I can confidently say I’ve never been to a tourist destination where holiday goers seem more relaxed than in Thailand. Beyond the idyllic settings and laid-back local attitude, the comparative affordability of everything seems to help people truly unwind. In Thailand, you can be completely self-indulgent with money and time – the two things we seem to stress about most – and not feel guilty about it.
So what does that mean? It’s time to treat yourself to a few decadent experiences simply because they’ll make you look and feel great. Here are my top three picks for those wanting to get the most out of their time and money in Thailand.
A few months ago, Ben ignored that little voice inside his head that said, “Don’t do it!” and attempted to open a bottle with his teeth. Needless to say, it resulted in a chipped incisor and newly acquired hobo grin (which was actually kind of cute). So, the plan was to repair the damage (a new crown was needed), fix a couple of fillings and get Ben’s teeth whitened using Zoom technology in Thailand. The entire package set us back around $1000 AUD – it would have been triple the cost back home in Australia.
It you’re thinking about jumping on the medical tourism bandwagon and getting some dental work done in Thailand, we highly recommend it. Based on the advice of friends, we chose to go under the drill at Phuket Dental Signature. This clinic is the size of a small hospital and it’s so crisp white, you almost need sunglasses inside. The staff were friendly, super-skilled and easy to communicate with. We also found great comfort in the free Wi-Fi and air-con, which are both highly sought after in tourist riddled, piping hot Patong.
You can see the results of Ben’s dental work in the photo below. He’s looking pretty darn fine if I don’t say so myself!
DETOXING THE MIND & BODY
After a weekend of debauchery at the Full Moon Party, visiting a detox resort sounded like a good idea. We hit up The Sanctuary, which was perfectly placed just around the corner from “party central” in a quiet little hideaway. After a 10-minute boat ride, we wandered up the private beach and immediately knew we were somewhere special. This was where the real hippies were hanging out and their lean yoga bodies, ornate tattoos, technicolour fashion and wild haircuts were all proudly on display. It was another world – one we couldn’t wait to sample.
With only a day to enjoy The Sanctuary, Ben and I picked three different experiences from the extensive menu on offer: yoga, spa treatments and…colonics. Yes, colonics. The yoga session was a shock to the system and we quickly felt the full force of the Full Moon Party. Having said that, it was also the best yoga class we’d ever been to – the instructor’s voice was incredibly soothing putting us in a meditative state.
Next came the spa treatments. Ben opted for a full body massage to repair his muscles after a weekend of dance raves. I chose the full body scrub to cleanse the stubborn dirt and grime of long-term travel. Both offered a complete sensory experience. The smell of the spice-infused body scrub actually made my mouth water and the effect on my skin was brilliantly intense. I remember feeling ice cold and red hot at the same time. Ben and I both felt as though we’d been given new life after our treatments.
Lastly, we tackled the self-administered colonics. We were both feeling nervous and vulnerable as we walked into the ‘demo chamber’. After a quick tutorial, Ben and I were put into separate cubicles, which happened to be situated side by side (how romantic). We’ve reached a new level of intimacy in our relationship and heard things we can’t un-hear (despite the elevator music playing in the background). While we both left the session feeling “lighter” and less bloated, we agreed it was one of grossest things we’d ever done. Each to their own. Enough said.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to sample most of The Sanctuary’s signature offerings. They are renowned for their detox programs, which sound somewhat life changing. Not only are they designed to eliminate toxins from your body and help you discover newfound energy, they can also challenge your emotional connection with food. These programs can be supported by a number of mind-body-spirit sessions from the obvious (yoga, Pilates and meditation) to the unusual (Taoist abdominal massage, Reiki, NLP and “Shake Therapy”). If we’d had more time up our sleeves, we definitely would have given them a go.
GETTING PAMPERED TO A PULP
The idea of spending a whole day in a beauty spa sounds ludicrous anywhere in the world – except Thailand. If you hit up one of the many urban sanctuaries which line the city streets, you can practically afford to walk in and do everything one the menu, including: manis/pedis, eyelash extensions, massages, hair treatments, the weird feet-nibbling fish thing, facials and beyond. A full day will set you back anywhere between $100-$300AUD in the cheaper spas depending on your choice of treatments. Don’t feel shy about haggling or asking for a discounted package cost.
There are some important things to keep in mind before you jump into the first spa you lay eyes on. Remember, you get what you pay for. Our first massage came from a bargain beauty salon on a main road in Patong. There was no music, the air-con was broken and their traditional Thai massage was more like a back tickle. But it was ok for $12 AUD.
We tried the same thing at Pier 42 and had a completely different experience. From the rustic charm of the rooms and soothing forest music, to the intriguing scents of the oils and masterful massage techniques of the staff, it was pure heaven. Again, it was well worth the price. So, decide what level of luxury you’re after, do your research online and at your hotel reception desk, and match your expectations with your budget.