Thai Massage – more than just tongue twisting

20 06 2010

This post is the latest in our travel language specials for Travelfish.

No trip to Thailand would be complete without a traditional Thai massage.  The history books will tell you all about Rama III confirming Wat Po as a centre for medical education.  The learning materials are there: carved plaques on the walls, anatomical maps of mystical chi lines and pressure points in the cloisters, and quirky little statues of contorted yogis scattered around the garden.

Since its inception it has been the mothership, sending out masseuses and masseurs to populate massage shops the length and breadth of the country.

While the language demands on visiting the massage shop aren’t terribly onerous, it helps to understand some of the things that might be said to you, and to know some of the things you might want to ask.

Massage shops have of course diversified since the days of Rama III, so first here is what you’ll find on the menu:

Massages on the Menu

Massage นวด nûat

Oil massage: นวด น้ำ มัน nûat náam man

Thai massage: นวด แผน ไทย nûat păen tai

Herbal massage: นวด สมุน ไพร nûat sà-mŭn prai

Ancient massage: นวด แผน โบราณ nûat păen boh-raan

Foot massage: นวด เท้า nûat táo

What you’ll need to do

Once you’ve decided on the method by which you intend to while away a couple of blissful hours, the masseuse/masseur (หมอ นวด mŏr nûat) will probably have one or two small instructions for you:

เปลี่ยนเสื้อผ้า bplìan sêua pâa: Change (your) clothes

นอน nawn: Lie down

นอนหงาย nawn ngăai: lie on your back

นอน คว่ำ nawn kwâm: lie on your front

ลุก ขึ้น นั่ง lúk kêun nâng: sit up

ยก แขน ขึ้น yók kăen kêun: lift up (your) arm

จับ มือ jàp meu: hold hands

Under Pressure

As Thai massage is all about pressure points, it’s useful to know how to regulate that pressure.

Heavy (pressure): หนัก nàk

Light (pressure): เบา bao

ชอบนวดหนักไหม chôp nûat nàk măi: Do you like heavy massages?

Affirmative response: ชอบ chôp

Negative response: ไม่ ชอบ mâi chôp

เจ็บไหม jèp măi: Does it hurt?

Affirmative response: เจ็บ jèp (lit. hurts)

Negative response: ไม่ เจ็บ mâi jèp (lit. doesn’t hurt)

Please be gentle!: เบาๆ หน่อย ครับ/คะ bao bao nòi krap/ká

Some reading practice





Now that you have the lingo, find out more about enjoying the ancient art of Thai massage in this article at Travelfish.

Oh, and in that article they recommend you go armed with this question: เป็นหมอนวดนานเท่าไร

Anki flash cards for this lesson are available to download for free here.

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One response

21 06 2010
Catherine Wentworth

And whatever you do, don’t repeatedly say ‘OW!’ 😀

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