Spirit of Thailand

Spirit of Thailand

Culture, Relationships,
Thai Massage, Traveling

Should you Study Thai Massage in Thailand?

image of Thai Massage technique

I live in the center of the universe as far as Thai Massage is concerned – Chiang Mai, Thailand. There are hundreds of Thai Massage shops and schools all over town, and tens of thousands of people come from all over the world to study here.

So the question is: Is Thailand the best place to study Thai Massage? Here are the pros and cons.

Pros of studying in Thailand

Thumbs upSome good reasons to study here is that it is cheaper than in the west. The cost of living is low, the country is beautiful and the people are friendly. If you combine a vacation with the study of Thai massage, you have a really attractive combination.

You easily meet like-minded students and there are many opportunities for networking and making friends. Another advantage is that you can choose from many schools and even study in several of them.

Cons of studying in Thailand

thumbs downHowever, there are some ‘cons’ to consider. Most of the certificates that you get after completing the course are not accepted in other countries as part of the required hours of a massage license (There are exceptions and it depends on your country of origin).

There are a few schools in Thailand that advertise that their certificates are accepted elsewhere, but if you read the fine print, it says that they are accepted for continuing education. That means that they still do not count towards your massage license.

Is traditional Thai Massage always better?

Is “traditional” always better?

How about the quality of education? The Thais advertise “traditional” Thai Massage, and this has become a worldwide slogan. The implication is that “traditional” is some kind of quality standard, a guarantee of purity. 

After living in Thailand for many years, I can say that this is not necessarily true. Let me tell you an illustrative story.

Cutting off the bacon

bacon in frying panA newlywed husband noticed that his wife always cut the ends off the bacon and asked her why she did that. She replied that she did it because her mother always did it.

So the man asked the mother why she always cut the ends of the bacon off.

Her reply was that she did it because her mother had always done it. So the man went to grandma and asked her the same question. She solved the mystery by explaining that she had always cut off the ends of the bacon because her frying pan was too small.

What is the moral of this bacon story?

Blindly following a “tradition” is not always a symbol of purity and quality, but it may be counter-productive and limiting.


Many improvements resulted from going outside of tradition

My observation is that many Thais practice Thai Massage with some elements of “cutting off the bacon”. In other words, they sometimes do things that are not necessarily useful, but since it is tradition, everyone simply copies and follows.

For example, there are those quick one-two chops that do absolutely nothing, but practically every therapist uses them. Then there is chopping on the forehead which is distinctly unpleasant but is done almost universally in the Thai Massage shops.

Next is the compulsion with following a routine sequence. In general, everyone gets the same cookie cutter massage regardless of your condition or request.

thai massage adductor stretch

Addiction to routine can limit inspiration and innovation

It is very difficult to get most Thai Massage therapist to step outside of their routine and just concentrate on one area where you feel you need the work. I have tried countless times.

If you ask for specific work on your shoulder, for example, the therapists will say yes, and then they will proceed to start at the feet, and give you their standard massage sequence with a few extra minutes of shoulder work thrown in.

The case for blending various techniques

Now don’t get me wrong here, I have received many great massages in Thailand, and there are excellent and highly skilled therapists here, but I am pointing out some of the “cut off bacon” that exists in following a tradition.

Thai therapists almost never study anything outside of Thai Massage whereas their western counterparts have a much higher degree of curiosity and less attachment to tradition (and granted, more opportunity).

They often study other compatible therapies like Shiatsu, yoga, energy work, Chigong etc. As a result, they combine traditional Thai Massage with other modalities which can be an improvement.

Successful blends

For example, Thai massage combined with yoga principles is a definite improvement, as is Thai Massage done with energy work components. My personal contribution is the development of Thai Rocking Massage which takes Thai Massage to another level.

Many practitioners have combined it with Swedish massage or with Shiatsu. I am not saying that Thai Massage should be changed, but there are definitely areas where value can be added. Thais are not as receptive to those elements as are westerners.

Two good choices – take your pick

Studying Thai massage in Thailand can be a wonderful experience with many benefits and a great cultural experience. However do not assume that the Thai Massage education is automatically superior just because the teacher is Thai.

There are also many highly qualified and talented teachers in the western world who should be given consideration, and whose skills and communication abilities can be much higher than many of the teachers in Thailand.

Studying in the west can produce excellent skills and hours towards licensing, but it will lack the cultural element of Thailand and it will cost more. Two good choices with pros and cons each.

