Swedish vs Thai massage_featured

Swedish vs Thai massage: similarities and differences

If you are traveling in Southeast Asia, getting a massage and spa treatment is almost a must. It is nice and relaxing. The price point is also very attractive, especially if you are coming from the US or Europe. However, Southeast Asia is not the only region known for massage. In fact, Swedish massage is famous as well. We also covered the topic of Thai foot massage in another article. Learn more about Swedish vs Thai massage in this article.

Table of Contents

What is Thai massage?

Swedish vs Thai massage_Thai massage

Thai massage is like a blend of massage, stretching and yoga. The Thai massage therapist will perform Thai massage on the customer as the customer lie down on a mat or on the floor. During Thai massage, the customer does not need to take off their clothes. It is a wholesome experience doing Thai massage as it includes abdominal and breath work, deep tissue massage and application of pressure at specific points on the body. It is often dubbed as “lazy man’s yoga” because the customer can just relax and the therapist will guide the customer to do certain body movements. There are any benefits to Thai massage including improvements on psychological and physical ailments like stress and chronic pain. A lot of athletes and fitness sports professionals choose Thia massage as one of their recovery methods.

Differences between Swedish and Thai massage

There are some aspects from both types of massage that we can compare and contrast.


In Thai massage, the customer can wear their clothes and perhaps change to a loose-fitting clothing to assist the Thai massage body movements. Thai massage does not involve application of oil on the body so there is no need to remove the clothing. On the other hand, Swedish massage requires the massage recipient to remove their clothing. This is because the Swedish massage involves oil or lotion applied to the customer lying down with face down on a massage table.

Techniques used

Thai massage uses acupuncture points to apply pressure on certain parts of the body that can help to alleviate certain physical ailments or help the body to get into deep relaxation mode. Sometimes the masseuse will stand or walk on the back of the customer as well. It often involves many body parts of the masseuse – not only hand and arms but also legs. On the other hand, Swedish massage is often called soft massage or deep tissue massage. It typically involves rubbing and stroking using hands, forearms, fists and elbows. Swedish massage does not involve legs or other body parts unlike Thai massage.


In Thai massage, that is often called “lazy man’s yoga”, the customer will lie on the floor or mat and the masseuse will move the body parts around. This is to help stretch the body and apply pressure on certain points on the body. On the other hand, in Swedish massage, the customer can just lie down on the massage bed with head down.


Thai massage helps to relax the body and also at the same time energizes it. Since the body is not static during the massage, the Thai massage process helps the body to stretch and pressure on acupuncture points helps to release tensions. Overall the Thai massage helps to enhance the energy flow in the body. Therefore, it has more “healing” effect on the body and many athletes use this massage for their body recovery post intense exercise. Swedish massage, on the other hand, focuses more on relaxation. The use of massage oil also has some aromatherapy aspect to it. The long strokes and rubbing techniques helps to relieve stress and pain on the body.

Massage options besides Swedish and Thai massage

Thailand, as a holiday and relaxation destination, does not only offer Thai massage. There are plenty of other massage types available in Thailand. You can also try Swedish massage while in Thailand. For example, Quan Spa in Bangkok also offer both Swedish and Thai massage.

Other massage options that you can choose from in Thailand: 

  • Warm oil / aromatherapy massage
  • Herbal massage
  • Foot massage
  • Other classics like shoulder massage, facial etc.

Personally we have tried a combination of aromatherapy massage and Thai massage too. It was at Thann Sanctuary Spa in Sukhumvit 24. Thann is a renowned Thai aromatherapy products brand and the spa uses Thann’s own aromatherapy product during the massage. For aromatherapy oil massage, you need to wash your body after and they also provide Thann body wash products in the shower. It was a very relaxing and rejuvenating experience during our holiday in Bangkok. 

Which one is better: Swedish vs Thai massage?

The answer depends on what you are looking for. Some people might think that Thai massage is too intense. In fact, it is intense to the point that pregnant women in their first trimester are not advised to do it. If you want to just relax and doze off during your massage, you can do Swedish massage. But if you feel tired from exercise or stiff body and want to relax while at the same time feeling energized, go for Thai massage. Thai massage is more dynamic than Swedish massage and you need to “participate” in the movement as guided by the masseuse.

If you are in Thailand and want to have a more relaxing massage, Swedish massage is not the only option. You have other massage options besides Thai massage while in Thailand. We highly recommend aromatherapy and foot massage after a long day exploring the city!

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