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.
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.
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.