| 1 of 11 |

Explore Thailand

Explore Thailand

With its glorious spa culture and legendary treatment philosophies (origins of Thai massage stem all the way back to the second century, and it was believed to have been handed down from the Buddha's own doctor!), Thailand offers spa-goers the chance to discover some of the finest destination spas and wellness sanctuaries in the world.

Welcome to Thailand

Welcome to Thailand

Thailand, once known as Siam (a Sanskrit term relating to the words "dark" or "brown"), and associated with movies like The King and I and The Beach, is a constitutional monarchy located in Southeast Asia. Country and maritime borders of Thailand, a country with a rich spa background, include Myanmar (Burma) and Laos to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the east, Malaysia and the Gulf of Thailand to the south and the Andaman Sea to the west.

Image courtesy: Chiva-Som

A Cultural Snapshot

A Cultural Snapshot

Today Thailand is a Buddhist nation and home to about 65 million people, primarily composed of ethnic Thais, along with peoples of Chinese, Indian, Malays, Mon, Khmer, Burmese and Lao origins. Thai is the official language (more than 90 percent of the population speaks it), although English is spoken and understood as well.

Visitors can find a variety of accommodations here, including five-star Thai luxury resorts, international chain hotels,boutique hotels, tents and bungalows. Buddhist temples provide a tranquil setting for soul-searching meditation and forlearning about Thai culture. Bangkok, the capital, and Phuket, Thailand's largest island and connected to the mainland by abridge, are also known for Thai luxury resorts and spa properties.

Image courtesy: Kamalaya Koh Samui

Spa-ing in Thailand

Spa-ing in Thailand

Thai spa facilities may range from a simple establishment with a row of chairs or day beds to home and mobile spas to the most luxurious full-service spas in five-star hotel and resort properties. Many Thai spas found at hotels and resorts arebecoming "wellness sanctuaries," offering spiritual-type havens that blend traditional and holistic philosophies againstinspiring landscapes.
Medical tourism is also gaining popularity in Thailand, with many private hospitals providing services and catering tovisitors; famed destination spas like Chiva-Som also offer medical treatments.

Image courtesy: Peninsula Bangkok

Spa Heritage & Treatments

Spa Heritage & Treatments

Thailand has a rich spa culture, with the origins of Thai massage dating back to the second century, when it was believed to have been passed down by the Buddha's own doctor. In the past, the instructions for Thai massage were carved into giantstone tablets at Bangkok's Wat Pho temple for the benefit of warriors and monks, and are still taught at Buddhist templestoday. Most Thai spa treatments incorporate herbal-poultice massage, and begin with a ritual foot washing. In Thailand, spatreatments are still influenced by Buddhist traditions such as meditative practices, local herbs and plants and folk wisdomsand traditions.

Image courtesy: Peninsula Bangkok

Spa Etiquette

Spa Etiquette

Spa gratuities in Thailand go as follows: Hotel and resort spas typically include a 10 percent service charge, so ask upon payment. If you've indulged in a treatment at a day spa or salon, the therapist, esthetician/stylist, etc. appreciate a 10 percent tip or more.

Image courtesy: Kamalaya Koh Samui

Spafinder Partners in Thailand

Spafinder Partners in Thailand

Spafinder's network of getaway spas in Thailand comprises an elite collection of luxury properties throughout the country, from Phuket to Bangkok to Koh Samui. Each offers its own dazzling allure and presence, from the renowned service of thePeninsula Bangkok to the whimsical design of the Coqoon Spa at Indigo Pearl to the Chedi Chiang Mai, a Leading Spas of theWorld property built around a former British consulate's compound.

Image courtesy: Coqoon Spa at Indigo Pearl

Places to Go

Places to Go

Despite the song, "One Night in Bangkok," this may not be enough time to explore the capital: The city's temples;Chinatown; the Grand Palace complex, once home to Thailand's kings; the National Museum, which details Thailand's history; and Chatuchak, Asia's largest shopping center, are all worth a visit.

Thailand's natural wildlife is an awesome sight, and visits can be made even more memorable by traveling elephant-backthrough the various rainforests and other terrain. Most of Thailand's national parks are accessible by road and can be reached by bus, train, car, jeep, motorcycle and even hot air balloon. Thailand is also home to more than 1,200 types ofbutterflies and the world's largest moth species. Other active pursuits include rock climbing, snorkeling, scuba diving,surfing and golfing. Thailand, particularly Phuket, is home to miles of beaches where sun worshippers can unwind.

Best Time to Visit

Best Time to Visit

Thailand experiences three seasons, though its tropical climate makes the weather typically warm year-round, with average temperatures ranging from 65° F - 100° F. March to June is considered the "hot" season, while November to February is the "cool" season. July through October comprises the "rainy monsoon" season.

Image courtesy: Conrad Koh Samui

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Thailand offers a wealth of international cuisine for travelers and locals alike, but foodies will delight in traditional Thai cuisine. Dishes, whether grilled goods, stir-fries or noodles, epitomize a variety of flavors – spicy, sour and sweet,among them – combined with fresh indigenous herbs and spices. Many meals are served family style and with rice. Epicureans may also want to take compare-and-contrast notes during their travels throughout the country, as culinary styles vary fromregion to region.

Country Customs, Currency and Etiquette

Country Customs, Currency and Etiquette

Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know before your trip: U.S. citizens staying for less than 30 days do not require a visa to visit Thailand, though passports must be valid for six months beyond the date of entry into the country. Enter the country by air without a visa and you'll be permitted to stay 30 days; arrival by land without a visa provides a 15-daystay. The currency is Thai Baht, though major credit and debit cards are widely accepted throughout Thailand. In areas such as taxi rides, tipping is not necessary but welcomed. Common country practices include greeting others with a wai, or slightbow; appropriate dress for temple and royal palace visits; refrainment of public displays of affection; and avoidance oftouching a Thai on the head.

Image courtesy: Chedi Chiang Mai

View more slideshows