Most tourists travel to Thailand for a spot of sunbathing, some sightseeing and a lively nightlife, but many also arrive on our brilliant shores eager to learn and practice the ancient martial art of Thai boxing.

Muay Thai is the national sport in Thailand, once fought by a bold army who wrapped their fists with rope and fought with eight limbs – punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes.

Every Sunday afternoon when Channel 7 broadcasts live fights in Bangkok, you’ll see groups of local Thai guys crowded around TV screens all over the country, simultaneously gasping and shouting as fighters land a lethal kick, catch a crushing elbow strike, or take an all-out punch.

Phuket is the main destination for training in Muay Thai, and potential fighters from around the world, including Europe, Russia, the UK, America and Australia, arrive on the island to join one of the boxing training camps. Some are here just for the exercise – running, squats, sprints, sit-ups – and to improve their skills, whilst others have come to compete and fight in the ring.

There’s a big thrill to be had from wrapping knuckles, pulling your boxing gloves on and letting out all that frustration on a heavy punch bag.

Muay Thai

Training Camps

Phuket has several first-class training camps, Tiger Muay Thai and MMA in Chalong is one of the largest. Set on a large piece of land, it accepts up to 400 trainees every month and has over 30 Muay Thai coaches and international coaches whose specialities are fitness, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA.

For a more traditional style gym, check out Suwit Muay Thai Camp in Chalong, one of the oldest on the island. They offer twice-daily training classes for different levels, six days a week. Suwit promises students the chance to compete at matches all over Thailand, and hosts a public fight night at the camp every Friday. You’ll see the trainers and their students out running the roads every early morning and evening.

Sutai Muay Thai is a modern and clean facility in Surin Beach area, offering exceptional training in many languages as well as functional training for those who aren’t aiming for the ultimate fight, but keen to get fighting fit. Impressively, there are also classes for kids to take part in and yoga classes are also offered to stretch out those overworked muscles.

You can opt to take private lessons with trainers at very reasonable rates, or join a group class at a weekly or monthly rate. Most camps have accommodation onsite or have a deal with a local hotel so you can meet like-minded people also interested in improving their fighting skills.

Muay Thai trainers have grown up in the world of boxing, some of them starting their training as young as 10 years old. Fighters take part in hundreds of matches during their career, some of them have boxed at the top level and are ex-world champions. They expect students to work hard, and with an intense daily training schedule, you have to be committed, particularly if you want to fight. It’s a hard, competitive sport that comprises a lot of physical training, and a top-level fight necessitates dedication.
When you’re not running 10k in the hot morning sun, doing 50 squats, or pounding the life out of a punchbag there’s plenty of fun activities to discover in Phuket. Visit Khao Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife & Forest Reserve and hike up to the waterfall. Go surfing at Surin Beach, or take some kiteboarding lessons at Cape Panwa. Need to relax more? Treat yourself to a luxury massage at an exclusive spa resort or jump into an ice bath followed by a sauna and swim.

Watch Muay Thai Fights

If you prefer to watch rather than participate, then buy yourself a ticket and experience the passion and drama of Thailand’s national sport amidst crowds of onlookers.

There are lots of local camps that organise small fights at various sites around Phuket, but the biggest events are held at Patong Beach area where they have nightly displays of Thai Boxing mostly aimed at the tourists.

A Thai boxing match is worth watching for the excitement, the crowd goes wild in expectation and everyone rushes to place a bet before the fight starts. But the best part is the wild music and the traditional war-dance ritual performed by the fighters to introduce each fight, the dance is a demonstration of respect and gratitude to their trainer. Thai’s are very superstitious people, so the Wai Khru ceremony also acts as a way to seal the ring before the fight starts, guaranteeing no negative energy or spirits can enter.


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