Do you want to train muay thai in Thailand?
You want to go to the birthplace of one of the most brutal combat sports and learn from the best?
If you want to know how to get there, where to train and everything else about training muay thai in Thailand read on.
The ancient combat sport of muay thai was originally developed by Thai soldiers in the 16th century during a time when Thailand (then called Siam) was at war with its neighbouring countries.
It combines punching, kicking, kneeing, elbowing and clinching and is Thailand’s national sport.
Thai people live and breath muay thai and there are training camps everywhere. The sport continues to grow globally and the thais are catering to this demand by providing muay thai training camps to international visitors.
Despite growing participation from people outside of Thailand, the country still produces the most and best champions.
When it comes to training muay thai in Thailand you have a lot of options. Many training camps cater for everyone from absolute beginners to UFC champions.
Regardless of your skill level, training muay thai in Thailand is an epic experience, especially if it’s your first time visiting the country. The thai people are warm, their culture is rich and their country is beautiful.
This guide aims to provide you with everything you need to know about training muay thai in Thailand. From how to get there to how to act when you’re there to the best muay thai camps to train at.
How to get to Thailand
Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in one of the busiest.
Thailand caters to tourism because it needs it. Almost 18 percent of the country’s GDP comes from the tourism sector alone.
Unless you live in the remote wilderness getting to Thailand will not be a problem. The diversity of people learning muay thai in Thailand is a testament to the country’s openness of visitors.
You will train alongside Americans, Brits, Germans, Koreans, Chinese, Australians, Russians and many other nations during your time there.
Thailand’s airports are served well by international flight operators. If you’re in the US then you will have to get a connecting flight somewhere on your journey depending on which city you’re flying from.
Europeans will likely have the choice to either get a connecting flight or fly nonstop. Londoners like myself have the option to fly nonstop but it usually costs more.
Depending on where your final destination in Thailand is, catching a flight from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Chiang Mai in the north of the country or Phuket in the south is relatively easy.
It’s always best to book your final destination when booking your international flight to Bangkok. That way you can book a connecting flight directly after you land to keep your waiting time at Suvarnabhumi to a bare minimum. so you aren’t waiting
Unless, of course, you’re training in Bangkok or you want to spend some time there before you get to your training camp.
Be warned, Bangkok gets hectic and you need no more than a couple of days there. If you’ve never been then you must go.
Getting around Thailand
Getting around Thailand is easy. The country is served by domestic flights, trains, buses, taxis and tuk-tuks. As long as you have money the thais will get you anywhere you want to go.
Travel is cheap too. The country itself has experienced a boom in the last 10-15 years so the cost of living has increased. Nevertheless, travelling on a train or a bus can be an inexpensive way to get around though it can take longer.
Domestic flights are more expensive but book them in advance and you’ll get a good deal. It’s when you book them the day before (which I’m guilty of) is when they become expensive.
Once you’re at your destination getting around is easy. There are a lot of motorbikes-for-rent shops where you can get something like a 125cc moped for £25/$30 a week. Fuel is peanuts too and people sell gasoline by the roadside.
Thai customs and culture
It’s important to understand the thai customs and culture if you’ve never visited Thailand before.
Thailand is one of my favourite countries in the world because of the richness of its culture, its food and, of course, its people.
If you’re from a western country you should know that they do things a little different over there. The Thai people are very attuned to western culture and most have a good proficiency of the English language.
Even so, it’s important to make an effort when engaging with thai people.
Learning how to say hello, how are you, thank you and goodbye is a mark of respect. Besides, who goes to a foreign country and doesn’t learn the basics? Only assholes, that’s who.
Also, remember that thai people do not shake hands but instead ‘wai’ which is their customary greeting.
Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country and many Thais believe in the spirit world. You will often see ‘spirit houses‘ on the street and outside of people’s homes. Food and drink are left on the spirit house to appease the spirits and so they don’t enter the home.
Likewise, muay thai fighters will do the ‘wai khru ram muay’ in the ring before the fight begins. This is to appease the spirits of the boxing ring and to pay respect to the fighter’s teacher. Respect for elders is important in thai culture. We could learn a thing or two from them.
According to Wikipedia wai khru ram muay translates into ‘war dance saluting the teacher’ and it is very common before a fight.
Learning thai customs and culture before and during your stay is a mark of respect and the Thai people will appreciate it.
The life of a muay thai fighter in Thailand
The life of a thai fighter physically and financially tough. Very few of us cotton wool wrapped Westerners, excluding the likes of the great John Wayne Parr and Raymon Dekkers, can handle such conditions.
Thai children from an early age are taught how to fight muay thai and stadium fights between boys as young as 8-years-old are not uncommon.
Most muay thai fighters come from extreme poverty and use muay thai as a means to make money for their families.
To live the muay thai fighter’s life from an early age requires not only dedication but sometimes living in conditions of squalor.
Young thai fighters often live in the gym. Not live in it in the literal sense but they will actually sleep on the ring’s canvas at night.
