Whether you are lying on the beach or sitting in a chair in the parking lot of an old gas station along Khao San Road in Bangkok, a traditional Thai massage is generally pretty incredible, and quite
therapeutic. Perhaps the best thing about getting Thai massage in
Thailand is that the prices are so affordable. The low cost allows you
to treat yourself every day of your trip, perhaps even multiple times
in one day if so inclined.
Thai Massage is believed to have been developed by Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, physician to Buddha, more than 2,500 years ago in India! It made its way to Thailand, where the Ayurvedic techniques and principles gradually became influenced by traditional Chinese medicine. In the centuries since, the secrets of Thai Massage have been perfected by monks as a component of Thai medicine! Of course, that's all well and good, but what the heck does it feel like for those Westerners who have never been to Thailand (or sampled a local version of the massage technique at your nearby "Thai Town")?
Thai massage is generally more energizing and rigorous than a traditional massage. Massage therapists use their hands, knees, legs and feet to move the body into a series of yoga type stretches. Many people say that Thai massage is comparable the "lazy man's yoga." In other words, the therapist manipulates your body while you chill-out and enjoy... That means that while the massage is often relaxing, it can also be very invigorating, sometimes even startling at the same time!
Foot, back, neck and leg massages are all are very good for relieving stress and body tensions, and believe us, a good Thai massage (approximately 60 minutes!) will accomplish this for you. With masseuses pretty much on any corner of an open air market, you should have plenty of opportunities to check Thai massage out! Set of Drifters tip: Use caution in some super-touristy areas and make sure you know what you are asking for. Areas like Bangkok's Patpong District offer encrypted "special add-ons" for those who are looking for more than just massage.
Tuk-Tuk rides can be fun, and yes, even an effective mode of transportation through the crowded streets of Bangkok
or Chiang Mai. Nevertheless, they can also be a rip-off. (For those
of you not sure exactly what a tuk-tuk is, in a nutshell, it's a
motorcycle with an added bench seat on the back, kind of like a
motorized tricycle built for three).
Be sure to work out the price of your trip with the driver before you set out for your destination! And if it is raining, expect to wait at least 10 minutes before hitching a ride! Once zipped inside, hold on to something - anything! Your driver is most likely very comfortable with shortcuts and very high speeds! Compared to oxen and elephants, a tuk-tuk ride on Chiang Mai’s cobblestone streets just may be your bounciest yet!
Set of Drifters tip: If you are in Bangkok, it is very important that you use discretion with your selection of a tuk-tuk driver. There are many stories of less-than-trustworthy drivers who have made deals with Black Market jewelers! The scam goes like this: You get in to the tuk-tuk and ask to be taken to the Grand Palace. The driver says “No, closed today, special holiday.” He then whisks you away to a “jewelry shop” to buy “real” stones at “special prices.” Don’t waste your time. The Grand Palace is open – and those jades are most likely fake!
Set of Drifters video: For video from this event, check out our YouTube channel!
Driving in Thailand
order to experience Chiang Mai to its fullest, you really need to hop
in a car and wander through the incredibly picturesque stretches of
twists and turns that lie north of the city. The Mae Rim road to
Samoeng (R1096) is particularly memorable and picturesque. Stopping
off to take in the grandiose views, it can be somewhat hard to believe
that a place as serene and beautiful as this actually exists! But
first, you have to get there!
We rented a car from the groovy tours/ attractions lady just outside the entrance to the Pornping Hotel (see “digs”). She was highly entertaining, and helped us secure a good vehicle for our trek. Soon we were off on the open road. Set of Drifters tip: Those of you who are accustomed to driving on the right-hand side, be forewarned. You will need to get used to driving on the opposite side in Thailand!
We advise you to leave Chiang Mai well equipped with maps! Still, expect to get lost. Tourist brochures in northern Thailand are full of ads, but lean on actual addresses, phone numbers or maps that are to actual scale. Thus, it was no surprise that we eventually ended up lost later in our journey! Thankfully, just as we were about to give up all hope of finding our way back to the main road, we spotted some potential assistance. If you aren't prepared to take advantage of a man on an elephant to ask for directions, you might as well not travel to Chiang Mai!
One fun game to play while driving through rural Thailand is “Spot The Water Towers!” Though water supply is exceptionally plentiful in Thailand, irrigation is needed in the flatter areas (especially in the northeast during in the dry seasons). Thailand’s tap water is stored and transported via underground aquifiers throughout the country, but when pumps or pipes fail, the water towers that poke up from the ground all over act as back-up storage. These tall water towers come in a variety of shapes, and sizes and are often painted in zany colors or retro designs. To Set of Drifter Brady, the water towers looked like something right out of Star Wars’ fourth moon of Yavin! (Needless to say, we returned home with quite an assortment of “Thai water tower” photos to sift through.)