While we were planning our latest stay in Bangkok this March, we were looking for some luxury experiences, and one of the things I wanted to do was to try some new or unusual spa experiences. I came across Theta State Float Center on TripAdvisor. I’d heard about float centres before and been meaning to try it, but never got around to it. We’d already been in Thailand for two weeks at that point so we’d had plenty of Thai massages already, so floating sounded like a great change and something that we couldn’t do elsewhere in Thailand.
What is floating?
Floating is exactly what it sounds like: You float in a big tank of water. Typically, those tanks are fully enclosed and soundproof as well as lightproof – they’re also called isolation tanks. The idea is to help you relax by taking away any distraction or stimuli.
Floating in an open pod for the first time!
There are different styles of tanks. At Theta State Float Center, we each had a private room with a floating pod style tank – it kind of looked like a giant egg. The tank is filled with salt water which has a large concentration of epsom salt, meaning you will float on top of the water effortlessly. As you get into the tank, you listen to soothing music, and the tank has soft coloured lighting. You close the lid and get comfortable, then turn off the lights. The music helps get you into a state of relaxation, and after a while, it turns off: there is now no stimulation of any kind – perfect to shut off your mind and relax.
Why floating is good for you
The main purpose of floating is to relax you completely, both physically and mentally. Since you’re lying on the water, there is no pressure on any point of your body, which is incredibly helpful for relieving muscle tension. I had never really given this much thought before, but even when we’re lying down, there is always pressure on some point of your body, even on the most comfortable mattress. In a floating tank, that pressure disappears.
The lack of physical pressure, combined with the darkness and the silence after the music turns off, means you take away all outside stimuli to your brain – experts call it sensory deprivation. This helps you go into a deep state of relaxation. Theta State says it changes your brain waves into a slower and more rhythmic pace in a similar way that meditation does. Whilst I didn’t attempt to measure my brain waves while floating, I can definitely confirm that the warm water and design of the floating pods helped me relax.
The view on the inside: definitely zen.
Our experience with Theta State Float Center
I’d never tried floating before, so I relied on Theta State Float Center to give me all the information I needed to enjoy this experience. Right after confirming our booking, they sent us a welcome email with detailed information on everything they thought we needed to know about our first float. They even included two videos, handy for people like me who like to overplan and know everything beforehand.
A short documentary video I found on floating pods. It explains things really well! I also found Theta State’s Floating FAQ very useful for information before the float.
When we got to the center, they welcomed us with a cup of blue herbal tea – it looked slightly spooky, but really fit the theme! They answered all our questions and were even able to accommodate our high-maintenance blogger request of starting our floating pods at different times so we could take photos of our experience.
The tea bar at Theta State Float Center, with lots of pics of customers. They snap a photo of every customer that visits and hang them on the wall!
The welcome lounge.
Sipping dark blue tea
State of the art introduction to floating: watching videos on their flatscreen TV
Once we were all set, we went to one of the pod rooms. They said we didn’t need to bring anything, and they really weren’t exaggerating. They even provided me with a contact lens container and solution so I could take out my lenses for the session. I took a quick shower and stepped into the pod: perfect temperature. The music was already playing, so it was a very soothing atmosphere. I sat down and attempted to float – easy. Even if you’re one of those people who seem to sink even in the sea, don’t worry – you will float.
After a few photos (I’m a blogger, after all) I said goodbye to the outside world and closed the pod. Lights on? Lights off? I went with lights off. Closed my eyes and enjoyed the feeling of floating on water. I listened to the music and just chilled. Ten minutes into the session, the music turned off as the team had told me it would.
The open floating pod. See that neck pillow hanging on the side for extra comfort?
The closed floating pod. Like an egg, Matrix style. Just way more relaxing.
I’m one of those people whose brains race at a hundred miles an hour, which makes things like meditation difficult for me (just stop thinking? Easier said than done). With the absence of the music, there was no distraction for my brain anymore. I started moving around a bit in the water, just slowly moving my arms, my legs, focusing on the feeling of the water rather than whatever was going on in the outside world. At one point, the moving made me touch one of the side walls of the pod. As I touched the wall with one of my arms, I gently pushed with the intention of going back to the middle of the pod – and somehow pushed hard enough to end up touching the other wall a few seconds later. Not what I had planned, but you know what? I kind of liked it. So I pushed off again just a tiny bit and this time ended up touching the far end of the pod with my feet.
It felt like I was floating in space with zero gravity. So, since I’m not the kind of person that can just shut off their brain and lie there, I decided I’d just play astronaut for a while and float around in my mini-spaceship from corner to corner (well kind of – there’s no real corners) in slow motion for a while. And while I’m sure this isn’t what the inventors had in mind when designing these pods, it totally worked for me. For the next few minutes, I was focused on feeling the water, feeling my body move in it effortlessly, and imagining I was in space. I wasn’t thinking about what else I had to do that day or what was on my to do list for work. I was in the moment. For me, that’s total relaxation success, and I was happy.
My happy place
So when the music turned back on, indicating my time in the floating pod was over, I wasn’t too keen to get back to real life. But at least I could celebrate my relaxation success. I got up, opened the pod and took a shower. I loved Theta State’s shampoo by the way, I don’t know what it was but something about it was very refreshing and kind of stimulating, and it helped me wake up again.
I got dried off and dressed and went out to their cozy lounge, where I was welcomed back by one of the team members with some fresh hot tea and an energy snack, all designed to gently get my body and mind back into real life and help me function again. We must have spent at least half an hour drinking tea (they were quick with refills) and chatting with the team about our experience, before setting off to continue with our day (full disclosure: we only made it to the next Starbucks down the street, where we set back down with coffee, tea and cookies to continue the relaxation).
What you need to know
Unless you like to overplan like I do, there’s really not much you need to know about floating. You could go right now, they would provide you with everything you need and explain anything you needed to know.
For me, floating was a really comfortable and enjoyable experience. If you’re worried about the pods making you feel claustrophobic, choose a float center that has larger float rooms. Theta State Float Center had two pod-style rooms and two rooms with large float chambers that are more like walk-in closets that are six foot high. We didn’t check those out, but you can see pictures of them on their website.
And if you don’t like the idea of floating in complete darkness, rest assured that the light controls are inside the pod and you can turn the lights on and off whenever you want. I actually turned mine on a few times when I somehow managed to get salt water in my eyes or to grab the neck pillow that was provided for extra comfort.
Like floating in space!
Finally, to help you solve the one mystery I didn’t manage to solve before I went: you’re supposed to float naked, so no need to bring a bathing suit. Unless you’re a picture taking blogger, of course.
Would I recommend it?
Yes. I really liked my floating experience and am definitely planning on going again, whether it’s at home in Barcelona or when I’m back in Bangkok. Whilst I probably wasn’t the perfect client with my astronaut floating style, I found my own way to relax inside the floating pod and it certainly worked a lot better for me than any attempt at meditation ever did, so for me it was a win.
If you’re in Bangkok, I would definitely recommend Theta State Float Center. The team was very friendly, whilst we had one person mainly looking after us and explaining everything beforehand, everyone who walked past us in the lounge asked us how it was or offered more tea. The private floating rooms looked modern and new, and most importantly, were very clean. They work on a schedule that leaves plenty of time between bookings for planned cleaning after every customer, so I was confident that everything was clean. And, as already mentioned, they provided everything we needed including towels, toiletries and a hair dryer. The center is part of a small mall and there are plenty of cafés, restaurants and shops nearby so you could enjoy this as part of a relaxing luxury day.