money here is beyond me. I haven’t run into any yet but should you have the joy of meeting begging backpackers on your next visit, know your priorities. Even if the begpacker can belt out a mean Bruno Mars cover, that “beg” packer donation should go toward massages, even twice a day if you have time.

Massage in Thailand, Thailand massage, Thai massage... whatever works!
Massage in Thailand, Thailand massage, Thai massage… whatever works!

A typical alleyway chockfull of Thai massage places.

Thai massage in Thailand is notoriously cheap, as little as $8 for a full hour massage available ANYWHERE. Right now, a full hour massage averages 300 Thai Baht (this is about $8). Even luxury resorts offer Thai massages that average $40 for an hour, which is still significantly cheaper than luxury resorts anywhere else in the world. Do the math. An everyday massage for the week comes out to $56. This is half of what you’d spend in the states for just ONE massage. When I visit Thailand, I make a point to get a massage a day, or two massages a day (one foot massage, one body massage later), because YOLO. Start saving your lunch money.

A typical treatment room in a Thai massage place off the street. It ain't the Four Seasons but for $8 a massage, it's worth it.
A typical treatment room in a Thai massage place off the street. It ain’t the Four Seasons but for $8 a massage, it’s worth it.

A typical treatment room in a Thai massage place off the street. It ain’t the Four Seasons but for $8 a massage, it’s worth it.

Thai massages are obviously part of Thailand’s culture, so massage parlors are ubiquitous. You’ll even find streets chockfull of places, so you don’t have to hunt hard here. If you want some deep, knackering massages, these tiny Thai girls have ninja grips and even walk over with all their body weight. Trust me. After entire days on your foot, and the stress of the bustling city, you’ll want to lie back and get worked on. Some answers to questions you’ll probably have:

1. Is it safe? It’s as safe as the regular spas. The Thai people are some of the most honest, service oriented, friendliest people on the planet. They’re happy when you’re happy, so you can always expect excellent service. Aside from that one time I got a massage and the masseuse left the table to go throw up, I’ve only had stellar experiences. I’ve also gotten maybe 100 massage in Thailand.

2. Is the pressure really deep? I’m still not sure why people will get “relaxing” massages with light pressure, but that’s possible in all Thai spas. Obviously the speciality is the Thai massage, where you’ll not only get firm pressure, you will be stretched and, quite often, walked on.

3. Do I have to tip? I always do. Remember, the massage is already cheap, so throwing in another buck is not going to hurt. And it’s actually worth a lot to them.

Our new favorite suitcase – check it out on Amazon (because, honestly, you’re gonna need it for all the things you bring back from Thailand!)

4. Should I stick to hotel spas if that makes me feel better? Yes, of course. As I said earlier, the massages are already cheaper than back home, but you get the added benefit of a swimming pool to use, spa facilities like steam and sauna, and really nice treatment rooms (the massage places off the street are rough around the edges but obviously worth it). Also, at hotel spas, the staff/therapists will speak better English, so you can tell them what areas you want concentrated on and what areas to avoid.

me getting massage in Thailand
Getting massage in Thailand.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed at over 600 hotels and clocked millions of air miles. He currently lives in New York City.

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