They will dedicate every waking day to their sport, often training all day in the humidity and heat.
Few will go on to be champions revered by the Thai people whereas most will not make it to such heights.
Evolve MMA has an interesting article on Sam-A Gaiyanghadao who is regarded as one of the world’s best muay thai fighters when in his prime. His road to becoming champion was not an easy one, living on a bag of rice a day and having to go work in construction so he could live.
This is type of story is not uncommon among muay thai fighters. They are as tough as nails.
When is the best time of year to train muay thai in Thailand?
Thailand is in Southeast Asia and has a tropical climate. It has three seasons. Hot, cool and rainy.
The hot season is from March to May, cool season from November to February and rainy season June to October.
I’ve been during both the hot and cool seasons and can tell you that either season is hot. Sure, the cool season is ‘cooler’ than the hot season but it isn’t cool. Temperatures still get into the 30s.
If you visit Thailand during cool season it will cost you more.
Training will likely be more expensive because more tourists are over doing it. Accommodation will cost more because there will be less available rooms.
Even your flight to Thailand will be more expensive during this time but the weather will be at its best during this time.
Rainy season will be the most cost-effective. There will be fewer tourists, therefore, the availability of accommodation and services will more widespread.
The thais will be competing for your custom and may drop their prices if you’re willing to haggle a little.
The downside to going this time of year is the weather where it will is hot, humid and sometimes very wet.
During hot season Thailand will be at peak temperature and humidity and you may get the occasional torrential downpour. Prices will be cheaper than cool season but maybe not as cheap as rainy season.
In reality, there never is a bad time to visit Thailand to train muay thai or even go for a relaxing holiday. Whatever time of year you go the weather will be great most of the time and the people will be hospitable.
My personal preference is to go during hot season (around March or April). I’ve been to Thailand five times and three of which were during hot season.
What to consider when choosing a muay thai training camp in Thailand
Choosing the right muay thai training camp depends on your skill level and what you want to get out of your visit to Thailand.
If you want to do other activities as well as train muay thai then you should consider going to a location where there are other things to do.
Thailand is a beautiful country with much to see and do. If you intend on making the most out of your trip then you’re far better going to somewhere like Phuket which has great training facilities, nice beaches and lots of activities.
Where are the best muay thai training camps in Thailand?
Deciding the best muay thai training camps in Thailand is subjective and depends on your skill level and what you want out of your holiday.
My requirements may be different to yours and vice versa. Even so, there are many training camps in Thailand renowned for their facilities and reputation.
Deciding where to train depends on your personal goals.
If you’re a novice who wants to train muay thai and have a Thailand holiday then you should go to a location that will allow you to do both. Or, if you have plenty of time out there, travel around the country as I did.
If you’re a professional muay thai fighter or a keen amateur with the sole purpose of going to Thailand to train then the location is not as important. Go where the best gyms are.
The following are some of the most well-known muay thai gyms in Thailand.
I have not been to them all but I have been to Tiger Muay Thai which I’ve provided a more comprehensive review on further down.
Phuket Top Team
Phuket Top Team is based in Chalong, Phuket, which is also where Tiger Muay Thai and a few other muay thai training gyms are.
It was founded by Boyd Clark around five years ago and since then has become a mainstay for professional MMA fighters from the UFC and Bellator.
Phuket Top Team has a full roster of classes and goes beyond training only muay thai. They have trainers who are experts in BJJ, wrestling, MMA and western boxing.
Location: Chalong, Phuket
Famous fighters associated with:
- Cris Cyborg
- Michael Bisping
Yokkao is a leading muay thai and MMA equipment manufacturer which sells muay thai equipment in Thailand and around the world.
The company created Yokkao Bangkok which is it’s top class training centre based in the capital. It was set up to provide a better alternative to the low-quality gyms established to take advantage of international demand.
Yakkao Bangkok an muay thai only gym and unlike other gyms doesn’t teach MMA, BJJ or any other combat supports. It has a number of muay thai living legends training and teaching there such as Saenchai and Singdam Kiatmuu9.
Muay thai fighters from around the world go to Yokkao Bangkok to learn from and spar with these two muay thai legends.
Famous fighters associated with:
- Singdam Kiatmuu9
AKA Thailand is part of the orginal AKA (American Kickboxing Accadamy) which was established by Javier Mendez in 1985 in San Diego, California.
It opened its doors in 2014 and offers training in muay thai, BJJ and MMA as well as classes in less brutal activities like yoga and conditioning training.
AKA Thailand is based in Phuket, close to Chalong-based Phuket Top Team and Tiger Muay Thai.
Location: Rawai, Phuket
Famous fighters associated with:
- Mike Swick
Tiger Muay Thai
Tiger Muay Thai is the largest and most popular training camp in Thailand.
It is the choice destination for international muay thai enthusiasts throughout the year. The company has expanded its facilities in recent years due to increased demand.
