Best Massage in the Khao San Road Area


I’ve grudgingly put hours of my time into finding the best massage in the Khao San Road area. It’s a tough task, but someone has to do it! aI endured several poor massages in the process, including one by a male my age who subtly found ways to stroke my (clothed) breasts throughout the service.  While I didn’t feel unsafe or particularly violated, being molested is still annoying. (Perhaps years of caring for various children has desensitized me to being groped unexpectedly?)

While Thailand is well known for amazingly cheap massages, the quality is an absolute crap shoot.  It has nothing to do with price, and everything to do with luck.

First – Other Massages

Seven years ago, western style massages weren’t really on the menu in Thailand.  The closest you could get was “oil massage.”   It’s essentially a one-hour application of oil to the skin.  It’s virtually devoid of muscle-kneading.  It’s the most expensive variety.  And, if you’re a woman, the massage can be awkward.  <- The same thing happened to me.  Twice.  Minus the poking incident.

The most popular form of massage back then was, of course, Thai massage.  However, to the uninitiated, Thai massage can leave you feeling like an unwitting participant in an aerial circus act.  Or a victim of methodical torture via pressure points.  I’ve heard it most generously described as “passive yoga.”  First-timers generally walk out of a Thai massage a bit bewildered and traumatized – often owing to the language barrier that renders one unable to say things like “too hard,” “ow that hurts,” and “how does stabbing your feet into my spine improve my health, exactly?”.

best massage in khao san road does not look like this

Don’t worry – I’m not recommending one of these as the best massage in Khao San road. This is a Thai massage in Kanchanaburi. Looks… adventurous, no?

Thai massage has less to do with soothing sore muscles and more to do with aligning and balancing energies in the body via pushing, pulling, and poking.  I think Thai massage is worth experiencing, but I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as relaxing rejuvenation.  Just when the gentle pressure lulls you into a pleasant bliss – WHA-BAM! Suddenly your arm is torqued behind your back, your joints are ruthlessly “popped” or “cracked,” a limb is stretched beyond capacity… the options for unexpected discomfort are numerous.

So, when I have the pleasure of traveling to Thailand, I generally take advantage of the now popular western massage billed as a “Neck and Shoulder” massage.  They are still like Thai massages in the sense that you do not disrobe bnot completely – most often I am asked to remove my shirt.  They will work around a bra if you aren’t comfortable., and they are given in a roomful of wall-to-wall mattresses with other clients potentially present.  Beyond that, they become more familiar.

How to Find the Best Massage in the Khao San Road Area

TLDR:  Go to TP Thai Massage & Fish Spa at 37 Rambuttri Road (Soi Rambutree) and ask for Kate.  See map and explanation below.

Update May 2017: Kate is still at TP Thai Massage!  See comments.
Update September 2016: Kate is still at TP Thai Massage!  See comments.
Update July 2016:  Please leave your experience in the comments – especially if you find a good massage therapist. Hundreds of people a month read this page. Help them, please!

Just like massage anywhere, the quality depends mostly on the practitioner.  And also just like anywhere, the skill levels of practitioners can be pretty hit and miss.  When you can’t get a word-of-mouth recommendation, you’re forced to play massage roulette.

In the past, I’ve unsuccessfully Googled and looked on forums for word-of-mouth recommendations for the “best massage in the Khao San road area.”  For lack of results, I ended up spending several hours (and dollars) getting subpar massages by trying one-hour “Neck and Shoulder” massages at new places. Finally I found two practitioners I liked and one I loved.  Sadly, when I returned to Thailand in May 2015, my favorite massage therapist had moved on to greener pastures.  I stopped by her old shop hoping her facebook photos might have been just a vacation.  She was definitely gone, so I decided to begin my next round of roulette right then and there.

Thank goodness!

Her co-worker Kate remembered me.  Kate is amazing.  A jovial, portly, middle-aged woman with insanely strong hands and a wonderful technique.  She became my instant new favorite!  No one will ever be as good as May, but Kate had me coming back several times.  To save you from a similar fate, hopefully the information here does saves your from several sup-par Khao San Massages.

The massage shop awning says, unhelpfully, “Thai Massage,” and is officially called TP Thai Massage & Fish Spa at 37 Rambuttri Road.   Soi Rambutree is the quieter, more peaceful sister to Khao San.  If you’re in the area, you probably think of it as the street with the cool windsock lanterns hanging in a group near the main Soi Rambutree access.

Here’s a map:

map directing you to the best massage in the khao san road area

Map to get you to the best massage in the khao san road area

And here’s a photo of the storefront.  It’s right next door to a pharmacy, and (like many of the massage places) has a “fish spa” out front.

storefront of the best massage in the khao san area

The store front you need to find if you are going to get the best massage in the Khao San area

You’ll have to ask for Kate by name, since requesting a specific massage therapist is rare.  Generally the therapists take turns on a fixed roster as customers come in.  Hope this helps you find the best massage in the Khao San Road area!  And of course, if you find another great massage therapist, please pass it on in the comments. Hundreds of people a month read this page: pay it forward, please!

