All the spas in Krabi are about self-indulgence, rather than self-improvement (no fasting, colonic irrigation or exercise regimes in these cloistered retreats). Most, with the exception of two full service day spas – Boossabakorn Spa in Ao Nang and Kantawan Spa (with an excellent herbal steam room) in Krabi Town – are found within a hotel or resort, though all are open to outside guests.
Check out their online offerings or the hotel websites of Centara; Ao Nang Villa and Dusit Thani as a first step to get a sense of prices and ambience. Settings vary from cool, air conditioned indoor sanctuaries, to warm scented tropical gardens, but all provide a welcome escape from the 21st century affliction of stress and information overload.
Indeed, everything in these places is designed to be as far from the drudge of office life as possible. In Thailand, this sensory gratification has been honed to a fine art – smell, colour and texture all seeming more intense and vibrant in the warm climate.
The benefits of visiting a spa in Krabi are probably due more to immersion in this wonderful other-worldly ambience, rather than the treatments themselves. These tend to be traditional body wraps, scrubs and facials with natural ingredients, such as tamarind, coconut and various herbs, rather than hi-tech brand-name products. Your skin will certainly be shiny and soft – but don’t expect miracles! One exception to this is the traditional Thai massage, however, which when practised regularly over a couple of weeks’ holiday will really leave you feeling like a different person.
A traditional Thai massage session will last two hours, at the end of which you should feel both relaxed and energised through its unique combination of full body stretching and reflexology. Regular practice improves your whole posture and flexibility. The internal organs and blood and lymph circulation are also stimulated, which results in smoother functioning and better elimination of toxins from the body. Blocked areas of tension should open out and your body and mind should feel more balanced and refreshed.
Thai massage is of course widely available in non-spa settings as well, from air-conditioned beauty salons to bamboo huts on the beach. These type of places are much cheaper than spas (from 250 baht an hour for basic Thai massage), but do be careful as many practitioners are far from expert and can even cause strains and bruising with incorrect pressure and manipulations. As every masseuse can produce a (fairly meaningless) “Wat Pho certification”, when in doubt pick one of the older, more matronly ladies who will usually have more experience.
Beauty treatments, haircuts, manicures and waxing etc. are also all widely available in the tourist areas in standard beauty salons at much cheaper prices. If you really want your hair extended or braided with beads (why?) it is also possible to do it on the beachfront in Ao Nang.