Back in America, a massage runs round $100/hour, here is Thailand around $7-9, so whenever one comes to Thailand make sure to get one of the best physical therapies in the world – coconut oil massages.
We see massage spas everywhere in Ao Nang of course, but there is a swath of huts along the Ao Nang beach set up to pamper and delight you, that truly gives you a full day of joy in paradise. These are the massage huts that line the ocean-front and are open to anyone who comes by.
There are various huts – differentiated by their distinct numbers, which are not necessarily consecutive. Once you align yourself with one of them, you can return and feel like you have joined a little country club at the ocean – a free country club for pampering – and anyone can join!
The huts are set up with around 20 mats, lined up along the sides, as well as some chairs out front for manicures and pedicures. We have found our home at massage hut #18 (currently #9 after the renovation – edited Aug 27th, 2015). When we arrive there, we receive a warm greeting from our friends, who quickly usher us to some shaded beach chairs with a table, a basket of freshly cut pineapple and a cup of tea or coffee. There is no charge for any of this. You relax in your chair, sip your tea, read a book, go for a swim or if you want some sun, you can lie out on their mats on the sand, always knowing that your shaded seat is saved for you. When you decide you are ready for a little more pampering, let your hostesses know that you’d like a massage, manicure, facial or whatever spa service you would like. When a spot is ready – it’s never a long wait – you walk 10 steps to your treatment space. One of the women at massage hut #18 handmakes the coconut oil used there, making it even more special (it is available for sale). There is nothing in the world like this. Lying down and being slathered with that delicious smelling (and very healthy) coconut oil, getting a full and relaxing massage, all while watching the trees blow in the wind and listening to the waves hit the shore. The people watching from this vantage point is great – I’m like a fly on the wall, observing everyone walking by, swimming, playing in the sand and enjoying the calm joy of this beautiful paradise. This is so rejuvenating, all for the price of 300 THB. I make a habit of getting at least 3 per week. The health benefits of massage are numerous (and fodder for a separate article ).
When my massage is finished I return to my chair, enjoy some rejuvenating coconut water, absorb all the endorphins generated by that massage and give thanks for this blissful experience.
This beach has become like our private club, and our extended family here in Thailand. We sometimes go down around sunset, a pizza in hand and watch the most glorious show in town from comfortable front row seats. At other times, such as New Years or a birthday celebration, our friends at beach 18 invite us to join them to celebrate. It truly is a celebration community down there.
As we watch Ao Nang grow and develop, I am so grateful that this beautiful part of the beach is here and relatively undeveloped – it is kept simple and sweet – it offers local people a business opportunity, while giving tourists a delightful and affordable day at the beach. It retains the charming paradise of Thailand’s beaches while pampering the tourists. To me, this is one of the nicest treasures in Ao Nang.
So the next time you want a full and refreshing day at the beach, take a walk down Ao Nang beach, find a spot and get a massage and spend the day – there is nothing like it!