Good luck!

Related:
Do You Make These 8 Travel Mistakes?
How I Afford to Travel
How to Start a Travel Blog That Makes Money

References   [ + ]

a. I endured several poor massages in the process, including one by a male my age who subtly found ways to stroke my (clothed) breasts throughout the service.  While I didn’t feel unsafe or particularly violated, being molested is still annoying. (Perhaps years of caring for various children has desensitized me to being groped unexpectedly?)
b. not completely – most often I am asked to remove my shirt.  They will work around a bra if you aren’t comfortable.


22 comments

  • January 14, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Thanks for the tip above. Went to the spa and got a herbal massage from Kate. She is very good but used herbal balls that ought rightly to have been consigned to the bin long ago. The balls smelt more like the local canal than the local herbs. It actually made me gag when they were used to close to my face. The whole experience was therefore ruined and I would not return. The Massage centre attached to Wat Arrawa (I think that’s what it’s called), which is the boat shaped Wat close to the Shangri-la, is just a river taxi away and far far better. Book ahead as they’re too busy for walk-ins.

    • January 18, 2018 at 9:48 pm

      Thanks for helping keep the page up to date, Jamie! Sorry you had a bad experience with the herbal balls (I’ve never had those before… sounds… interesting).

  • May 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Best massage ever!! And Im used to therapeutic massage in Canada. Kate is just awesome !!! Thanks for the recommandation 🙂

    • May 23, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Glad you liked her! I’m still dreaming of getting Thailand back on my travel roster so I can add a few more therapists to this post!

  • May 20, 2017 at 7:28 am

    This was the WORST experience I’ve ever had while traveling abroad. The massage was mediocre for my wife and I both, and the old stands out front and speaks English is vocally anti-American to the point of making us feel extremely uncomfortable. As someone who has travelled many places, I was in utter shock that anyone would recommend this store.

    • May 23, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience, Andrew. It sounds to me like you might not have gotten Kate? As with anywhere, the massage depends so much on the therapist, hey. I’ve gone ahead and bolded the part of the post that says, “You’ll have to ask for Kate by name, since requesting a specific massage therapist is rare.”

      I’m guessing the shop probably finds our western way of doing things annoying. Thanks to this article, westerners are rocking up to their front door and interrupting their business pattern (as explained above, the masseurs take turns as customers come in, just like waitresses take turns with tables in the west. It’s not fair if Kate is always getting bumped to the front of the line). Or maybe the shop owner is a just a crazy, mean, entitled woman?!

      Either way, thanks for sharing your experience!

  • March 27, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Hello!

    I am planning a trip to Bangkok in the upcoming weeks. May I know the opening hours of this parlour?

    • March 27, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      HI Syu – I’m not affiliated with them… not sure! You could try to look it up as a business using the maps and info in the post and see if you can give them a call. Not much opens “early” in Khao San. It’s more of a party-all-night place, with the streets pretty quiet in the mornings until maybe 9 or 10? Sorry I can’t be of more help!

      Have a great trip!

  • February 4, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Kate is great. Thanks for advise!!!

    • February 4, 2017 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks for keeping the page updated, Tim! Glad you got to enjoy Kate’s amazing talents. 🙂

    • March 19, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      yes!
      can only agree
      went there today
      was great (:

  • December 29, 2016 at 5:28 am

    Kate is amazing! Thanks for the information 🙂

  • November 29, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    I went to Kate
    No word can describe her, she is awesome

    • November 29, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      Cool, Mody. Thanks for helping keep this info current. And so happy to hear Kate is still her amazing self 🙂

  • September 29, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Went to see Kate, shes strong and knows what she’s doing. Also very pleasent. Apparently people come looking for her and she doesn’t know why haha 😀
    Told her that someone on the internet said she’s the best.

    • September 29, 2016 at 7:31 am

      It makes my day to know Kate is still there and still awesome! Thanks for the update, Paulius!

  • December 26, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Hi there

    Thanks for your great advice, I just got an amazing massage by May from Urban Thai Massage.

    For your information, she is leaving Thailand on NYE and she is going back to Laos to take care of her son.

    Cheers,
    Philipp

    • December 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      May is the best!! Is she going back to Laos permanently? Thanks for sharing Philipp.

  • December 26, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Hi! I know that massage place and I go to see an older lady by the name of tuk tuk…
    She is a healer/therapist and gives massages with most loving intent.
    I write this because I would love to see more people take advantage of what she offers. She is at the Fish Spa described above 🙂

    • December 26, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Adrian, and helping everyone connect with great massage therapists!

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