Thailand Health & Beauty
Dipabhavan Meditation Center
101/18 Moo 3 Tambon Maret, Moo 3
"Dipabhavan" essentially means "a private place to learn the teachings of the Buddha," which is what locals and tourists have been doing here since it opened in 2005. The center is based on Vipassana, an ancient form of meditation that involves a minimum of ten days of silent, self-observing mental training. You come here with two goals: to free your consciousness of misery, and to strengthen your mind-body connection. The practice is rigorous, daunting, and sometimes uncomfortable, but it's worth the mindfulness and peace you gain. The retreat is completely free of charge (they welcome donations at the end) and pared back (you won't get a full-service spa here), but the team looks after your every need.
Wat Umong Meditation Center
Mueang Chiang Mai District, Doi Suthep
Located in the foothills about forty-five minutes northwest of the city, Wat Umong is a Buddhist meditation center based on the ancient Vipassana practice—silent, self-observing mental training. Come here prepared for a deep dive into the practice, which will last a minimum of ten days. The goal of the practice is to hone the mind-body connection, clear the conscience, and assuage inner turmoil. (Much like a trip to Chiang Mai in general.) This isn't a luxury retreat, but you will be well taken care of. Guests are asked to wear only white (particularly comfortable cotton shirts and pants), bring only essential belongings (medication, toiletries, etc.), and refrain from using any smartphones or electronic devices. What you sacrifice for your stay—TV, small talk, a connection to the outer world—you'll gain in peace, perspective, and mindfulness.
The Oasis Spa
9/6 Soi 1, Wualai Rd., Doi Suthep
If you want serious relaxation, go for the Oasis Four Hands. Two massage therapists work together, intertwining their hands to cover a greater body mass, resulting in a more intense massage. It's unique and a little odd, but it feels incredible. If you want more restoration and rejuvenation, ask for a Tok Sen, a treatment native to northern Thailand. A clinician taps your energy meridian lines with a special wooden hammer to help circulate energy and release any blockages. Then they rub your muscles with balm and give you a really good stretch. You'll feel looser, lighter, energized. And if you had a stiff neck or clenched jaw, it will probably—miraculously—be gone when you leave.
163/2 Cholpratarn Rd., Doi Suthep
The name means "the inner power of the Lanna." This is a place for anyone who is very serious about massage. In fact, it's not overstating to say that this is one of the world's most renowned massage centers (it’s trained massage therapists around the world). The treatments are extensive, reviving, and invigorating—and will leave you in a state that feels pleasantly between sleep and consciousness. Maybe that's total bliss. The luxurious, ornate dark-teakwood architecture makes a visit here even more special.
Dii Aesthetic Institute
ซอย 21 Khlong Toei, Bangkok
This spa’s minimalist, plant-filled waiting room is an antidote to the hyperactive Bangkok streets, and the hospitable staff gives you lemongrass tea while you wait for your treatment. And the treatments are efficient: After less than an hour, we left with brighter, glowier skin than we arrived with. It’s a medical spa, so you can choose from basic treatments, like a sensitive skin facial, or more clinically advanced ones that incorporate medical-grade injectables, microdermabrasion, and lasers. You can meet with a staff dermatologist for a skin consultation and help navigating the menu. But the goldmine here is the classic rejuvenation facial—a fifty-minute lymphatic massage/marine collagen mask/radio frequency/oxygen mist hybrid—which leaves you with the kind of soft, springy skin that you can’t stop touching.
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