Unfortunately for trained and licensed masseuses, massage parlours are often used as a front for sex workers. This is also a trap for the unwary customer – after all, if you need some muscles in your back loosened you don’t really want to find out you are actually paying someone who hasn’t been properly trained to rub it for you.

If you are looking for a massage, particularly of the Thai variety, it can be very hard to tell if an outlet offering one is a legitimate masseuse business. This uncertainty, and the risk of accidentally walking into a brothel, can frequently keep people who could benefit from the procedure from seeking one out. So how can you tell if a massage really is all you will get?


If the storefront advertises the masseurs as all “lovely ladies” that is one clue. Generally signs that tell you anything about who will be performing the service (especially if they use sexualised language) can be taken as a sign that the parlour is a front for sex services.

Further, if you are given the ethnic background of the people who work there or promised “regular fresh faces” then the place is almost certainly a brothel – or at least a “happy ending” business. If there is a website advertised, check it out as well for any further signs that the outlet is not what it seems.

Opening hours

There is no profit in a regular massage parlour being open late at night. After people finish work – sure. After dinner? Absolutely not. If the place is open at odd hours (i.e. later than, say, a physiotherapist or chiropractor would be), it is almost certainly used in the sex industry.


The amount of privacy offered inside the premises is another indicator of how legitimate it is. If you can’t see anything inside the shop from the outside, then you may well be looking at a brothel or, at the least, a happy ending parlour.

Once you go inside you will be able to further assess how legitimate the shop is. If multiple people are in the same room, for example, then it is almost certainly not a front for sex work (or if it is, it’s a lot of fun). On the other hand, if each customer has their own room for the massage it could well be a brothel.

By looking at the advertising, opening hours and privacy levels you should be able to work out whether a massage parlour is legitimate or not. For a genuine therapeutic experience you should also check out the credentials of the masseuses, to make sure that they are properly trained.