Turkish Bath House - Thai-style - and the soapy massage they
provide is the classic Bangkok R&R destination. No man’s education should be regarded as complete without sampling the delights of soapy massage in all it's formats. Some places offer a
soapy massage on an air-mattress - also known as the Bangkok slide, full body massage, B-Course
massage, Tora Tora Massage etc, involving lots of suds, full body contact, and heart-pounding action. This is not offered in all Turkish Bath Houses, but is still available at places such as Nataree, CP2 etc. This style is definitely an experience that should not be missed in your life, as per this soapy massage video example!
|The Turkish Bath House is an institution with a great deal to commend it. The ladies should, in general, be considered as courtesans as the services provided are generally far more sophisticated than westerners are accustomed to. Indeed, the ladies are generally regarded with a degree of respect here that is not accorded to their western sisters.
One description that is often used is that of “girl-friends for rent.” This is a much more accurate analogy of the relationship that is provided. In (almost) all cases, the ladies are very concerned to ensure you feel totally pampered, are completely relaxed, and leave the premises with a genuine smile, eager to return!
This “girl friend experience” is highly valued in Thailand by locals and visitors alike.
Be aware that this is usually a multiple choice process. Prices also vary according to the establishment. The system of classification also varies, but is often divided into:
- Standard massage girls – Thai or oil (300 - 800 baht for a two hour session, plus a negotiable fee for extras)
- Super, Superstars or Body Massage girls (costing 1,900 – 2500 baht) – these are the ones who do the soapy mattress massage, and trust me - you owe it to yourself to try this!
- Sideline girls may also be available in the lounge area, or adjacent to the Fish Bowl (2,000 – 5,000 baht) – arguably even more beautiful or younger still…
In almost all cases the fee is all-inclusive! The one notable difference is that the inexpensive Standard (Thai or Oil style) Massage girls will usually be prepared to negotiate a fee, should you by any chance require any additional services.
Advice on Selecting a Girl
Take your time!!! The first thing you want to do on entry is find a seat/table, and cool off in the air-conditioning. Relax... order a beer or a juice, and watch the action for a while. Carefully observe the ladies as they interact with the other girls.
Personally, I like to select a lady who looks cheerful and animated, as well as attractive. If they are silent and aloof behind the glass, it might not be any better when they come out.
Observe the Papasans / Mamasans at work - their role is to help customers pick the "right" girl, and their advice can be worth listening to. Most speak English to some degree. Explain what you like - tall/short, busty, full-figured or petite etc. For example, I always ask for a "small, happy girl, not too young" and tell him/her that I will be happy to tip if I am happy with the lady...
Tipping at a Soapy Massage Parlour
Although the fee may be all-inclusive, at least half the fee goes to the establishment. Please bear in mind that tipping for great service is the norm, and your selected lady will be expending a great deal of charm and effort to make you happy for two hours. If you had a good time, a fair tip is 2-300 baht – and if you had an extremely enjoyable time, 500 baht could restore the lady’s faith in divine providence and make her very happy indeed!
Not only that, but it encourages the ladies to provide good service, and puts them in a good mood – which is good for everyone!
The usual time period is 2 hours, and the objective is to relax and enjoy yourself. However, in some places the service for the body massage girls may only be 1.5 hours.
Treatment of Foreigners
Falang and other non East-Asians are welcome at most places. However - in a few places only - it may be up to the discretion of the Papasan - based on criteria that include physical body size, Thai language skills, state of sobriety, and standard of dress.
- Surcharges are applied for falang (non-Asian) in some places and this can increase the cost by upwards of 500 -1000 baht (approx US$12 - $25) over what non-falang are charged (e.g. Caesars, Poseidon etc). It is what it is - so get over it. Wherever you came from, the girls are less attractive and far more expensive!
- Some places will take advantage of your ignorance of local rates, by attempting to over-charge you e.g. Cleopatra, Mona Lisa, J1/CP1 can/will fleece you in a heartbeat. The best option is to avoid them - there are plenty of falang-friendly places.
- Some places pay a "commission" or finders fee to taxi drivers (Mona Lisa, Plaza etc) and this is tacked onto your bill... so if you go right to the door by taxi, you must accept you'll be charged more than the standard rates - as quoted on massage web sites, soapy massage forums etc. You are not being "overcharged" as such - just paying the extra price for being a sucker! :-)
What's it Like INSIDE a Soapy Massage Parlour
The usual format is that on entering the premises, the large
and dimly lit foyer will usually contain 4 common elements. A "fishbowl" which displays the ladies,
somewhere to sit and have a drink while you get your bearings, staff to assist you in your choice, and to provide refreshments,
and a cashiers desk.
