A bucket list experience for anyone visiting Thailand, few travellers consider a trip to the Kingdom of Thailand complete without the deep stretching and kneading experience of a Thai massage.
Based at Anantara Chiang Mai Resort, Panissara Chaokhelang, better known as Noot, boasts almost 20 years as a Thai Massage therapist and as the dedicated Thai Massage Guru, a treatment with her is a must when in Northern Thailand.
Known locally as Nuad Thai, the acupressure technique of the Thai massage is a time-honoured tradition that has been passed down through generations for thousands of years, and its roots can be traced back to origins of self-care in Thai village society.
Children in rural households across Thailand are taught how to ease the aching muscles of their parents and grandparents. While the children might not understand the theory behind it, they learn how to pull and push limbs and step on the back to soothe the muscles of their hardworking relatives.
This was true for Noot and growing up in rural Thailand, where there were no trained or licensed massage therapists in her village, her mother would ask her to walk on her sore back and aching legs after a long day working at the market.
Noot explains: “I was taught how to massage before I was even 10 years old. As I got older, I wanted to learn about proper techniques and acupressure points so I could better address specific body concerns through massage.”
She pursued physiotherapy at university in Chiang Mai and went on to study massage at Chivasom Academy in Bangkok, before returning to Chiang Mai where she specialized in Lanna-style Thai massage. Rather than finding work as a physiotherapist in a hospital as many of her classmates did, Noot opted for the more serene spa environment.
While western medicine ascribes to quick fixes, Noot believes massage treats the root cause of physical ailments such as back pain or even headaches. She educates her guests so they can better understand their aches and ailments.
She added: “Before starting the massage, we talk so I can learn about their concerns, habits and day-to-day activities to better understand what their issues may be. I recommend activities so they can extend the benefits of their massage and treat themselves from home instead of reaching for a pain killer next time they have a niggle in their back.”
In addition to Thai massage duties, Noot is also the designated trainer for Anantara Spa and is responsible for making sure that all therapists in more than 40 spas across Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, Africa, South America and Europe adhere to the standards of this award-winning spa brand.
The Thai massage technique dates back 2,500 years and its popularity has since gone global, so much so that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated traditional Thai massage as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity, voting to include it on the organizations World Heritage list in December 2019.
UNESCO made the decision to include traditional Thai massage on the World Heritage list in December 2019 at the 14th session of its Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in Bogota, Colombia from December 9 to 14. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul welcomed the announcement as an achievement for the Thai people and the Kingdom.
To experience the healing hands of Anantara Spa’s Thai Massage Guru, contact Anantara Chiang Mai Resort firstname.lastname@example.org or +66 (0) 53 253 333 ext. 3431.