Learn Northern Thai Massage at The Old Medicine Hospital
Thai Massage. It’s a cornerstone of our culture. From the wizened Buddhist teachers at Wat Po to your aunties on the street corner, the humble Thai massage tradition takes many forms across the country today. But it is right here in Chiang Mai where you can immerse yourself in the original Northern style Thai massage at The Old Medicine Hospital on Wua Lai Road.
Every tourist and every local may have a favourite massage spot they like to visit, and with over 10,000 massage parlours and spas across the nation there’s a lot to experience.
We all know that a good squeeze by an auntie for 300 baht is never a bad choice, but how about stepping into the shoes – or perhaps robe – of the masseuse yourself and learn first hand the intricate techniques and traditions of Thai massage for yourself?
Introducing The Old Medicine Hospital
Chiang Mai’s only traditional Northern Thai massage school
Founded in 1962 by Master Sintorn Chaichakan, The Old Medicine Hospital quickly became Chiang Mai’s most prestigious massage school in the North. Trained directly by the Thai Massage gurus of Wat Po, Master Sintorn took a new approach to massage and medicine, incorporating Thai massage techniques and traditional medicines to create a centre for both treatment and education just south of the old city moat.
The Old Medicine Hospital offers a variety of courses suitable for both locals and tourists, each one carefully crafted to guide students on a journey through traditional massage, traditional Thai medicine and the unique northern massage techniques first developed by Master Sintorn.
From sessions that give you a taste of the basics, to in-depth courses that cover the foundations of Thai massage, Thai herbal compress, foot massage and aroma oil massage, the training at The Old Medicine Hospital is unlike anywhere else in the world. Expect a tailored combination of traditional techniques passed down through generations and modern training structures that suit all types of students.
Sintorn Chaichakan – the Northern Thai Massage Master
Master Sintorn Chaichakan is honoured as the founder of the Old Medicine Hospital and is a member of the Shivagakomarpaj lineage, a family famed for their development of traditional Thai massage.
In his youth, he studied Thai medicine at Wat Pho and later became a teacher there. He even played a significant role in starting the massage program at Wat Pho under the request of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
By 1962, Master Sintorn Chaichakan returned to Chiang Mai and practised medicine out of a small hospital that focused on holistic healing, adapting massage and herbal medicine practices to suit the culture of northern Thailand.
One important change he made to the Wat Pho massage routine was to slow it down and focus on a more ‘slow life’ approach to the practice. He also incorporated local northern herbs and traditional medicine into the treatments to elevate the treatment further.
After years of perfection, it was here that the northern style of traditional Thai massage was born, and his hospital transitioned from a place of care to a place of education. Over the years the school grew, from just 10 treatment beds and few trained therapists to a programme that, in the 1990s, graduated 60-70 Thai students per year in traditional medicine, and many more Western students on top of that.
Learn Northern Thai Massage
For over 50 years, Master Sintorn treated and trained the people of Chiang Mai before passing down his legacy to his son, Master Wasan Chaichakan who now continues to train and treat the people of Chiang Mai, preserving and sharing this special, and very local interpretation of this ancient art form.
Fast forward to 2022 and The Old Medicine Hospital underwent a significant revival, led by the talented and experienced founder of the Bodhi Panya Institute – California’s only certified Thai Massage school founded by a Chiang Mai local who has now returned to her roots.
Combining the traditions passed down by Master Sintorn and the training structures developed by Bodhi Panya Institute, The Old Medicine Hospital is opening its doors to a new training structure that allows students to study anywhere from 6 to 500 hours, with qualifications that range from local certification to internationally recognised California certification.
Through this partnership, they hope to expand the school’s offering in Thailand and the United States, growing a global student population and sharing northern Thai massage with the world.
Learn to Massage at The Old Medicine Hospital Chiang Mai
Whether you’re a local looking to expand your skill set or a tourist wanting to understand how Thai Massage actually works, The Old Medicine Hospital has a wide range of courses to suit both interest and time limitations.
For those who have time, the 30-hour Thai Massage Foundation 1 course is all you need to get up to speed on how Thai Massage works and to become a beginner therapist. Learn the basic foundational sequence for a full body, Northern Style Massage from feet to legs, limbs to shoulders, neck and even face.
In addition, learn the fundamental concepts, history, philosophy, and the practice of classic Northern Style Massage as was originally developed and documented over 50 years ago. Classes run in both Thai and English, so there’s no risk of misunderstanding or miscommunication.
For those who have a limited window in Chiang Mai, why not enrol onto one of the several Thai Massage Introductory courses, ranging from 1-day tasters on Thai massage, herbal compress, oil massage and Thai traditional medicine to 3-day short introductory courses designed for individuals who simply want to experience the techniques and teachings developed by Master Sintorn.
Or if you’re really dedicated, why not enrol onto the 500-hour master course that not only qualifies you in Thailand but also takes you to California to complete training and gain international certification. This option offers a range of structures that include online training sessions, flexible hours, and exploration of both Eastern and Western techniques.
Massage Courses in Chiang Mai at Old Medicine Hospital
- Introduction to Thai Massage (6-12 hour)
- Thai Herbal Hot Compress Course (7 hours)
- Level 1 foundation course (30 hours)
- Level 2 foundation course (30 hours)
- Level 3 Thai massage course (30 hours)
- Level 4 Thai massage course (30 hours)
- Aroma oil massage (30 hours)
- Level 1 Thai Foot Relaxation Massage (12 hours)
- Level 2 Thai Foot Reflexology Massage (18 hours)
- Traditional Thai Massage Program (500 hours)