Just completed my first day at the Wat Pho Massage School. I’m hooked. Not only am I very excited to add Thai massage to my repertoire of skills for helping others, the massage I received afterwards was literally Skye-shattering!
Wat Pho is one of Thailand’s oldest temples and regarded as the best of the royal-grade temples in Bangkok. There you will find a 46-foot reclining Buddha, the largest collecting of Buddha images in the world and the site of the oldest public learning center in Thailand. Also on the ground is the The Wat Pho Massage School which opened in 1955. Since then it has been regarded as the original Thai massage training school, delivering the highest quality training available in the field. While there are thousands of variations of Thai massage being taught around the world, Wat Pho could be regarded as the most authentic and respected.
I was invited to take a private class for a day with two other bloggers. We met our teacher, Mr. RaWee RakKaew, at the Chetawan branch of the Wat Pho Massage School and were given a full morning of instruction. Just enough to make me absolutely crave the official massage class. The basics of Thai massage are to follow key lines in the body. The technology also includes the use of oils and other natural elements, branches for sports injuries, pregnancies and children, and being able to diagnose what type of massage a person needs. There is definitely a lot to learn and many hours of practice to master everything.
After the class we were treated to lunch at the Massage School’s restaurant, which is part of the hostel they have for their students. Then we went to the Wat Pho temple itself where we engaged in an exercise session with a school instructor. This occurred directly on the temple grounds with tourists walking around us and taking photos. But not only tourists. A photography team from Modern9 TV (a Thai TV network) was on hand to take shots of us as well. The class wasn’t just for show; we had a really good stretch workout. Only problem was the 35° heat.
Finally, we were treated to a full two-hour massage at the school. This one isn’t on the website, nor is it the half-hour or one-hour massage delivered by school students on the temple grounds. No, this one was delivered by professionals of the school. In the past month, I’ve had nearly a dozen massages in Bangkok. None of them came anywhere close to this massage. Every single muscle of my body was pummeled and remolded. My feet have never felt so alive, every knot in my back is eradicated and my neck has more flexibility than it has had in months. I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy another massage in Thailand with this one to compare it to.
There are several campuses for the Wat Pho Massage School, both in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. There are also several classes to choose from, but they are tiered with some as prerequisites to others. Next week I plan to take the General Thai Massage Class, which is a 5-day course costing 9500 bhat (about €240). After that there is the 10-day Advanced Medical Thai Massage Class, costing 14,000 bhat. The next level is the Professional Thai Massage for Health Course. This course is 165 hours, lasting about 26 days. The cost is 45,000 bhat, which includes your books, room and board. Finally there is the Professional Thai Massage Therapy Course. This one is 200 hours and costs 54,000 bhat. Each of these has the previous one as a prerequisite. There are also several side courses, such as Foot, Facial, Women, and Infant and Child. See the full list at the Wat Pho Massage School webpage.
Payment can be made by cash, credit card or money transfer. For the longer courses, the cost of the course includes your syllabus, lodging and meals. Make sure you also bring your passport and an additional three passport photos with you. Other massage schools in Thailand cost about the same, but this is the premier Thai massage school. What better place to train?