Here is a third option which may work for you

Maybe you cannot or don’t want to go to Thailand. Or maybe the price of comprehensive Thai Massage training in the western world is not in your budget, or not available where you live.

There is a third option which has helped over a thousand students to learn Thai Massage successfully, conveniently, and in a cost-effective way. 



image of the the author, Shama KernThe author, Shama Kern, has been living in Thailand for over a decade. He is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 online Thai Massage training courses.

CLICK HERE for a free introductory Thai Massage video course

Related articles:
Learning Thai Massage in Thailand
How to Choose an Online Massage School
How to Learn Thai Massage


79 thoughts on “Should you Study Thai Massage in Thailand?”

  1. Myself together with my spouse really loves getting a massage, we constantly check out spa’s everywhere we go to and learn what is considered latest and what’s hot in the field involving massages. Now that we learned just how make use of the internet it aided us to find out more on spas and massages much more. People today articulate that one has to love what you do to achieve success and it is entirely true and it’s been all of our inspiration going forward with all of our businesses. 🙂

    • Ben, there are a few schools whose certificates are recognized in some western countries, like ITM, TMC and Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai, or Wat Pho in Bangkok. In the US, in most cases you can apply the certificates only for CEUs (continuing education credits). But it varies from country to country which certificates they accept and for what. So this is not a question that can be answered in a definitive way. It requires some research. If you google the above named institutions you can find out more details.

      • Hi Shama,

        I’m thinking of going to Thailand for vacation as well as getting Thai Massage Certificate from ITM. Here is my question: What is the different between getting a Thai Massage Certificate from ITM verse getting a Massage Therapy License? Can I practice here in the US with my Thai Massage Certificate? What does it means when you stating that in the US, in most cases you can apply the certificates only for CEUs (continuing education credits)?

        • Lai, there are different kinds of certificates. One type is called a continuing education certificate. Massage therapists in the US have to get CEUs (continuing education hours) in order to keep their licence legal. In order to issue such a certificate, a school has to be approved by an organization like the National Certification Board (NCBTMB).

          Another kind of certificate is one that says that you can legally practice massage. This is normally called a massage licence.

          Here in Thailand many schools offer certificates. Some of them are not useful for anything, very few of them give you CEUs, and none of them make you a licenced massage therapist in the US. That can only be done in the US. You have to take a certain number of training hours and you have to pass an exam in your state.

          Some certificates from Thailand might be accepted as part of the required training hours in the US, but this is something you have to investigate.

          This is a somewhat complicated subject. I have a page on my main website which talks about certification. You might want to read that in order to get a better understanding. You can find it here:

        • Sophia, I don’t understand what you mean with “A Thai Massage certificate from Nigeria”. Could you please clarify.

    • This question is a bit too simplistic. If I were to give a meaningful recommendation on Thai Massage studies, I would need to know more about you. Like what do you want to do with it, do you have massage experience already, how much time and money are you willing to invest in Thai Massage education, etc. I have a website that deals exclusively with Thai Massage topics, https://thaihealingmassage.com. I recommend that you browse this site for more information. You can also watch a free introductory Thai Massage video series here: https://thaihealingmassage.com/free

  2. What you write is so true!
    Thai’s stick to the routine and many of them are not present when massaging, they just let a “tape’ play…
    But there are sooooo many people working in that field just to make some money and feed there family. Also Thai’s are really trained from childhood on to follow and be the same and not express themselves different from the others…
    For some westerners massage is what they want to do with there heart and soul, obviously that is a very different thing.
    Just my view on it here.

    • Yes, Sid, the reasons for doing massage work are often very different between Thailand and western countries. It is always interesting for me to see Westerners come to Thailand and assume that Thai Massage and Thai Massage training must be the best here, although this is not necessarily true at all.

      However, if you do find a good teacher or a good therapist in Thailand, you can get amazing value for your money. I regularly go to one therapist who is very good and only charges 100 baht (about US $3.30) per hour. You have to pick out the pearls here.

      • Yes I completly agree in what you say
        If I would work 10 hours a day just to make a living, my enthousiasm about massage would also significantly drop.

        • Sure, it becomes a chore, a workload, if you do so many sessions every day. Hard to keep up any kind of spirit that way.

  3. Hello Shama!!

    I’m going to thailand in October, to study (thai massage) for a month and then travel around!
    I’m a massage and reflexology therapist, and i would like to keep studing healing therapist.
    I have been looking for a school and i found lots! now, even reading forums and feedbacks i can not decide… i don’t want to do a “western course” (i can do this in here) i want a proper thai training.
    As i see, you know a lot about that, would you please, help me!?!?
    I’m between Wat Po, Old Medicine Hospital, Loi Kroh and the art of thai massage (or the fine art of thai massage, i don’t know if it the same school).
    Thanks you very much in advance, i really apreciate your help!

