Located in the exclusive and accessible district of Sukhumvit, Yokkao Gym is your best choice to fit in a Muay Thai workout into your hedonistic Bangkok vacation. More importantly, this is also the camp of Muay Thai legend Saenchai, one of the best Muay Thai fighters of all time.
Yokkao Gym Brief History
Yokkao began as a Muay Thai brand producing shorts and training equipment in 2010. The brand name then followed up with a successful marketing campaign: sponsoring famous fighters such as Buakaw, Yoddecha Sityodtong and Saenchai; partnering with well-known Muay Thai camps such as Por Pramuk and Sityodtong by providing them with high quality training equipments; and embarking on a Muay Thai expo in Europe in 2011. There was no looking back since.
In 2014, Yokkao joined forces with PK Saenchai team to open a new gym in the Surasak area in Bangkok. Yokkao then parted ways with PK to move to the more convenient location of Sukhumvit in 2016 where you can train alongside Saenchai and multiple time Lumpinee champions, Singdam Kiatmoo9 and Pakorn PKSaenchaiGym.
Yokkao Training Center Bangkok Overview
The gym is well-equipped with bags, pads, a ring, weights and other strengthening/conditioning equipment, all decked out in the typical Yokkao neons and seasonal colors. There are clean changing/shower/toilet facilities with lockers in the back, and an on-site Yokkao shop right in front. Basically, you have everything you need right there for your Muay Thai training needs.
The training at the gym caters to all levels of practitioners but tends to attract more a intermediate-level crowd. From time to time, there will be a few advanced-level foreign visitors coming in to train for upcoming fights. The most well-known being Erhan Gungor, who dropped in to train one day, only to be signed up as a Yokkao fighter and now living full-time at the gym.
Once you get there, look for the staff who will usually be in the shop/office. Just pay up, write your name and you are all set. Each session last around 2 hours, beginning with an optional run at the nearby Benjakiti Park (usually only the Thai fighters go for the run). The afternoon session tends to be more crowded since that’s when most expats or tourists come in to train. Training proper commences with skipping and guided stretching, then a round of techniques led by a trainer or fighter. There on, you are either assigned to a bag or pad work with the trainers. Everyone gets 3 rounds of pad work in the ring with one of the respectable Yokkao trainer like Kru Manop or Kru Petchdam. If you are new to the sport, it will be obvious and a fighter or trainer will usually come up and offer to demonstrate or guide you. It’s a very helpful and friendly learning environment.
The sessions may end off with strengthening/conditioning exercises and sparring/clinching if you are up to it. While the Yokkao fighters usually clinch and spar among themselves, you are welcome to approach them for some clinching and sparring. They will more often than not, oblige. The only cases where they might turn you down or direct you elsewhere is when they have a fight coming up. Essentially, you get to experience every aspect of a typical full-fledged Muay Thai training, as long as you take the initiative (as is the protocol in most authentic fight camps).
The instructors here are attentive and caring and you can see that they take pride in their roles. They will assess your ability, correct your techniques, and push you to your limits. Everyone here from the trainers to fighters are friendly and sincere. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and it’s hard not to be enchanted. The gym is very active on social media so you will often see the fighters performing a skit to post on their Instagram. A real joyous atmosphere here.
If all you want is just a photo taken with any of the fighters, do not feel shy or hesitate to approach them. Thais are some of the friendliest people anywhere, and often very humble too. This trait extends to the world champions here.
Group training here cost 500 baht per session. The main highlight of training at Yokkao gym is of course meeting the legend Saenchai. As of writing, it costs 8000THB to get a 1 hour private training session with the legend. If you are up to it, make it known to him that you would like to do some sparring and he would be happy to engage in a few rounds, always. The fee may seem like a lot but the experience of having your ass kicked by Saenchai is priceless. The session is worth every butt, IMO. I meant Baht. (For comparison, it cost 15000 baht for private with Yodsanklai, and 8000 usd with Buakaw) Alternatively, you can also get private sessions with Singdam, Pakorn or any of the younger fighters like Manachai for around 3000 baht. It is also possible to train with Kru Manop (Saenchai’s main trainer) or Kru Petchdam (Singdam’s brother and trainer).
How to get there
Sukhumvit is an area well-known to foreigners for its many shopping opportunities, wild nightlife and an expat-rich community with all sorts of conveniences catered to the city’s visitors. Despite the frequent traffic gridlock along the boulevard, the area is easily accessible by the BTS Skytrain system and a wonderfully efficient network of motorbike taxis. If you decide to stay in this area, there is a wide selection of accommodation and you will have no problem finding one that meets your requirement any time, any day.
To get to the gym: Take the BTS train to Asok station and then head for the Exchange Tower exit. You can either take a 5-10 minutes walk along the busy Soi 16 traffic or a speedy ride on one of the many motorbike taxis near the entrance to Soi 16 to reach the gym with big red gates. Just tell the rider to take you to “Yokkao” or “Muay Thai”. (As of writing, the bike ride costs 10baht)
Where to Stay
As mentioned above, there is certainly no shortage of hotels in the popular Sukhumvit district. In fact, this is the best place to base yourself to stay in the thick of the action. Food, massage, shopping and all manners of entertainment, Sukhumvit’s got it all. For the best hotel nearest to Yokkao, my top pick has to be Hotel Clover Asoke.
Hotel Clover Asoke
Situated at the entrance to Soi 16 is this absolute modern and hip hotel, just a cool 5 minutes’ walk from Yokkao gym. Unless you are looking for a 5-star joint, you will not be disappointed with Hotel Clover Asoke. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: Stylish decor, clean rooms, comfortable bed, rooftop pool for lazy afternoons, excellent warm service, and a short walk to Asok BTS and Sukhumvit MRT stations (300m). The metro is the most convenient way to get around central Bangkok. I have stayed here on more than one occasion and they haven’t seen the last of me yet.
|– “The hotel is chic and modern, with extremely helpful and wonderful staff. Housekeeping was brilliant too.”
– “Great value! Staff was very hospitable and the room was clean.“
|For more accommodation recommendations, read our extensive guide|
With great training facilities and world class trainers, Yokkao Gym is a Bangkok-Mecca for Muay Thai fans. My personal opinion is that it offers a well-balanced training environment to cater to all levels. And if you relish the opportunity to train with or alongside a living Muay Thai legend, this is a no-brainer. Yokkao’s best selling point is really the star appeal. Head over to Yokkao.com if you want to book a private session or just show up for a drop-in. The gym is fast becoming a very popular spot to train at, with seminars being held from time to time, so if you want to be safe, you can book a session online.
The training will no doubt leave you gasping for air, the heat and humidity of Bangkok will wear you down, but the memories of training with Muay Thai legends at Yokkao Gym will linger in your mind for a long time to come.