Where to watch Muay Thai Fights in Bangkok (2020)
If you are planning to catch some Live Muay Thai action in Bangkok, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I will share my (up-to-date) recommendations on the top places to watch Muay Thai in Bangkok. While the tourist-friendly and accessible MBK Mall hosts free Muay Thai events from time to time, it’s only good for casuals who want to get a fast-food sampling of the sport. If you want the real deal, then you have to venture a little. Let’s get right to it. Here are my recommendations on where to watch Muay Thai fights in Bangkok:
|Updated 11 April 2020 -Due to the COVID-19 (Corona virus) situation, all shows are now stopped until further notice. Do check on the country’s updates before planning your trip which I suspect will be a while.
Rajadamnern Stadium (Ratchadamnoen Stadium)
One of the sport’s two most important arenas, as well as a historical landmark being the first Muay Thai stadium built in Thailand. The Rajadamnern Stadium is my top recommendation for the spot to catch the best Muay Thai fights in Bangkok. Not only is it more accessible than the famed Lumpinee stadium, it hosts elite fights on par with the standards at Lumpinee.
Petchyindee and OneSongchai are 2 of the biggest event promoters at Rajadamnern and they always put up the best shows. You can be sure to catch many of the best fighters in their promotions. Check the schedule via the Muay Thai 2000 events calendar to see the fight cards for the week ahead.
When the show’s over, or if you are feeling fatigue from watching too many fights, there’s a good selection of street food hawkers outside the stadium. Don’t forget to get a customary shot of yourself in front of the stadium’s fluorescent-lit sign.
When: Rajadamnern shows are held on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays typically from 6-630pm onwards and end around 10pm. Drinks and food from outside are not allowed (and they will check at the doors) but an attendant goes around to take orders for drinks and snacks.
How to get there: If you are staying around the traveler enclave of Khao San road, then it’s about 20 minutes to walk here. Otherwise, taking a cab here should take around half an hour or less from the nearest skytrain stations (Phaya Thai, Victory Monument, or Ratchathewi) which will cost 100 baht or under. The nearest MRT station is the newly opened Sam Yot which is about 2km away.
Entry: 2000 baht for ringside seats and 1500 for second class seats (offer a better view since it’s a level higher than the ringside seats). Club class tickets cost 1800 with similar views to second class seats but probably come with some privileges. Many gyms in Bangkok are affiliated with the stadium so if you are training at any, check with your gym to see if there is any discount for ringside tickets. You can get your tickets from the Rajadamnern official website and you just need to show up with your email confirmation for entry.
Forget about third class at Rajadamnern as you might get an obstructed view due to the checkerboard ceiling lights. By the way, if you have fought here before, you will get a 2-year pass to the stadium where you can watch fights for free. Not bad at all.
Lumpinee used to be the number one spot for catching the best Muay Thai fights in the whole of Thailand. Strike that. Make that the whole world. Not only was it in a central location near to downtown, it hosted the very top fighters of the sport. This was a legendary venue where countless stars were made.
A few years back, the powers that be decided to move the stadium to its current location along Ram Inthra road, near to the Don Muang airport. The location was not only far away from downtown, the trip to the stadium never fails to be severely marred by the notorious evening rush hour traffic as the fights begin at 630 in the evenings (weekdays).
Is it still worth going then? That really depends on who’s on the fight card. But for tourists and casual sports fans, Rajadamnern is a far better option, simply due to the accessibility. The sport’s elite athletes still compete here at Lumpinee regularly but if you just want to catch authentic Muay Thai fights in a stadium, then hands down, Rajadamnern for the win.
For those in the know, Lumpinee still hosts many of the best Muay Thai fights/fighters comparable to Rajadamnern. Personally, I feel that it’s worth getting stuck in traffic for an hour to catch the high-profile fights if you are into the sport as I am. You can start early with your journey before the peak hour traffic picks up or simply relish in the Bangkok Jam experience.
When: Lumpinee shows are held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The best shows tend to be during the weekdays but there will be the occasional big names or title fights on Saturdays. You can check the fight cards on Muay Thai 2000 a week ahead of the event. Drinks and food from outside are not allowed but a attendant goes around to take orders for drinks and snacks.
