Saturday, 18 May 2024

Thailand : Spa Capital


spa capitalApart from being one of the world’s fantastic holiday destinations, Thailand has also earned a reputation as the spa capital of Asia. The country boasts a significant number of spas and many of them are ranked as world-class. The spa business in Thailand has rapidly grown due to increased customers’ demands. Since 1994 many luxurious hotels and resorts have established in-house spas for their customers and walk-in visitors.

Nowadays, Thai spa treatments are not anymore an extravagance and the Ministry of Public Health has announced that all spas have to register with the Medical Registration Department of the Ministry (or a Provincial Health Office for upcountry areas) in order to maintain high standards of the industry.  According to the data surveyed by the Office of Export Services, Department of Export Promotion, in 2004, there are altogether about 700 spa operators over Thailand.

Intelligent spa reports

Thailand’s spa sector has witnessed a phenomenal growth. A study undertaken by the Intelligent Spa reports a growth of 64% for the period 2000-2002. Between June 2001and June 2002, some 230 Thai spa operators attracted a total of 303 million spa users, out of which 2.5 million, or 79 per cent were overseas spa patrons contributing a total of US$85 million to Thailand’s foreign exchange earnings. In 2004, Thai spas continued to register a strong growth. They generated 5.3 billion bath in revenue, exceeding the original target by nearly ten per cent. The 2005 revenue target is 6.7 billion bath, an increase of 26 per cent. (Source: the Ministry of Public Health)

According to the Intelligent Spa 2005 research for Thailand, during the period between July 2003 and June 2004 there were approximately 3.6 million foreign visitors to Thai spas. The benchmarks from the latest research indicated that 78% of spa visitors were foreigners including 57% females and 43% males. Almost half of the spas in the country were resort spas and each spa contained 9.4 treatment rooms on average. (Source: Intelligent Spa Releases 2005)

Certification standards for Thai spas

Spa operators around the world have opted for self-regulation. Other than the presence of the International Spa Association or ISPA, there is not a global organization, agency or legal entity responsible for setting global standards for spas per se.

Thailand has set an extraordinary precedent. The state has been working jointly with private sector operators and Thai spa associations to develop specific standards for the Thai spa industry and has taken a step beyond current practice - the regulation and the enforcement of industry standards via legislation.

Under the Ministerial Announcement dated 21 April 2004 issued by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), the ministry assumes the role of custodian overseeing the growth and development of the spa sector with one of its duties being to assist in the development of guidelines and specific standards for the Thai spa industry. Local industry standards are being developed in accordance with existing benchmarks for quality adopted by the global spa industry- a move which lifts the bar for health spas, traditional Thai massage, and long-stay healthcare products and services – the three leading products in this category.

And also under the above announcement, business operators that offer health & beauty spa services and Thai massage services are issued with a one-year certificate which must be renewed annually by sending an application for the re-inspection 30 days prior to the expiration date.


Source: Ministry of Public Health


No. of Spas Certified

Breakdown by Type

Hotel & Resort Spas

Day Spas

Destination Spas

Key Destinations

- Bangkok 85 10 75  
- Chiang Mai 17 3 12 2
- Phuket 51 34 17  
- Surat Thani 29 21 8  
- Krabi 5 5 0  

Central Thailand

- Pathum Thani 1 0 1  
- Nonthaburi 5 0 5  

Pattaya & The Eastern Seaboard

- Chon Buri 6 6 0  
- Rayong 5 2 3  
- Trat 3 3 0  
- Chanthaburi 3 0 3  

Gulf Coast

- Phetchaburi 3 0 3  
- Prachuap Khiri Khan 5 4 1  

Northern Thailand

- Mae Hong Son 1 0 1  
- Lampang 1 0 1  
- Phitsanulok 5 2 3  
- Phetchabun 1 1 0  
- Nakhon Sawan 8 0 8  

Northeastern Thailand

- Nakhon Ratchasima 1 0 1  

Southern Thailand

- Ranong 2 1 1  
- Pattani 1 0 1  







Thai spas are very popular among travelers as is evidenced by the key findings of the Spa Industry Surveys & Spa Consumer Surveys conducted by Intelligent Spa, Singapore, which show the following statistical data.


Potential spa-holiday destinations (%)

Thailand 22%   Indonesia 19%   Malaysia 13%   Australia 7%   Singapore 6%   Europe 6%   India 5%   New Zealand 4%   United States 4%   Others 14%


Favourite spa treatments

Massage 54%   Body Scrub 14%   Body Wrap 10%   Facial 4%   Others 18%

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