Phuket has become one of the leading and most popular spa destinations anywhere in the world, and definitively across Asia and within Thailand. It boasts calm, hidden havens in which to enjoy being pampered in style at dozens of affordable spas and resorts, catering to increasing numbers of holidaymakers that are looking for something a little bit different. Spas, massage and health resorts in Phuket have developed into an important and lucrative local industry, and it seems that just about every hotel these days likes to call itself a spa resort. Of course, Phuket has some quite exceptional and exclusive spas, but caters to all price ranges with small street-side establishments that charge less than thousand baht, as well as more expensive remote hideaways that have treatments which cost thousands of baht each time.
Local Spa Experiences
Visitors to Phuket are definitely spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a spa to suit their tastes, budget and specific requirements. The prices tend to be slightly lower than in western countries, which has helped the local market expand and attract even more devotees from abroad. The majority of spas operate during the daytime only, although some do provide longer and more extensive holistic programmes that aim to improve the customer’s long term health, and which take into account factors such as diet and lifestyle. Such programmes require a detailed consultation with experts before the optimal treatment can be determined.
Many modern spas in Thailand fuse established eastern and western techniques, with a variety of combined treatments that have exotic and appealing names (think Eastern Silk Massage, Heavenly Body Scrub, Serene Lotus Facial and so on). Despite the romanticism and excessive hyperbole of the marketing, a spa treatment can be very beneficial for the health and is an effective and enjoyable way to relax and reduce stress.
During the past few years of tourism in Phuket, it’s been easy to promote spa usage to Asian customers as many countries across Asia already have an established and accepted tradition of massage, saunas and spas. Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly popular with Europeans as they are becoming more aware of the potential health benefits, and the fact that it’s relatively inexpensive here. Some foreign tourists still remain unaware of and unfamiliar with the practices that spas promote, and it can be a challenge to persuade them to try, but once they do they keep coming back for more.
Many spas in Phuket come under strict government jurisdiction and have to meet a stringent set of requirements and rules to achieve proper certification. This has helped standards, facilities and training to improve in recent years, even at the smaller and less expensive spas.
Popular Spa Treatments in Phuket
The typical spa treatments available in Phuket are as follows. A modern spa experience is concerned with many health aspects which can be improved in a calm, serene and enjoyable environment.
Acupressure is a traditional technique based on the same principles of acupuncture but doesn’t employ needles. The method is designed to improve the energy or chi flow throughout the patient’s body and may include rubbing, stretching and kneading the various pressure points on the body to increase circulation and minimise tension. The benefits are said to include better flow and an enhanced sense of well being and general health. The majority of upmarket spas can perform acupressure of some form.
Most spas in Phuket not only provide top notch massage and health treatments, but many have a complete range of beauty treatments such as hairdressing, manicures and pedicures, waxing and more.
Body Scrubs and Wraps
Body scrubs are a form of massage that with an invigorating and energetic scrub of the skin that removes dead cells, improves the circulation, eliminates blemishes, restores the “natural glow” of the skin, and tries to replenish the essential minerals required by the body, many of which are most effectively absorbed when applied directly to the skin. The procedure moisturises and exfoliates the skin as it’s normally performed quite vigorously. Body scrubs tend to use a wide range of natural ingredients such as sea salt, tamarind, turmeric, galangal and coconut oil, to which aromatic scents are added such as kaffir lime and lemongrass. There are normally a slew of different scrubs to choose from depending on your personal preferences.
A body wrap is a similar technique in which the body is cocooned tightly in bandages or wrapped in plastic, and a variety of ingredients are applied such as clay and seaweed. The technique is supposed to remove excess moisture and toxins from the body and firms up the skin. There are many ingredients to choose from such as clay, algae, seaweed, and even chocolate or wasabi. We can recommend the chocolate wrap on an empty stomach!
A facial massage is usually best experienced following a Thai massage. A selection of natural ingredients are applied to make your skin glow and radiate health. Well, that’s what the brochures tell you, but most people seem to really enjoy the experience and might truly appear slightly younger afterwards. Typical ingredients are tree bark, roots, flowers, herbs, honey and exotic fruits which are applied carefully to the face and left for up to an hour. The upmarket spas tend to create their own signature concoctions designed to make you feel rejuvenated and refreshed.
Holistic Health Treatments
Rather than rely on modern drugs to resolve medical conditions, holistic health treatments are more concerned with all aspects of the patient’s wellbeing. Customers have an extensive consultation with an experienced professional to discuss their condition, diet and lifestyle. The practitioner then recommends a treatment to ease any health issues and reduce stress through exercise, meditation, diet, and even dance and music therapy.
Hydrotherapy is any treatment that uses water such as whirlpools, baths, Jacuzzis, underwater massage with pressure jets, cold plunges, and mineral baths. Such treatments make extensive use of temperate and pressure to stimulate blood flow and to treat the symptoms of minor diseases. Hydrotherapy has become very popular and nearly every spa uses it in one way or another.
Massage is a cornerstone of spa treatment and no visit to Phuket would be complete without trying a massage of some type. Our related article on massage covers the basics, but the massages in spas are usually the best and most enjoyable, as they use highly trained practitioners and offer the largest variety of techniques and styles. Some people enjoy the strong kneading and pulling of a traditional Thai massage, while others prefer gentle aromatherapy or an oil massage. On the whole, a decent Thai massage with no additional frills is quite inexpensive in Phuket.