    • Hi Ana,

      I think your first consideration should be if you want to be in Bangkok or in Chiang Mai. You can get a good exposure to Thai Massage in all the places that you mentioned. However I am biased towards Chiang Mai since it is a much nicer place to be than Bangkok which is a huge, busy and polluted city.

      Chiang Mai is, at least in my opinion, a much more enjoyable place to spend some time. So that would eliminate Wat Po. Old Medicine Hospital is a good choice. Their classes are large and they have a solid program.

      Loi Kroh has smaller classes and caters to Japanese students primarily. You can also get one on one training there. Both are good choices. Since both are running classes very frequently, you can just come here and check the places out before you make a commitment.

      • Thanks very much!! and thanks for the quick reply!

        I have some more questions…=) I was thinking in Wat Po because i read that they teach “souther style” and in chaing mai it’s “northen style”, then i read that this is a wester difference, that thai people does not recognize two different styles… what would you say??? =)

        And, between Old Medicine Hospital and Sunshine massage school??

        Last thing (sorry for being annoying) have you ever hear about a Temple (in the hill of a montain) where you stay for 3weeks (at least) to lern thai massage with monks… you live there… someone told me and i’ve been looking for it (because i would love i!!) but nothing came up… do you know??

        thanks very very much!! Have a nice day! =)

        • The northern and southern style are not that different, and nowadays they are quite mixed. For example one of the biggest schools in Chiang Mai, TMC, teaches ‘southern style’. But they really have invented their own style. I would not worry about this distinction. Some therapists have studied both in Bangkok and in Chiang Mai. Not so important.

          Old Medicine Hospital is using a very traditional approach with only Thai teachers, whereas Sunshine school has a mixture of styles and teachers, both Thai and western.

          I have not heard about the temple school. That does not mean it does not exist, however. It also does not mean that their training would be better than in any other school.

          Feel free to write any time:)

        • Thanks for everything!! you are so helpful!!
          I’m going to start with your video courses!
          =) have a great summer!!!

        • Dear Shama,
          It´s so inspiring to read your stories and your replies to all our questions – Thank You very, very much (and I wish You and Your wife a bright future) !
          (I´m still confused if “my becoming school” is a good one, TCC Spa School in Chiang Mai, but their homepage gives a very professional impression)

          * I would like to reply to Ana´s question, regarding her question about the school where you learn Thai massage by Monks. I found it on Youtube by random, while looking for reviews from “my becoming school” TCC…
          So just paste the words below, into the search field on Youtube:

          “THE THAI MASSAGE SCHOOL Chiang Mai (Chiang Rai Area), Thailand – Intro”

          May You all find peace and happinness
          (we all got it within us 😉
          Kind Regards,
          /Dorothy, December 2018

    • Hi there,
      Hope you don’t mind me jumping in on this feed. But I had a few questions of my own that were very similar to Ana’s.
      I am interested in Thai classes. I am coming in November. I would be very interested in a program near Bangkok that resembles the program at the old medicine hospital in Chiang Mai. I am currently a licensed massage therapist and I have been at a spa for several years now. We offer Thai massage on the menu. I have taken courses here in the western parts of the United States. However I want to immerse myself deeper into the modality. I do need this school to be nationally accredited so it would apply for my CEUs. Any input that you have would be great.

      • Hi Dusti, I live in Chiang Mai, and practically never go to Bangkok. The fact is that I don’t know anything about Thai Massage schools in the Bangkok area except for the most famous one, Wat Pho. I am not sure if they are CE providers.

        If your main goal is to immerse yourself deeper into Thai Massage and get CEUs, check out this online option:

  4. Shama,
    I have been a ‘Shade Tree” massage therapist all my life. Starting at a very early age, I massaged my dad and uncles who were emgaged in heavy physical work daily.
    I was always told I had magic hands after each session, even to this day.
    Having been a ‘lifer’ in the Commercial Construction Industry,I believe I am ready for a career change.
    I am considering studying Massage abroad and receiving a massage license to practice in the US.
    My wife, Janine, who is a Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher and Zumba Instructor has been encouraging me to get an LMT certification.
    I am becoming more serious about this idea as our future plans to open a Studio and Spa together are certainly shaping up as a positive and harmonious venture.
    So, where is the best place you can suggest that I start; knowing my preference is to study abroad and return with a Certification?