Tiger Muay Thai offers all kinds of training as well as muay thai including BJJ, western boxing, MMA, muay boran and K1 kickboxing. It also provides no-combat fitness training like CrossFit, yoga and body conditioning.
Location: Chalong, Phuket
Famous fighters associated with:
- Lamsongkram Chuwattana
- Valentina Shevchenko
For a more comprehensive view of muay thai gyms and training camps in Thailand check out Muay Thai Camps Thailand.
They review Thailand’s well-known (and not so well-known) muay thai training camps with additional insights and information. Their Facebook page also provides a lot of general news and info on the sport of muay thai. It’s a must-follow for anyone who enjoys muay thai in all its forms.
Equipment needed to train Muay Thai in Thailand
If you’ve never trained muay thai before you’ll have to invest in some equipment.
When it comes to buying it, you have two choices:
- Buy it at home
- Buy it when you’re out there
It’s not difficult to buy muay thai equipment when you’re in Thailand. Literally every other shop sells it.
Quality counts so always buy equipment from reputable brands, all of which usually come out of Thailand anyway. Brands like Twins and Fairtex are a good place to start.
Some training camps have their own store where they sell training clothing, gloves, wraps, shin pads, gum shields and anything else you may need.
The basics of what you’ll need are training shorts (muay thai ones are good but any will do), hand wraps, gloves, shin guards and mouth guard.
Given the heat and the intense training you’re going to get sweaty so bring a couple of pairs of shorts and sweat towels so you can alternate them between washes.
Ideally, you should buy at least some equipment before you go so you can wear it in and get used to it. You can buy a lot of it on Amazon.
Tiger Muay Thai review
I have only ever trained at Tiger Muay Thai, therefore, can offer a more detailed review of my experience there.
Tiger Muay Thai caters for all types of people, from absolute beginners to UFC fighters. The company has a number of sponsored fighters from the worlds of muay thai and MMA. Here’s a promo video to give you a flavour of it.
The facilities at Tiger Muay Thai have recently gone through a full refurbishment so all the rooms, mats, rings, bags and other equipment are practically brand new at the time of writing. The grounds have also extended to include an MMA and jujitsu area.
Phuket Top Team is based in the same area too and AKA Thailand is a short journey away.
How to get there
If you’re travelling internationally chances are you’ll be flying into Bangkok. To get to Phuket is an additional one hour flight. Phuket Airport is international so depending on where you live you may be able to fly direct.
If you’ve never been to Bangkok and would like to see it (I recommend you do) you can spend a couple of days there and catch the overnight sleeper train to the south. The train is an experience and it’ll be unlikely you’ll get much sleep. All part of the fun.
Tiger have a taxi service which you can book in advance to pick you up from the airport which is cheaper than a regular airport taxi it’s advised to book in advance.
Types of training
Tiger Muay Thai caters for a wide spectrum of people from the absolute beginner to the UFC fighter. They sponsor a number of professional fighters in the muay thai and MMA realms.
They offer muay thai classes six days a week, twice a day, with four different skill level classes:
I’ve done muay thai and boxing on and off (more off) throughout the years so ended up training in the intermediate group. Each training session lasts two hours and I guarantee you’ll be sweating after you finish.
The trainers are all pro fighters or ex-pro fighters with 100, 200, 300+ fights under their belts. They also provide one-on-one training sessions (for a fee) to help you work on a particular area or skill.
The training’s intense so I trained once a day. My younger and lighter mate who has more stamina than me often trained twice a day whereas I needed more time to recover.
As well as muay thai training Tiger offers training in MMA, BJJ, boxing, muay boran (ancient thai fighting) and kickboxing. On top of this, there are also fitness classes, yoga and there’s a weights gym.
Train there for a year and you’ll return a completely different person.
The location is out of the way of the hedonistic parts of Phuket so the temptation to go party every night isn’t there. The area is tranquil and full of healthy food joints, gyms and visitors more concerned with their training than full moon parties.
Accommodation isn’t a problem and Tiger offer rooms for rent but there are other companies offering rooms if needed.
During peak cool season it’s likely to be more difficult to find an apartment close to Tiger but renting an apartment a mile or two down the road shouldn’t be a problem.
How much does it cost to train muay thai in Thailand?
Training is Thailand is cheap compared to how much it would cost in the US, UK or any other western country.
The calibre of trainers and the facilities you have access to would cost much more back home.
Using Tiger as an example, it is by no means the cheapest muay thai gym to train in Thailand at but for the facilities and level of training it’s superb value.
Tiger offers a number of different levels of training from one off sessions to all-inclusive. Since this post is about training muay thai the costs below are based on that.
Training equipment: £100/$145 (one off)
Muay thai training: £65/$94 per week
Accommodation (sleeping two): £88/$127 per week
Food: £120/$204 per week
There you have it. £273/$398 per week to train, eat, sleep and chill at a badass muay thai training camp in Thailand.