Chances are you’ve heard isolation tanks mentioned before. I believe these tanks provide an experience unlike anything else. If you happen to be visiting Thailand there are only two locations to float, one in Bangkok and one in Koh Samui. I recently was able to try the Thaisolate Float Spa located on the island of Koh Samui and it was an incredible experience that I’d recommend to anyone visiting the area.
To begin, let me first briefly explain the idea of an “isolation” tank. An isolation tank is a lightless, soundproof tank inside which subjects float in salt water at skin temperature. In current tanks, a solution of epsom salt is used for increased buoyancy so you float effortlessly; you will float with your face above the water, but your ears are submerged. Hearing is therefore greatly reduced, particularly when using earplugs as protection against the salt water. When your arms float to the side, skin sensation is greatly reduced because the air and water are the same temperature as the skin, and the feeling of a body boundary fades. The sense of smell is also greatly reduced, especially if the water has not been treated with chlorine.
Upon entering Thaisolate you are warmly greeted by front desk staff. First they will ask if you have any prior experience floating, or if this is your first time. If it is your first time they will walk you through the process and what to expect as well as provide some pointers for your float session. You will then choose a length of time to float; I personally believe that 1.5 hours is the perfect length for first timers (or even second-third timers). They will also offer to turn on music for the first 5-10 minutes (which I declined).
After you determine a length of time you will be taken upstairs to one of the tank rooms. Inside the room is (of course) the float tank as well as a place to put your clothes (you typically float nude, but can leave on your underwear if you feel more comfortable that way), and some towels for when you are finished.
Float tank at Thaisolate in the light and dark.
After stripping off, turning off the lights in the room, and getting in the tank you can then begin your session. After stepping in the tank you’ll turn pull the lid shut (the lid is very light, which allows you to get in and out easily) and then you have the option to shut off the small red light inside the tank (I recommend doing this once you are comfortable).
Once in the tank the rest of the session is dependent on you. I find that first 10-15 minutes my mind is racing. The lack of external stimuli (pitch black, no sound, no feeling of your body due to water temp and floating) means that you are alone with only your mind. This is a great time to gain some clarity and stress into anything that may be currently stressing or weighing you down. After this initial outpour of thoughts is when the real treat actually begins though. If you have practice with mindfulness meditation I find this very beneficial in helping relax and ease into the “correct” mind state. You begin to enter a state of pure peacefulness. If you have ever had a psychedelic experience then you may be familiar with this feeling. Time becomes meaningless; your consciousness is simply in a state of co-existence with the universe, completely independent from your physical body. This may sound crazy, but think about it – when you shut off all physical senses, the only thing you have left is your mind.
During the final 5 minutes of your time you’ll hear music softly begin to play. This is the cue to let you know your session is over. Once you emerge you’ll dry off and then go shower to rinse all the salt off. The staff will come to get you and take you to a lounge area where you can enjoy a cup of tea and discuss your session (if you’d like).
This all may sound a bit ‘new-agey’ but please bear with me. The experience is incredibly refreshing and I guarantee you’ll emerge feeling like a new person. You’ll feel lighter both physically and mentally, sleep easier for the coming nights, are less incline to indulge in unhealthy things (i.e. binge-drinking, junk food, etc).
Now there are some downsides to Thaisolate. One is its location. Koh Samui is, of course, incredibly over-developed. This means it’s impossible to find much peace and quiet. Thaisolate has done a good job noise-proofing their float rooms, but you’ll still hear the occasional rumble of a truck outside. I can’t fault them for this as they warned me beforehand, but it’s still something to keep in mind. Many people also see the price and are turned off. They think that “I can get an entire spa-package for that, why should I spend that kind of money just to float in some water for a couple hours?” But to think this way is to miss the point. I can guarantee that 1.5-2 hours in a float tank is infinitely more rewarding than a massage and facial.
All-in-all I thoroughly enjoyed my session at Thaisolate and I would recommend the place to anyone traveling to Samui. To be clear, I was in no way compensated or asked to write this review, I jsut wanted to share my positive experience. Even more importantly I would suggest that regardless of where you are, seeking out a float tank is something that you should do at least once. The experience is both rewarding and refreshing.