Reflexology is practiced on the hands and feet, based on stimulating numerous pressure points corresponding to the organs in the body. This technique enhances blood circulation and can even help with specific conditions such as backache or headaches. Nearly all the spas and massage shops practice reflexology, especially on the feet.
Saunas and Steam Baths
What better way is there to relax before a massage than indulge in a herbal sauna to open up the pores and soothe away stress? Saunas are an excellent way to remove excess toxins from the body through sweating. A short sauna is often included in a spa session before the main treatment begins.
Recommended Spa Resorts in Phuket
There are so many spas in Phuket that you won’t have any trouble finding one, either as part of a hotel or resort complex, or a separate spa in one of the more popular tourist spots. Many of them have excellent reputations and world class facilities (with exclusivity to match), but expect to pay correspondingly high prices. In most cases though a visit to a spa needn’t break the bank and is within everybody’s reach in Phuket. Below we’ve listed some of the recommended spas on the island. So go on, treat yourself to the ultimate holiday experience – you deserve it!
This upmarket and classy spa in the north west of Phuket has private rooms and excellent facilities. Several types of massage are on offer as well as their own unique signature treatments with names such as Pearl of the Andaman (which combines a foot soak with Chinese massage and a facial) and Lullaby Sleep Therapy. They also have longer treatments spread over a couple of days if you really want to be pampered.
Banyan Tree Spa Phuket
The Banyan Tree Spa is one of the best and most highly rated hotels and spas in Phuket, and has won many prestigious awards. It’s probably considered one of the top resorts in the world and comes with top-notch facilities to boot. The Banyan was the first luxury spa to open in Phuket in 1994 and paved the way for everyone else to follow. It remains one of the best around and has a range of enticing spa packages with names such as Clarity and Soothe. Prices start at around 6,500 baht so it’s not cheap, but it’s certainly worthwhile.
Address: 33 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang
Tel: +66 (0) 76 324 374
Evason Phuket and Bon Island
This award winning spa near Rawai is set on three floors in acres of lush tropical gardens with stunning Andaman Sea views, and offers a dazzling array of treatments that can be customised to your liking. Packages include head massage, herbal massage, facial therapies, hot stone massage, body scrubs, as well as purification programmes and monthly specials with reduced prices.
Katathani Phuket Beach Resort
The Katathani is located on Kata Noi Beach and provides an extensive range of spa treatments including massage (Swedish, Sport, and Thai), facials, body scrubs (salt, herbal, tamarind), and body wraps such as their signature Casuarina Leaf Enzyme Wrap, all of which can be combined into special packages. Besides these tempting experiences there are herbal steams, a Jacuzzi and beauty treatments available. A massage starts at just under 2,000 baht, facials and scrubs slightly more, and the most luxurious packages are between 3,500 baht and 10,000 baht.
Mövenpick Resort and Spa
The atmospheric Mövenpick in Karon Beach is a resort, spa and retreat combined into a stylish venue that provides unique health experiences. The spa has three rooms for couples and four single rooms, and has its own range of signature treatments. The body wraps use ingredients such as green tea, red wine and coconut butter, and the massage types include aromatic, Ayurvedic (traditional Hindu), Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian), foot massage and stone therapy.
The Royal Spa and Health Club
One of the largest day spas in Phuket, the Royal is located in Phuket Town with more branches at resorts spread throughout the island including Karon Sea Sands Resort, The Village Resort and Spa (Karon), Absolute Sea Perl Resort (Patong Beach) and a few more. Body rubs start from around 1,500 baht, facials from 1,600 baht, massages between 1,000 and 2,000 baht, and the signature treatments are available at higher cost.
Sala Spa Massage
Sala Spa is right in the heart of Patong Beach just off Bangla Road and is one of the more reasonably priced spas with a professional attitude and clean premises, and a very good local reputation. There is no “extra services” to be had here (the sign outside says “no sex” – and they mean it) and the facials, massage and reflexology start at just a few hundred baht per session. You can even buy pots of their body scrub creams to take home.
The Sense Spa
Self-described as a gentle sanctuary tucked away in Kata Beach, this is quite an accurate description of this lovely spa. Refreshing facials and deep cleansing body wraps and scrubs start from around 2,000 baht, and they have a very wide choice of massage types as well as packages that combine related and complimentary treatments.
Open: 10.00-22.00, daily
Address: 2/12 Kata Plaza, Kata Road, Karon (next to SCB Bank)
Tel: +66 (0) 76 333 014
Sweet Lemongrass Massage
A small but professional spa and massage that comes highly recommended, tucked out of the way in the back roads of Patong. Sweet Lemongrass Massage is definitely worth a visit after a long day at the beach, and offers typical massage and spa treatments at inexpensive prices. They have recently opened a larger, second shop close to the original one. For locals and residents, it’s a much more affordable option than the spa resorts.
Address: 162/5 Nanai Soi 8, Patong Beach
Tel: +66 (0) 81 537 9099
Sukko Cultural Spa and Wellness
Billed as the world’s first cultural spa, they offer a wide range of massage and spa treatments, as well as activities such as Thai cooking classes, yoga, aqua-based exercise, and even perform the sacred Sak Yant tattoos.
Address: 5/10 Moo 3 Chaofa Road, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 263 222