The Cost of a Massage: From Thailand to Tokyo
Destination vacations are planned in order to luxuriate and enjoy personal time. There’s no better way to spend an hour luxuriating than in the hands of a trained massage therapist. The next time you plan a trip abroad, consider the average price of a massage in your destination nation.
MASSAGE SPECIALTY: Nuad Phaen Boran
PRICE PER HOUR: $6.33 USD (200 Baht)
The exuberant art of Nuad Phaen Boran (or “traditional massage”) is unique to Thailand. Few styles of massage therapy involve the therapist jumping on the table, straddling the customer, and lying across the customer’s body. Yet, in Thailand the massage therapist will go from jumping beside your body to kneading your back with her hand rolled like kitten’s paw.
For many people, massages in Thailand are just too intimate. They often involve full body contact with the massage therapist, and techniques that can seem bizarre to first time visitors. However, for just $6.33 per hour, the experience in Thailand is worth the risk.
MASSAGE SPECIALTY: Variety
PRICE PER HOUR: $49 USD ($40 EURO)
A charming, cosmopolitan destination like Ireland would have to serve the needs of a varied and ever-changing clientele from around the world. Meeting this expectation, spas in Ireland often offer a variety of services from Swedish to Hot Stone, Shiatsu to a pool-side mud massage.
The massage therapists in Dublin tend to be modest, discrete, and somewhat withdrawn. Unlike their Thai counterparts, Irish masseurs respect Western personal space boundaries, but still manage to reach every sinew and muscle that needs attention.
MASSAGE SPECIALTY: Ayurverda Massage
PRICE PER HOUR: $3.63 USD (200 INR)
If you’re headed for India, prepare to get extra oily! Ayurveda might as well translate to ‘KFC’ for the sheer amount of oil that your body will be saturated in during the massage. Ayurveda actually translates roughly to ‘ancient Hindi art of life extension and healing,’ and has been handed down for centuries by physicians.
Starting at just $3.63 per hour, it amazes travelers that so little money covers the vat of oil used during the massage, let alone the time of the masseuse. Expect to be undressed manually, even if you’ve refused to get naked, and don’t be surprised by the lingering touch of your massage therapist: these are common traits of an Indian massage.
MASSAGE SPECIALTY: Swedish
PRICE PER HOUR: $146 USD (1030 SEK)
Having created the most popular form of massage on the planet, it’s unsurprising that a Swedish massage in Stockholm is quite expensive! However, experiencing a master of Swedish massage is well worth the money, even with a weak dollar. Swedish massage parlors tend to be more clinical than usual, and very hygienic. Especially in Stockholm, spas and parlors have a very modern, streamlined style.
The five stroke styles of a Swedish massage will work joint pain and stiffness from even a travel-weary body. In Sweden you will be impressed by tidy, aloof massage therapists who are truly experts.
MASSAGE SPECIALTY: Yoga Retreat Massage
PRICE PER HOUR: $15 USD (200 MXN)
Due largely to the number of tourists from the United States, massages in Mexico are often tailored to Western desires. Although few massage therapists speak English outside of high-caliber resorts, few tourists would dare to get a massage outside of a resort.
Aromatherapy and destination yoga-massage are popular choices for tourists in Mexico. Visitors enjoy a variety of tropical scents and spicy incense. Remember to tip in Mexico: many service-based positions only earn tips, while the base rate goes to the resort.
MASSAGE SPECIALTY: Kaishun Massage
PRICE PER HOUR: $88 USD (7,000 YEN)
Tokyo is a destination that defines the word modern. The massage parlors, resorts and spas in Tokyo tend to be sleek and modern in a way that no other nation can rival. If you want to experience a sophisticated massage, then head to Tokyo. Be aware of the careful wording of massage advertisements, however: many offerings in Tokyo are illegal in the United States, and would be offensive or too intimate for Westerners.
The popular form of massage in Tokyo is Kaishun, which translates to ‘restoring of youth’ in English: the subtle implication has more to do with virility and sexuality, though. A Kaishun massage seeks to rejuvenate the groin glands, and focuses on stimulating circulation.
Luxurious, exotic massages around the globe vary in price from just a few bucks to outrageous. Depending on your destination, you could experience a classic Swedish massage in the hands of an expert, or an ancient medical massage by an Asian physician.