If you are looking for information on where to train Muay Thai in Thailand, you’ve come to the right place. And the answer is actually pretty simple: everywhere and anywhere!
As the home of Muay Thai where the sport originates, there is certainly no shortage of training options. Back in the golden 80’s and 90’s, Thai camps routinely turned away foreigners but that has now changed. Many gyms -including the top names- are opening their doors to foreigners of all levels.
But even with Muay Thai gyms peppered all over the country, most Muay Thai vacationers end up in one of the few most-visited cities namely, Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. Each city will appeal to you depending on your preference and so I’m here to help make your planning.
Where to train Muay Thai in Thailand
Choosing the Thai city to train Muay Thai depends on a few factors. These factors include your skill level, your goals, and whether you are a city or beach or nature person.
We will go through the pros and cons for each of the cities plus a bonus look on off-the-beaten path options. Let’s kick things off with the Thai capital and city of angels:
Bangkok is not only the capital of Thailand but the Mecca of Muay Thai. It is home to the most important Muay Thai arenas, biggest Muay Thai brands, and the very best camps.
You will find Muay Thai events at the elite level taking place on a daily basis in Bangkok at Lumpinee, Rajadamnern, Channel 7. Rangsit and other smaller stadiums. Bangkok is where basically it’s at; where Muay Thai fighters arrive to chase the dream and forge their legacy.
Because of its importance, Bangkok is home to -by my estimate- over a hundred gyms of the highest level. So it is where you come to train with the best so you can be the best.
However, Bangkok also sees the heaviest tourist traffic due to it being the main transport hub and entry point. There are gyms in Bangkok that have innovated to cater to tourists. These gyms are also set up to service the growing middle class and expat population taking up Muay Thai for fitness purposes.
Overall, regardless of your level and goals, there is a gym here suitable for your needs in these aspects.
Pros: Bangkok is home to the best and most elite Muay Thai camps in the world. You will find yourself training alongside decorated champions and legends at many of the gyms. If you are up to it, you can spar and clinch with the top-tier fighters at most of the gyms.
If you are here to fight, most gyms and trainers will be able to set you up easily depending on your level. Many foreigners have their first fight at Asiatique.
As the Thai capital, Bangkok is the most well-developed and easy to get around. Food is cheap, and you will find a variety of great value-for-money accommodation along every street in the city. Long-term accommodation in condominiums are great value too if you can commit for a few months.
Entertainment and activities are aplenty including daily Muay Thai events at the top stadiums. It’s also a renowned shopping paradise. Be prepared to leave with plenty of new fight gear and Muay Thai shorts.
Cons: The pollution and frenetic pace of life may not be for everyone. While the first few days may be fun and exciting, it can get overwhelming when you overstay the novelty. The frequent traffic jams will wear some of you down easily but most places that you will visit are served by skytrains and metros.
Things have improved a lot over the years but many elite gyms will naturally put their emphasis on their Thai fighters over a short-term foreign visitor. These same gyms typically recruit fighters from rural Thailand who already have many years of experience. As such, trainers here expect a certain level of proficiency from their fighters.
Due to the scarcity of land, gyms are usually smaller and most do not provide on-site accommodation. Thankfully, there is no lack of hotels to choose from.
|If you are a beginner, it may not be the most suitable place to begin our Muay Thai training journey. Not that there isn’t any. Check out some of the “Best Muay Thai Gyms in Bangkok for Beginners”.|
Phuket is a city-island located in Southern Thailand and the most visited of all the Thai islands. Since the early 2000s, Phuket has also grown to become a major destination for Muay Thai enthusiasts around the world.
Tiger Muay Thai is a pioneer in championing the concept of a Muay Thai vacation since 2005. Many camps followed suit, rebranding themselves and marketing to a growing global interest in the sport. In time, Phuket became a top Muay Thai holiday destination, providing authentic top-notch training backed by gorgeous beaches and a more laid-back island pace.
Don’t discount the Phuket gyms because of the island’s holiday-making image. In the last few years, more and more foreign fighters training out of Phuket gyms are climbing up the elite ladder.
Several of these fighters have made a name on both the Thai elite and international circuit, bagging championship titles at the highest level. They are proving that they can stand toe-to-toe with the best of the Thai.
Pros: As a city catering to tourists, Phuket has all the comforts to make you feel like you are home away from home. There are restaurants serving all kinds of -somewhat authentic- international cuisines and accommodation to suit every budget.
Top gyms on the island are producing many non-Thai champions to rival the best. In fact, many visitors favor Phuket trainers over Bangkok trainers as the former are more likely to be able to converse in English. This makes coaching more effective as they are able to explain techniques or the rationale behind certain techniques.
If you are looking to train and fight, I would argue that Phuket to be more suitable over Bangkok. Particularly if you are at a beginner or intermediate level.
Then there are also gyms with resort-like facilities and comfort for those who prefer a more high-end training environment.
Cons: The costs of living are slightly higher on Phuket than Bangkok however not a major concern. It also has a less Thai authenticity as everything is tailored for the tourist.
Unlike Bangkok, Phuket is lacklustre when it comes to Muay Thai events at the high level. Competitions are held daily at Bangla, Patong and the small Galaxy stadiums featuring mainly foreigners on training vacations. However, this is a great way to clock up experience.
