If you’re not getting undressed to stand in a -130 degree human fridge to unwind over the weekend, what are you even doing with your life?
We’ve long loved Bang Krachao for its sense of serenity. Now, Bangkok’s Green Lung has welcomed a wonderful addition to the peninsula with RAKxa Wellness and Medical. It is a luxurious and fully integrative wellness and medical retreat, and we can already see it becoming a big hit across Asia once borders fully open.
Whilst you can find our overall exploration of the property and its programmes in the link above, read on for our review and personal experience over one weekend at RAKxa — getting iced, enjoying a brain massage, doing pilates, and more.
[All images courtesy of RAKxa]
We were picked up in a black Alphard on a Saturday morning from Surawong Road, and 45 minutes later, arrived at the retreat on Bang Krachao.
It’s strange to realise that RAKxa is actually situated within Bangkok city, given that being here feels a little otherworldly. The property proudly boasts over 3500 plants and trees, and is a decade of decibels more quiet than central Bangkok. The air feels cleaner. The clouds look fluffier. The grass is greener. It’s almost deafening to the buzzing city dweller, but we promise you get used to loving it.
First things first: the consultation
After a welcoming strike of the singing bowl in the Welcome Pavilion, we were taken to our villas before being promptly escorted to the initial consultation.
You have to admire how meticulous RAKxa is in its approach to wellness. Prior to our admission, we had to fill out a multi-page questionnaire about ourselves. You’ll have to name and shame your (good or bad) habits. Do you drink coffee or alcohol? Do you work out? How often? Are you frustrated easily? And how do you sleep?
Based on this data, an entire programme will be tailored to your needs. This is an important feature, and means that no two experiences at RAKxa are ever the same. It is customisation at its very best, which makes you feel very special, but also targets your specific problem zones, or areas you’d like to improve. For us, this was centred around de-stressing, and figuring out how to improve our overall health.
An hour-long chat about the questionnaire and a few clicks on the system later, an itinerary came sprinting out of the printer. If you come with a partner, you can ensure certain activities take place at the same time. However, for the most part, a stay at RAKxa is largely focused on you and your own wellness. ‘Me Time’ in many senses of the word.
For the body: a fitness test and a corrective class
RAKxa is divided into different zones. At RAKxa Gaya, the focus is on the body.
Here, we took part in a fitness test, which was much easier and far more interesting than expected. Do you put equal weight on both legs when you stand? Is your posture as good as it could be? Which arm is stronger? How’s your coordination?
After this fun one-hour assessment, we were given a corrective fitness class to match these results. For us, this meant working on balance, breathing, and brain stimulation. Both the physiotherapist and the physiologist were enthusiastic and creative in suggesting workout ideas for us, and we still use some of the exercises to show off at the gym to date.
For the mind: a brain and belly massage
Of course, a lot of people don’t think of a wellness retreat as a sweat-inducing workout. Over at RAKxa Jai, the mind is the target of treatment.
Spanning an impressive selection of procedures, RAKxa Jai uses all traditional Chinese, traditional Thai, Ayurvedic, and energy healing to tend to different concerns. We had mentioned nightmares and poor sleeping habits in the consultation, for which we were prescribed a brain and belly massage (the official name being “Zen Na Tai”).
Hands down, it was one of the best massage treatments we have ever experienced. We fell into the sweet trance between conscious and unconscious several times, and felt entirely calmed thereafter. The therapist explained to us what she had learned during the massage, too: “you overthink too much, your head is hot. You’re suppressing a lot of emotion, your belly is hard.” We knew it.
In our veins: nutrients and ice
At VitalLife, a lot of the more medical treatments take place. These span everything from hormone testing to photo-light therapy, botox, and IV infusions.
We were assigned a session with the Cryo machine, which uses -130 degree temperature to reduce inflammation, boost mood, and possibly even burn 500 calories in just 3 minutes. Before stepping into the body-sized chamber, we stripped down to underwear and were given gloves and socks to avoid frostbite (yup). The machine covers the entire body, with just your head popping out from the top. After all 180 seconds, we stepped out actually feeling — excuse the pun — very cool. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Friendly medical staff chats to you throughout the process, and you leave the human-fridge feeling a lot more energised.
The following morning we also took a blood test to check our nutrient levels, and a week after were emailed the results along with suggestions for diet and supplements. Where blood tests can be horrifying for those who are scared of needles, this one was quite pleasant given the comfortable armchairs and view of the gardens.
Can we get more gluten-free bread?
It’s nice to not have to worry about your diet, as RAKxa has already removed those worries for you.
Currently there is only one restaurant at RAKxa (with another in the works), and we enjoyed sitting both indoors and outdoors for each of our Thai and Western-inspired meals. The meals here follow an anti-inflammatory philosophy, and aim to eliminate harmful toxins. Portion sizes are friendly, and each meal even comes with a guilt-free dessert. Our highlight, however, was the gluten-free bread and the daily-changing kombucha.
Yes, we became one of those people.
Even if someone were to tell you that you were, say, a bit overweight and lacking nine essential nutrients, the blow is cushioned when you’re sipping butterfly pea tea on a porch overlooking the river.
Such is the charm of RAKxa. They know how to take the “scaries” out of medicine, and encourage wellness in a way that isn’t overwhelming. Their knowledge is based on medical science and is modern in its data-driven approach, yet isn’t communicated in a way that is hard to understand. In fact, it is delivered in a way that is practical and useful.
A few weeks after our inaugural stay, we still keep some of the habits RAKxa planted in us. We still brew sleeping grass or roasted barley for tea in the evening. We try to wake up earlier to meditate. We take Vitamin D supplements. It is the difference between a wellness retreat and a visit to the spa: you’re given proven advice, and you’re keen to follow it.
As the doors opened up to reality at the end of our stay, we were shaken by the noise and the chaos. In a time of never-ending notifications on your iPhone and wafts of PM 2.5 on the back of a Grab Bike to avoid traffic, there’s something extremely soothing about RAKxa. We can’t wait to come back and hit that reset button soon again. We can’t wait to come back even if only for the belly rub.
RAKxa Wellness and Medical Retreat, 28/8 Moo 9, Bangnamphung Sub-District, Phra Pradaeng, Bangkok, +66 2055 3100.