Intro to Muay Thai
When people plan a trip to Bangkok, exercise usually isn’t high on their to-do list. Not to diss Las Vegas, but Bangkok is the true sin city. Tourists come here for crazy nights out, daily adventures, and experiences they’ll love but never remember. And while we (strongly) encourage those things, you just can’t miss out on traditional Muay Thai training.
If you’re from the West—and not a professional fighter—there’s a good chance you have no idea what Muay Thai is. That’s totally okay, because we’re here to tell you all about it. Its more poetic name is “the art of eight limbs”. While that sounds deep, it’s quite literal. The fighting style is based around the use of both fists, elbows, knees, and shins. Kickboxing is a comparable sport that is “same same but different”.
Regardless, Bangkok is the place to be if you’re interested in Muay Thai. Professional fighters and tourists alike flock to the city to take part in the centuries-old sport.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need any experience before I train at a gym?
Not at all! No matter what your experience level is, you can find a gym that caters to it. In fact, most Muay Thai gyms offer courses for both beginners and professional fighters. They understand that everyone starts somewhere. But do yourself a favor and be honest about your experience when choosing a course. Signing up for an advanced lesson when you can’t even pronounce Muay Thai is a bad idea. You’ll end up wasting your money and time. At the end of the day, it’s not about your skill level. It’s about appreciating Thai culture, the art of Muay Thai, and getting in better shape.
Am I in good enough shape to try Muay Thai?
You’re not wrong to think that Muay Thai is a physically intense sport. It definitely is! But if you were an olympic athlete, you probably wouldn’t be looking to train at a local gym. When trainers see foreigners, they understand that the fighting style is new to them. That’s why individuals of any fitness level can learn the fighting style.
Do foreigners really try Muay Thai that often?
Professional Muay Thai fighters are primarily Thai nationals. Considering that the sport originated here, that’s not a shock. However, people off all backgrounds come to Bangkok to practice Muay Thai. When you walk into a gym, the people present will vary greatly. You’ll see professional Thai fighters, locals who are looking to stay in shape, and even tourists looking for a day activity. No matter what your plans are, you’ll fit right in.
Is Muay Thai safe for a tourist?
The short answer is yes. When you go into a quality gym, the instructors are professionals. They’ve studied the art of Muay Thai for countless years, and know how to keep you safe. You’ll never be pressured to participate in anything that makes you uncomfortable. If you don’t want to be hit, you won’t be hit. You’re welcome to simply learn the technique without actually fighting. Muay Thai comes with risks—just like any other sport—but accidents involving tourists are almost unheard of.
How to Choose a Gym as a Beginner
Finding a Muay Thai gym is the easy part. Stumble down any street in Thailand, and you’re sure to walk by at least three of them. Finding a good gym to train at, however, is a different battle. If you’re going to invest time, money, and sweat into learning to fight, you deserve the best training you can get. Luckily, you’re already in Bangkok. Thai fighters from across the country view the city as the center of all things Muay Thai.
Decide What Experience You Want
The type of training you want is going to help determine the Muay Thai gym you should choose. If you’re looking for an exciting, new workout (or a new cultural experience) many Muay Thai gyms in Bangkok could meet your needs. It’s a common fighting style, so the average trainer can provide an amazing class.
But if you’re interested in the inner-workings of the fighting style, you have to be more selective. Truly learning how to fight Muay Thai requires seeking out professional fighters. That means looking into Bangkok’s more expensive and respected gyms.
You also need to consider the type of program you’re interested in. Are you interested in a single Muay Thai class? Several classes over your stay? An intensive program that includes accommodation and food? The options are endless, so it can be easy to get lost in the research. So be sure to narrow down your goals before you even step foot in a gym.
What Type of Muay Thai Gym to Choose in Bangkok
You can find a Muay Thai gym just about anywhere in Bangkok. The best location is truly up to your personal preference, unless you have a specific gym in mind. When considering locations, we recommend reflecting on what you’re looking for. While it’s easy to say a gym is a gym, location can make a huge impact on your training. This piece of the puzzle needs to fit into your overall Bangkok experience.
If you’re going about Muay Thai training casually, convenience is key. The perfect gym for you would be centrally located, and ideally near a skytrain station. In addition to increasing your access to the gym, you’ll be able to sightsee before and after classes easily. You’ll also save money on transportation costs, which will make the training more affordable.
However, the scenario changes when you look into more serious training. If you want an intense week of Muay Thai lessons, we recommend booking an all-inclusive program. There are option that include accommodation, meals, and water. In addition to eliminating the need to commute and time manage, staying on-site allows you to fully focus on your training.
What to Watch Out for When Selecting a Gym
If you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, why commit to a gym without checking it out first? When you first walk into a new Muay Thai gym, take a look at its facilities and cleanliness. Ask for a tour before you commit to spending any money. Gyms that produce the best fighters aren’t necessarily the cleanest. And at the same time, the cleanest gyms don’t always have the best resources. Online reviews and pictures only go so far. At some point, an in-person visit will always outweigh a third-party opinion. With this in mind, be sure to avoid making any pre-payments prior to visiting a gym. Investing thousands of baht only to me let down by a Muay Thai gym’s quality could easily ruin a week in Bangkok.
Our Favorite Bangkok Muay Thai Gyms
Now that you have a better idea of what different Muay Thai gyms have to offer, it’s time to select one. This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are countless Muay Thai gyms that could meet your needs. These are just a few of our favorites!
Chacrit Muay Thai School
Chacrit is a Muay Thai school in the center of Bangkok. Located only a few minutes from the Phrom Phong BTS station, it’s extremely accessible. The school offers both individual fight training for all skill levels and homestay training. Chacrit is particularly focussed on being a provider for individuals who have busy schedules, so they’re a perfect fit for the itinerary-obsessed traveler.
Banchamek Gym is a great option for anyone looking for more serious Muay Thai training. Their main goal is to prepare fighters for both national and world class competitions. However, Banchamek Gym also offers open fight training for individuals of all skill levels. The trainers offer hourly and homestay options. The BTS station nearest to Banchamek is Ramkhamhaeng.
Yokkao Muay Thai
Yokkao Gym is another great option for anyone looking for serious, professional Muay Thai training. Their trainers are some of the best in Thailand, including fighting legends such has Saenchai and Singdam Kiatmuu (both of whom have been fighting since age eight). The most interesting thing about Yokkao Gym is that you pay based on the trainer you’d like. You can learn from the professionals, their trainers, or other coaches. However, please note that there are no homestay classes. The nearest BTS station is Asok.
RSM Academy shares its home with the Rajadamnern Stadium, which is often referred to as the original home of the fighting style. It was the first stadium of its kind in Thailand, and continues to host tournaments for coveted championship titles. Supported by Singha, RSM Academy is the premier option for training Muay Thai in Bangkok. Their offerings include individual courses/sessions that are open to individuals of all skill levels. However, there is not a homestay option.