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Thai massages... from healing to "indelicate"!

Thai massages are famous, worldwide.

I can tell you about most of them... generally there are 4 massage groupings...

  • Relaxing
    [A typical Thai foot massage or full massage is a great way to wind down from a hectic day being a tourist.]
  • Therapeutic
    [Once in a while, you may be referred to a Thai therapeutic massager. Or stumble across one on your own. I found one, and over the 5 years we've been partners, she has made my old body far less painful, more mobile, and I'm certainly happier!]
  • Boring
    [more on this calamity below]
  • and the most infamous of all...


Much to my horror, disgust, and incredulity, I found that many massage shops offer “happy ending” massages. To spare your delicate sensibilities, I refer to these as “hanky-panky”, which is an euphemism for


These seem to be oriented toward males only… or so I am led to believe through my extensive readings, and interviews with anonymous blokes who have actually visited these…

Thai Massages I Have Known
… and some I don’t admit to!

I’m a BOFF, Bald Old Fat Farang [farang = Western foreigner], and I only had heard or read of TWO kinds of Thai massages when I first traveled to Thailand in 2006.

  1. A true Thai Massage mostly aimed at relaxing a client
  2. A Happy Ending Massage, which means sex... and maybe a massage as well

Since I have visited the Land of Smiles every year since, 
and I try to get ONE massage a day… 
now I’m a bit of an expert…

It’s my experience, supplemented by interviews with anonymous blokes
who have more experience, that there are 4 types of Thai massage, with many specialties within a type...

Just another way of grouping massages.

#1: Nice Thai Massages

Massages focused on relaxation

  • Thai Foot Massage
  • Thai Body Massage
  • Thai Head & Shoulder Massage
  • Hot Oil Massage

Massages focused on therapy

  • Injury Rehabilitation
  • Mobility Improvement
  • Pain Relief

#2: Specialty Massages

  • Dok Sen
  • Fish Massage
  • Jap Sen
  • Thai Herbal Massage

#3: Naughty Thai massages

  • Happy Ending Massage
  • Hot Oil Massage
    [Did you notice? This type of massage is in both Nice and Naughty categories...]
  • Live In Girlfriend Massage
    [Could be naughty... could be nice... some ambiguity here]
Testicle Massage adNo ambiguity here!
  • Testicle Massage

#4: Boring Massages

As with any specialty occupation, there are Thai Massage practitioners who are...

super good... NOT BORING

When/if you find one of these... cherish her/him and treat them well... they are gems!

100% tip!

competent... NOT BORING

These are worth returning to time and time again... you will always feel relaxed or healed...

50% tip

barely functional...  BORING and disappointing

Some are too painful... some are too easy on you... most do not care very much.

One time is enough!

10% tip

useless... BORING, disappointing, annoying and rip-offs!

They have many bad habits, because they do not give a damn!

  • Watch TV while massaging you.
  • Talk on their phone all the time.
  • Talk to other employees.
  • Not watch what they're doing.

My advice if you suffer through one of these: complain to the big boss, and never come back. Warn others via word of mouth and/or social media.

No tip.

About tipping for service

Most Thai massage ladies [men, too, although most are female] earn a pathetic hourly wage from their employer.
So I really tip the competent and super good very well. 
I've had other blokes tell me "You tip too much. You are spoiling it for the rest of us!"

What a bunch of cheap bastards!

An example of poorly paid massagers

One Thai massage lady I knew had the following job "perks", and she worked in a high end shop in Bangkok, along Silom Road.

  • worked 10 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • made 300 baht a day plus tips [$12 CAD daily]
  • had to pay a fine of 600 Baht a day if she took a day off

She was one of the competent massagers, and I never begrudged her any of the tips I gave her.

How to tell if a Thai massage is naughty or nice 
[assuming those mean different things to you]

There are lots of reputable massage shops in Thailand.

You can easily  identify them, because the massage ladies are NOT congregating outside trying to convince you to come in.

Those ladies, outside a shop,
can get quite aggressive…
especially if you're male! 

"Oh, papa! Come in with me... I am very good..."
All this while some rather delectable young lady holds your arm far too close to her body...

Couples, however, are gently asked to come in together for a massage.

"Madam, Papa... want massage?"

If you and your partner go into a massage shop, ask for a room together. Otherwise there’s a chance, the male will be entreated to “opt” for a special massage!

Any male, getting a Hot Oil massage in one of these shops is tacitly agreeing to a happy-ending massage... might be a surprise to a naive customer!

Lady Boy Thai massages

Another way to [maybe] get into trouble in a Thai massage shop...

The actual massager may NOT be a female... even though it is often hard to tell...

However, 95% of the massage businesses in tourist zones will have "legitimate" men and women doing the work.

More about Lady Boys

Thais seem to agree that there are 3 sexes: men and women and lady-boys

I assume the first 2 are well known to the majority of you. The third one might make you wonder.

Transgender male is the closest I would come to identifying a lady-boy. However, there is much more to it than that.

And there is little stigma associated with that “gender”.

Part of the Buddhist approach to life, I suspect.

Oh, he a lady-boy,” is the throw away explanation of seemingly peculiar behaviour.

Did I mention that they are often flamboyant?

They are called kathoey in Thai. 

The above link goes to a Wikipedia article in a new page. Close the page to return here.

And they transform into incredibly beautiful ladies, after operations and the like.

A general rule of thumb for farang men:

Warmest regards,

Garry says

p.s. Thai massages are IMHO one of the Wonders of The World. I urge you to experience them... nothing like a Foot Massage for a tourist... after a day in the hot Thailand sun!