Chiang Mai’s best “budget” massage: from a former inmate

Want a rubdown on your next visit to Thailand? Of course you do – a massage is often a vital part of any vacation.

For 150 bhat, or $6, you’ll enjoy an hour-long treatment at Lila Thai Massage in Chiang Mai. What makes this special? Your therapist is a former inmate from the Chiang Mai Women’s Prison. This budget spa employs former inmates as part of a work rehabilitation program.

All therapists have had 180 hours of training while in prison, about half of what is required in the United States to become a licensed therapist (300 to 1,000 contact hours are usually required for U.S. therapists). Still, services, performed in a spa environment, are more upscale for the price, which is comparable to what you’d typically pay for a street massage. The spa also offers oil treatments, foot therapy and facials, as well as a variety of package options.

Thanks to one of our own former writers, Catherine Bodry, and @WhyGoThailand for this tip.

[Flickr via Hanumann]