Monday, 5 December 2011

New spa opens in Chiang Mai

One of the things I love most about Chiang Mai is the abundance of spas and massage services. Relaxation and pampering is an integral part of any visit to this northern city, nurturing my body, soul and spirit as only Thailand can. From top-end luxury hotel spas to street-front massage joints, there’s no excuse not to indulge. Got an hour to kill before dinner? Have a foot massage. Need a rest during a shopping excursion? Have a Thai massage. With massages so readily available, not to mention affordable, a massage a day really does keep the doctor away.

There are, of course, many styles and standards of massage available. Street massages are quick, accessible and undeniably pleasant; but if you want to treat yourself to a special indulgence, there are also more structured pampering sessions available at specialist luxury spas such as Oasis Spa and Rarinjinda Wellness Resort.

The latter not only offers delicious, indulgent and purifying treatments such as Ayurvedic oil massages, vichy showers and hot stone massages, but its aim (as its name suggests) is to address wellness as well as relaxation, its holistic practices designed to cleanse, heal and detox the body. Every treatment is preceded by a consultation with Spa Director Dr Sushil Rahul, who checks your aura, pulses and general health before advising which treatment is most suitable for your condition. Treatments are conducted in beautiful environs guaranteed to leaving you refreshed and recharged.

While street massages are fun and relaxing, you often get what you paid for – basic treatment in a basic environment. One step up from a street massage in terms of cost, but a world away in terms of ambience is the brand new Health Lanna Spa, located within the old city walls in Singharaj Road (not far from Wat Prasing). This claims to be the largest spa facility in Chiang Mai, with 75 massage beds in rarified, tranquil surrounds.

Everything you desire for relaxation is on hand; dim lights, clean bedding and clothing, soft music, perfumed air and attractive Lanna-style decor. Traditional Thai Lanna massage is performed by therapists trained at the Chiang Mai Thai Spa Academy, and exceptional they are indeed, with strong, firm and precise hands. I recently enjoyed a two-hour treatment and will happily claim it’s one of the best massages I’ve ever had.

The facility also features a Jacuzzi and steam room, a cafe serving local, organically grown coffee and a spa boutique selling aromatic oils, incense and herbal teas.

But the real joy for me is the price. A two-hour Thai massage costs only 450 baht (about A$14), which is just a smidge more than you’ll pay on the street. A great bargain for a truly superior massage, and definitely worth seeking out.

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