How to get there: Grab or the trusted cab. To minimize getting stucked in the horrendous evening traffic jam, take the skytrain to Mo Chit or the MRT to Phahan Yothin, then transfer to a cab. Flag a cab and ask to be taken to Lumpinee at Ram Inthra road. You might get turned down but you will have no problem finding one who will take you eventually. The cab fare to Lumpinee should cost somewhere around 250 baht (including toll charges) and half that for the return trip.
Entry: 2000 baht for ringside. As with Rajadamnern, discounts are offered for people training in affiliated gyms in Bangkok. You may ask for second class or third class seats at the box office.
Where to Train Muay Thai in Bangkok
If you are inspired and looking to train Muay Thai after watching all these high-adrenaline fights, there are a few gyms in Bangkok that are great to get a sampling and even work your way up to a real fight. Check out some gyms to train Muay Thai in Bangkok (recommended for beginners).
Channel 7 Stadium (Free Entry)
The Channel 7 stadium is no longer the well-kept secret it once was and every Sunday, the matinees are packed with a good section of tourists amidst a majority Thai audience. Compared to the top 2 stadiums, this is so much easier to get to that word has gone around that this be THE place to catch some authentic Muay Thai action.
While the atmosphere is lively due to the enthusiastic local fight fans and gamblers, the stadium can be uncomfortably packed. The benches are unforgivably hard which affects the overall enjoyment to some extent. Most of the tourists who go to watch the show are often enticed by the free entry and its proximity to the Chatuchak weekend market. Just as many of them leave after only a couple of fights and it’s easy to understand why.
For the casual viewer, Muay Thai, with its 5 rounds of unhurried action (especially in the first 2 rounds) may not appeal to everyone. The stiff seating, deafening shouts from the hoarse-voiced gamblers, and occasional blocked views don’t exactly make for the most enjoyable experience especially when you compare to the other options on this list.
That said, the action at Channel 7 stadium is pretty top-notched and stars many up and coming fighters who would eventually make their way to the top 2. Fights here are as authentic as any other so for a (free) sampling of the sport, I wholly recommend this. There are about 4-5 bouts which give a good sampling of the sport. If you are after an authentic atmosphere for ticket cost of nothing, this is it.
|NOTE: As the show is broadcasted on national TV, the studio is increasingly enforcing proper attire (for foreigners especially). For men, please wear a collared shirt (polo tee is acceptable) with covered-toe shoes. For ladies, please wear long dress (no mini skirts/dresses) with covered shoulders and covered-toe shoes. You may be turned away or forced to buy a shirt outside the studio at grossly-inflated prices.|
When: Channel 7 shows are held every Sundays and broadcasted on Thailand national TV. The shows start around 215pm but it pays to come 45 minutes to 1 hour earlier (before 1pm) for good seats. Alternatively, arrive after 3pm where most tourists would have left after the 3rd bout and you have choices of reasonably good seats. Bring your own drinks and snacks. There’s a convenience store (7-11) right outside the main gate to the compound.
How to get there: Taking a cab is the easiest but if you are headed this way for a visit to the famous Chatuchak weekend market, it will be a 15-minute walk to the Channel 7 studio from the market or the nearest BTS station (Mo Chit) or MRT (Chatuchak). Walk down the road opposite of Chatuchak park with the huge parking garage on your right. Turn right at the road where you see the BTS headquarters building and keep walking for another 5 minute. You will see the security guards directing visitors and traffic at the studio. Just follow the crowd from there.
MX Muay Xtreme (Suan Lum Night Bazaar/The Bazaar Hotel)
If you have just a passing interest for Muay Thai, or just want to quench your thirst for some blood sports, MX Muay Xtreme is just the thing for you. After a few months of hiatus, this weekly show has returned albeit at a new location.
The show’s slick production and intense action is sign of the times and may well be the direction in which the Thai national sport is taking. With high-octane action and a high percentage of knockouts, this is one of the most popular Muay Thai shows among more casual fans of the sport.
The reason for the show’s high KO rate is due to the use of lighter gloves similar to the ones seen in MMA (around 6oz gloves). Fights adopt a “Thai vs Foreigners” formula here and feature good fighters with legit Muay Thai skills. There are always a few good fighters here. One more thing to note: no ceremonial dance is performed at MX but is instead replaced by modern-style walk-in and loud music. My only complaint: excessive use of seizure-inducing lights but it’s made for television.
There’s no knowing how long MX will stick around this time round but in the meantime, it looks to be another popular spot to catch some Muay Thai action. At a convenient location no less.