    • Now that is a big question. In order to give you a useful answer I had to know a bit more about your circumstances, preferences, etc. This is a conversation which is too extensive for this blog. I suggest we talk on skype (shama108) or via email at shama@shamakern.com and I will be happy to help you find a good solution.

  5. Hi shama,
    I loved reading your article and glad I did because I was thinking of going to ITM because I saw you could get a teaching certificate as well. I’m an esthetician whose wanting to open up an asian fusion spa sort a speak in the future and I would love to have thai services on the menu. I am not a certified massage therapist though and I’ve only learned Swedish and bit of lomi

    • I am glad my article proved useful to you. Are you still planning to come to Chiang Mai to learn Thai Massage? I imagine you want to know more about it so that you can incorporate it into your spa. Thai Massage is very popular all over the world these days and is a good addition to any spa menu.
      Just in case you did not know, I have an entire site just about Thai Massage where you can get lots of information about it:

  6. Hi shama Lol I thought my previous post didnt go through cause for some reason it said modified post and now only shows half my message but I did email you with my questions. Hope you get a chance to read and comment 🙂 thanks !!

    • While this is a well written and useful article, I just want to clarify that these are not ALL the schools, but just some of the major and well known ones. There are plenty more places to choose from. There are even Thai Massage schools which specialize in Japanese students, or Spanish students, and then there are very interesting events like the yearly Thai Massage Circus near Luang Prabang, Laos, which can be great choices as well. There is even a well known blind teacher, Sinchai, who became quite popular.

  7. Hi Shama,
    I am looking to attend the Thai Massage Course, usually 1 or 1,5 month long. Apart from Bangkok and Chiang Mai well known schools, is there a school located on an island, that you could recommend? Since I would be spending that time in Thailand, I would rather spend it somewhere close to the sea, as long as a credible school is found.
    Thank you so much in advance.

    • I live in Chiang Mai, so I am not very familiar with schools on the islands. However I have been in Ko Phangan several times, and there are definitely Thai Massage schools there although I could not say how good they are. Sorry I cannot be of more help.

  8. I need advice. I reserved at ITM school but have since found many many bad reviews of it in a few different websites. I now am thinking of going to The Fine Art of Thai Massage school or possibly TMC.

    I am an experienced LMT in NYC.

    I have already bought my plane ticket and am in a bit of a pickle. Do you have any advice? I am almost positive I need to switch to a different school but now am unsure which. help!

    • TMC also has its share of critics. Most of the big schools here are fairly institutionalized and won’t suit everyone. I have never been to The Fine Art of Thai Massage school, so I cannot comment on it. The best known schools are ITM, Old Medicine Hospital, TMC, and Sunshine network. There might be newer ones which I am not familiar with.

      Studying Thai Massage in Thailand is always a bit of a gamble. In most cases you won’t know who exactly will be teaching you and how you will resonate with the teacher’s style. My best answer to your question is that it would be ideal to take two or three courses in different schools. That’s what I did when I started out with Thai Massage 14 years ago. Taking one course is generally not enough. To really learn Thai Massage you have to invest at least a couple of months.

      There is no ONE best school. You could take a group course and then fine tune your skills with some one-on-one training. Or you could take the basic training and then fine tune it with one of my home study video training courses which you can find on https://thaihealingmassage.com.

  9. Hi,
    I am not a massage therapist,but have always been interested in this field and have recently decided to try and gain professional knowledge. I will start a university course in therapeutic massage next year, but I want to start learning and hopefully practising as soon as possible, therefore, I assume that asia could be the place to start from. I am willing to spend 1-2 months in Thailand to learn as much as possible about thai massage and I was hoping you could give me some advice on which school to choose, although I realised by reading the existing posts that it is not possible to give a definite answer. Any info is much appreciated! thank you 🙂

    • Thailand is definitely a good place to spend a couple of months and study Thai Massage. The best place would probably be Chiang Mai which has the most options. There are many different schools here and you might want to study at more than one to get a wider exposure.
      I would start with googling it and reading through some school websites to see if there is something that attracts you.
      You might also look at my other site at https://thaihealingmassage.com which has lots of useful information in the blog section.

      • Hello again, and thank you for your reply.
        The thing is that I ve been googling for the past 3 weeks, and all I can say is that the more I search the more confused I get! I was considering ITM ot TMC, but then I realised that due to their popularity they might be a bit too commercialised (as reviews suggest). Do you have a school or an instructor in mind with which I could start with? Just to have something in mind for the beginning? Again, thank you very much for your help

        • You are correct. The big schools get their share of complaints about being too commercialized. You might consider a smaller school like Sunshine House or Loi Kroh Massage Salon. The latter has very small classes and in many cases a one-on-one situation where you work directly with an instructor.

