Thailand and especially Bangkok is a massage and spa paradise. Massage, health and spa venues are omnipresent throughout the city. However, price, quality and offered service changes from venue to venue. While some massage places offer a high luxury well care spa program that costs more, other places offer a cheaper traditional Thai or oil massage with varying quality of service. In this article we will focus on the cheapest massage place in Bangkok that starts at 100 THB. Does the low price reflect the quality?
Where can you get a massage for 100 THB in Bangkok, is it legit?
It sounds unbelievable, but yes, you can get a real traditional Thai massage for just 100 THB in Bangkok. The venue is called May Massage and is located at Sukhumvit 23, near the Asok BTS station, Terminal21 shopping mall and Soi Cowboy (see map below). In order go get to May Massage, you can walk through till the end of Soi Cowboy until you reach Soi 23. There, you make a left and walk past all the 'special massage' places with pretty girls sitting in the front (approx. 350m). You will see a massage shop on the right hand side with black windows. Despise having many customers, there won't be any person outside. This is May Massage, where you can get a 100 THB massage.
What can I expect from a 100 THB massage?
Given the low price, one might expect that the quality of this massage place quite low. However, you will be surprised, how much you get for little money. At May massage, you can get a foot, neck & shoulder massage or a traditional Thai massage for 100 THB for an hour. Other massage types such as an oil massage do cost more. Upon entering the massage shop, you put off your shoes and select a massage type of your choice. Unlike some other massage places, customers don't chose the massage therapist here. Rather, it depends on who's turn it is. Yet, in case a customer feels uncomfortable with a man touching her/his body, a female therapist can be requested. The staff accepts it, but it seems like they dislike such an 'extra wish'. We have tried both traditional Thai massage and also a foot, neck & shoulder massage.
Traditional Thai Massage
For a traditional Thai massage, you will be taken upstairs to a larger, dimly lit, common massage area with several mattresses. Customers will be given wide pants and a shirt. There are no private booths. During a massage you can also observe your neighbors getting a massage. People usually don't speak and you can hear ambient spa music in the background. The massage starts with your feet, then goes on with upper legs for 25 minutes, while other 25 minutes are dedicated for the lower and upper back. Here, often elbows are used. Finally, for the last part, the massage therapist will work on the neck and shoulders. By using a special technique, the therapist will make your joints and knuckles crack. This might seem frightening, but is actually harmless.
Depending on your stature and looks, the therapists adjust the force they use on you accordingly. If you have a fragile body and seem to be sensitive, the massage will be softer. In contrast, a young man with a strong stature will undergo a harder treatment. However, sometimes the massage might become undesirably painful; especially when treating the upper legs. In such cases, it's recommended to inform the massage therapist that you wish a softer treatment, rather than being too proud and enduring it. They will not notice your pain. You can say 'bao bao', which can be translated to 'softer please'.
Foot, Neck & Shoulder Massage
If you go for a foot, neck and shoulder massage, you will be seated on one of the comfortable sofas on the ground floor. In case you wear long pants or a too short skirt, you will be given massage pants. At first, you get your feet washed and dried with a towel. Then the massage therapist will apply massage balm on your feet and lower legs. for 45 minutes, the therapist will focus on your feet up to your knees. The remaining 15 minutes are dedicated to your shoulder and neck. Also here, for the final part, the therapist will make your joints and knuckles 'crack'.
After the Massage
After the massage, you can take a seat on a chair and get a warm tea, which is free of charge. For the payment, you go to the front desk and pay for the massage only. Tips (which is expected here due to the low price) are paid when leaving at the exit, where the therapist will be waiting.
What are the Pros and Cons?
- Great quality-price ratio
- central location, close proximity to BTS
- staff not pushy
- tea at the end free of charge
- tranquil (ambient music, staff doesn't talk)
- family friendly: staff never offers sexual service
- staff (mostly Burmese) barely speaks English (or sometimes even Thai)
- massage sometimes painful
- Chinese customers who visit in smaller groups can become noisy
- simple interior, not luxurious
Can I get a 'Special Massage' there?
Definitely no. Unlike many other massage shops on the same street, May massage strictly doesn't offer sexual services. Moreover, even if they wanted it's wouldn't be possible for there are no private booths and the massage takes place in an open common massage area upstairs.
I recommend everyone to pay a visit at this massage shop. Nowhere else will you get such a great quality-to-price ratio. You get a one-hour original, traditional Thai massage. Don't expect a luxurious spa with special oils, herbs or a bath. Also, don't expect pretty or sexy girls. The staff consists mostly of average looking men and women who barely speak English. Yet, they are used to foreign customers, such that basic communication is possible. Nobody is pushy. We experienced friendly, yet introverted staff. Don't expect privacy, as the massage takes place in a common massage area.