Beachside Massages, Phuket, Thailand

Going Local

 Four of Five Senses

By Marie Moon

It is still early and the beach is quiet except for some early morning walkers and the beach chair brokers. A cool breeze lilts over my body and caresses my face. The same breeze then moves upwards to stir the coconut palms causing a gentle shh among fronds. The sky is blue, dotted with perfectly puffy white cumulus forming many shapes. I study them as they glide above me; that one looked like a cupcake, another resembles a rabbit. I played this game with my Mother when I was young and today the clouds bring back fond memories. The waves crash into the sand down by the shore, with stereo sound adding depth to the natural soundtrack playing around me. Lying here on this grass mat under the shade of a casuarina tree, I feel content and totally relaxed and she hasn’t even started the massage yet.

In my mind, having a massage on the beach is one of the most sensational experiences to be had in Thailand. While there is no air-conditioning, no fluffy white towels and almost no privacy, the beach offers a totally different experience to the spa and should not be missed by people who enjoy massage therapy in all forms.

My masseuse today is Pam, a 44 year old mother of four. She has been working on the beach for 18 years and during the peak holiday season she makes up to 4000 baht a day giving therapy to anyone who comes along. Unlike some other beach masseuses Pam does not walk the beach looking for customers, "I think people don’t like to be talked to when they are relaxing on the beach, so I don’t bother them. If they want a massage they will find me."

Massage therapy is deeply rooted in the Thai culture. From young ages, many children are taught to massage their parents and so they grow up with strong hands and some knowledge of pressure point theory and technique. It is not a scientific way to study, more a natural one where technique is nurtured over years of practice. Some of these children eventually attend massage schools such as the Wat Po School of Traditional Medicine and from there they find good jobs in spas and hotels around the country. Pam said she couldn’t afford the course when she was young and now she’s too busy with her four children.

She starts by brushing my feet to remove the sand. I have never had a problem with sand during a beachside massage; for the most part the mats are kept surprisingly clean. She flexes my toes up and down with remarkable dexterity and kneads the sole of my foot with strong fingers. At this stage I’m a little taken aback for she is a tiny woman but as she works along the calf muscle, what is normally my most sensitive area, I start to relax. Her strokes are hard and deep but her rhythm is hypnotic. She uses coconut oil which gives off a heady, familiar scent and I am looking at the clouds again with my Mother at the beach.

I am wrenched back to the now as she finds a tender hamstring. Sensing my pain she lessens the pressure but stays there working with the tissue, stimulating blood flow to the area. I am impressed with her sensitivity and skill; I injured this muscle last month doing aerobic ‘box-ercise’ and have been nursing it since. It feels good and the muscle is loosening.

Pam’s routine is similar to most Thai massages except when she gets to my back. Rather than having me lie face down, she makes me lie on my side in the recovery position. I am completely comfortable in this position and she can work on my back one side at a time. The session progressed until it came time for the flexibility portion of the massage. Here is where you are faced with a dilemma; allow yourself to be twisted and turned in public, or skip it and miss out on the benefit these exercises bring to tired joints? One way to avoid this is to be wearing loose fitting clothes however if you like the oil, a snug swimsuit and sarong is advised. I decide to throw caution to the wind and let her twist away.

After an hour I am totally relaxed and I can actually feel that the massage has done my body some good. The wind is fresh and cool and my skin is tingling from the coconut oil. I will keep the oil on my skin for a while because it has wonderful moisturizing properties and I love the sensation of going for a swim right after an oil massage.

There are massage ladies at every beach frequented by tourists in all parts of the country. Prices range from 200 – 400 baht per hour and skill levels also vary greatly. No matter who the masseuse is, you are bound to have a relaxing experience, but the best way to find a good pair of hands is to ask around. Nowadays, most places have the prices clearly marked, if not, be sure to negotiate a price before the session to avoid having to spoil your relaxed post-session state of mind with having to think about money.

This session luxuriated four of my five senses, not through lavish d�cor or expensive oils but through a calming combination of natural elements. After my swim I’ll retire to a deckchair, order a fresh coconut to appease the fifth sense, then I’ll spend the rest of the morning reading and relaxing under the cumulus clouds and with wonderful memories of my Mum.


 From Benjarong Magazine – March 2005, Volume 8 Issue 3

In Association with

Kinnaree Media Marketing
Tel: (66-76) 263737-8 Fax: (66-76) 224113
E-mail:    Website:
Web design by Andaman Graphics Phuket

This month features
 Thailand and Asia
 phuket travel info
Phuket Travel and Tours
  Tropical Living Magazine
  Koh Samui
  Recommend this site

Last Minute Hotels


 Benjarong Magazine - October 2005, Volume 8 Issue 10


In Association with

Kinnaree Media Marketing
Tel: (66-76) 263737-8 Fax: (66-76) 224113
E-mail:    Website:
Web design by Andaman Graphics Phuket