Famed for its spas and health resorts, Thailand is generally a good value country, but top notch masseurs, mud baths and treatments don’t come cheap.
However, you don’t need to get a bank loan to enjoy the best of Thailand’s spa resorts – Skyscanner introduces the budget version of the bling spa.
Thailand is currently the most popular long haul destination for British tourists; our recent summer 09 travel trends analysis showed that interest in the destination has risen by 271% compared to last summer – more than any other destination.
Chiva-Som is probably the best known luxury spa in the country and has been for the last 15 years. Located in Hua Hin on the Gulf of Thailand, 185 kilometres south of Bangkok, its small size hasn’t stopped it from attracting big names.
The likes of Elle Macpherson, Liz Hurley and Kate Moss have all been covered in therapeutic mud whilst listening to the sound of zen in the lotus position at some point. Chiva-Som has been consistently rated by Conde Nast Traveller as the world’s best destination spa, and it has extensive fitness and holistic health facilities to help guests relax and rejuvenate.
Evason Phuket and Six Senses Spa is a newer player on the spa scene. Set amongst 64-acres of beautifully landscaped tropical parklands and gardens, Evason Phuket looks out to stunning views across the Andaman Sea.
The resort follows the Six Senses philosophy of environmental responsibility whilst offering guests a vast array of personal services and facilities. Evason’s service standards ensure close attention to detail and a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
Spas on a Budget
The problem with these big name spas is that they don’t come cheap. Rubbing seaweed wrapped shoulders with the stars means paying a premium. The ambience, beautiful gardens, private pavilions, undivided attention from discreet, professional hostesses and therapists, "free" cups of herbal tea, floral foot baths and silk robes, all have to be paid for somehow. For example, three nights in the cheapest room at Chiva-som costs US$3090 in high season, which does include 150 minutes of spa time.
But there is a cheaper, albeit less glamorous way to get very similar services, just minus the luxurious extra touches. Ideal for those who have a more realistic budget for their bhat.
Swap the boutique hotel for a beach hut, and you’ll be able to get all that Thai expertise from the comfort of your own beach towel. As long as you’re happy to forgo fancy décor and luxury interiors, you can pick up a two hour massage for around 300-500 baht – about a third of what it will costs you in a big hotel.
And don’t be put off from indulging in a therapeutic Thai massage by the seedier type of service that is often associated with Thailand. Roaming masseurs offer their skilled hands on most of Thailand’s more popular beaches, ideal if you need a pummelling after a long hard day lying on the beach.
The best bit is that you don’t have to go far from your sunbathing spot and it’s not just massages on offer; you can also get pedicures, manicures and hair braids, all for a fraction of the price you’d be paying at the Chiva-Som or a Six Senses upmarket resort.