The massage scene in Phuket is focused mainly in the coastal areas to the west along with Phuket Town.
The raunch factor in Phuket is more subliminal and less in-your-face and this too goes for the massage scene. If you are looking for the action you'll find it without too much problems but it's not as overt as Pattaya and on the level with Bangkok.
One of the most expensive places in Thailand, second only to Bangkok and even then it often matches it in the Nightlife pricing. This does not really exclude massage either as it too is more expensive here. Having said that once away from the tourist areas it is not much different than the provinces.
There are no massage schools that we know of in Phuket, although some sources report that if there are, they are not recognised by the Thai Education Ministry.
This type of massage manipulates the joints, muscles and nerve-points all over the body using the fingertips and thumbs.
There are a variety of massage types available in Thailand these are listed below:
The more 'pleasant' and relaxing type of massage using lotions and massage oil. Here the swedish-style kneading and pressing of the flesh and muscle is done instead.
This is usually available in hair-dressers and massage shops. The scalp is rubbed and manipulated. In the hands of an expert this can 'cure' headaches, migraines and general malaise. Iit is generally a soothing and relaxing experience.
You see these places throughout Thailand. The multi-coloured feet symbol with various areas of the foot highlighted are all over the place. You can also usually see a throng of tourists having this done to them. The basis for the foot massage is that it can show where illness is in the body via 'hard' spots or 'crystals', these then being rubbed and massaged can be 'cured' by breaking them down.
Any others you might see: Gel, lotion, salve are usually an oil massage with a different substance rubbed into the skin, this typically is claimed to have 'superior' qualities than oil massage does.
In Phuket (and Thailand in general) you have 6 places for massage:
These tend to be non-private places for foot massage, head massage and thai massage. A thin linen sheet is usually all that divides you from another customer being massage next to you. You tend to see these here and there in Phuket with people being massaged though clear glass fronted windows.
The more private massage shop with a reception area and proper rooms all of the above massage types are offered as well as oil massage. Aroma massage is often available here (a more expensive version of the oil massage).
Taking the parlour to a new level the surroundings and sensual nature of the massage is refined into an art form. At least that is the goal of the Massage Spa. The ladies who tend to perform massage at a spa may be slightly older than other massage girls, this due to being more experienced and (some say) more skillful in massage. Prices in Phuket for this massage have a tendancy to be astronomical.
Massage Entertainment Complexes - See the Nightlife section for more on this.
Usually the mid to high range of hotels have a resident massage work-force that is on-call most hours of the day. The more budget hotels have a hotline through to a nearby massage shop or parlour for an in-room massage. The prices are usually about the same as a massage shop, however the more expensive the hotel you stay in may affect prices slightly.
One for the brave or adventurous. These journey women of massage walk the beach calling out to all nearby plying their trade. Some of the beach massage girls have little stall areas with awnings to protect from the sun. The massage from these women tends to be a touch cheaper than what you'd find in the shops. Only Thai and foot Massage is available (usually) from Beach Massage.
Phuket Massage Zones
Areas in Phuket for massage include:
Patong Beach: Plenty of massage shops here. You can also get beach massage
Karon Beach: More of a quieter aspect to this zone, massage shops around but not as many.
Kata Beach: Even further south Karon beach is a sleepy hollow in comparison to the first two and the massage shops are more limited in number.
Phuket Town: The islands commerical hub has massage shops and parlours, however they are not in the concentration of Patong Beach or Karon.
The Northern and Southern Fringes: Few and far between.