          Honestly it has been a long time that I studied in any school here in Chiang Mai, so I don’t know much about instructors. I do know one, though, who is an excellent therapist and a good instructor. Her name is Jang and she works at Loi Kroh Massage School.

          I can vouch for her work since I know her very well. She happens to be my wife. I don’t recommend her because she needs work. Actually she is mostly quite booked. But she is very good, speaks good English, and I know the quality of her work.

  10. Dear

    I want to congratulation for your web,

    I am writing you because I want to take a course in Bangkok in 3 weeks and I am not sure which one i should I take, I want take a course which I can get a certified to work in Europe, us or other country in Asia.

    Please can you inform which massage course should I take and after I can look to employment with the certified?

    Thank you very much in advance
    Best regards

    • Sasha, you might want to read this article which talks about several schools: https://www.shamakern.com/learning-thai-massage-in-thailand/

      In Bangkok I am only familiar with the Wat Pho Thai Massage school which is the first, oldest and most well known school there. I am sure there are others, but I don’t know anything about them.

      I can tell you one thing: The certificates of any of those schools will not be enough to make you a qualified, licensed therapist who can work in any country in the world. Especially in the US you have to be licensed in one particular state. You have to go to a local massage school, study several hundred hours and pass a test there. Your certificate from Thailand will not allow you to work in the US.

      The certificate will also not allow you to legally work anywhere in Asia since you need a work permit for that. I am not sure which European country you are referring to, but each country has its own rules. The Thai certificate does not give you any legal rights to work in any country, and that includes Thailand.

  11. Hi Shama!
    I am flying to Thailand at the end of the month and I am gonna take a massage course, but I still didn´t decided in which school…
    I like The Old Medicine Hospital, but I heard that the classes are a bit crowded, so I thought that The Fine Art of Thai Massage could be a good option.
    What I don´t have clear is in this one I can get the same Certificate as in the other one
    As it is written in the webpage
    “At the end of the course upon knowledge of massage techniques, the student will receive the International Diploma, from The Union of Thai Traditional Medicine Society, accredited by the Thai Government”

    And in The Old Medicine Hospital:
    “Students will receive the certificate of The Thai
    Therapy Massage level 1 and 2 at least 60 hours,
    guarantee by Thai Ministy of Education and Thai Ministry
    of Public Health”
    Thank you for your advise !!

  12. Hi Shama!
    I wrote a previous post few hours ago, but I can´t see it on the wall now…that´s why I write this new one

    At the end of November I am traveling to Thailand, and I want to take a massage course. I haven´t decided which school yet, but I thought that maybe between this two:
    -The Old Medicine Hospital (OMH)
    -The Fine Art of Thai Massage(FATM)
    The point is that I have doubts about the kind of Certificate I can get from the last one. As it is said on the webpages:

    -FATM: “Special International Diploma Course – 3 Weeks course
    This Professional Therapist course includes Level 1 & 2 completed by a week of massage practice.
    At the end of the course upon knowledge of massage techniques, the student will receive the International Diploma, from The Union of Thai Traditional Medicine Society, accredited by the Thai Government”

    -OMH: “Students will receive the certificate of Thai
    Massage level 1 and 2 at least 60 hours, guarantee
    by Thai Ministy of Education and Thai Ministry of
    Public Health”

    Could you help me please? Because, I would like to be in a small class so the FATM is a good option but at the same time to get the Certificate will be good for me because I am a chiropractor
    Thank you for your advise 🙂

    • Hi Elena,
      The post will not show up until I approve it. For every legitimate post I get dozens of spam posts, and that’s why posts need to be approved first.
      Regarding the certificates – this all depends what you want to use them for and which country you are from. If you just want a nice looking certificate to hang on your wall, then it doesn’t matter so much who issued it. If you want something more accredited that people can check up on, then a government backed certificate will be better.

      The question is, do you need the certificate to do something, like count for continuing education hours? For example massage therapists in the US need CE hours, and even a certificate which is accredited by the Thai government won’t help with that.

      However there are some massage schools in Thailand who offer NCBTMB (National Certification Board For Therapeutic Massage And Bodywork in the US) approved certificates. They have a legal status in the US, but not in other countries. One of those few is my own school, Thai Healing Massage Academy (https://thaihealingmassage.com)

      So it is hard for me to give you a useful answer without knowing the specifics of your situation.

