Thailand enjoys a worldwide reputation for its tranquil spas and retreats, and some of the best of these can be found in Bangkok. Thai massage is traditionally a vigorous, yet highly invigorating, experience and in Bangkok the usual techniques and treatments are complimented with a series of modern, holistic treatments. These include body wraps, facials and mud-baths to give visitors a soothing and relaxing experience; the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Those who want to indulge will be able to take their pick from a large selection of spas and retreats, which range from the brief but refreshing short-stop treatment to the uncompromisingly luxurious experience of a full day of pampering. Best of all, they are very affordable, with an afternoon of pampering costing under US$100.
Most of the city’s high-end hotels, such as the Millennium Hilton, Mandarin Oriental, Holiday Inn, Dusit Thani, and Marriott, all come complete their own in-house spas. In addition, there are also a number of world-class private spas scattered around the city; the most notable of these being the Mandara and Aspara Spas. Then there are the more modest, reasonably-priced ones and, for those on a budget, numerous respectable massage shops offer a decent experience minus the frills.
Recommended Bangkok spas
The Oasis Spa: brand new facility launched by the popular Northern Thailand chain that has an excellent track record for managing professional spas. They offer an extensive range of treatments to suit all budgets, including ayurveda, aromatherapy and traditional Thai practices in an exquisite environment just off Sukhumvit Road. 64 Soi Sawasdee Sukhumvit 31, Wattana, Tel: (02) 262 2122.
Leyana Spa: set in a relaxing garden environment in the centre of bustling Bangkok, the staff at Leyana are extremely attentive and help guests to unwind with a wide range of remedies and treatments. The name comes from the Latin name for orchids and a selection of herbal potions are included in the therapies here, as well as all the usual modern choices. 33 Thonglor 13, Soi Torsak, Wattana, Tel: (02) 391 7694.
The Divana Spa: this prominent, leading name in Bangkok spa treatments has recently opened a new spa and well-being centre called ‘DVN’ on Sukhumwit lane 35, which is opposite the Emporium Department Store and very close to the Prmophong BTS Station. Placed in a two-storey Thai house and surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the centre contains nine private couple rooms and 17 treatment beds. Each room features its own special theme, while the spa offers a wide range of treatments, all of which are designed to relieve stress and relax visitors. 7 Sukhumvit 25, North Klongtoey, Tel: (02) 661 6784-5.
The Mandara brand: well-known name among spa users, this spa’s unique blend of Eastern and Western techniques is sure to soothe even the most stressed-out of visitors. The Mandara Spas’ signature treatment is performed by two therapists who work together in perfect harmony to give the ultimate massage. The Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Siphaya, Tel: (02) 266 0123.
Detoxification is another form of cleansing that has taken root in Bangkok and become really popular over the past few years. While these techniques have long been fashionable in the East, they are also being practised by health-nuts and party-goers alike these days, and the detoxification techniques aim to rid the body of its toxins over a relatively short period.
Rasayana Retreat: offer an assortment of different programmes that last from between one day and a month. 57 Soi Prom-mitr, Sukhumvit 39, Tel: (02) 662 4803.
Offering the perfect blend of ancient Eastern traditional treatments and more modern Western elements, the spas in Bangkok are simply sublime. All the stresses and strains of modern life will be scrubbed, massaged and cleaned away, leaving you feeling like a new person. It’s certainly a worthwhile aspect of a Thailand holiday.
As advantageous as all the luxury and tranquillity of these spas and retreats are, visitors to Bangkok should make sure that they don’t neglect the more rustic and down-to-earth relaxation that is on offer on the streets of Bangkok. There are numerous, small and friendly massage venues dotted about that offer one or two hours of massage for a very reasonable rate. In addition, exercise and relaxation can easily be found in Bangkok’s parks and temples.