This is my e-mail to my brother, virtually verbatim, when the subject of massages came up. He had shared that he gets a regular Swedish massage from a masseuse.
In Thailand I could get weekly (sometimes twice a week) massages: Thai or oil. A traditional Thai massage, when the dollar was strong in 2000-2003, was 2 hours for $8. Nowadays they are $12. An hour-long oil massage today is $15. Pretty inexpensive. And you can grab fresh cut papaya, mangoes, pineapples right out on the street for 30 cents for fruit. The fresh fruits, the humid climate and the amount of walking I did every day made it easy to stay in shape. I would also drink coconuts. The sweetest ones were the young coconuts. Oh, and after a massage, when you're getting ready to put back on your shoes, you get hot tea. Even if you are simply getting a foot and calf massage (an hour), while you're sitting there and the massage is taking place, you can sip hot tea. Heavenly.
Swedish massage is good. My first massage ever was in Canada that summer I was in Alberta. It was at a fitness club, and desired a masseuse, but didn't ask for it. Turns out the only massage therapist was a big, hulking man. I was uncomfortable, but the massage was good. In Dothan (AL), a German lady (as big as the man in Canada) was my masseuse. She was very good. There was also a New Age lady from Eufaula (Alabama) who gave me massages and placed crystals on me from time-to-time. In Asia, the techniques vary (from the professional to the seedy) from country to country. Thai massage is more of a physical massage where you wear silk bottoms and a light cotton shirt. Even those massages are sensual and can make folks uncomfy, especially if they are from a small town in Alabama. Every massage except one I had in Thailand has been with a masseuse, although one time I was surprised because the "masseuse" was a ladyboy. Ladyboys (Katoeys) are transgender or transsexual (boys to girls) folks, and they are quite commonplace in Thailand. Some of them look more beautiful than the women! Seriously. Oh, in Indonesia, the traditional Balinese massage (professional) is done by the same sex gender. I didn't know this at first....AND...there's no draping nor covering of any type. Basically, you're naked on a table with a man massaging you! In Thailand (Japan, China et al), you can get that same massage (non-draping) but it's almost always a Thai lady massaging a nude man. That's what commonplace there! Finally, in Uzbekistan, my friend Ulugbek set me up with a Russian-style massage in Tashkent: two ladies and one me! I was covered (well, no blanket, only in undies!) and it was professional. The four-handed approach was okay, but it was not the best massage experience - in large part, because it was too cold.
Pretty typical massage business in Thailand. Read more here.
To learn more about traditional Thai massage, click here.