The “Fish Bowl” is a well-lit area screened off with glass and containing a number of attractive
young ladies – depending on the size of establishment, and the time of day, this could be anything from
10 to 100 women, usually in evening gowns, seated on tiered benches. Each lady has a badge with a number…
In some establishments, the ladies may be divided into sections according to their beauty, their
particular specialty, or their age… and the number range, badge colour or an alpha prefix, may determine
what type of service she provides.
Tables, if the place serves drinks/food, or chairs only… Take a seat, check out
the talent on display, order a cold drink if available. Within a few minutes someone should approach
to help you out with the next stage.
Papasan or Mamasan - a dude in a suit - there should be one or more people
whose role is to assist you in your selection, explain the options, and ascertain how long you would
like to stay… Most places will have someone who speaks English to some degree.
A Cashiers desk… where you pay before you enjoy the
Delights of the Establishment.
Soapy Massage – if you had the good sense to choose the 2 hour Body Massage option, the lady of choice will whisk you away upstairs to the appointed room. This will be furnished with 2 essential items; a big bed, and a big bath and tiled area, and hopefully an inflatable rubber mattress. Mirrors are a feature in most places. While the bath is running, drink orders are organized – make sure you order a drink for your lady as well as yourself! From this point onwards, you are on your own… you lucky bastard! If you picked two ladies... well, we just hope you live through the experience!
Scattered across the city, bath houses are generally found in clusters – partly due to city ordinances.. There have been some half-hearted efforts to regulate and control the industry, but it contributes too much to the Thai economy for that to be totally serious. Many are extremely well lit, well signposted in English and hard to miss! Where they are situated alone, they are somewhat more discreet and can sometimes be difficult to identify, especially if they are situated near busy shopping situations, or are in residential areas. Not all have English signage...
Bath houses vary greatly in décor quality - some are oriented directly at the tourism industry, catering to “wealthy foreigners” and are rather elegant - and consequently more expensive! Others are run-down and shabby, but in terms of the quality of the service delivery, paint work is definitely not a determining factor. As a general rule, the later in the evening it is, the better the bath houses look! Certainly, in the harsh light of day the majority of places look seriously in need of a coat of paint. However, when the neon lights of evening go on, and the night-owls come out to play, the whole atmosphere is dramatically improved!
Getting To The Massage Parlour of Choice
Taxis are the most convenient means of transportation - they are fast (within the constraints of the traffic) and are dirt cheap by international standards. Things to remember - most taxi drivers are good guys, but;
- Some taxi drivers are untruthful scoundrels - they will try to take you where they want to go - direct to the parlors that pay a bounty for client delivery! If you tell a cab driver where you want to go, and he says "Oh, sorry - that place close today" you smile and say "ok, mai pen rai" (no problem) and DO NOT get in, just walk away and try the next cab. It's a waste of time fighting it... just give your $ to the next guy.
- Not all taxis have (or use) meters - avoid those ones!!! If the guy quotes you a price to take you, he is NOT using a meter, and is about to charge you DOUBLE the going rate. Again, you smile and say "mai pen rai" (no problem) and DO NOT get in, just walk away and try the next cab.
- Some taxi drivers are incompetent - they have just arrived in Bangkok last week from Isan, don't have a drivers licence, have just rented a cab for a 12 hour shift, and don't have clue where you want to go, or how to get there! Chances are, if it's an OLD cab (torn upholstery, dirty) with a scruffy, unshaven dude at the wheel... you might just want to wait for a nice, shiny cab with a professional driver!!!
- Some taxi drivers will hi-jack you - E.g. they will say "Yes, can take you to XYZ" massage parlour, and 20 minutes later you are being driven in thru the gates of Mona Lisa, Plaza, Noar etc. Your best option is to pay up, walk back to the street and get another cab... whilst punching the guy may be tempting, it would be a short-term solution, probably resulting in your hospitalisation... coz HE has LOTS of friends nearby!!!
- Some taxi drivers will take the long way home... to clock up some extra baht on the metre... if you find yourself going in circles, bear in mind that it's sometimes necessary to do so, just to end up on the correct side of the multi-lane freeway/expressway etc... However, if it's taking twice as long to get back as it took to go out, a big smile and a "Mai aou zig zag, kup" might speed things up....
During multiple trips to Thailand over several years, and a year of living here, I've been h-jacked to the wrong destination twice - once with my Thai ex-wife to a seafood restaurant, and once to a counterfeit Wat Po Massage with my Thai girl friend. I've been "zig zagged" only once - again with my girlfriend... and I've had quite a few "That place closed today, I take you Plaza, better!" Each of those instances relate to the older blue/red or yellow/green cabs... Balanced against that, I've taken countless taxi trips with competent drivers who treated me with courtesy - and those are the ones I am happy to tip!