With its stunning natural settings, healthy gourmet cuisine, and experienced practitioners in the art of Eastern healing, it is no wonder that Thailand assumes its place as one of the world’s leading destinations to recharge and revitalise.
The country is renowned for its holistic wellness retreats that offer everything from detox treatments to cutting-edge personalised therapies, indulgent massages and energising activities that aid you in your journey to health and well-being.
Living in a world that constantly encourages us to do more, and do it faster, has also increased the demand for “me-time”, and relaxing holidays far away from the chaos of everyday life. The pursuit of wellness is not just an aspirational desire anymore. It has become a part of our everyday lexicon. And wellness itself is no longer just about being disease free, as it now also takes into account the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of a person.
With more and more people willing and wanting to seek out this ideal of wellness, health retreats that specialise in improving each guest’s overall health, and subsequently the quality of their life, are on the rise. In fact, reports say that this particular segment is growing twice as fast as general tourism. This changing mindset is transforming behaviour and, in turn, impacting choices and spending decisions. The World Health Organisation (WHO) valued the global wellness economy, based on 2018 data, at $4.5 trillion (more than half of the total global health expenditures, valued at $7.8 trillion). And according to a study by the Global Wellness Institute, world travellers made 691 million wellness trips in 2015, 104.4 million more than in 2013. It also said wellness tourism was a $639 billion market in 2017, and is projected to reach $919 billion by 2022.
Already billed as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, Thailand has added to its popularity by offering an astounding collection of sanctuaries for mind, body and spiritual tune-ups, earning for itself the title of “spa capital of Asia”. From pranayama to Pilates, from yoga retreats to anti-ageing regimens and destination spas, Thailand’s reputation as a wellness haven has grown considerably over the last few decades.
More and more, wellness retreats and spas in the Kingdom concentrate on the spiritual and natural aspect of healing, aiming to achieve optimum physical and mental well-being in a person. Their methods, distilled from ancient traditions and a profound respect for nature, have been passed down from generation to generation. In ancient Thailand, the temple was the centre of learning and monks played both doctor and pharmacist, diagnosing ailments and prescribing to patients a mix of meditation and herbal remedies, as well as baths, steam compresses, and massages.
Many of the remedies prescribed were seen as the key to simultaneously maintaining one’s inner and outer health and beauty. Fast forward to the present and these traditional methods of healing have evolved into a thriving modern spa industry. From an afternoon of Thai massage to multi-day integrated health programmes focusing on one’s well-being, the wide and diverse range of traditional and cutting-edge holistic treatments on offer are designed with pampering, relaxation, and rejuvenating in mind.
But fusing traditional therapeutic knowledge with state-of-the-art health and wellness technologies is only one of the reasons why Thailand is the top choice in the region for those looking to “find their Zen”. Other factors that make the wellness experience unique are service-minded personnel, high operational standards, and a broad range of wellness spa concepts, with practically every niche market covered and catered to.
For those looking to reset and recharge, while soothing their soul, improve fitness regimens, refreshing minds and maintain optimal health, Thailand has outstanding options. These range from rock-bottom cheap to extravagantly expensive; from the simple and humble foot and back rubs on offer from roadside storefronts, to the lavish and luxurious day spas, which offer premium ingredient facials and other ultra-premium beauty regimens alongside a vast array of traditional massages techniques and body pampering treatments.
Thailand also leads the pack when it comes to high-end vacation wellness destinations, boasting ultra-modern spas, carefully curated holistic fitness programmes, and uniquely integrated health concepts. Nowadays, along with the more traditional treatments, such as nuad pan boran (traditional Thai massage), oil massages, and reflexology, healthy- minded vacationers have much more complex treatment menus to choose from. Depending on your goals, the choices include holistic health and yoga health retreats, demanding multi-day detoxes, and a variety of packages that cover everything from weight loss and chakra balancing, to stress management, sleep enhancement, and much, much more.
In fact, just recently, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, set a new goal for the country, aiming for it to become a global medical and wellness destination by 2024. The announcement comes in light of the current pandemic, which accelerated the demand for preventive and regenerative medicine. The country’s established reputation as a leading medical tourism destination in Asia is substantiated by its diverse range of innovative services and top-tier facilities.
If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that optimum health is critical, and something that must be taken very seriously. Humankind is a remarkably resilient species, but at the same time our well-being can be incredibly fragile, depending so much on us paying equal attention to the proper care of mind, body and soul. It’s a delicate balance, but if ancient Thai wisdom has taught us anything it’s that achieving this kind of holistic inner harmony is the first step on the path to better health. Add to that recipe some high-tech modern know-how, plenty of luxurious amenities, and an exotic tropical landscape, and it’s no surprise that Thailand is a wellspring of wellness.