      • Hello Shama!
        Thank you for your reply!
        The point is that I don’t need the Certificate for something specific now. Anyway, I was recommended by a friend to take a three level course to get some International paper, and then continue with other option if I would love it
        At the moment I have no idea of Thai Massage so I will take these 1-2-3 level courses and after that I will see. Maybe in a future I can come back to Thailand and study those other options
        After visiting many webpages I choose those two, because of the price and the recommendations, but I had the doubt about the certificate…just to know if it is the same thing or not
        Many thanks Shama!! 🙂

  13. Hello! Great article – I’ve been living between Chiang Mai and Lampang for the last three years working with elephants. I’m also a licensed yoga teacher and as my time in Thailand is drawing to a close, I’d really like to take a Thai massage course that incorporates yoga practices. I wanted to ask if you had any specific recommendations for schools. I know that it’s high season, but I’m looking hopefully for some good quality and small classes/one-on-one. I don’t need any particular certification, just interested in adding this to my yoga practices. I’d preferably like to head down south for the class, to a smaller, less-crowded beach if possible, but am open to the idea of staying in Chiang Mai if the quality of the course is much better. That’s a little background on me, if you had any recommendations, I’d be so appreciative.

    Thanks again for a great resource!


    • Hi Gaia, did you see that my latest post is a video about my visit to Elephant Nature Park? You can find it here:
      Actually I would love to hear about your experience working with elephants.

      The big schools here in Chiang Mai don’t incorporate yoga into their training, aside from ITM where they practice some yoga every morning before class. I have heard about a small school with a western teacher where they blend yoga and Thai Massage. I have not seen it and I am not sure where it is exactly. I was told it is in the old city somewhere around soi 7 moonmuang. That’s within walking distance from Tha Pae Gate. You could probably find it by walking around there or asking some people, or find it via google. I think it is run by a couple who are yoga teachers and Thai Massage practitioners. Sorry I don’t have any more details. For one on one classes you could check out Loi Kroh massage school. They also teach the Thai version of yoga.

      I know nothing about Thai Massage schools down south since I hardly ever spend time there except for a little vacation.

  14. Hi Shama, i was trying to find some information in internet but probably there is no in english.
    So i hope you can answer my question. I was thinking is there any government authority where a person can refer to if he was injured during massage treatment or the quality of massage treatment was very poor? im not going to sue anyone or any school but this happened to me once and to another person at the same place and from the same massage therapist in chiang mai. I hope you understood my question.
    Thank you very much for your time,

    • I don’t think that there is any government institution where they would listen to you, but you could try the tourist police. Massage therapists are supposed to be licensed, and massage shops need to be legal as well. If they totally violate those rules, the tourist police might take a look at their operation, or get someone to do it.

  15. Hello dear Sharma, thanks for your wonderful page. I have a question, I heard a massuse receives negative energy from a client that has sickness or negative thoughts, is that true? If so how do you block their bad energy from making you ill?

    • Sheri, this is not true. It is not a fact that every time a client has a disease or a negative thought, this will get transferred to the therapist. If that were true, there would be tens of thousands of sick therapists all over the world.

      If a client is sick, this does not impact the therapist. Therapists help sick clients all the time – this is what they do, and there is no problem coming from that.

      Negative thoughts impact therapists just as much as they do anyone else. However some negative thoughts do not make a therapist sick. Now, if a client would have really bad energy, yes, the therapist might feel that and might choose not to work with such a client. But it does not mean that the therapist will automatically get sick. Sickness and negative thoughts are not some kind of black magic.

      And there are ways how therapists can protect themselves from negative influences. The first way would be to choose whom they work on, if possible. Then there are many ways to strengthen your energy. This might be spending time in nature, having enough down time, doing things you love, doing yoga, Chigong or meditation, eating healthy food, visualization exercises, breathing exercises, and many more ways.

      Sure, therapists can get affected by someone’s bad energy, just like anybody else who works with such a person. However in my experience most massage clients enjoy their sessions and are appreciative of it.

  16. Dear Shama,

    I’m a massage therapist and currently studying a bachelor in physiotherapy. I am required to complete a Minor (30 ECTS or 840 hours of study) in a related field, e.g. health science, acupuncture, massage etc…
    I was wondering if you could point out universities in Thailand that offer studies like this in English. I am very interested in Thai massage and any other traditional type of treatment.
    I would be very grateful for any information you may be able to provide!