The long-term and more advanced Muay Farangs usually compete in Bangkok on televised shows like Muay Hardcore and Superchamp Muay Thai.
Notable gyms: Tiger Muay Thai, Phuket Fight Club, Revolution Muay Thai Gym, Sinbi Muay Thai.
|For more information and recommendation, check out: “Where to train Muay Thai in Phuket”.|
Pattaya has a not-so-wholesome image. Most tourists associate the “Sin city” with the gogo bar scene, ladyboys and a somewhat dirty beach. The city also sees heavy tour group traffic with bus-loads of Chinese and Indian tourists.
However, Pattaya has its redeeming factors especially if you hang around a little longer and get to know the city away from Walking Street. It is also where you will find a number of world-famous gyms.
Away from Walking Street, Pattaya is like most other major Thai cities. You can get a variety of international cuisine, cheap Thai food and a wide range of accommodation. There are also plenty of activities outside of training and a few shopping malls for entertainment.
There is certainly no lack of training opportunities and a small number of fight gear stores for all your training needs. Give Pattaya a try and you may enjoy your stay here.
Pros: There are two key reasons why you may want to pick Pattaya over other cities: some of the most renowned Muay Thai gyms in the world and the “entertainment”.
Fairtex Training Center, Sityodtong Gym and Venum Training Camp are three well-known gyms that see repeated visitors who return year after year. Fairtex and Venum are two big brand names with a huge facility. Fairtex also has accommodation on-site. Founded by the late Grandmaster Yodtong Senanan, Sityodtong has a long history as the gym where Samart Payakaroon trained.
Pattaya has a more relaxed vibe compared to Bangkok and somewhat easy to get around with a scooter or local transport. It is located about a 2-hour bus ride from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport so easy to get in and out of.
Cons: Pattaya isn’t for everyone. It is a city of extremes so you either love it or hate it.
In terms of Muay Thai training, Pattaya doesn’t quite compare to Bangkok or Phuket in terms of options. There is also only a small selection of fight gear stores.
Max Muay Thai is the best place to watch fights live but tickets are pricey so it will be an one-off thing. In other major cities, there are free fighting events or very affordably priced.
Notable gyms: Sityodtong Muay Thai Gym, Fairtex Training Center, Venum Training Camp
The northern city of Chiang Mai is a popular Muay Thai destination especially for its thriving female fight scene. There are a number of stadiums here catering to an active fighting scene.
The city itself is very developed and well set up for tourists. It is also popular with digital nomads and co-working spaces can be found around the city. If you are planning to be based here long-term, accommodation and general living expenses are very affordable too.
Chiang Mai is well-known for its elephant sanctuaries, lantern festival and old city attractions. Overall, a city that has everything to offer as a top Thai destination.
Pros: Chiang Mai is very well set up for female and amateur fighters as the stadiums regularly host bouts for all genders. A great city to gain experience and numbers for your fight record.
The weather is also cooler due to the city’s higher elevation, especially in winter-time (Dec-Feb) when nights can get chilly.
There are plenty of activities and day trips to make. It is surrounded by hilly and forested terrains, making it an ideal base for nature-lovers. If Bangkok or Pattaya are too much for you but you still crave convenience and comfort, Chiang Mai offers an ideal balance.
There is a somewhat reliable bus system which helps to lower transport costs and makes getting around easier.
There is a good selection of Muay Thai gyms here that are very popular with intermediate-advanced fighters looking to compete. The quality of training is very high and many trainers are ex-stadium champions.
Cons: In terms of entertainment, Chiang Mai can be a little tame compared to Bangkok and Pattaya. But if you are here to train and get away from it all, it’s not that big of a deal.
The northern city is increasingly getting westernized due to the influx of digital nomads and tourists, losing its Thai authenticity as it tries to accommodate the foreigners.
Like most big cities, smog and pollution is becoming a problem in Chiang Mai. This is partly contributed by locals in the surrounding areas who are burning crops throughout the winter season.
Notable gyms: Buakaw Village, Santai Gym, Hong Thong Gym.
Outside of the popular cities, there are also many off-the-beaten path places for the intrepid. So if you are looking for something a little less trodden, I may have a few suggestions for you.
For those looking to get away from the tourist spots, the overrun malls and the crazy traffic jams, these places are for you.
Pros: There will be no distraction. If you crave a more ascetic lifestyle, you will get to focus on training and leveling up which is great.
Cons: It’s a double-edged sword. There will be no entertainment outside of training and hanging out with your campmates over food and drinks.
Notable gyms: Buriram’s Kiatmoo9 Gym is known for producing many renowned champions over the last decade or so. Sitjaopho in Hua Hin is very popular with intermediate to advanced fighters. Kem Muaythai in the mountainous Khao Yai also sees and hosts a few hardcore foreign fighters.
There is clearly no lack of places to train Muay Thai in Thailand. Pick a city, pick a few gyms and start training.
If I had to pick a winner, it would be down to Bangkok vs Phuket for the championship title.
If you have the time and the budget, why not consider a multi-city tour training and visiting the gyms on your bucket list. It may not be very often that you make the trip out to Thailand so make the full use of the time you have.
Time to start planning for your trip!