When: MX is held every Sunday afternoon at 115pm (1315). Plan on arriving around 1230pm to guarantee a seat in the more intimate spectator stands (hard benches). Alternatively, you can arrive at 1pm and grab a seat on the soft, cushioned chairs.
How to get there: The Bazaar Hotel is about 1-2 minutes walk from Lat Phrao MRT station. Take exit one and make a right as you come up onto the main road. The studio is on the floor C (in between floors 8 and 9) in The Bazaar Hotel. Take the elevator and there should be directions there to guide you.
Muay Thai Super Champ/Muay Hardcore
Muay Thai Super Champ and Muay Hardcore are two of Bangkok’s latest promotions that started in 2019. Broadcasted live on Channel 8 in Thailand, both shows adopt the exciting 3-round format in favor of the more traditional 5 rounds. Similar to MX, both also feature a “Thai vs foreigner” matchmaking that is a hit with local audiences.
Before anyone writes these off as lower-quality fights, I have been following Super Champ since it started and the show has produced week after week of well-matched, high-intensity Muay Thai action. Good ratio of knockout, occasional stars and good all-round production. Not the best Muay Thai fights in Bangkok but for there is no shortage of exciting fights here.
Muay Hardcore, the sister show, features Muay Thai fights in mma gloves similar to ONE championship and MX. High amount of knockouts and blood to satisfy hardcore and casual fight fans. Super Champ also starts off each fight with a Wai Kru dance (albeit shorter version) and live Sarama music so you can have a sampling of the Muay Thai traditions.
The only downside is the small studio with tiered rows of hard benches, which can get quite stuffy. The views are good but just plan on arriving early to guarantee a seat. The location is not exactly downtown but for those staying around the popular Khao San tourist enclave, this is highly recommended.
When: Muay Hardcore (Muay Thai with mma gloves) is held on Saturday while Muay Thai Super Champ on Sunday (both start at 19:00). Plan on arriving around 18:00 or earlier.
How to get there: The weekly shows take place behind Ban Chao Phraya Art Gallery (Cafe Amazon) on Phra Athit Road (along Muay Thai street) which is in close proximity to Khao San. The best way to get there is via the Chao Phraya Express boat to Phra Athit Pier. The nearest train station is Sanam Chai on the MRT blue line.
Brief Introduction to Watching Muay Thai
In traditional Muay Thai fights, each match is preceded by a ceremonial dance known as the Wai Kru Ram Muay (typically shortened as Wai Kru) which is a homage to one’s teacher, parents and/or the King.
Each bout goes for 5 rounds with 2-minute breaks between each 3-minute round. So a match typically last around 25 minutes except in the occasions of knockouts. For the stadium shows, there are usually 7-9 match-ups with the first 2-3 fights showcasing the youngest fighters. The main event is scheduled for the 6-7th fight but it’s worth arriving early for at least the 3rd or 4th fight onward where the action really picks up. Of course, if you want to get your money’s worth, you should arrive before the first fight.
In traditional stadium Muay Thai, round 1s tend to be slow as each fighter tries to get a feel of his opponent’s reach and style. The action typically goes full-gear in round 3s and 4s, and slows down again in round 5 when the winner is more or less already decided.
Muay Thai rules are complex with an even more complex scoring system. It will take a full article to explain the intricacies of how a winner is decided but the fights are enjoyable enough for what they are.
Part of Muay Thai’s attraction for tourists is the enthusiastic presence of gambling at the events. There will be a lot of hand gesturing going on at the traditional stadiums (see the first 3 stadiums below), very similar to hand signalling in financial trading floors. These are the gamblers and bookmakers signalling the odds for each fight. Muay Thai in Bangkok is one of few venues where gambling is allowed and one of few simple pleasures of the working class. Very rowdy, very interesting to watch, and makes for a very atmospheric experience.
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Whether you are a hardcore or casual Muay Thai fan, watching an authentic fight Live in the stadiums of Bangkok is an experience that cannot be missed. Bangkok is where you will find the sport and its athletes at the highest level. For the most authentic and top-level fights, Rajadamnern is my most recommended choice for everyone. Besides the 4 recommendations here, sporadic fights of smaller scale are held throughout the city in venues like Asiatique, MBK mall (MBK Fight Nights) and even a go-go bar (Pink Panther at Patpong). But for an authentic experience, you won’t go wrong with the ones I have reviewed in the article. If you find this useful, remember to share it with your friends who are planning a trip to Bangkok. Have fun!