Getting a Massage from a Women’s Inmate in Thailand is a Nice Change of Pace

The Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution is more than just a prison, it’s also a rehabilitation center which is helping the inmates develop new skills in a really innovative way. While it’s not everyone’s top pick for a place to get a massage in Chiang Mai, it’s definitely the most memorable and unique.

Prison in Thailand is no walk in the park. Conditions are rough and there is often little to occupy the inmates’ time day after day. That’s why the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute is such a great and unusual place. Instead of just locking the women up, they’ve created a massage school where the ladies can learn new skills and practice them on willing volunteers. Yes, you can go and get a massage in prison!

It’s a forward-thinking project which is designed to help the women start new careers after their release. The masseurs were all imprisoned for non-violent crimes and are keen to be rehabilitated into society, and this is great way that you can help their cause.

The Inmate Massage in Chiang Mai Experience

There’s no booking system at the massage center, so you just have to turn up and add your name to the waiting list. If you arrive in the morning then you’ll probably only have a wait of a few minutes; the more popular afternoon sessions can mean having to hang around for 45 minutes to about 2 hours. If you do have a bit of a time to wait then don’t worry though because there are plenty of refreshments available to while away the time. Grab a Thai iced tea or a spiced coffee and enjoy the free wifi!

When it’s your turn to be taken in for your massage, you’ll be collected by an inmate in a smart pink uniform. After you’ve changed into a loose, comfortable outfit of cotton top and bottoms you’ll be taken to a bed in the communal massage hall. There are 20 beds dotted around so you’ll have some company but shut your eyes and you won’t even know they’re there.

Traditional Thai Massages

The center specializes in traditional Thai massage (think a cross between western sports massage and a bit of yoga!) and the inmates train for 180 hours in this one discipline alone. Their English is limited but you can normally communicate through sign language if you want a change in pressure or emphasis. The phrase ‘bao-bao’ is useful if you want them to ease up a bit!

The center is also well-known for foot massage so mix it up and bit and go for one of those on your second visit, perhaps.

straighten your back with a traditional Thai massage

The Full Experience is More than Just Massage

If you’re hungry on your visit then head to the Chuan Chom restaurant for some traditional Thai food. The chicken and rice, Pad Thai and iced coffee are all recommended. There’s also a shop where you can buy handmade souvenirs all made by the inmates when they’re not giving massages. This is a great place to pick up some high-quality gifts to take home while also giving something back to the local community.

The Important Details

The Women’s Correctional Institution Massage Center is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A one-hour foot massage costs 180 baht (about $5.50), while a one-hour Thai massage is the same price. A two-hour Thai massage is 360 baht (about $11). Give it a try and we guarantee you’ll be back again and again. It’s good for the body and for the soul!