    • Hi Gwen, does it have to be a university or would a government accredited Thai Massage school be okay? There are several of the latter in Bangkok as well as in Chiang Mai.

  17. hi,have a nice day, can i ask how much your tuition if i get thai certificate, i am licensed massage therapist here our country i would like to go back in Thailand to go school. Pls.tell me and thank you.

  18. Hello Shama,
    I am a Italian massage therapist.
    I would like to have an your opinion.
    I attended at Wat Po two times the General Course and one time the Medical Course. Then I followed the Dynamic Thai at the Sunshine.
    Now it’s time to go to Chiang Mai. What do you suggest? Old Medicine or Sunshine?
    Thanks and regards.

    • Hi Luca, I really cannot help with this since I am not familiar with how the various massage schools work here in Chiang Mai. You better look at student reviews. Since I am not a student in any school here, I never go there, so my information would be just from what people are saying, but not from direct experience.

  19. Hello Shama.
    I’m a licensed massage therapist in Michigan, and I’m planning on taking a gap year in Thailand to learn Thai Massage, herbology, and permaculture. Chiang Mai seems like the best place to do it, and I could use the training I receive as CEUs when I come back.
    So I’m wondering if working as a Massage therapist while in Thailand is a feasible option for a young white male.
    I have to imagine that there are enough people seeking therapeutic massage to provide steady clientele.

    My concern is with the ethical side of things, as I wish to practice therapeutic, and thai massage, and not any form of sex work.

    I also would like to share that I very much appreciate your philosophy on blending and adapting other modalities with traditional Thai massage. My school did a very good job of showing how diverse massage can be, so we studied Swedish/Shiatsu, Acupressure, Adaptive (hospital, sports, pediatric, geriatric), Myofascial Release, and Cranio-sacral, in that order. And I find that my best work is done when I improvise and blend modalities within a session, and the result is a unique and personalized session. So of course I would take this mentality into my thai practice.

    • Hi Justin,
      The ethical side is not the issue here. A foreign male therapist would never be associated with sex work. The main issue is the legality of this. You cannot legally work in Thailand – at least not as a Thai Massage therapist. You can do Thai Massage work for free, but as soon as you take money for it, you are in conflict with the law and you could be deported from the country or even spend time in jail and/or get hit with money fines. So I advise against planning to work as a therapist in Thailand.

  20. Goodmornig Shama,
    Iam from Greece and i had here a few lessons of Thai massage in my town from a girl who had learn about in Sunshine thai massage school.
    Also the th type of massage i have learnt is Thai yoga massage.
    Is much different from tradional Thai massage?
    Just in Sunshine school they teach these type? Thai goga is more close to west type?
    I love to give and take Thai massage, so iam thinking to come in Chiang Mai for more lessons from teachers with more experience and knowledge.
    Also i would like to get a certificate government accredited Thai Massage school and paraller good knowledge, in three weeks.
    I read a lot about OMH,ITM, Sunshine and FATM and finaly i confused!
    Which school you believe is suitable for me?

    Finaly i would like to know if it will be dangerous for me to travel alone there (iam 33 years old but i seem like 25)

    Thanks a lot, i look forrward your reply!

  21. reading through your response have answered most of my questions as to which place place offers the best training however your input is still welcome

    I am currently at a cross road of changing careers. I am from Namibia- Africa.
    tired of teaching no passion.

    i want to open up a massage spa. Be a masseuse/massage therapist. i have no experience apart from practicing on my friends and family always.

    what type of advice would you give to someone as me?

    my wish is be get skills and training and accredited certificate to help me get a licence..
    e.g Thai,swedish,aroma,hot stone,baby massage,foot massage,facial massage and facial scrubs,waxing etc ?

    time frame is not a concern. getting the best is what i need..

    • Now that’s a very general question. I am an expert in Thai Massage, and I run an online Thai Massage training academy. So I can definitely answer questions about Thai Massage.
      However I cannot claim to know much about all those other massage styles which you mentioned.

      You could enroll in our online school, and you would be trained in Thai Massage, and other related modalities like foot massage, head massage and face massage. You can also get a certificate from our school.

      However I don’t know if there are specific legal requirements in your country for practicing massage, or if all you need is a certificate. In many countries there is a difference between certification and licensing. Certification means that you have acquired the necessary skills to practice massage, and licensing means that you have the legal right to practice massage. Not all countries require licensing for massage therapy.

