Illiana Somoroff

Steaming Wellness

Thai Herbal Sauna vs Dutch Sauna

The Thai Herbal Sauna experience is very unique and contrasting to the Dutch experience. The Thai is focused more on personal relaxation and rejuvenation of the body, rather than the Dutch one, which is more focused on communal activity.


Thai Steam sauna cabin with rice cooker and head out -

Solitary Detox

The history of the Thai herbal sauna is very traditional in taking care of one's body and wellness. Many families have their own private DIY sauna which is used for all different health treatments as well as used for all ages. For instance, a simple sauna can be made out of a chicken coop or out of bamboo. Enjoying a sauna is seen as a private activity. So, as they are designed to fit just one person, plus they have to enable the steam to fill the room, they are very small.

Thai herbal sauna incorporates the knowledge that has been passed down from one generation to the next, pertaining to which herbs should be used for what, and it is something that should be not only preserved but celebrated.

What it looks like 

Within the sauna room, there is traditionally a boiling pot of herbs which is used as the source of steam. The herbs in the pot determine the type of sauna experience you have, and in what way your body will detoxify. The typical ingredients used in Thai herbal steam are native herbs, including lemongrass, kaffir lime and kaffir lime leaves, turmeric, galangal, plai, pandanus leaves, ginger, camphor, and tamarind leaves.


Traditional Thai Sauna - sketch -

'Gezellig samen'

However, this may be quite different from what we are used to here in the Netherlands. The Dutch sauna is not as exemplifying of Dutch culture as to how it is regarded in Thailand. The Dutch sauna is similar to other countries in Europe where it has become a place of socialization and consumerism. 

Most saunas are a building where there are a variety of different services such as pools, massage rooms, steam baths, and saunas. You have the option to choose whichever “wellness treatment” you would like to partake in. This automatically is more concentrated on the consumerist culture of having large spaces where people have choices of what “experience” they want to have on that day. Yes, of course, there is the benefit of having shower rooms and towels available, but there is a lack of privacy and really what the core of for example Thai saunas are about: personal, mental and physical wellness.

Follow the next blog post with Chef Waew: Shrinking Sustainability


First prototype in Thailand of steam sauna -