Samui’s reputation as the spa capital of Thailand has resulted in a bigger number tourists going to this holiday island in the last few years. No doubt that many visitors want to include in their vacation plans a few days at one of the numerous spas that offer a variety of services and beauty treatments which guarantee complete relaxation and rejuvenation. Slowly, Samui has shed its image as a place for unspoiled beaches into that of a regional center for health tourism where some of the best spas are located.

There are a lot of health programs and treatments offered. Among these are fasting, detoxification, colonic irrigation, weight loss, healthy eating, aromatic steam bath, acupuncture, herbal face and body-masques, yoga, reiki, tai-chi and traditional Thai massage.

For first times, it is best to start by trying the famous traditional Thai massage, which has been practiced for centuries. History indicates that That massage was introduced to Thailand by India along with Buddhism sometime between 300-200 BC. It is based on the belief that there are 10 focal points (known as sen in Chinese; the energy that accompanies the acupressure is called chi or prana in Hindu) within a human body through which major cosmic energies passes. Thai massage enables the opening of these points to maintain a continuous flow of energy into the body. Since it focuses on the muscoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues), a massage is therapeutic, relaxing and stress relieving.

A good massage will ensure that blood vessels and nerves function better, remove tension and cleanse the body of toxins and impurities. It is one thing to get an excellent and therapeutic massage; it is quite another to undergo a comprehensive cleansing program to add years to one’s life. This focuses on fasting, which many say deals effectively with the problems that a human body and mind encounter daily. It is often accompanied by light exercises, breathing exercises, meditation and yoga. At the same time, the diet is limited to salads, fruits, vegetables and water.

The fasting program lasts from three to 14 days. By doing so, experts believe that the body’s vitals organs and the bloodstream will be rid of toxins, a process that would activate the body’s self-healing mechanisms. Prices are not a problem as there are several spas that offer programs which can meet any budget. Maybe it’s time that you visited Samui not to get a tan at its famous beaches but to experience a spa treatment.

HISTORY OF HEALING: Thai massage has a long history of therapeutic healing, practiced for centuries. It can be traced to India about 2,500 years ago. Its founder was said to be Jivaka Komarabhacca, a doctor, friend and contemporary of Buddha. The Chinese and the Indians were believed to have greatly influenced the therapies and treatments developed in Thailand.

The theoretical basis of Thai massage lies in the theory of energy lines running throughout the body. Out of the 72,000 energy lines said to be in existence, the focus is on the 10 major lines, called “sen”. Important acupressure points are found on these lines. Treatment for the whole body. Different organs and diseases is often done by using the system of the 10 sen. Much of what is known in Thailand as traditional massage was handed down orally from generation to generation. Much of the ancient medical texts were destroyed in 1776 with the destruction of Ayutthaya by the Burmese. In 1832, King Rama III had the stone inscriptions set into the walls at Wat Po to preserve the tradition.

THE ANCIENT ART OF FOOT REFLEXOLOGY: The ancient healing art of Reflexology has been known to man for many thousands of years and was first practiced by early Chinese and Egyptian people. Reflexology is well established in the complementary health field and is effective in stimulating the body’s natural healing ability to overcome many adverse reactions to stress and to enhance the quality of life. Reflexology is a science that deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the hands and feet which correspond to add the glands, organs and parts of the body. Reflexology is a unique method of massaging these areas to relieve stress and tension, improve the blood supply and keep the body systems operating at peak efficiency. These reflex areas are arranged in such a way as to form a map of the body, a mirror image in effect with the right foot corresponding to the right side of the body and the left foot corresponding to the left side. Although the roots of reflexology go as far back as 2330B.C., in the early 1900’s an American ear nose and throat specialist Dr. William Fitzgerald, studied the relationship of the body with the hands and feet. He noted that pressure on specific parts of the body could have an anaesthetizing effect elsewhere.

Developing this theory, he divided the body into ten equal and vertical zones, ending in the fingers and toes. He concluded that pressure in one part of a zone could affect everything else within that zone. Thus, reflex areas on the feet and hands are linked to some other areas and organs of the body within the same zone. Eunice Ingham further developed and refined the zone theory into what we know as foot reflexology. She observed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot mirrors congestion or tension in a corresponding part of the body. Thus, when you treat the big toes there is a related effect in the head, and treating the whole foot can have a relaxing and healing effect on the whole body.

THE ANCIENT ART OF FOOT REFLEXOLOGY: The Eunice Ingham Reflexology Method pioneered, researched and developed in the early 1930’s is the leading method of Reflexology in use today throughout the world. It’s worth noting that there are thousands of nerve endings in each foot and perhaps this contributes to why we feel so much better when our feet are treated. Nerve endings in the feet have extensive interconnections through the spinal cord and brain and lead to all areas of the body. Reflexology is well established in the complementary health field and is effective in stimulating the body’s natural healing ability to overcome many adverse reactions to stress and to enhance the quality of life.

FITNESS CENTERS AND GYMS: With all the good food around, it is easy to put on weight during a holiday. But you don’t have to leave your regular workout schedule behind. Several gyms on Samui can help you stay in tip-top shape. World Gym in Chaweng, and Lamai Gym are the places for those who would like to show a little muscle on the beach. Body building equipment and fitness experts are usually available to get you started. Alternatively you could go upscale at the Chaweng Regent Fitness Center in Chaweng, or at other 4-5 star hotel.

YOGA: Yoga is an excellent way to improve flexibility in both your body and mind. If you are experienced, try your practice on the beach. You can do you sun salutations early in the morning when the air is cooler, and there are few people around. There are also good yoga classes for beginners and veteran yoga stretchers alike at The Spa in Lamai, and classes for children and families at the Health Oasis Resort.