      You mentioned ‘accreditation’. Here the question is: accredited by whom? That’s again a rather broad question. For example, my company, Thai Healing Massage Academy, would not be accredited by an institution in Namibia. However I am an accredited provider of continuing education training via the National Certification Board of the US. So you would need to know a more specific context for this question.

      You can check out what we have to offer. In terms of Thai Massage and Foot massage, and face massage you would be getting first class training:

  22. Thank you so much for your information. I am making up my mind about going to Thailand and learn thai massage there and was planning to do it june-july but you said it is rainy season. Now I dnt know what to do.

    • Actually I like the rainy season. It generally doesn’t rain so much in Chiang Mai, and it means that the clouds keep the heat down and the rain cleans the air. So I don’t think there is a problem with coming to Chiang Mai in the rainy season.

  23. Hello!

    I’m as many others are going to Chiang Mai in August with a friend of mine, and we’re both going to learn thai massage.

    The way i see it now is that either its good to pay a little extra and get a more personal and a better hand on experience and maybe consider Loi Kroh which have a course in traditional massage 100 hours 29 000 BATH.

    I was thinking to get an 150 hour course as I’ve understand this is the “minimum” to be seen as a thai massage therapist, atleast here in norway it looks like the norm, would that mean that i should also do another course if I choose Loi Kroh and do 50 hours more, or should i look towards the other school with 150/180 hour courses? Maybe it better to do one course and get a proper certificate? or does this matter?

    My other options would be:
    TCM – (more teachers and bigger, but seem solid with an 150 hour training 38 000 BATH

    TTC Spa School – 180 hour traning for only 22 000 BATH, havent stumbled on any bad reviews, but not many reviews in totalt anyway. This is probably my first choice as long as the classes are not over 8/1 teacher student ratio.

    And then I have Sunshine massage center 156 hour training for 29 000 BATH which have some old bad reviews but still look solid….

    I would love your input on what you would do in my situation, I dont care to much about using more money as long as I know i would benefit from it, will probably check the places when arriving. Please share your thougths on getting one course with atleast 150 training or take smaller ones? In yoga I know the “standard” is 150 hours minimum, and that what you are required to have to teach, but in massage is it different since there is courses that aid to learn you the basics for only 100 hours?

  24. hi,I want to participate in thai massage course in TTC SPA SCHOOL in chiang mai,what is your idea about that school,is it good in teacher and courses?thanks

  25. hello Shama very informative information you ve provided me with thank you so kindly, i am a certified massage therapist from the caribbean planing to come to thialand this year to dovery intensive training in levels 1 to 5 in thai massage,i have been looking at TMC they seem pretty organized, but i am not to certain cause i would like a small group setting so i can really benefit from one on one guidance which school would you suggest? i also plan on doing energy work while i am in thailand reiki healing do you have any recommendations .

    thanks so kindy

    • Hi Charmen, check out Loi Kroh Massage school in Chiang Mai. They do a lot of one-on-one training. You can easily find this school by googling it.
      You might also find useful information in this article:
      Studying Thai Massage in Thailand

      Reiki is generally not practiced by Thai people and therefore not taught by them. However there are generally some foreigners around who practice and teach Reiki and other types of energy work in Chiang Mai.

  26. In On Nut area (Bangkok) there is a small salon which offers massages courses.
    It s called D&A massage.
    Prices start from 4000 baths for 10 hours of courses (3days) :
    for reflexlogy, thai, or oil massages.
    The teacher has the certificate of the union of Thai Traditionnal medicine of Thailand.

    Possibly to rent rooms in a nice condominium (with access to the swimming pool, fitness room, studio of 35sqm or appartment of 80sqm with aircon and wifi. For 2 or 4 people)

    Let contact us : on.nut.massage@gmail.com

  27. Hello Shama,
    I’d like to thank you for making this site. It’s very helpful. I’m interested in coming to Thailand to take a Thai Massgae course.
    I have knowledge of the basics but I am more interested in the energy of it all. I am a Reiki Master for 5 years now and I am drawn more to working in the subtle body. Do you have any suggestions as to which school would best suit my needs in the Northern Style?
    Thank you,

  28. Peace Shama; right on about the chop, chop; they do nothing for me; I’m an Ashtanga yoga teacher of 20 years from the USA, currently living and teaching yoga in Vietnam for 10years with my wife and son. After getting our 1st Thai massage in Bangkok, we called it a lazy person’s yoga; we had several Thai massages in Bangkok and the US; and we started giving them to students while they’re in savasana; I want to learn Thai massage. I was indecisive about taking your online course until I read your post. Thanks for providing it; I hope to meet you in your online forum. jabari


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